A certifying officer requested a decision concerning an employee's claim for certain temporary quarters subsistence expenses and for attorney fees incurred in connection with the purchase of a residence incident to a permanent change of station. During the period authorized for occupancy of temporary quarters, the employee rented a room in a private residence and paid the host an amount comparable to rates charged by commercial establishments in the area. The agency denied this claim on the basis that the itemized expenses were not supported by information indicating that they were the result of extra expenses incurred by the host due to the employee's occupancy, and the agency granted her the standard reimbursement rate for employees who do not base a claim on additional cost to the host. GAO has held that claims involving noncommercial lodgings should be supported by information indicating that the charges result from expenses incurred by the party providing the lodging. Regulations allow reimbursement for reasonable subsistence expenses incident to occupancy of temporary quarters. With regard to the second portion of the claim, the agency allowed only a portion of the itemized attorney fees and denied the remainder on the basis that the fees for services at closing were not reimbursable because the claimant's attorney did not prepare the closing statement and conduct the closing. GAO found that the decision cited by the agency to support its position was not applicable to the expenses claimed in this case, because the employee's settlement date was subsequent to a more recent decision. In the recent decision, it was held that attorney fees for representational and advisory services are reimbursable when settlement occurred after the date of the decision and when such claims were otherwise proper. Accordingly, the balance of the employee's claim for attorney fees may be paid if it is determined that such charges are customarily paid by the purchaser of a residence in the locality involved and that the charges were within the customary range of charges for such services in that locality; and the claim for additional lodging expenses was denied.
Skip to Highlights