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Re: Claim for increased living quarters allowance
Dear Ms. [xxx]:
On April 18, 1996, the [agency] authorized payment to you of a living quarters allowance (LQA) for the period from October 1, 1994 to September 30, 1995, of $12,087.16. During this period, you were assigned to the [xxx]. Prior to [agency's] final payment authorization, on August 4, 1995, you filed a claim with the Comptroller General in which you requested an increase in your LQA from $12,087.16 to the maximum allowable LQA, $12,787.95, due to a change in the currency exchange rate.
You explained in your claim that when you arrived in August of 1993, you had elected to purchase a home rather than rent. It is your position that the allowance for personally owned quarters should increase in the same way that the rental allowance increases as a result of currency fluctuations and other factors.
Your claim is denied. The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) concurs with the reasons expressed in [agency's] memorandum of July 31, 1995, as well as with the substantive reasons expressed on pages 7-12 of the Motion to Dismiss that [agency] filed with the Board of Contract Appeals on September 11, 1996. Rather than repeat those well-reasoned analyses, we incorporate them by reference in this decision while emphasizing only the State Department's Standardized Regulations for civilian Government employees in foreign areas which provide, in pertinent part, as follows:
When quarters occupied by an employee are owned by the employee ..., an amount up to 10 percent of original purchase price of such quarters shall be considered the annual rate of his/her estimated expenses for rent. Only the expenses for heat, light, fuel (including gas and electricity), water and in rare cases land rent, may be added to determine the amount of the employee's quarters allowance ....
Standardized Regulations, Section 136.a.
In the absence of specific statutory authority, your LQA may not be increased as a result of currency fluctuations. See Douglas K. Ramsey, B-159399, October 14, 1981. We find no statutory authority that would authorize an increase in the LQA as a result of currency fluctuations in the [xxx] dollar.
Murray M. Meeker