Legal Briefs:

klunney@govexec.com

Every Friday on GovExec.com, Legal Briefs reviews cases that involve, or provide valuable lessons to, federal managers. We report on the decisions of a wide range of review panels, including the Merit Systems Protection Board, the Federal Labor Relations Authority and federal courts.

When Gerald Taylor changed jobs from a position with the Army Corps of Engineers in Mississippi to a job with the National Security Agency (NSA) in Maryland, he discovered his household goods had not been delivered to his new apartment.

Taylor stayed the weekend in his unfurnished apartment, calling the NSA travel office when it reopened on Monday. The NSA travel office advised Taylor to stay in temporary housing until his goods arrived.

Ten days later, Taylor's goods were delivered and he submitted a reimbursement voucher to NSA for hotel expenses, which the agency denied. NSA was concerned that Taylor had stayed in his unfurnished, leased apartment for three days before moving into a hotel to await his delivery.

The Board of Contract Appeals ordered NSA to reimburse Taylor, saying that he had camped out in his apartment temporarily over the weekend, and checked into a hotel on the advice of the travel office when he spoke to them on Monday. The Board also noted that Taylor made a concerted effort to locate his household goods during the ten days he spent in the hotel.

In the Matter of Gerald Taylor, Board of Contract Appeals (GSBCA 15251-RELO), July 10, 2000

Lump-sum litigation

John Worley chose to receive a reduced retirement annuity with a partial survivor benefit for his wife Gladys in the event of his death. Gladys Worley signed a consent form agreeing to those terms. The Office of Personnel Management informed Mr. Worley that his monthly reduced survivor rate was $165 and his retirement contributions totaled over $40,000.

When John died in March 1999, Gladys Worley asked OPM to waive her annuity and give her a lump-sum payment instead, since at the monthly rate, it would take over sixteen years for her to receive her husband's total retirement contributions.

OPM refused Worley's request, saying there was no provision in the civil service retirement law allowing for a lump-sum payment rather than an annuity.

The Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB), citing previous Court of Appeals cases, ordered OPM to give Worley a lump-sum payment, holding that a person entitled to a survivor annuity may waive the annuity for a lump-sum payment. According to MSPB, there is nothing in the retirement statutes barring such payments.

Gladys R. Worley v. OPM, MSPB (DC-0831-99-0630-I-1), July 3, 2000.

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