B-63474, APRIL 3, 1947, 26 COMP. GEN. 731

B-63474: Apr 3, 1947

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OTHER LIVING EXPENSES" ON ACCOUNT OF WHICH A COST OF LIVING ALLOWANCE AS FOR AN EMPLOYEE "WITH FAMILY" WAS AUTHORIZED PURSUANT TO BUDGET CIRCULAR NO. IS TO BE REGARDED AS HAVING HAD HIS FAMILY STATUS CHANGED BY REASON OF SUCH ABSENCE. SO THAT HIS COST OF LIVING ALLOWANCE SHOULD BE PREDICATED UPON THE BASIS THAT HE WAS . 1947: REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTER OF JANUARY 29. AS FOLLOWS: THERE HAVE BEEN SUBMITTED TO ME FOR CERTIFICATION THE ATTACHED STANDARD FORM 1069 COVERING ALLOWANCES FOR LIVING QUARTERS. HIGBEE WERE APPROVED BY THE SECRETARY OF AGRICULTURE TO BE EFFECTIVE JULY 14. THE BASIS OF QUARTERS ALLOWANCE IS STATED IN THE ABOVE CITED CIRCULAR OF THE BUREAU OF THE BUDGET UNDER PART A 4 AS FOLLOWS: "/D) FAMILY STATUS (OTHER THAN CHIEFS OF MISSION IN THE STATE DEPARTMENT).

B-63474, APRIL 3, 1947, 26 COMP. GEN. 731

OFFICERS AND EMPLOYEES STATIONED IN FOREIGN COUNTRIES - QUARTERS AND COST OF LIVING ALLOWANCES DURING TEMPORARY ABSENCE OF FAMILY THE TEMPORARY ABSENCE OF AN EMPLOYEE'S FAMILY FROM HIS OVERSEAS POST OF DUTY OCCASIONED BY THEIR RETURN TO THE UNITED STATES FOR MEDICAL TREATMENT MAY NOT BE REGARDED AS HAVING CHANGED THE EMPLOYEE'S "FAMILY STATUS" FOR QUARTERS ALLOWANCE PURPOSES WITHIN THE MEANING OF BUDGET CIRCULAR NO. A-8, REVISED, SO AS TO REQUIRE THAT HIS QUARTERS ALLOWANCE BE DECREASED ON ACCOUNT OF A CHANGE IN FAMILY STATUS, WHERE THE EMPLOYEE CONTINUED TO MAINTAIN AND PAY FOR HIS FAMILY'S QUARTERS AT HIS POST OF DUTY DURING SUCH ABSENCE. AN EMPLOYEE WHO, DURING HIS FAMILY'S TEMPORARY ABSENCE FROM HIS OVERSEAS POST OF DUTY, INCURRED NO EXPENSES FOR THEIR "SUBSISTENCE, SERVICES, COMMODITIES, AND OTHER LIVING EXPENSES" ON ACCOUNT OF WHICH A COST OF LIVING ALLOWANCE AS FOR AN EMPLOYEE "WITH FAMILY" WAS AUTHORIZED PURSUANT TO BUDGET CIRCULAR NO. A-8, REVISED, IS TO BE REGARDED AS HAVING HAD HIS FAMILY STATUS CHANGED BY REASON OF SUCH ABSENCE, SO THAT HIS COST OF LIVING ALLOWANCE SHOULD BE PREDICATED UPON THE BASIS THAT HE WAS ,WITHOUT FAMILY" DURING THE PERIOD OF THEIR ABSENCE.

COMPTROLLER GENERAL WARREN TO W. H. ROHRMAN, DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE, APRIL 3, 1947:

REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTER OF JANUARY 29, 1947, AS FOLLOWS:

THERE HAVE BEEN SUBMITTED TO ME FOR CERTIFICATION THE ATTACHED STANDARD FORM 1069 COVERING ALLOWANCES FOR LIVING QUARTERS, HEAT, FUEL, AND LIGHT, AND STANDARD FORM 1012 COVERING ALLOWANCES FOR COST OF LIVING; BOTH VOUCHERS BEING SUBMITTED BY MR. EDWARD C. HIGBEE, FOR THE PERIOD JULY 14, 1946 TO NOVEMBER 2, 1946, IN THE AMOUNT OF $461.52 AND $221.52, RESPECTIVELY. ALLOWANCES FOR MR. HIGBEE WERE APPROVED BY THE SECRETARY OF AGRICULTURE TO BE EFFECTIVE JULY 14, 1946, AND AT THE PER ANNUM RATE OF $1,500.00 FOR QUARTERS AND $720.00 FOR COST OF LIVING.

