Claim for Relocation Expenses

B-197323: Jul 1, 1980

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A newly appointed Federal employee claimed reimbursement of relocation expenses, including transportation and storage of household goods, temporary housing for up to 30 days, a househunting trip, and real estate expenses. The employee was told that as a new appointee to a manpower shortage position, he was entitled to those expenses. However, about 4 months after accepting the appointment and relocating, the employee was informed that he had been erroneously authorized allowances which only transferred employees may receive. He was given an amended travel authorization which provided only for per diem for himself. While it is generally true that new appointees are not entitled to reimbursement for relocation expenses, a statute grants agencies discretionary authority to pay the travel expenses of a new appointee to a position for which the Office of Personnel Management has determined there is a manpower shortage. The same statute provides that agencies may also reimburse the transportation expenses of the appointee's family and the cost of shipping his household goods. The agency certifying officer stated that it is agency policy to reimburse new appointees in manpower shortage categories to the maximum allowable under Federal travel regulations. In the light of the agency policy, the employee was entitled to additional reimbursement for travel and transportation of his family and household goods, for which he had already been paid. He was not entitled to receive reimbursement for any other expenses incurred even though such reimbursement was authorized by his original travel authorization. There is no authority for an agency to make reimbursement to an employee beyond that authorized by law.