GAO was asked several questions concerning an employee's entitlement to reimbursement for relocation expenses associated with a change of permanent duty station after a 2-year temporary assignment with a State Government. After the end of his detail to the State Government, the employee was transferred and given a travel order which authorized reimbursement for transportation of his dependents and household goods, temporary quarters, residence transactions, and a miscellaneous expense allowance. In addition, the employee and his wife were authorized a house-hunting trip from the location of his State employment to his new duty station. The employee filed a partial travel voucher, which included expenses for the sale of his residence at his temporary State jobsite. Federal travel regulations provide for reimbursement of the expenses of selling a residence only if it is located at a permanent duty station. Thus, the agency found that he should not have been reimbursed for the expenses associated with the sale of his temporary residence. However, the expenses incurred in selling his residence at his old duty station were credited against his indebtedness. In addition, the agency found that the employee was entitled only to the constructive costs of roundtrip travel between the old duty station and the new station. The employee contended that, due to the circumstances, his temporary State employment duty station was his permanent duty station. GAO was asked by the agency if there was any basis for this claim. GAO has held that such an assignment is not a permanent change of station and employees so assigned are entitled to reimbursement for certain, but not all, relocation expenses. The agency's intent to assign the employee to a new duty station rather than return him to his old station at the termination of his State assignment did not change the character of the assignment. Reimbursement of the expenses which the employee incurred in connection with the sale of his residence at his old duty station were proper, and the agency's computation of the constructive cost of the house-hunting trip from his old duty station to his new station was correct. The employee may be authorized an extended payback period for his indebtedness to the Government resulting from erroneous payments. The Government may charge interest on the debt after first notifying the employee of its intent to do so.
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