[Claim for Relocation Expenses Incurred During Change of Residence at Permanent Duty Station]

B-213164: Feb 22, 1984

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The Veterans Administration (VA) requested a decision as to whether an employee may be reimbursed for the relocation expenses he incurred in changing residences at his permanent duty station. The employee stated that agency personnel had advised him that, even though his official station would not be changed by his acceptance of a permanent assignment, he could be reimbursed for the expenses incurred in the move to the permanent residence he planned to buy. The employee subsequently filed a claim for relocation expenses, including a loan origination fee. VA allowed the claim for the loan origination fee but denied reimbursement for the other claimed expenses. The employee contended that: (1) he would have made different arrangements had VA not erroneously advised him regarding his authorized expenses; and (2) a prior GAO decision provided a basis upon which to reimburse him for the relocation expenses. GAO found that: (1) applicable regulations provide no basis for reimbursing the employee, and the Government is not bound by the erroneous advice of its employees; and (2) the prior GAO decision applied only to members of the uniformed services. Further, GAO stated that the employee was not entitled to reimbursement of the loan origination fee unless he provided VA with a breakdown of specific charges showing that they were not finance charges. Accordingly, VA should collect from the employee the amount paid for transportation charges and his entitlement to the loan origination fee reimbursement should be redetermined.

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