Claim for Unreimbursed Costs of Storing Household Goods

B-201277: Feb 20, 1981

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A Government employee filed a claim for the unreimbursed costs of storing his household goods. The claimant's goods remained in storage for 11 months incident to a transfer to the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). HUD paid the storage costs on the goods for 60 days; however, the employee asserted that he was entitled to reimbursement for the additional period of time that his goods were stored. The claimant had attempted to buy a house within the 60-day period, but he was thwarted as a result of discrimination against him and his family by the seller of the house he had planned to buy. The claimant filed a discrimination complaint with HUD and the seller subsequently agreed to sell the house, but the claimant did not take possesion of the house until 10 months after his transfer. Except for a situation not relevant to this case, there is no authority to reimburse an employee for the expense of temporarily storing his household goods in excess of 60 days. The claimant asked that GAO consider the Meritorious Claims Act as a basis for his claim for storage costs. The Act allows submission to Congress of claims which may not be lawfully adjusted by appropriated funds, but which contain such elements of legal liability or equity as to be deserving of the consideration of Congress. There was nothing to indicate that the United States played any role in the difficulties which the claimant encountered in purchasing his house. In the absence of any Government involvement, GAO found no legal or equitable basis for recommending that Congress authorize that the claimant be reimbursed for the costs of storing his goods until he took possession of his house.

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