[Claim for Relocation Expenses for Transfer From Overseas Duty Station]

B-213742: Aug 5, 1985

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A Department of Agriculture certifying officer requested a decision on whether an employee may be certified for certain relocation expenses incurred in connection with his reassignment of official station after his completion of a foreign duty assignment. The employee had been reimbursed for expenses incurred for travel from his permanent home to a temporary duty site; however, after a permanent position was established at the temporary site, the employee claimed reimbursement of travel and per diem expenses for himself and his family and transportation of his household goods to that site. The certifying officer asked whether: (1) the short time between the employee's return and permanent assignment limited his costs for relocation expenses; (2) if so, should the claims already paid be recomputed and any overpayment be collected; (3) if the transfer was determined to be from the foreign to the permanent station, should the employee be entitled to reimbursement of household goods transportation expenses; and (4) should the employee be reimbursed for real estate expenses. GAO found that: (1) since the employee's transfer to the permanent station was unclear at the time of his return from his foreign duty, the reimbursement of travel expenses to his home by way of the temporary duty site was appropriate; (2) since the employee was notified of the permanent change while on temporary duty, he may be reimbursed for the round-trip expenses incurred for the purpose of moving his family and household goods incident to relocation and at the same commuted rate method authorized in a previous travel order; and (4) since there was confusion as to the employee's duty station when he returned from the foreign assignment which arose from the agency's failure to properly determine his position, the employee may be allowed reimbursement of his real estate expenses. Accordingly, the claim may be certified for payment in accordance with the principles set forth in this decision.