B-206706, MAY 23, 1983, 62 COMP.GEN. 401

B-206706: May 23, 1983

Additional Materials:

Contact:

Julie Matta
(202) 512-4023
MattaJ@gao.gov

 

Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800
youngc1@gao.gov

AGENCY PROVIDED A FORMULA UNDER WHICH MAXIMUM REIMBURSEMENT WAS $375 FOR 10 DAY PERIOD IN QUESTION. MAXIMUM AVAILABLE FOR LODGING IS $31.78 FOR 10-DAY PERIOD. FOR TEMPORARY QUARTERS EXPENSES WHICH WERE DEDUCTED FROM HIS ORIGINAL VOUCHER ON THE BASIS THAT HE HAD NOT FURNISHED ADEQUATE SUBSTANTIATION THAT A FRIEND. UNDER THE ANALYSIS WHICH FOLLOWS WE DETERMINE THAT THE AGENCY DID NOT PROPERLY CONSIDER THE EFFECTIVE AMOUNT OF THE CLAIM REMAINING AFTER MEAL AND MISCELLANEOUS EXPENSES WERE PAID. POWERS IS ENTITLED TO ADDITIONAL TEMPORARY QUARTERS SUBSISTENCE EXPENSES (TQSE) REIMBURSEMENT. POWERS' RECLAIM VOUCHER ONLY CONCERNS THE FIRST 10-DAY PERIOD DURING WHICH HIS SUBSISTENCE EXPENSES WERE ITEMIZED.

B-206706, MAY 23, 1983, 62 COMP.GEN. 401

OFFICERS AND EMPLOYEES - TRANSFERS - TEMPORARY QUARTERS - SUBSISTENCE EXPENSES - COMPUTATION OF ALLOWABLE AMOUNT A TRANSFERRED EMPLOYEE RECLAIMS $25 PER DAY FOR TEMPORARY QUARTERS WHILE RESIDING WITH FRIENDS AT NEW DUTY STATION. AGENCY DISALLOWED AMOUNT CLAIMED AS UNREASONABLE IN VIEW OF LACK OF DOCUMENTATION TO SUBSTANTIATE BASIS FOR THE $25 OR TO ESTABLISH THAT HOST FAMILY DID INCUR EXTRA EXPENSES. UNDER FEDERAL TRAVEL REGS. PARA. 2-5.4C, AGENCY PROVIDED A FORMULA UNDER WHICH MAXIMUM REIMBURSEMENT WAS $375 FOR 10 DAY PERIOD IN QUESTION. SINCE EMPLOYEE HAS BEEN REIMBURSED $343.22 FOR MEAL SUBSISTENCE EXPENSES, MAXIMUM AVAILABLE FOR LODGING IS $31.78 FOR 10-DAY PERIOD. THEREFORE, AGENCY REQUIREMENT FOR SUBSTANTIAL OF $25 PER DAY DOES NOT APPEAR TO BE GERMANE. EMPLOYEE NEED ONLY SUPPORT LODGING EXPENSE OF FRIENDS FOR $31.78 FOR 10-DAY PERIOD. WE FIND AMOUNT REASONABLE BASED UPON USE OF HOST'S UTILITIES, CLEANING SERVICES AND LINENS.

MATTER OF: GENE R. POWERS - TEMPORARY QUARTERS SUBSISTENCE EXPENSES, MAY 23, 1983:

THIS DECISION RESULTS FROM THE SUBMISSION BY THE CHIEF, DISBURSEMENTS SECTION, BUREAU OF INDIAN AFFAIRS (BUREAU), DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR OF THE RECLAIM VOUCHER OF GENE R. POWERS, AN EMPLOYEE OF THE BUREAU, FOR TEMPORARY QUARTERS EXPENSES WHICH WERE DEDUCTED FROM HIS ORIGINAL VOUCHER ON THE BASIS THAT HE HAD NOT FURNISHED ADEQUATE SUBSTANTIATION THAT A FRIEND, IN WHOSE HOME HE HAD LODGED, HAD INCURRED ADDITIONAL EXPENSES AS CLAIMED. UNDER THE ANALYSIS WHICH FOLLOWS WE DETERMINE THAT THE AGENCY DID NOT PROPERLY CONSIDER THE EFFECTIVE AMOUNT OF THE CLAIM REMAINING AFTER MEAL AND MISCELLANEOUS EXPENSES WERE PAID, AND WE HOLD THAT MR. POWERS IS ENTITLED TO ADDITIONAL TEMPORARY QUARTERS SUBSISTENCE EXPENSES (TQSE) REIMBURSEMENT.

