S. 1825: A bill to extend the authority for relocation expenses test programs for Federal employees, and for other purposes

S. 1825

A bill to extend the authority for relocation expenses test programs for Federal employees, and for other purposes

Sponsor
Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman

Date
November 17, 2009 (111th Congress, 1st Session)

Staff Contact
Sarah Makin

Floor Situation

S. 1825 is being considered under suspension of the rules, requiring a two-thirds vote for passage.  The legislation was introduced by Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) on October 10, 2009.

Bill Summary

S. 1825 extends the GSA relocation expenses test program for federal employees at the request of the agency administering the program. The bill requires that each agency submit an annual report on the results of the program to the Administrator.

The bill increases to 12 the number of test programs that may be conducted simultaneously, and limits approval for any test program to an initial four-year period, with four-year extensions authorized.

The bill repeals a provision disclaiming any intent to limit agency authority to conduct such test programs.

Background

Relocation expenses test programs for federal employees permit agencies to test new and innovative methods of reimbursing relocation expenses without seeking a waiver of current rules or authorizing legislation.  Currently, GSA may authorize an agency to conduct tests when the Administrator determines tests to be in the interest of the Government.  For more information on relocation expenses test programs, see this GSA website.

Existing regulations for federal travel require that certain relocation expenses must be reimbursed.  Such expenses include transportation costs and per diem for travel to the employee's new duty station, real estate sales and settlement expenses, and the costs to transport and store household goods.  Under the regulations, other expenses may be reimbursed at an agency's discretion, including costs associated with finding a home, securing temporary quarters, and using a relocation service company. 

Since the test program authority was introduced in 1998, one agency's program has been completed and six others are currently operating.  Most of the test programs allow employees being transferred to a new location to choose to arrange and pay for their own moving expenses using a predetermined lump-sum payment from the government rather than submitting expense reports to obtain reimbursement for those expenses.

Cost

Based on information from GSA and the agencies involved, CBO estimates that any additional administrative costs or savings from continuing to operate such programs would be small; the net impact on the federal budget would not be significant.