B-175787, AUG 11, 1972, 52 COMP GEN 78

B-175787: Aug 11, 1972

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EMPLOYEES WHO OCCUPY TEMPORARY QUARTERS AND ARE FURNISHED SUBSISTENCE IN THE HOMES OF RELATIVES IN CONNECTION WITH PERMANENT TRANSFERS OF STATION MAY BE REIMBURSED REASONABLE RENTAL AND SUBSISTENCE CHARGES UNDER SECTION 8.4. CHARGES ARE NOT REASONABLE WHEN RELATIVES ARE PAID THE SAME AMOUNTS EMPLOYEES WOULD PAY IN MOTELS OR RESTAURANTS. OR ARE BASED UPON MAXIMUM AMOUNTS REIMBURSABLE UNDER THE REGULATION. EXPENSES BASED ON ESTIMATES OF AVERAGE RATES PER DAY ARE NOT ACCEPTABLE. IN BOTH CASES THE TEMPORARY QUARTERS OCCUPIED WERE IN THE HOMES OF CLOSE RELATIVES AND THE MANNER IN WHICH THE EMPLOYEES HAVE UNDERTAKEN TO SUBSTANTIATE THEIR CLAIMS FOR REIMBURSEMENT RAISE DOUBTS AS TO WHETHER THEY MAY BE CERTIFIED FOR PAYMENT.

B-175787, AUG 11, 1972, 52 COMP GEN 78

OFFICERS AND EMPLOYEES - TRANSFERS - RELOCATION EXPENSES - TEMPORARY QUARTERS - OWNED BY A RELATIVE, ETC. EMPLOYEES WHO OCCUPY TEMPORARY QUARTERS AND ARE FURNISHED SUBSISTENCE IN THE HOMES OF RELATIVES IN CONNECTION WITH PERMANENT TRANSFERS OF STATION MAY BE REIMBURSED REASONABLE RENTAL AND SUBSISTENCE CHARGES UNDER SECTION 8.4, OFFICE OF MANAGEMENT AND BUDGET CIRCULAR NO. A-56, EFFECTIVE SEPTEMBER 1, 1971. CHARGES ARE NOT REASONABLE WHEN RELATIVES ARE PAID THE SAME AMOUNTS EMPLOYEES WOULD PAY IN MOTELS OR RESTAURANTS, OR ARE BASED UPON MAXIMUM AMOUNTS REIMBURSABLE UNDER THE REGULATION. REASONABLENESS DEPENDS ON THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF EACH CASE, SUCH AS THE NUMBER OF INDIVIDUALS INVOLVED, THE EXTRA WORK PERFORMED BY RELATIVES, AND THE NEED TO HIRE EXTRA HELP, AND, THEREFORE, EMPLOYEES SHOULD BE REQUIRED TO FURNISH SUFFICIENT INFORMATION TO PERMIT A REASONABLENESS DETERMINATION TO BE MADE, AND EXPENSES BASED ON ESTIMATES OF AVERAGE RATES PER DAY ARE NOT ACCEPTABLE.

TO R. J. SCHULLERY, DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION, AUGUST 11, 1972:

THIS REFERS FURTHER TO YOUR LETTER OF APRIL 21, 1972, IN WHICH YOU REQUESTED OUR DECISION AS TO THE PROPRIETY OF CERTIFYING FOR PAYMENT TWO CLAIMS FOR REIMBURSEMENT OF EXPENSES INCURRED BY EMPLOYEES INCIDENT TO OCCUPANCY OF TEMPORARY QUARTERS IN CONNECTION WITH PERMANENT TRANSFERS OF STATION.

