Request for Living Quarters Allowance

B-170177: Aug 23, 1979

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A civilian employee of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers requested review of the denial of his claim for a living quarters allowance (LQA) during the period from February to August 1969, when he was stationed in Japan and rented private quarters. The Army and the Air Force, which administered housing in the area, refused to grant him an LQA, initially on the ground that suitable Government quarters were available, and later on the ground that the quarters he rented were not approved private housing as defined by governing regulations because the rent was in excess of the approved ceiling. The employee's claim was disallowed by GAO because the time limit for filing claims with GAO was changed from 10 to 6 years effective July 2, 1975, and claims received on that date which accrued prior to July 2, 1969, were barred. GAO found no basis for allowing the remainder of the claim covering July 2 to August 6, 1969. The private housing occupied by the employee was not approved and he was not granted an LQA because the rent he was paying exceeded the approved ceiling. The ceiling was ultimately raised, but remained still below the amount he was paying. In sustaining the disallowance of the employee's claim, GAO held there was no basis for overturning the administrative determination which fixed the approved rent ceiling for the employee's overseas private quarters at an amount below the rent he was actually paying. Governing law and regulations give agencies considerable discretion concerning payment of LQA, and there was no evidence of arbitrary and capricious exercise of discretion by the agency.