[Comments on Claim for Relocation Expenses Under Meritorious Claims Act]

Published by the Government Accountability Office on 1990-04-27.

Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)

LQ~ER ~   Comptroller General
          of the United States
          Washington, D.C. 20548


            April 27, 1990

            To the Congress of the United States:

            Pursuant to 31 U.S.C. § 3702(d) (1988), we submit the
            following report on the claim of Mr. Norman R. Ricks, which
            we believe deserves the consideration of the Congress as a
            meritorious claim.

            Mr. Ricks, who was previously employed in the private sector
            and resided in Issaquah, Washington, was appointed to a
            manpower shortage position with the National Oceanic and
            Atmospheric Administration in Idaho Falls, Idaho. Mr. Ricks
            was erroneously advised by agency personnel that he was
            entitled to real estate expenses in connection with his
            relocation and his travel orders explicitly authorized such
            expenses. Mr. Ricks states that he accepted the position,
            which involved a 23 percent cut in pay from his private
            sector salary, with the expectation that he would receive
            full reimbursement for his real estate expenses.

            After Mr. Ricks and his family moved to his duty station in
            Idaho Falls, he filed a preliminary claim for reimbursement
            in the amount of $6,536.84. The Department of Commerce, of
            which the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is
            a part, then discovered the error in his travel orders. The
            Department determined that, since Mr. Ricks was a manpower
            shortage appointee and not a federal employee transferring
            from one official duty station to another, he was only
            entitled to limited travel expenses totaling $400.16.
            Mr. Ricks filed a reclaim voucher, seeking reimbursement
            for $6,011.83 in real estate expenses and $149.23 in per
            diem expenses for members of his family.
            As a manpower shortage category appointee, Mr. Ricks's
            entitlement to relocation expenses is governed by 5g-U.S.C.
            S 5723 (1988), which limits reimbursement to trave'l and
            transportation expenses of the appointee and his immediate
            family and the costs of moving household goods.
            Section 5723 does not allow reimbursement for real estate
            expenses or for per diem for members of the employee's
            family. Accordingly, there is no legal basis for granting
            Mr. Ricks's claim for those expenses. See John H. Teele,
            65 Comp. Gen. 679 (1986).
      However, based on the foregoing facts, we believe that
      Mr. Ricks's claim for real estate expenses deserves the
      consideration of Congress as a meritoriousclaim. The
      record shows that Mr. Ricks relocated under the reasonable
      belief that his real estate expenses would be paid as
      provided in his travel orders, which had every appearance of
      official sanction. Furthermore, the substantial amount of
      Mr. Ricks's claim for real estate expenses indicates that
      the expectation of reimbursement for those expenses may well
      have influenced him in accepting federal employment.
      Mr. Ricks's claim for per diem expenses for his family
      members is not included in this meritorious claims recom-
      mendation. Those expenses, unlike the real estate expenses
      Mr. Ricks is claiming, were not authorized by his travel
      Provided the Congress concurs with our recommendation on
      Mr. Ricks's claim for real estate expenses, it is our view
      that enactment of a statute in substantially the following
      language will accomplish the relief recommended:

           "Be it enacted by the Senate and House of
           Representatives of the United States in Congress
           assembled, that Norman R. Ricks is deemed to be
           an employee transferred by the National Oceanic
           and Atmospheric Administration from one official
           station to another for permanent duty in the
           interest of the government without a break in
           service for the purpose of permitting reim-
           bursement of real estate expenses authorized
           by 5 U.S.C. § 5724a(4).

Acting Comptrol    eneral
      of the United States

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