Request for Training Travel and Transportation Expenses

B-195479: Mar 7, 1980

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A certifying officer of the Department of the Interior requested a decision as to whether a claimant was entitled to reimbursement of expenses for travel, transportation, temporary quarters, and movement of household effects incident to long-term training away from his former duty station. The claimant was an employee of the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) when he was offered a fellowship at the University of Arizona in Tucson. His application for long-term training under the Government Employees Training Act was approved on August 2, 1977, by the Acting Deputy Commissioner of BIA. Before his departure, the claimant was informed by superiors that his position with BIA could not be vacated. Nevertheless, the claimant proceeded with his August 22, 1977, departure to avoid missing the University's registration date requirements and to fulfill his job commitments. On September 19, the Director of the BIA Office of Administration, who had authority to allow the training, informed the claimant that the training was disapproved because necessary documentation was not available to satisfy the regulatory requirements. However, on September 26, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Policy, Budget, and Administration advised the claimant that BIA had been unaware of the documentation of his approved training and advised him that if the documentation were submitted, the training would be approved if otherwise proper. The claimant submitted the appropriate documentation and the training was approved retroactively for the period from August 22, 1977, to August 21, 1978. The claimant's training authorization on August 2, 1977, effectively showed an administrative intent to allow him to change his residence to Tucson before he incurred the travel and transportation expenses in question. Accordingly, the claimant was entitled to reimbursement for the applicable travel and transportation expenses if otherwise payable. The claim for temporary quarters subsistance was not allowed since the applicable statutory provisions do not permit relocation benefits for training. Since the claimant signed a 12-month service agreement in connection with the training, the question as to whether his entry into leave without pay status on August 26, 1978, should affect his entitlement to the expenses in question was a matter for determination by the Department of the Interior.