B-83980, APRIL 18, 1949, 28 COMP. GEN. 580

B-83980: Apr 18, 1949

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THE TEMPORARY ABSENCE OF THE WIFE AND/OR DEPENDENTS OF AN EMPLOYEE FROM HIS FOREIGN POST OF DUTY WHERE RESIDENCE HAS BEEN ESTABLISHED TEMPORARILY AND TO WHICH RETURN IS CONTEMPLATED NEED NOT BE CONSIDERED AS CONSTITUTING A CHANGE IN THE EMPLOYEE'S "FAMILY STATUS" WITHIN THE MEANING OF THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT CIVILIAN ALLOWANCE REGULATIONS SUCH AS WOULD AFFECT HIS AUTHORIZED POST OR COST-OF-LIVING ALLOWANCE. 1949: REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTER OF FEBRUARY 16. IS TO BE REGARDED AS HAVING HAD HIS FAMILY STATUS CHANGED BY REASON OF SUCH ABSENCE. SO THAT THE COST OF LIVING ALLOWANCE SHOULD BE PREDICATED UPON THE BASIS THAT HE WAS "WITHOUT FAMILY" DURING THE PERIOD OF THEIR ABSENCE. COLLINS' DEPENDENT WAS TEMPORARILY ABSENT FROM HIS FOREIGN POST OF DUTY DURING THE PERIOD JANUARY 1 TO FEBRUARY 3.

B-83980, APRIL 18, 1949, 28 COMP. GEN. 580

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 FOREIGN POST OF DUTY NEITHER CONSTITUTES A BASIS FOR ANY CHANGE IN THE EMPLOYEE'S "FAMILY STATUS" NOR WARRANTS ANY REVISION OF QUARTERS ALLOWANCE GRANTED PURSUANT TO THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT CIVILIAN ALLOWANCE REGULATIONS, SO LONG AS THE EMPLOYEE CONTINUES TO OCCUPY AND MAINTAIN QUARTERS FOR HIS FAMILY DURING SUCH ABSENCE. THE TEMPORARY ABSENCE OF THE WIFE AND/OR DEPENDENTS OF AN EMPLOYEE FROM HIS FOREIGN POST OF DUTY WHERE RESIDENCE HAS BEEN ESTABLISHED TEMPORARILY AND TO WHICH RETURN IS CONTEMPLATED NEED NOT BE CONSIDERED AS CONSTITUTING A CHANGE IN THE EMPLOYEE'S "FAMILY STATUS" WITHIN THE MEANING OF THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT CIVILIAN ALLOWANCE REGULATIONS SUCH AS WOULD AFFECT HIS AUTHORIZED POST OR COST-OF-LIVING ALLOWANCE, IN THE ABSENCE OF AN ADMINISTRATIVE DETERMINATION THAT A CHANGE IN SUCH STATUS ACTUALLY OCCURRED. COMPARE 26 COMP. GEN. 731.

COMPTROLLER GENERAL WARREN TO N. A. OLMSTEAD, DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE, APRIL 18, 1949:

REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTER OF FEBRUARY 16, 1949, FILE T, TRANSMITTING A VOUCHER IN THE AMOUNT OF $106.48 STATED IN FAVOR OF WILLIAM L. COLLINS, AN EMPLOYEE OF THE BUREAU OF ANIMAL INDUSTRY, MEXICO ( D.F.), MEXICO, FOR LIVING QUARTERS AND POST (COST-OF-LIVING) ALLOWANCES BELIEVED TO BE DUE FOR THE PERIOD DECEMBER 26, 1948, THROUGH JANUARY 22, 1949, AND REQUESTING A DECISION AS TO WHETHER, UNDER THE FACTS AND CIRCUMSTANCES HEREINAFTER RELATED, SAID VOUCHER MAY BE CERTIFIED FOR PAYMENT.

