Request for Reimbursement of One-Way House-Hunting Trip Expense

B-195973: Aug 25, 1980

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An advance decision was requested on the propriety of certifying a voucher for payment based on per diem and mileage for an employee of the Department of Agriculture and her spouse for a trip in connection with her permanent change of station. The record showed that the employee had accepted a position and had travel orders authorizing a round trip for her and her spouse to seek residence quarters. Unknown to the official who authorized the house-hunting trip, the employee was asked to report to duty earlier than planned, and thus departed with the expectation of remaining at her new duty station. Upon arriving at her new duty station, the employee found that she was not needed until later. Rather than returning, she remained and spent the time house-hunting. The employee was paid temporary quarters subsistence expenses. In addition, she was paid mileage for travel and per diem for both her and her spouse. She was also reimbursed under the commuted rate system for transporting her household goods and personal effects. Later, the employee and her spouse returned to her old duty station apparently to transport the rest of their belongings to the new duty station. She claimed mileage and per diem for this trip on the basis that their earlier trips had been for purpose of house-hunting. An employee who has traveled to his new station for the purpose of an authorized house-hunting trip and who does not return to his old station prior to entering on duty at his new station is not entitled to additional travel expenses for the purpose of effecting the change of station according to Federal law. The one-way travel performed in connection with the house-hunting trip was regarded as travel incident to the permanent change of station. Since the employee accomplished her change of station at the earlier date, there is no authority by which she may be reimbursed for the second trip from her old to new duty station.