B-252368, August 19, 1993

B-252368: Aug 19, 1993

Additional Materials:

Contact:

Edda Emmanuelli Perez
(202) 512-2853
EmmanuelliPerezE@gao.gov

 

Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800
youngc1@gao.gov

It is standard business practice for the Government to pay the entire cost and then bill the member for any excess weight charges. Since no erroneous payment is made in that situation. Alabama 36582 Dear Master Sergeant Shofner: This is in response to your appeal of Claims Group settlement Z-2917891. The record also indicates that you were authorized to ship 8. Because it is standard business practice for the Government to pay the entire cost for a shipment of a member's household goods and then bill the member for any excess charges. There is no erroneous payment for which waiver can be considered. In your letters you point out what you believe are inconsistencies or errors in the shipment of your household goods and the Army's handling of the resulting debt.

B-252368, August 19, 1993

MILITARY PERSONNEL Relocation Household goods Shipment costs Waiver When the Government contracts with a moving company to move a member's household goods, it is standard business practice for the Government to pay the entire cost and then bill the member for any excess weight charges. Since no erroneous payment is made in that situation, the resulting debt of the member cannot be considered for waiver.

Master Sergeant Fred L. Shofner, USA (Retired) 5505 Quail Run Theodore, Alabama 36582

Dear Master Sergeant Shofner:

This is in response to your appeal of Claims Group settlement Z-2917891, dated December 22, 1992, which denied your request for waiver of a debt which arose from excess weight charges incurred incident to the shipment of your household goods in connection with a permanent change of station. We affirm the Claims Group's settlement.

The record indicates that you made a permanent change of station transfer from Fort Wainwright, Alaska, to Fort Bliss, Texas, pursuant to orders dated December 29, 1987. The record also indicates that you were authorized to ship 8,500 pounds of household goods, but shipped 12,000. The Government paid for the shipment and later charged you for the cost of shipping the excess weight. You requested waiver of the resulting debt and appealed the Claims Group's denial of your request.

Under 10 U.S.C. Sec. 2774, the Comptroller General has the authority to waive a member's debt arising from an erroneous payment of travel and transportation expenses when collection would be against equity and good conscience and not in the best interest of the United States. Waiver cannot be granted unless an erroneous payment has been made. Because it is standard business practice for the Government to pay the entire cost for a shipment of a member's household goods and then bill the member for any excess charges, there is no erroneous payment for which waiver can be considered. See 67 Comp.Gen. 484 (1988), copy enclosed.

In your letters you point out what you believe are inconsistencies or errors in the shipment of your household goods and the Army's handling of the resulting debt. Among other things, you point out that the digits in the trailer number were transposed on the weight tickets and that the weight of your household goods in the move in question exceeded the weight of your previous move.

We have considered all the points which you have raised, and it is our view that the information you have provided does not indicate clear error by the Army. The question of whether and to what extent a member has exceeded his weight allowance is a matter primarily for administrative determination, and this Office ordinarily will not question a Service's determination in the absence of clear error. Furthermore, the weight of household goods shipped by a member in a previous move is not relevant evidence of the weight of a subsequent move. Lieutenant Colonel Cora L. Burton, USA (Retired), B-190541, Nov. 28, 1977. Moreover, the Government is not bound by the erroneous actions of its officers, agents, and employees. Major Jean-Francois J. Romey, USAR, B-216466, Nov. 14, 1984. Therefore, even if your appeal were not based on a waiver request, we would have no basis to question the excess weight charges assessed against you.

We find no error of law or fact in the Claims Group's settlement, which accordingly is affirmed.