INCIDENT TO A TRANSFER FROM PORTLAND, OREGON, TO WASHINGTON, D.C., MR. POWERS AND HIS WIFE OCCUPIED TEMPORARY QUARTERS IN THE HOME OF FRIENDS IN GREAT FALLS, VIRGINIA, A SUBURB OF WASHINGTON, D.C., FROM FEBRUARY 29 THROUGH MARCH 11, 1980. MR. POWERS' RECLAIM VOUCHER ONLY CONCERNS THE FIRST 10-DAY PERIOD DURING WHICH HIS SUBSISTENCE EXPENSES WERE ITEMIZED. HIS TQSE TOTALED $593.22 OF WHICH $343.22 WAS APPROVED FOR PAYMENT AND THE BALANCE OF $250, WHICH REPRESENTED THE TOTAL LODGING EXPENSE FOR THE PERIOD CLAIMED BY MR. POWERS, WAS DENIED. MR. POWERS SUBMITTED A RECEIPT WHICH SHOWED THAT THE $250 CLAIMED REPRESENTED $25 PER DAY WHICH HE PAID TO FRIENDS FOR THE USE OF THEIR HOME AS TEMPORARY QUARTERS FOR HIMSELF AND HIS WIFE. THE AGENCY DENIED THE TEMPORARY QUARTERS EXPENSES AS IT WAS DISSATISFIED THAT THE COST INFORMATION SUBMITTED BY MR. POWERS WAS REASONABLE OR THAT IT COULD ADEQUATELY VERIFY THAT MR. POWERS' FRIENDS DID IN FACT INCUR ADDITIONAL EXPENSES AS A RESULT OF MR. POWERS' STAY. THE AGENCY ALSO REFERENCED OUR DECISION PUBLISHED IN 52 COMP.GEN. 78 (1972).

RESPONDING TO THE BUREAU'S REQUEST THAT HE SUPPLY DOCUMENTATION TO SUBSTANTIATE THE REASONABLENESS OF HIS TEMPORARY QUARTERS PAYMENTS TO HIS FRIENDS, MR. POWERS SUBMITTED A LETTER HE OBTAINED FROM A MOTEL LOCATED IN THE VICINITY OF HIS FRIENDS' HOUSE WHICH SHOWED THAT THE DAILY MOTEL RATES WERE APPROXIMATELY DOUBLE THE AMOUNTS WHICH HE WAS CLAIMING. UPON BEING INFORMED BY THE BUREAU THAT THIS WAS NOT CONSIDERED RELEVANT, HE SUBMITTED THE FOLLOWING BREAKDOWN OF THE DAILY PER PERSON EXPENSES UPON WHICH THE PAYMENT OF $25 WAS PREDICATED: ELECTRICITY-- $2; NATURAL GAS-- $1.50; WATER-- $1; LAUNDRY-- $1; LINENS & TOWELS-- $1.50; TELEPHONE $0.50; CLEANING OF ROOM-- $5 WHICH TOTALED $12.50 TIMES 2 PERSONS FOR A DAILY RATE OF $25. THE BUREAU FOUND THE ABOVE COST ITEMIZATION TO BE UNREASONABLE, AND THEREFORE DEDUCTED THE TOTAL LODGING EXPENSES FROM MR. POWERS' VOUCHER, AND REIMBURSED HIM FOR ALL OTHER SUBSISTENCE EXPENSES AS CLAIMED.

PURSUANT TO 5 U.S.C. 5724A (1976), PARAGRAPH 2-5.4 OF THE FEDERAL TRAVEL REGULATIONS (FTR), FPMR 101-7, MAY 1973, AUTHORIZES, UNDER PROPER CIRCUMSTANCES, THE PAYMENT OF SUBSISTENCE EXPENSES OF AN EMPLOYEE AND HIS IMMEDIATE FAMILY WHILE OCCUPYING TEMPORARY QUARTERS WHEN THE EMPLOYEE IS TRANSFERRED TO A NEW OFFICIAL STATION. THIS REGULATION REQUIRES REIMBURSEMENT ONLY FOR ACTUAL SUBSISTENCE EXPENSES INCURRED, PROVIDED THEY ARE REASONABLE AS TO AMOUNT.

THE AMOUNT WHICH MAY BE REIMBURSED FOR TEMPORARY QUARTERS SUBSISTENCE EXPENSES IS SET FORTH IN FTR PARAGRAPH 2-5.4(C) WHICH PROVIDES THAT REIMBURSEMENT SHALL BE THE LESSER OF EITHER THE ACTUAL AMOUNT OF ALLOWABLE EXPENSES INCURRED FOR EACH 10-DAY PERIOD OR A DAILY RATE NOT IN EXCESS OF 75 PERCENT OF THE MAXIMUM STATUTORY PER DIEM FOR THE EMPLOYEE AND TWO- THIRDS OF THAT RATE FOR EACH FAMILY MEMBER. BASED UPON A MAXIMUM PER DIEM RATE OF $30 THEN ESTABLISHED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR FOR CHANGE OF STATION TRAVEL AND TEMPORARY QUARTERS, MR. POWERS' REIMBURSEMENT COULD NOT EXCEED $22.50 FOR HIMSELF AND $15 FOR HIS WIFE OR $37.50 PER DAY. THEREFORE, FOR THE FIRST 10-DAY PERIOD, $375 IS THE MAXIMUM PAYABLE OF WHICH $343.22 HAS BEEN PAID AS INDICATED ABOVE, LEAVING ONLY $31.78 AS THE MAXIMUM PAYMENT WHICH MAY BE AUTHORIZED FOR TEMPORARY QUARTERS REIMBURSEMENT FOR THIS 10-DAY PERIOD. (THE 11TH AND 12TH DAYS ARE NOT AT ISSUE SINCE ONLY $25 FOR EACH OF THOSE DAYS IS REIMBURSABLE FOR TQSE UNDER FTR PARAGRAPH 2 5.4(C). SINCE MR. POWERS' ACTUAL EXPENSES, EXCLUDING LODGING, EXCEEDED $25 FOR EACH OF THESE DAYS, HE HAS BEEN REIMBURSED THE MAXIMUM DAILY RATE OF $25.)