THE CLAIMS SUBMITTED BY MR. LYLE S. MILLER AND MR. WATKINS L. GEORGE INVOLVE THE OCCUPANCY OF TEMPORARY QUARTERS UNDER SOMEWHAT SIMILAR CIRCUMSTANCES. IN BOTH CASES THE TEMPORARY QUARTERS OCCUPIED WERE IN THE HOMES OF CLOSE RELATIVES AND THE MANNER IN WHICH THE EMPLOYEES HAVE UNDERTAKEN TO SUBSTANTIATE THEIR CLAIMS FOR REIMBURSEMENT RAISE DOUBTS AS TO WHETHER THEY MAY BE CERTIFIED FOR PAYMENT. AS YOUR LETTER STATES, IT MIGHT BE SAID THAT:

IT APPEARS THAT THE AMOUNTS CLAIMED BY BOTH MESSRS. MILLER AND GEORGE FOR SUBSISTENCE EXPENSES WHILE OCCUPYING TEMPORARY QUARTERS WITH RELATIVES IS BASED UPON THE MAXIMUM AMOUNT THAT CAN BE REIMBURSED FOR EACH TEN-DAY PERIOD RATHER THAN WITH (ON) ACTUAL SUBSISTENCE COSTS INCURRED.

THE PROVISIONS OF SECTION 2.5, OFFICE OF MANAGEMENT AND BUDGET CIRCULAR NO. A-56, REVISED JUNE 26, 1969, SUBSEQUENTLY REVISED AS SECTION 8.4, EFFECTIVE SEPTEMBER 1, 1971, ARE APPLICABLE TO BOTH CASES. INASMUCH AS NO CHANGE IN SUBSTANCE WAS MADE THE DISCUSSION OF EACH CASE WHICH FOLLOWS WILL, FOR REASONS OF CONVENIENCE, BE BASED ON THE CURRENT REGULATION, WHICH PROVIDES, IN PERTINENT PART, AS FOLLOWS:

8.4. ALLOWABLE AMOUNT

A. ACTUAL EXPENSES ALLOWED. REIMBURSEMENT WILL BE ONLY FOR ACTUAL SUBSISTENCE EXPENSES INCURRED PROVIDED THESE ARE INCIDENT TO OCCUPANCY OF TEMPORARY QUARTERS AND ARE REASONABLE AS TO AMOUNT. ALLOWABLE SUBSISTENCE EXPENSES INCLUDE ONLY CHARGES FOR MEALS (INCLUDING GROCERIES CONSUMED WHILE OCCUPYING TEMPORARY QUARTERS), LODGING, FEES AND TIPS INCIDENT TO MEALS AND LODGING, LAUNDRY, CLEANING AND PRESSING OF CLOTHING.

B. ITEMIZATION AND RECEIPTS. THE ACTUAL EXPENSES WILL BE ITEMIZED IN A MANNER PRESCRIBED BY THE HEAD OF THE AGENCY WHICH WILL PERMIT AT LEAST A REVIEW OF THE AMOUNTS SPENT DAILY FOR (1) LODGING, (2) MEALS, AND (3) ALL OTHER ITEMS OF SUBSISTENCE EXPENSES. RECEIPTS WILL BE REQUIRED AT LEAST FOR LODGING AND LAUNDRY AND CLEANING EXPENSES (EXCEPT WHEN COIN-OPERATED FACILITIES ARE USED) ***

C. COMPUTATION OF MAXIMUM. THE AMOUNT WHICH MAY BE REIMBURSED FOR TEMPORARY QUARTERS SUBSISTENCE EXPENSES WILL BE THE LESSER OF EITHER (A) THE ACTUAL AMOUNT OF ALLOWABLE EXPENSE INCURRED FOR EACH TEN-DAY PERIOD OR (B) THE AMOUNT COMPUTED *** IN ACCORDANCE WITH A FORMULA PROVIDED.

MR. MILLER TRANSFERRED FROM GREENSBORO, NORTH CAROLINA, TO GAINESVILLE, FLORIDA, EFFECTIVE JUNE 14, 1971. OCCUPANCY OF TEMPORARY QUARTERS BEGAN JUNE 7, 1971, TO ALLOW PREPARATION OF THE EMPLOYEE'S HOUSETRAILER (USED AS A RESIDENCE) FOR TRANSPORTATION TO THE NEW DUTY STATION. FROM THAT DATE THROUGH JUNE 19 MR. MILLER LIVED, WITH THE EXCEPTION OF 3 DAYS, AT MOTELS AT THE OLD AND NEW DUTY STATIONS OR APPEARS TO HAVE TO HAVE BEEN IN A TRAVEL STATUS BETWEEN THE OLD AND NEW STATIONS. HIS WIFE AND THREE CHILDREN, ONE AGED 12, ONE AGED 2, AND ONE AN INFANT OF 1 MONTH, LIVED THROUGHOUT THE PERIOD AT THE HOME OF MRS. BERTIE M. SIMS OF SAVANNAH, GEORGIA, WHO APPARENTLY IS THE MOTHER OF MRS. MILLER.

