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A former visiting scientist who was employed by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) appealed a Claims Group decision denying her claim for travel and transportation expenses associated with her return to Chile, her native country. In the appeal, the employee stated that upon separation from CDC she was informed that her return to Chile could be delayed for up to 2 years, during which period she would still maintain her eligibility for travel and transportation expenses. She delayed her return for 18 months, because political unrest in Chile would have made her professional and financial future there uncertain. However, when the scientist submitted her claim, the travel expenses and transportation costs for household goods portions were disallowed on the basis that, due to the delay, her return travel was not clearly incident to separation as required by prior decisions. GAO found that, in view of the advice given to the employee and the political situation then in existence in Chile, the 18-month delay in her return to Chile was beyond her control. Accordingly, since the return travel was completed within the 2-year period allowed, the Claims Group's disallowance of the expenses in question was reversed.


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