PARAGRAPH 2 OF YOUR LETTER READS AS FOLLOWS:

MR. COLLINS' DEPENDENT DEPARTED FOR THE UNITED STATES ON JANUARY 1, 1949, AND RETURNED ON FEBRUARY 3, 1949. IN YOUR DECISION B-63474 OF APRIL 3, 1947 (26 COMP. GEN. 731) YOU HELD THAT AN EMPLOYEE WHO, DURING HIS FAMILY'S TEMPORARY ABSENCE FROM HIS OVERSEAS POST OF DUTY, INCURRED NO EXPENSES FOR THEIR SUBSISTENCE, SERVICES, ETC., IS TO BE REGARDED AS HAVING HAD HIS FAMILY STATUS CHANGED BY REASON OF SUCH ABSENCE, SO THAT THE COST OF LIVING ALLOWANCE SHOULD BE PREDICATED UPON THE BASIS THAT HE WAS "WITHOUT FAMILY" DURING THE PERIOD OF THEIR ABSENCE.

IN VIEW OF THE CITED DECISION AND THE FACT THAT MR. COLLINS' DEPENDENT WAS TEMPORARILY ABSENT FROM HIS FOREIGN POST OF DUTY DURING THE PERIOD JANUARY 1 TO FEBRUARY 3, 1949, YOU STATE YOU ARE RELUCTANT TO CERTIFY THE VOUCHER FOR THE FULL AMOUNT IN THE ABSENCE OF AN EXPRESSION OF MY VIEWS WITH RESPECT TO THE LEGALITY OF SUCH PAYMENT.

AS INDICATED IN PARAGRAPH 3 OF YOUR LETTER THE GRANTING OF VARIOUS ALLOWANCES TO FEDERAL OFFICERS AND EMPLOYEES STATIONED IN FOREIGN COUNTRIES DURING THE ABOVE-MENTIONED PERIOD IS GOVERNED BY THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT CIVILIAN ALLOWANCE REGULATIONS PRESCRIBED BY THE SECRETARY OF STATE ON DECEMBER 1, 1948, AS AMENDED FROM TIME TO TIME BY PUBLISHED ALLOWANCE CIRCULARS. SEE EXECUTIVE ORDER NO. 10011, DATED OCTOBER 22, 1948, AND BUREAU OF THE BUDGET CIRCULAR NO. A-8, REVISED, DATED FEBRUARY 4, 1949. ALSO, SEE SECTION 302, ACT OF JANUARY 27, 1948, 62 STAT. 6, 8, AND SECTION 204, ACT OF APRIL 20, 1948, 62 STAT. 176, 194.

SECTIONS 3 AND 4 OF THE STANDARDIZED ALLOWANCE REGULATIONS ( ALLOWANCE CIRCULAR 1, DATED DECEMBER 1, 1948) RELATE TO "QUARTERS ALLOWANCE" AND "POST ALLOWANCE," RESPECTIVELY, AND ARE EFFECTIVE AT THE BEGINNING OF THE PAY PERIOD WHICH INCLUDES JANUARY 2, 1949. SECTION 3.4 OF THE CITED CIRCULAR PROVIDES:

THE GRANT OF A QUARTERS ALLOWANCE SHALL CONTINUE, PROVIDED THE OFFICER OR EMPLOYEE MAINTAINS AND PAYS FOR HIS QUARTERS AT THE POST:

A. NOT TO EXCEED 90 DAYS DURING AUTHORIZED LEAVE OF ABSENCE WITH PAY, PLUS TRANSIT TIME WHEN LEAVE IS TAKEN IN THE UNITED STATES;

B. DURING A PERIOD WHEN ON ACCOUNT OF ILLNESS AN OFFICER OR EMPLOYEE IS ABSENT FROM HIS POST WITHOUT PAY OR BEYOND THE PERIOD SPECIFIED ABOVE OF LEAVE WITH PAY, PROVIDED THE HEAD OF THE AGENCY DETERMINES THAT THE CONTINUANCE OF THE GRANT WOULD BE IN THE PUBLIC INTEREST;

C. WHILE THE OFFICER OR EMPLOYEE IS TEMPORARILY ABSENT UNDER ORDERS FROM THE POST. SECTION 3.6 THEREOF PRESCRIBES THE METHOD FOR DETERMINING THE ACTUAL RATE AT WHICH A QUARTERS ALLOWANCE MAY BE GRANTED, AND SECTION 3.7 STIPULATES THE CONDITIONS WHICH REQUIRE REVISION OF A QUARTERS ALLOWANCE GRANT, INCLUDING A CHANGE IN THE FAMILY STATUS. IN THE LIGHT OF OF THE CITED REGULATIONS IT REASONABLY MAY BE CONCLUDED THAT SO LONG AS AN OFFICER OR EMPLOYEE CONTINUES TO OCCUPY AND MAINTAIN QUARTERS FOR HIS WIFE OR FAMILY WHO HAVE TAKEN UP RESIDENCE AT HIS FOREIGN POST OF DUTY, THE TEMPORARY ABSENCE THEREFROM OF HIS FAMILY, OR ANY OF THEM, WOULD CONSTITUTE NO BASIS FOR ANY CHANGE IN HIS "FAMILY STATUS" OR WARRANT ANY REVISION OF A QUARTERS ALLOWANCE GRANT THERETOFORE AUTHORIZED.

