Claim for Reimbursement of Real Estate Expenses

B-197609: Oct 20, 1980

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An authorized certifying officer of the National Park Service requested a decision as to whether he could certify for payment a travel voucher submitted by an employee for the reimbursement of expenses incurred in the sale of his old residence and the purchase of a new residence at his duty station. The employee had accepted a transfer of station, signed a service agreement, and received travel orders. The employee was informed that his position description would remain the same at the new station. Ten days prior to the transfer, the employee was notified that he would be subject to another level of supervision, and the employee then declined the transfer. The employee had already sold his home and, subsequently, bought a new one. He then sought reimbursement for the expenses incurred in these transactions. Federal Travel Regulations authorize reimbursement to an employee for certain expenses incurred in connection with the sale of one residence at his old official station and the purchase of a dwelling at his new official station when required by a transfer of official station in the interest of the Government. Where the employee does not actually enter upon duty at his new duty station, he may not be regarded as having performed travel in the interest of the Government. Ordinarily, the revocation of transfer orders at the request of the employee will not be regarded as a canceled transfer for the purpose of reimbursement of relocation expenses. In this case, if the employee's transfer had been determined to be in the best interest of the Government, and had he fully complied with his travel order, he would have been entitled to reimbursement of relocation expenses incurred incident to the transfer. However, the employee decided not to comply with the travel order for reasons he felt were in his best interest. There has been no determination by the Park Service that the cancellation of the transfer was in the best interest of the Government. In the absence of a determination by appropriate management officials of the Park Service that the employee did not complete the transfer for reasons beyond his control and acceptable to the agency, there is no authority to reimburse the expenses incurred by him in the sale and purchase of the residences at his old duty station. Accordingly, the travel voucher was not certified for payment.