YOUR PRIMARY QUESTION AS TO MR. MILLER'S CLAIM CONCERNS THE REASONABLENESS OF THE EXPENSES FOR HIS DEPENDENTS. THE ITEMIZATION OF EXPENSES PROVIDED ON YOUR AGENCY FORM FOR THIS PURPOSE SHOWS, FOR EACH DAY OF THE FIRST 10 DAYS: LODGING, $25; MEALS, $18; TIPS, $2; AND LAUNDRY, $5, THE TOTAL AMOUNT BEING $500, OR THE SAME AMOUNT AS THAT ALLOWABLE AS THE MAXIMUM UNDER SUBSECTION 8.4C OF CIRCULAR NO. A-56. FOR THE FOLLOWING 3 DAYS OF OCCUPANCY, THE AMOUNT FOR LODGING IS REDUCED TO $15 PER DAY AND THE AMOUNT FOR TIPS TO $1. FOR THE 11TH AND 12TH DAYS THE LAUNDRY CHARGES WERE REDUCED TO $2.50. THE AMOUNT FOR MEALS IS SHOWN AS $19 FOR THE 11TH DAY AND $18 FOR EACH OF THE LAST 2 DAYS OF OCCUPANCY. RECEIPTS SIGNED BY MRS. SIMS HAVE BEEN SUPPLIED FOR LODGING AND LAUNDRY.

WITH RESPECT TO THE CHARGE FOR RENT FOR THE EMPLOYEE'S DEPENDENTS DURING THE ENTIRE PERIOD WE BELIEVE HE SHOULD BE REQUIRED TO SUPPLY A FURTHER EXPLANATION OF THE BASIS UPON WHICH THE LODGING RATES WERE ESTABLISHED SINCE THE REDUCTION FROM $25 TO $15 ON THE 11TH DAY OF OCCUPANCY SUGGESTS THAT THE RATES WERE FIXED AT THE MAXIMUM AMOUNTS ALLOWABLE TO THE EMPLOYEE FOR HIS DEPENDENTS RATHER THAN THE ACTUAL RENTAL VALUE OF THE QUARTERS. ALTHOUGH THE REGULATIONS DO NOT PRECLUDE PAYMENT OF RENT TO RELATIVES WHOSE PREMISES ARE OCCUPIED AS TEMPORARY QUARTERS, THE AMOUNT ALLOWED MUST BE REASONABLE. SEE B-174986, MAY 11, 1972, COPY ENCLOSED. IN THE ABSENCE OF AN EXPLANATION OF THE METHOD USED TO ESTABLISH THE RENTAL RATES WE AGREE THE LODGING COSTS APPEAR TO BE UNREASONABLE.

AS TO THE CLAIM FOR COSTS OF MEALS, TIPS AND LAUNDRY THROUGHOUT THE PERIOD, THESE APPEAR TO BE ESTIMATES BASED ON AVERAGE RATES PER DAY AND NOT AN ACTUAL ITEMIZATION OF EXPENDITURES. OUR DECISIONS HAVE ALLOWED REIMBURSEMENT ON THE BASIS OF DETAILED ESTIMATES WHERE THESE (1) ARE BASED ON ACTUAL EXPENDITURES AND (2) ARE REASONABLE IN AMOUNT. IN THIS CASE WE DO NOT REGARD THE ESTIMATES SUBMITTED AS MEETING THIS STANDARD. B-164057, JUNE 5, 1968, COPY ENCLOSED. CF. B-161166, APRIL 26, 1967; B-166238, MARCH 27, 1969; B-165553, NOVEMBER 28, 1968.

