An employee of the Department of the Interior appealed a Claims Group settlement that denied reimbursement on several categories of travel and relocation expenses when he was transferred to a permanent duty station in another State. GAO sustained the action of Interior and the Claims Group in response to a claim for reimbursement at a higher per diem rate and held that Interior had authority to establish a lower per diem rate. The employee also requested additional compensation for househunting expenses. The employee was authorized 30 days temporary quarters subsistence expense (TQSE), less a househunting trip of 6 days for himself and his spouse. Interior paid the claim for 6 days of househunting by the spouse and deducted those days from the employee's 30-day TQSE. GAO denied the claim for the additional househunting expenses and found that Interior's interpretation of the governing regulations and travel orders was reasonable since these were discretionary items. However, GAO held that an employee could continue to receive TQSE where it would not duplicate househunting trip payments. Further, GAO found that an employee who performs temporary duty travel during a TQSE period could elect to receive a fractional per diem rate and have the period of TQSE extended accordingly. GAO disallowed the additional mileage claims for relocation for the use of the couples' privately owned vehicles because the mileage differed from standard mileage guides. Finally, GAO stated that it has no jurisdiction regarding an employee's claim for loss or damage to personal property during the relocation. Accordingly, GAO affirmed the holdings of the Claims Group on three issues and modified the holdings on two items.
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