Request for Reimbursement of Wife's Househunting Travel Expenses

B-200421: Jul 20, 1981

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An accounting and finance officer requested a decision on an employee's entitlement to reimbursement for househunting travel expenses incurred by the employee's wife. Specifically, the accounting and finance officer asked whether: (1) since the employee complied with his travel orders, there are any entitlements for per diem and air travel for his wife in connection with a trip to seek a permanent residence; and (2) travel orders indicating round trip travel to seek a permanent residence preclude all entitlements or partial entitlements for an individual who was not the spouse of the employee for the entire period of the travel. The employee was authorized a permanent change of station and was issued orders which authorized round trip travel to the new duty station to seek permanent residence. Since the employee was single at the time, the travel orders did not authorize dependent travel. After a 2-day stopover during which he was married, the employee and his wife continued on to the new duty station where they spent 2 days looking for a permanent residence. Subsequently, amended travel orders were issued authorizing transportation from the old duty station to the new duty station and providing for increased household goods and increased mileage allowances. Applicable regulations provide that, even though an employee may be authorized a househunting trip for himself, there is no requirement that the opportunity extend to his spouse. Agencies are given discretion as to whether the benefits of a househunting trip should be extended to an employee, his spouse, or both. In this case, no authorization for a househunting trip was ever made for the employee's wife. In addition, the applicable regulations do not authorize a retroactive determination of entitlement to househunting trip expenses. Accordingly, the employee may not be reimbursed for his wife's househunting trip expenses.