Liability for Excess Weight Costs in Transportation of Household Goods

B-200795: May 26, 1981

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An employee of the Department of the Army appealed the determination by the Claims Group that he is indebted to the Government for the excess weight of household goods which he shipped incident to his transfer to a new permanent duty station. The employee's main contention was that he took every precaution to obtain estimates of the weight of his household goods prior to shipment. The employee stated that he disposed of certain heavy appliances prior to shipment for the specific purpose of reducing the weight of the shipment under the 11,000 pounds allowable. The employee further argued that the error was made by the Army and the van lines and that he should not be held liable for the excess weight charges in view of his attempts to ensure that the shipment did not exceed the maximum weight authorized. Applicable statutes set the maximum authorized weight limits and do not specify any conditions under which that limit may be exceeded. Therefore, regardless of the reasons for the shipment of the excessive weight of household goods, the law does not permit payment by the Government of charges incurred incident to shipment of the excess weight. Regulations which provide for waiver of claims against the Government do not apply in this case. Thus there is no authority to relieve the employee from responsibility for the excess weight charge. However, in view of the uniform tare weights of containers holding his household goods, consideration should be given to applying the 85 percent rule contained in applicable Federal travel regulations.

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