THE QUESTION HAS ARISEN REGARDING THE REIMBURSEMENT OF THESE ALLOWANCES BECAUSE OF THE FACT THAT ON SEPTEMBER 2, 1946, MR. HIGBEE'S FAMILY LEFT HIS POST OF ASSIGNMENT, GUATEMALA CITY, GUATEMALA, TO RETURN TO THE UNITED STATES FOR MEDICAL ATTENTION AND TO THIS DATE JANUARY 29, 1947, THE FAMILY HAS NOT RETURNED TO HIS POST OF ASSIGNMENT. BUREAU OF THE BUDGET CIRCULAR NO. A-8, REVISED, DATED JULY 19, 1946, ISSUED BY THE BUREAU OF THE BUDGET TO COVER " ALLOWANCES PAYABLE TO FEDERAL OFFICERS AND EMPLOYEES STATIONED IN FOREIGN COUNTRIES" PROVIDES UNDER DEFINITIONS, ITEM D:

"FAMILY" MEANS THE MOTHER, FATHER, CHILDREN, STEPCHILDREN OR SISTER OF A MARRIED OR UNMARRIED EMPLOYEE LIVING WITH THE EMPLOYEE AT THE FOREIGN POST.' ( ITALICS SUPPLIED.)

THE BASIS OF QUARTERS ALLOWANCE IS STATED IN THE ABOVE CITED CIRCULAR OF THE BUREAU OF THE BUDGET UNDER PART A 4 AS FOLLOWS: "/D) FAMILY STATUS (OTHER THAN CHIEFS OF MISSION IN THE STATE DEPARTMENT), AS DEFINED ABOVE.' THIS CIRCULAR ALSO PROVIDES FOR CHANGES IN ALLOWANCES. UNDER PART A 9," METHOD OF COMPUTING ALLOWANCES; " PARAGRAPH F STATES THAT ALLOWANCES MAY BE PAID DURING CERTAIN ABSENCES BY THE EMPLOYEE. THERE IS NO MENTION, HOWEVER, ABOUT ALLOWANCES WHEN THE DEPENDENTS ARE ABSENT FROM THE POST.

SINCE MR. HIGBEE'S FAMILY LEFT GUATEMALA SEPTEMBER 2, 1946,AND WAS ABSENT FROM HIS POST FROM THAT DATE THROUGH THE LAST DATE OF HIS CLAIM ON THE ATTACHED STANDARD FORM 1069, IS HE ENTITLED TO RECEIVE AN ALLOWANCE FOR THIS PERIOD AS A MAN WITH DEPENDENTS AT THE POST? DURING THE PERIOD OF HIS FAMILY'S ABSENCE, MR. HIGBEE STATES HE CONTINUED TO MAINTAIN AND PAY FOR THE SAME QUARTERS HE HAD WHEN HIS DEPENDENTS WERE WITH HIM AT THE POST.

UNDER THE REGULATIONS COVERING PAYMENT OF COST OF LIVING ALLOWANCES, AS LISTED IN THE SAME BUREAU OF THE BUDGET CIRCULAR, WE FIND THAT THE BASIS OF ALLOWANCES IS THE SAME AS FOR ALLOWANCES FOR QUARTERS AS FAR AS FAMILY STATUS IS CONCERNED. THIS BUDGET BUREAU CIRCULAR PROVIDES THE FOLLOWING METHOD OF COMPUTING ALLOWANCES: "AN EMPLOYEE WITH FAMILY SHALL RECEIVE A COST OF LIVING ALLOWANCE WHILE AWAY FROM HIS POST OF DUTY IN A TRAVEL STATUS. AN EMPLOYEE WITHOUT FAMILY SHALL NOT RECEIVE THE ALLOWANCE FOR ANY PORTION OF A TRIP OF MORE THAN 24 HOURS' DURATION.'

SINCE MR. HIGBEE'S FAMILY LEFT GUATEMALA CITY SEPTEMBER 2, 1946, IS MR. HIGBEE ENTITLED TO (A) A MARRIED MAN'S ALLOWANCE FROM SEPTEMBER 2, 1946, TO NOVEMBER 2, 1946, AS CLAIMED ON THE ATTACHED VOUCHER OR (B) A SINGLE MAN'S ALLOWANCE FROM SEPTEMBER 8, 1946, TO NOVEMBER 2, 1946, WITH DEDUCTIONS FOR THE PERIODS OF ABSENCE OF MORE THAN 24 HOURS?

PART A, PARAGRAPH 9E, AND PART B, PARAGRAPH 15E, OF BUREAU OF BUDGET CIRCULAR NO. A-8, REVISED, REFERRED TO IN YOUR LETTER, EXPRESSLY PROVIDE THAT ALLOWANCES FOR QUARTERS AND COST OF LIVING PAYABLE TO EMPLOYEES STATIONED IN FOREIGN COUNTRIES SHALL BE INCREASED OR DECREASED ON ACCOUNT OF ,CHANGE IN * * * FAMILY STATUS" OF THE EMPLOYEE. ALSO, SEE PART A, PARAGRAPH 8, OF SAID CIRCULAR, WHEREIN IT IS STATED THAT ALLOWANCE FOR QUARTERS "WILL NOT BE REVISED DURING THE FISCAL YEAR EXCEPT FOR CHANGE IN THE MARITAL OR FAMILY STATUS" OF THE EMPLOYEE. WHILE SAID CIRCULAR DEFINES THE WORD ,FAMILY" AS MEANING CERTAIN NAMED DEPENDENTS OF THE EMPLOYEE "LIVING WITH THE EMPLOYEE AT THE FOREIGN POST," THERE APPEARS NOTHING THEREIN THAT INDICATES WHAT CONSTITUTES "A CHANGE IN FAMILY STATUS.'

