Claim for Temporary Quarters Subsistence Expenses and Reimbursement for Attorney's Fees

B-195462: Apr 22, 1980

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An employee appealed a Claims Division decision which denied his claim for additional temporary quarters subsistence expenses (TQSE) and attorney's fees for the purchase and sale of his residence. The Claims Division found that the employee had been overpaid $728.85 in TQSE and that he was overpaid $641 in real estate expenses for the purchase and sale of his home. The Navy employee was transferred from Guam to New York in 1974 and was authorized TQSE for a period not to exceed 60 days. On Guam, he secured temporary quarters for 15 days, then traveled to the United States and went on annual leave and did not claim TQSE for that period. Upon returning to duty on September 2, he reentered temporary quarters until October 15. Initially, the Navy reimbursed the employee for temporary quarters until October 12, 1974, but a Navy Finance office determined that he was only eligible for TQSE until September 11. GAO found that the employee had the option to claim TQSE for 60 consecutive days beginning when he vacated his old residence, or when he reported to his new duty station. The Claims Division was directed to compute the employee's TQSE from September 2 to October 31, 1974. Insofar as his entitlement for that period exceeded TQSE payable for the period on Guam, the employee was to be advised of the reduced amount of his indebtedness for TQSE improperly paid. The employee was properly reimbursed for legal fees incident to the purchase of a new residence because reimbursement has been allowed where an employee was required to pay a bank attorney's fees for review of documents at settlement. However, the employee was not allowed reimbursement for his own attorney's fees. In a subsequent sale of this residence, reimbursement of fees for services determined to be advisory or representative in nature were disallowed. The prior decision concerning the employee's real estate expenses was upheld.