Matter of: Master Sergeant Paul Livingston, USA(Retired) File: B-252760 Date: September 20, 1993

B-252760: Sep 20, 1993

Additional Materials:

Contact:

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

 

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

MILITARY PERSONNEL Relocation Relocation travel Eligibility Administrative determination Errors Retired member of the Army was erroneously authorized transportation expenses to his home of selection in Canberra. After the travel was completed retired member filed travel claim which was denied. Since under the regulations he was not entitled to expenses to his home of choice outside of the continental United States. Travel authorization to Australia was contrary to that authorized by law and regulation. DECISION This action is in response to a request from Master Sergeant (Msgt.). Incident to his retirement he was authorized travel allowances to his home of selection. After his travel was completed.

Matter of: Master Sergeant Paul Livingston, USA(Retired) File: B-252760 Date: September 20, 1993

MILITARY PERSONNEL Relocation Relocation travel Eligibility Administrative determination Errors Retired member of the Army was erroneously authorized transportation expenses to his home of selection in Canberra, Australia. After the travel was completed retired member filed travel claim which was denied, since under the regulations he was not entitled to expenses to his home of choice outside of the continental United States. Travel authorization to Australia was contrary to that authorized by law and regulation. Under these circumstances no authority exists for payment of the claim. Thus the member's claim must be denied.

DECISION This action is in response to a request from Master Sergeant (Msgt.) Paul Livingston for reconsideration of his claim for travel expenses for himself and his dependents to his home of selection in Canberra, Australia. For the reasons set forth below, we find that his claim must be denied.

On January 31, 1990, Msgt. Paul Livingston retired from the Army with 22 years, 5 months and 7 days of creditable service. Incident to his retirement he was authorized travel allowances to his home of selection, Canberra, Australia. After his travel was completed, he filed his claim for expenses. The claim was denied by the Army because under applicable regulations, Msgt. Livingston did not qualify for transportation to a home of selection outside of the continental United States. On appeal his claim was denied by the Claims Group of this Office.

Travel and transportation allowances for members of the uniformed services are authorized under 37 U.S.C. Sec. 404. While previously members of the uniformed services were authorized travel and transportation allowances to a home of selection anywhere at the time of retirement, Public Law 97-60 amended Sec. 404 to limit the payment of these allowances to a home of selection within the United States for those members who retired after November 1, 1981, and did not have 18 years of service on that date unless the home selected was outside of the United States and was the place from where they were called or ordered to active duty. Applicable regulations promulgated pursuant to that statute are found in the Joint Federal Travel Regulations (JFTR), Paragraph U5130.

In the present case it appears that Msgt. Livingston did not have 18 years of active service on November 1, 1981, nor was he called or ordered to active duty from Canberra. Thus, while he is entitled to travel and transportation allowances, they may not exceed the cost to a selected home within the United States.

Msgt. Livingston points out that he and his dependents were authorized travel to Australia and in reliance upon that authorization traveled to Canberra, Australia. He argues that it is unfair to now, after travel has been completed, to disallow the claim.

In the present case, an error was made in preparation of the travel authorization, which authorized travel and transportation contrary to that authorized by law and regulation. In these circumstances no authority exists for the payment of the claim. While it is unfortunate that Msgt. Livingston relied on the erroneous authorization, this does not provide a legal basis for payment since in the absence of specific statutory authority, the Government is not liable for the negligent or erroneous acts of its officers or employees, even though committed in the performance of their official duties. 64 Comp.Gen. 17 (1984) .

Accordingly since the applicable law and regulations prohibit payment of the travel expenses under these circumstances, Msgt. Livingston may not be paid travel expenses to Australia.[1]

1. We note that the Defense Finance and Accounting Service has directed Msgt. Livingston to refile a claim for his travel expenses to a location within the continental United States.