WHILE REIMBURSEMENT FOR CHARGES FOR LODGING AND RELATED SERVICES SUPPLIED BY FRIENDS OR RELATIVES MAY BE ALLOWABLE, WE HAVE CONSISTENTLY HELD THAT WHAT IS REASONABLE DEPENDS UPON THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF EACH CASE. RICHARD E. NUNN, 58 COMP.GEN. 177 (1978). IN DETERMINING WHAT IS REASONABLE, FACTORS SUCH AS AN INCREASE IN THE USE OF UTILITIES, HIRING OF EXTRA HELP, AND EXTRA COSTS INCURRED BY THE RELATIVE OR FRIEND ARE TO BE TAKEN INTO CONSIDERATION. THE ONUS IS ON THE CLAIMANT TO PROVIDE SUFFICIENT INFORMATION TO ENABLE THE EMPLOYING AGENCY TO DETERMINE THE REASONABLENESS OF HIS CLAIM, AND IT IS NOT ENOUGH TO SHOW THAT THE AMOUNT IS LESS THAN THE COMMERCIAL RATE OR THE MAXIMUM RATE ALLOWABLE UNDER THE REGULATIONS. JAMES W. CLARK, B-193331, APRIL 5, 1979, AND CASES CITED THEREIN. WE HAVE STATED THAT IT IS THE RESPONSIBILITY OF THE EMPLOYING AGENCY, IN THE FIRST INSTANCE, TO INSURE THAT EXPENSES ARE REASONABLE. JESSE A. BURKS, 55 COMP.GEN. 1107 (1976). HOWEVER, EVEN THOUGH THE DETERMINATION OF WHAT IS REASONABLE IS PRIMARILY THE RESPONSIBILITY OF THE EMPLOYING AGENCY, THE AGENCY MAY NOT MAKE SUCH A DETERMINATION ARBITRARILY AND WITHOUT ADEQUATE INFORMATION TO JUSTIFY THE AMOUNT ARRIVED AT. GORDON S. LIND, B-182135, NOVEMBER 7, 1974; MICHAEL J. SCULLIN, B-187822, JUNE 1, 1977.

AS INDICATED ABOVE, THE AGENCY WITHOUT EXPLANATION DETERMINED MR. POWERS' CLAIM OF $25 PER DAY OR $250 FOR THE RELEVANT 10-DAY PERIOD FOR LODGING OF HIMSELF AND HIS WIFE TO BE UNREASONABLE. HOWEVER, SINCE MR. POWERS' MAXIMUM ADDITIONAL ENTITLEMENT FOR TEMPORARY QUARTERS FOR THE ENTIRE 10- DAY PERIOD IS LIMITED TO $31.78 PER FTR PARAGRAPH 2-5.4C AS EXPLAINED ABOVE, IT IS APPARENT THAT THE AGENCY'S CONSIDERATION OF THE $250 CLAIMED TO BE UNREASONABLE DOES NOT FOCUS ON THE RELEVANT AMOUNT STILL SUBJECT TO PAYMENT. RATHER THE AGENCY SHOULD HAVE CONSIDERED THE REASONABLENESS ONLY OF THE MAXIMUM AMOUNT REIMBURSABLE UNDER APPLICABLE REGULATION, $31.78, RATHER THAN THE AMOUNT CLAIMED ($250) BEFORE CONSIDERATION OF THE APPROVED MEAL AND MISCELLANEOUS EXPENSES.

THE RECORD IN THE INSTANT CASE LACKS A PROPER BASIS TO SUPPORT AN AGENCY DETERMINATION THAT THE AMOUNT OF $31.78 FOR LODGING FOR THE 10 DAY PERIOD WAS UNREASONABLE UNDER THE CIRCUMSTANCES. TO THE CONTRARY, WE BELIEVE THAT THE INHERENT INCONVENIENCE EXPERIENCED BY MR. POWERS' FRIENDS, THE INCREASE IN LABOR REQUIRED, INCLUDING ROOM CLEANING AND SUPPLY OF LINENS FURNISHED, AND THE INCREASED COST OF UTILITIES JUSTIFY A CONCLUSION THAT A TOTAL AMOUNT OF $31.78 FOR THE ENTIRE 10-DAY PERIOD WAS REASONABLE IN THE ABSENCE OF EVIDENCE TO THE CONTRARY.

ACCORDINGLY, MR. POWERS' RECLAIM VOUCHER SHOULD BE PAID IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE GUIDANCE OUTLINED ABOVE.

Aug 17, 2018

Aug 16, 2018

Aug 15, 2018

Aug 14, 2018

Looking for more? Browse all our products here