Entitlement to Reimbursement of Transportation Expenses

B-195643: Apr 24, 1980

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A decision was requested regarding the claims of three noncommissioned Marine Corps officers for travel expenses for themselves and their dependents incident to a permanent change of station (PCS). The members' wives were moved at Government expense to designated locations in the United States when the members were transferred to an overseas restricted duty station to which dependents may not be moved at Government expense. Subsequently, the dependents joined the members at personal expense in the area of the overseas restricted duty station without disestablishing their designated locations. While the dependents were at the restricted duty station with the members, the members received notification of a PCS to an overseas unrestricted duty station, but the dependents returned to their designated locations in the United States prior to travel to the new duty station. Two questions arose: (1) whether the members may be reimbursed for their dependents' transportation expenses from the designated location to the new duty station upon the members' PCS or whether their entitlement was limited to their dependents' travel from the overseas duty station directly to the next duty station, and (2) whether in such circumstances the members would be entitled to their own transportation at Government expense from their overseas station to the designated location and then to the new duty station, or whether they were limited to transportation directly from their old to their new duty stations. GAO interpreted the applicable regulations to permit reimbursement for the members' dependents' transportation expenses from the designated location to the new duty station and to permit the members' transportation at Government expense from their overseas station to the designated location and then to the new duty station. Since the members' dependents had not disestablished their designated locations, there was no reason to deny reimbursement for their return to prepare for the move necessitated by the PCS. Similarly, the fact that the members' dependents were with them at the time they were notified of their PCS should not have affected the customary entitlement to travel at Government expense to help their dependents prepare to move to the new duty station. Accordingly, payment was permitted if otherwise correct.