THE RECORD SHOWS THAT ON JUNE 12, 18, AND 19, MR. MILLER ALSO LODGED AT THE RESIDENCE OF MRS. SIMS AND HAS SUBMITTED RECEIPTS SIGNED BY HER FOR RENT ($12.50 PER DAY) AND LAUNDRY ($9). IN THIS CONNECTION WE NOTE THE VOUCHER CLAIMS $18.75 FOR THIS EXPENSE ON JUNE 18. WITH RESPECT TO THE LODGING EXPENSE ON JUNE 12 IT MAY BE THAT THIS WAS INCURRED AS A TRAVEL EXPENSE REIMBURSABLE IN ACCORDANCE WITH SUBSECTION 2.1 OF CIRCULAR NO. A- 56 SINCE MR. MILLER APPARENTLY VACATED THE MOTEL AT HIS OLD DUTY STATION ON JUNE 10. MOREOVER, HE CLAIMED NO TEMPORARY QUARTERS ALLOWANCE FOR HIMSELF FOR THAT DAY OR JUNE 11, AND THE MOTEL RECEIPTS SUBMITTED BY HIM INDICATE OCCUPANCY OF MOTEL QUARTERS AT THE NEW DUTY STATION BEGINNING JUNE 13, 1971. ACCORDINGLY, THE CLAIM FOR $12.50 FOR LODGING EXPENSE ON THAT DAY SHOULD BE FURTHER CLARIFIED BEFORE ANY REIMBURSEMENT IS ALLOWED.

THE CLAIM FOR MR. MILLER'S LODGING AT SAVANNAH ON JUNE 18(FRIDAY NIGHT) AND 19(SATURDAY) IS ALSO SUBJECT TO FURTHER CLARIFICATION SINCE HIS ABSENCE FROM HIS OLD AND NEW DUTY STATIONS ON THOSE DATES SUGGESTS THAT HE TRAVELED TO SAVANNAH TO VISIT THE MEMBERS OF HIS FAMILY AND THEN ACCOMPANY THEM TO HIS NEW DUTY STATION. ALSO, IT MAY BE THAT HIS MOBILE HOME WAS READY FOR OCCUPANCY ON JUNE 18. UNDER SUCH CIRCUMSTANCES HE IS NOT TO BE REGARDED AS ENTITLED TO TEMPORARY QUARTERS FOR HIMSELF FOR THOSE 2 DAYS.

AS NOTED ABOVE THE FILE INCLUDES A RECEIPT FOR $9 FOR LAUNDRY FOR MR. MILLER SIGNED BY MRS. SIMS; HOWEVER, THE ITEMIZED CLAIM FAILS TO INCLUDE A REFERENCE TO THIS CHARGE. ACCORDINGLY, AND SINCE NO EXPLANATION APPEARS FOR A LAUNDRY BILL OF THIS MAGNITUDE, NO REIMBURSEMENT FOR THE ITEM IS ALLOWABLE.

IN SUMMARY, THE ONLY EXPENSES ITEMIZED BY MR. MILLER WHICH MAY NOW BE CERTIFIED FOR PAYMENT ARE THOSE INCURRED ON THE DAYS IN WHICH HE OCCUPIED TEMPORARY QUARTERS AT MOTELS AT HIS OLD AND NEW OFFICIAL STATIONS.

MR. WATKIN L. GEORGE TRANSFERRED FROM BALBOA, CANAL ZONE, TO ATLANTA, GEORGIA, IN ACCORDANCE WITH A TRAVEL ORDER DATED AUGUST 10, 1971. THAT DOCUMENT AUTHORIZED OCCUPANCY OF TEMPORARY QUARTERS BY MR. GEORGE AND TWO DEPENDENTS FOR A MAXIMUM PERIOD OF 60 DAYS.

