Claim for Reimbursement of Real Estate Expenses

B-202386: Sep 8, 1981

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GAO was requested to decide whether the sale and purchase of a Federal employee's residence was due to a transfer of official duty station so as to entitle the employee to reimbursement of real estate expenses. The employee was assigned to a series of temporary duty stations in Washington, D.C., and the metropolitan area. During his second temporary duty assignment, the employee received notification of his permanent transfer to the area. Following his transfer, the employee sought reimbursement for the sale of his previous residence and the purchase of his new residence. Although reimbursement for real estate sale and purchase expenses was authorized in his travel orders, the employee's claim was denied because the expenses were incurred prior to his notification of transfer. Previously, GAO has held that reimbursement of expenses incurred prior to the issuance of travel orders may be allowed, if the subsequently issued travel orders authorized relocation expenses on the basis of a previously existing administrative intent to transfer the employee evident at the time the expenses were incurred. GAO did not find sufficient evidence in the record to establish that there existed the requisite administrative intent to transfer the employee at the time he became legally obligated to sell his old residence and buy his new residence. Accordingly, the employee had no entitlement to the claimed real estate expenses for the sale of his old residence and purchase of his new residence.