Reimbursement Claim for Dependent's Travel Expenses

B-200421: Jun 8, 1982

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Shirley Jones
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A Federal employee requested reconsideration of a GAO decision which denied his claim for his wife's househunting expenses. The employee had been authorized round trip travel for house-hunting. However, his travel orders indicated that dependent travel was not authorized, since he was single at the time the orders were written. After departing for the house-hunting trip, the employee was married and spent 2 days seeking a permanent residence at his new duty station. GAO denied the claim for the employee's wife's travel expenses because she had never been granted authorization for the trip and because retroactive determinations of entitlement to house-hunting trip expenses are generally not allowed. In requesting reconsideration, the employee stated that he had advised his personnel office of his forthcoming marriage and requested that his travel orders be amended to allow for his wife's travel. He asked if the agency's withholding of a decision pending a GAO ruling amounted to an administrative error and if it was a tacit informal authority for his wife's house-hunting trip. Federal Travel Regulations expressly require advance authorization for house-hunting trips. Therefore, there was no authority to change the travel orders retroactively because the record showed that the lack of dependent travel orders was not the result of an administrative error, and no advance oral authorization was granted. Accordingly, the employee could not be retroactively authorized house-hunting expenses for his wife, and the prior decision was affirmed.