MR. GEORGE EXECUTED A FORMAL AGREEMENT WITH HIS BROTHER, JOHN H. GEORGE, UNDER WHICH THE EMPLOYEE AND HIS DEPENDENTS OCCUPIED PART OF HIS BROTHER'S RESIDENCE, DESCRIBED IN THE AGREEMENT AS A "TWO (2) BEDROOM FURNISHED APARTMENT." THE AGREEMENT PROVIDED IN PERTINENT PART THAT -

2. LESSOR SHALL FURNISH ALL UTILITIES (WATER, LIGHTS AND GAS) AND LESSEE SHALL HAVE LAUNDRY PRIVILEGES.

3. LESSEE SHALL PAY TO LESSOR - JOHN H. GEORGE, AT THE END OF EACH TEN (10) DAYS THE FOLLOWING AMOUNTS:

$25.00 PER DAY FOR THE FIRST 10 DAYS $10.00 PER DAY FOR THE SECOND 10 DAYS

$5.00 PER DAY FOR THE BALANCE OF RENTAL

THIS LEASE NOT TO EXCEED SIXTY (60) DAYS HOWEVER LESSEE MAY TERMINATE SAID LEASE AT SUCH TIME SAID LESSEE ACQUIRES A PERMANENT RESIDENCE.

4. IT IS FURTHER AGREED THAT THE LESSOR SHALL FURNISH THREE (3) MEALS PER DAY AND THE LESSEE AGREES TO PAY $5.00 PER DAY PER PERSON FOR SAID MEALS.

IN SUPPORT OF HIS CLAIM FOR REIMBURSEMENT IN THE AMOUNT OF $1,195.04(INCLUDING TWO DRY CLEANING BILLS FROM A COMMERCIAL ESTABLISHMENT FOR WHICH RECEIPTS ARE SUPPLIED), MR. GEORGE ITEMIZED HIS EXPENSES FOR LODGING AND MEALS EXACTLY AS THESE CHARGES WERE AGREED UPON WITH HIS BROTHER. HE HAS ALSO PRESENTED RECEIPTS FROM HIS BROTHER FOR EACH OF THE SIX 10-DAY PERIODS DURING WHICH HE OCCUPIED THE TEMPORARY QUARTERS.

AS A RESULT OF QUESTIONS AS TO THE CIRCUMSTANCES UNDER WHICH MR. GEORGE OCCUPIED TEMPORARY QUARTERS AND CLAIMED REIMBURSEMENT, AN INVESTIGATION WAS UNDERTAKEN BY YOUR AGENCY. IN THE COURSE OF THE INVESTIGATION MR. GEORGE EXECUTED A SWORN STATEMENT INCLUDING THE FOLLOWING IN EXPLANATION OF THE MANNER IN WHICH HE MADE HIS LIVING ARRANGEMENTS DURING THE 60-DAY PERIOD:

WHEN MY BROTHER AND I SET UP OUR LEASE AGREEMENT, WE SET THE PAYMENT SCALE ACCORDING TO WHAT THE TRAVEL REGULATIONS ALLOWED. WE DID THIS TO GET THE FULL BENEFITS OF THE TEMPORARY QUARTERS ALLOWANCE, AND TO ASSURE THAT MY BROTHER WOULD BE ADEQUATELY REIMBURSED OVER THE FULL PERIOD OF TIME. WE SET UP THE PAYMENT SCALE IN THE LEASE ACCORDING TO THE MANNER SHOWN IN THE TRAVEL REGULATIONS.

REGARDING THE $5.00 PER DAY PER PERSON FOR MEALS, I CONSIDERED THE COST TO BE WELL BELOW WHAT IT WOULD HAVE COST IF WE HAD BEEN EATING ALL OF OUR MEALS IN A RESTAURANT. I BASED THE MEAL COST RELATIVE TO WHAT THE RESTAURANT COST WOULD BE AND NOT ACTUALLY WHAT IT WOULD COST TO COOK THE MEAL AT HOME. I CONSIDER THE $15.00 MEAL COST PER DAY TO HAVE BEEN A SAVINGS TO THE GOVERNMENT.

