B-98615 November 2, 1950

B-98615: Nov 2, 1950

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Michaels: Reference is made to your letter of September 4. The employee was transferred from Omaha to Minot. Apparently shipment of his household effects to the new duty station at Government expense was authorized. Constructive cost of movement of the employee's household effects and storage cost at Omaha was submitted by you. The claim covering lump sum leave was allowed in the sum of $473. The clam for salary was suspended for the reason that funeral expenses constitute a preferred claim in North Dakota. That the record is silent as to the payment of funeral expenses. Complete information in that respect was requested of you in unanswered office letter of September 19. The household effects claim was disallowed by the said settlement because the record does not disclose that shipment of the effects had been accomplished from Omaha to Minot.

B-98615 November 2, 1950

Mrs. Althea Michaels c/o Bill Michaels 33 Custer Street Missoula, Montana

Dear Mrs. Michaels:

Reference is made to your letter of September 4, 1950, relative to that part of settlements of August 10, 1950, which disallowed your claim for the estimated constructive cost of movement of the household effects of Walter H. Michaels, now deceased, from Omaha, Nebraska, to Minot, North Dakota, and cost of storage of the said effects at Omaha, incident to a permanent change of station of Mr. Michaels between the above points as an employee of the Department of Agriculture.

The record shows that by authorization of September 13, 1948, the employee was transferred from Omaha to Minot, and apparently shipment of his household effects to the new duty station at Government expense was authorized. Claim for unpaid salary, lump-sum payment of annual leave, and constructive cost of movement of the employee's household effects and storage cost at Omaha was submitted by you. By settlement of August 10, 1950, the claim covering lump sum leave was allowed in the sum of $473. However, the clam for salary was suspended for the reason that funeral expenses constitute a preferred claim in North Dakota, domicile of decedent at date of death, and that the record is silent as to the payment of funeral expenses, complete information in that respect was requested of you in unanswered office letter of September 19, 1950. Further, the household effects claim was disallowed by the said settlement because the record does not disclose that shipment of the effects had been accomplished from Omaha to Minot.

In your letter of September 4, 1950, you stated that the household effects of the decedent had not been shipped from Omaha as of that date (September 4) and that it was not contemplated the shipment would begin prior to the expiration of the two years allowed by the applicable regulations. Reimbursement is requested in your letter for that part of the move that in fact was completed from the employee's residence to place of storage in Omaha and the number of months' storage allowable. Also you request that for the "reminder of the time that the furniture has been in storage until the passing on of Mr. Michaels, would you please prepare a special claim to be enacted upon by Congress."

You are advised that this office is unable to take any action on the claim for the storage expenses claimed unless the information requested in the above-mentioned office letter of September 19 is furnished, funeral expense preference being for consideration in the case of storage expenses as well as in connection with unpaid salary. Moreover, you are advised that the applicable regulations, Executive Order 9805, as amended by Executive Order 9933, permitting reimbursement of otherwise proper claims for storage of household effects for a period not exceeding 60 days of storage, require that any claim for reimbursement for temporary storage shall be supported by the original or a certified copy office covering the storage charges and incidental expenses of the storage, including drayage from residence to storage. Accordingly, upon the present record the action taken in the settlement of August 10, 1950, disallowing the household effects item is sustained.

Your request that any storage in excess of that allowable under the regulations, that is, storage subsequent to the first 60 days be submitted to the Congress by this office presumably is intended as a request for reporting to the Congress under the act of April 10, 1928, 31 U.S.C. 236. That act is for invoking only when it definitely is determined that a claim or demand against the United States "may not lawfully be adjusted by the use of an appropriation theretofore made" and then only when the claim or demand "contains such elements of legal liability or equity as to be deserving of the consideration of the Congress." The applicable regulations set a specific time for which the Government will make payment for storage charges incurred incident to a transfer of station. Such storage at Government expense is authorized on the basis that a reasonable time may be necessary before the household effects can be utilized at the new station because of lack of suitable accommodations or other reasons. In promulgating the regulations it was considered advisable to set a specific cut-off date and that date of necessity must apply to each case. This office would not be justified in reporting to the Congress pursuant to the provisions of 31 U.S.C. 236, an individual case covering storage charges claimed for a period in excess of the 60 days permitted by the regulations, there being countless Government employees who in the past, and doubtless will in the future, have been required to bear the cost of storage subsequent to the 60 day period by reason of not having located suitable accommodations at the duty station within the 60-day period. Accordingly, your request that the claim be reported to the Congress must be and is denied.

Very truly yours,

(Signed) Lindsay C. Warren Comptroller General of the United States