Request for Reconsideration of Indebtedness for Excess Costs Incurred in Shipment of Household Goods

B-195256: Nov 15, 1979

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A civilian employee requested reconsideration of his alleged indebtedness for excess costs incurred in the shipment of his household goods incident to his change of station. The employee believed that the excess weight of 925 pounds was incorrect. On the basis of his previous experience, he was positive that: the total weight of the shipment was less than 11,000 pounds, that the transportation office had estimated his shipment to be 9,000 pounds, that the Joint Personal Property Shipping Office (JPPSO) performed a constructive analysis of the shipment on the cubic representation, and that the carrier failed to obtain a reweigh as requested prior to delivery. The Government authorizes the shipment of household goods at a maximum weight of 11,000 pounds when an employee is transferred from one duty station to another. In this case, a licensed weighmaster certified the net weight of the shipment at 11,925 pounds. GAO found that previous experience in shipping one's household goods was not sufficient evidence to rebut the scale certifications signed by the weighmaster. An estimate of the shipment's weight by the transportation officer does not bind the Government, nor provide a reasonable basis for permitting payment of the excess weight charges. The weight analysis performed by the JPPSO was also based on an estimate, and was insufficient evidence to support the claim. There was no basis to conclude that the weights used in the administrative computation of excess costs were not correct. Procedural failure to reweigh the shipment did not relieve the employee of the liability for the excess weight charges. Accordingly, the prior decision was sustained.