WITH REGARD TO "POST ALLOWANCE"--- COST-OF-LIVING ALLOWANCE--- SECTIONS 4.5 AND 4.6 OF ALLOWANCE CIRCULAR 1 PROVIDE AS FOLLOWS:

4.5 DETERMINATION OF RATE

A POST ALLOWANCE SHALL BE GRANTED TO AN OFFICER OR EMPLOYEE AT A RATE TO BE DETERMINED BY THE CLASSIFICATION OF HIS POST AS PRESCRIBED IN SECTION 9.1, HIS SALARY (SEE SEC. 1.5C), AND FAMILY STATUS (SEE SEC. 1.5B), AND THE ANNUAL RATES PRESCRIBED IN SECTION 9.4.

4.6 EFFECTIVE DATES OF REVISIONS OF GRANTS

A POST ALLOWANCE-GRANT SHALL BE APPROPRIATELY REVISED:

A. AS OF THE EFFECTIVE DATE OF AN AUTHORIZED CHANGE IN THE CLASSIFICATION OF THE POST OR THE RATE OF ALLOWANCE WHICH MAY BE GRANTED;

B. AS OF THE FIRST DAY OF THE PAY PERIOD FOLLOWING A CHANGE IN THE SALARY OR FAMILY STATUS OF AN OFFICER OR EMPLOYEE, EXCEPT THAT, WHEN THERE IS A CHANGE IN THE SALARY OF AN OFFICER OR EMPLOYEE TEMPORARILY IN CHARGE (SEE SEC. 1.5C), THE POST ALLOWANCE SHALL BE REVISED AS OF THE DATE OF THE SALARY-CHANGE.

ALTHOUGH EXISTING REGULATIONS--- NOT UNLIKE THOSE THEY SUPERSEDE--- DO NO SPECIFICALLY INDICATE OR DEFINE WHAT CONSTITUTES "A CHANGE IN THE FAMILY STATUS," ATTENTION IS INVITED TO CHAPTER III, PARAGRAPH (5), FOREIGN SERVICE ( CIRCULAR) SERIAL NO. 746, DATED AUGUST 7, 1947. THUS, IN THE ABSENCE OF AN ADMINISTRATIVE DETERMINATION THAT A CHANGE IN THE "FAMILY STATUS" OCCURRED, IT WOULD BE UNREASONABLE TO ASSUME THAT THE TEMPORARY ABSENCE OF THE EMPLOYEE'S WIFE FROM PLACE OF FOREIGN ASSIGNMENT WHERE SHE WAS RESIDING SHOULD FORM THE BASIS FOR ANY CHANGE IN HIS AUTHORIZED "POST" OR ,COST-OF-LIVING" ALLOWANCES. CONSEQUENTLY, IN A CASE LIKE THIS, THE TEMPORARY ABSENCE OF THE WIFE AND/OR DEPENDENTS OF AN EMPLOYEE FROM HIS FOREIGN STATION WHERE RESIDENCE HAD BEEN ESTABLISHED TEMPORARILY AND RETURN THERETO IS CONTEMPLATED NEED NOT BE CONSIDERED AS CONSTITUTING A CHANGE IN THE EMPLOYEE'S "FAMILY STATUS" SUCH AS WOULD AFFECT HIS AUTHORIZED POST ALLOWANCE IN THE ABSENCE OF AN ADMINISTRATIVE DETERMINATION THAT A CHANGE IN SUCH STATUS ACTUALLY OCCURRED.

IN LINE WITH THE FOREGOING, THE VOUCHER, WHICH IS RETURNED HEREWITH, MAY BE CERTIFIED FOR PAYMENT IN THE AMOUNT CLAIMED, IF OTHERWISE CORRECT.