MY REASONING IN PAYING MY BROTHER FOR LODGING AND MEALS AT THE RATE THAT I DID WAS BASED ON WHAT IT WOULD HAVE COST THE GOVERNMENT IF I HAD HAD THE SAME SERVICES IN A MOTEL OR OTHER PUBLIC LODGING. I DID NOT BASE THE CHARGES ON WHAT IT WAS ACTUALLY COSTING ME AND MY BROTHER FOR ME AND MY FAMILY TO RESIDE IN HIS HOME. THE CHARGES WERE ON A RELATIVE BASIS, NOT ACTUAL.

SUBSECTION 8.2D OF CIRCULAR NO. A-56 PROVIDES, IN PERTINENT PART, THAT: "TEMPORARY QUARTERS SHOULD BE REGARDED AS AN EXPEDIENT TO BE USED ONLY IF, OR FOR AS LONG AS, NECESSARY UNTIL THE EMPLOYEE CONCERNED CAN MOVE INTO RESIDENCE QUARTERS OF A PERMANENT TYPE."

THE RECORD INDICATES THAT MR. GEORGE OCCUPIED TEMPORARY QUARTERS FOR 58 DAYS AND IT IS NOT ENTIRELY CLEAR THAT IT WAS NECESSARY FOR HIM TO OCCUPY TEMPORARY QUARTERS FOR THIS LENGTH OF TIME. ALSO, HIS STATEMENT THAT HE AND HIS BROTHER DREW UP THEIR RENTAL AGREEMENT IN SUCH A MANNER AS "TO GET THE FULL BENEFITS OF THE TEMPORARY QUARTERS ALLOWANCES" SUGGESTS THAT UNAVAILABILITY OF SUITABLE PERMANENT HOUSING WAS NOT ALTOGETHER THE MOTIVATING REASON FOR THE LENGTH OF TIME THE EMPLOYEE OCCUPIED TEMPORARY QUARTERS. IN VIEW OF THIS AND SINCE MR. GEORGE ADMITS THE PAYMENTS TO HIS BROTHER WERE UNRELATED TO ACTUAL COSTS TO HIS BROTHER DURING THE PERIOD IN QUESTION, THERE IS NO PROPER BASIS ON THE PRESENT RECORD ON WHICH TEMPORARY QUARTERS MAY BE ALLOWED EXCEPT FOR THE COMMERCIAL DRY CLEANING CHARGES FOR WHICH HE HAS PROVIDED RECEIPTS.

WE POINT OUT THAT IN THE PAST WE HAVE ALLOWED REIMBURSEMENT FOR CHARGES FOR TEMPORARY QUARTERS AND SUBSISTENCE SUPPLIED BY RELATIVES WHERE THE CHARGES HAVE APPEARED REASONABLE; THAT IS, WHERE THEY HAVE BEEN CONSIDERABLY LESS THAN MOTEL OR RESTAURANT CHARGES. IT DOES NOT SEEM REASONABLE OR NECESSARY TO US FOR EMPLOYEES TO AGREE TO PAY RELATIVES THE SAME AMOUNTS THEY WOULD HAVE TO PAY FOR LODGING IN MOTELS OR MEALS IN RESTAURANTS OR TO BASE SUCH PAYMENTS TO RELATIVES UPON MAXIMUM AMOUNTS WHICH ARE REIMBURSABLE UNDER THE REGULATIONS. OF COURSE, WHAT IS REASONABLE DEPENDS ON THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF EACH CASE. THE NUMBER OF INDIVIDUALS INVOLVED, WHETHER THE RELATIVE HAD TO HIRE EXTRA HELP TO PROVIDE LODGING AND MEALS, THE EXTRA WORK PERFORMED BY THE RELATIVE AND POSSIBLY OTHER FACTORS WOULD BE FOR CONSIDERATION. IN THE CLAIMS HERE INVOLVED AS WELL AS SIMILAR CLAIMS WE BELIEVE THE EMPLOYEES SHOULD BE REQUIRED TO SUPPORT THEIR CLAIMS BY FURNISHING SUCH INFORMATION IN ORDER TO PERMIT DETERMINATIONS OF REASONABLENESS.

THE VOUCHERS ARE RETURNED HEREWITH FOR HANDLING IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE FOREGOING.