IT IS STATED THAT THE EMPLOYEE'S FAMILY IN THIS CASE HAD BEEN LIVING WITH HIM AT HIS POST OF DUTY IN GUATEMALA CITY, GUATEMALA, AND ON SEPTEMBER 2, 1946, LEFT GUATEMALA CITY TO RETURN TO THE UNITED STATES FOR "MEDICAL ATTENTION," SUGGESTING THAT THE EMPLOYEE EXPECTED HIS FAMILY MERELY TO BE TEMPORARILY ABSENT FROM HIS POST OF ASSIGNMENT. SO FAR AS THE EMPLOYEE'S QUARTERS ALLOWANCE IS CONCERNED, SUCH TEMPORARY ABSENCE ON THE PART OF HIS FAMILY REASONABLY MAY NOT BE REGARDED AS CHANGING "THE FAMILY STATUS," SINCE HE PRESUMABLY WOULD CONTINUE TO MAINTAIN AND PAY FOR HIS FAMILY'S LIVING QUARTERS AT HIS POST OF DUTY DURING PERIOD OF SUCH TEMPORARY ABSENCE. SEE, IN THAT CONNECTION, THE STATEMENT OF THE EMPLOYEE (ATTACHED TO THE VOUCHER) TO THE EFFECT THAT HE MAINTAINED "LIVING ACCOMMODATIONS FOR MY FAMILY AT MY POST OF DUTY AT GUATEMALA CITY DURING THE PERIODS COVERED BY THE VOUCHER. ACCORDINGLY, THE VOUCHER COVERING THE EMPLOYEE'S QUARTERS ALLOWANCE FOR THE PERIOD FROM SEPTEMBER 2 TO NOVEMBER 2, 1946, PROPERLY MAY BE CERTIFIED FOR PAYMENT IN ITS PRESENT FORM. 24 COMP. GEN. 299.

THE REFERRED-TO BUREAU OF BUDGET CIRCULAR DEFINES THE "COST OF LIVING ALLOWANCE" AS "AN ALLOWANCE TO AN EMPLOYEE TO EQUALIZE THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN COSTS AT THE FOREIGN POST AND WASHINGTON, D.C., OF SUBSISTENCE, SERVICES, COMMODITIES, AND OTHER LIVING EXPENSES, EXCEPT QUARTERS (INCLUDING HEAT, FUEL AND LIGHT).'

SINCE THE EMPLOYEE MANIFESTLY WOULD HAVE NO EXPENSES TO PAY FOR HIS FAMILY'S "SUBSISTENCE, SERVICES, COMMODITIES, AND OTHER LIVING EXPENSES" AT HIS FOREIGN POST OF DUTY DURING HIS FAMILY'S ABSENCE THEREFROM, THE EMPLOYEE'S FAMILY STATUS PROPERLY WOULD BE FOR REGARDING AS HAVING BEEN CHANGED BY REASON OF SUCH ABSENCE ON THE PART OF HIS FAMILY. HENCE, THE VOUCHER COVERING THE "WITH FAMILY" COST OF LIVING ALLOWANCE MAY NOT BE CERTIFIED FOR PAYMENT IN ITS PRESENT FORM, BUT AS THE EMPLOYEE WOULD APPEAR ENTITLED TO BE PAID A COST OF LIVING ALLOWANCE PREDICATED UPON THE BASIS THAT HE WAS "WITHOUT FAMILY" LIVING AT HIS FOREIGN POST OF DUTY DURING THE PERIOD INVOLVED, CERTIFICATION ACTION MAY BE TAKEN ACCORDINGLY.

THE VOUCHERS ARE RETURNED HEREWITH.

IN CONNECTION WITH THE FOREGOING IT IS FELT THAT WHERE AN EMPLOYEE'S FAMILY ACCOMPANIES OR LATER FOLLOWS HIM TO HIS FOREIGN POST OF DUTY AND SUBSEQUENTLY RETURNS TO THE UNITED STATES, ALLEGEDLY FOR A TEMPORARY PERIOD, IT IS THE RESPONSIBILITY OF THE ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICERS TO ASCERTAIN THE FULL FACTS IN EACH INSTANCE IN ORDER TO DETERMINE WHETHER IN FACT THE FAMILY ACTUALLY EXPECTS TO REJOIN THE EMPLOYEE AT HIS FOREIGN POST OF DUTY. MOREOVER, IT MAY BE NECESSARY IN A PARTICULAR CASE TO DETERMINE WHETHER THE FAMILY HAS BEEN ABSENT FROM THE EMPLOYEE'S FOREIGN POST OF DUTY FOR AN UNREASONABLE LENGTH OF TIME BEYOND WHICH QUARTERS ALLOWANCE WOULD BE PAYABLE ONLY AS FOR A SINGLE MAN WITHOUT FAMILY. SEE 24 COMP. GEN. 299, PARTICULARLY THE PARAGRAPH BEGINNING AT FOOT OF PAGE 301.