United States Central Command--Cairo Housing
B-308150, Mar 9, 2007
The Office of Military Cooperation, Cairo, may use its appropriation to fund leases of residential property occupied by personnel of other agencies at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo as part of a housing pool. Such payments are a proper use of an agency's appropriation when they represent the costs attributable to an agency's use of housing in the pool.
B-308150, United States Central Command--Cairo Housing, March 9, 2007
The Office of Military Cooperation,
The United States Central Command (CENTCOM) has requested an advance decision under 31 U.S.C. sect. 3529 regarding whether the Office of Military Cooperation (OMC), Cairo, may use its appropriation to fund leases for residences occupied by personnel of other agencies at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo, Egypt, as part of a housing pool. Letter from Colonel James R. Pulliam, Financial Management and Comptroller, CENTCOM, to the Comptroller General of the
Our practice when rendering decisions is to obtain the views of the relevant federal agencies to establish a factual record and to elicit the agencies' legal positions on the matter. GAO, Procedures and Practices for Legal Decisions and Opinions, GAO-06-1064SP (
OMC is a Department of Defense Security Assistance Organization located at the United States Embassy in
Although DOD carries out numerous aspects of Security Assistance, State is responsible for the overall supervision and general direction of the Security Assistance program. SAMM para. 2.2. State determines when DOD will sell military articles to a particular country and determines the size of the budget requests and allocation of funds for military assistance.
OMC receives its funding in the Foreign Military Financing Program appropriation. E.g., Revised Continuing Appropriations Resolution, 2007, Pub. L. No. 110-5, sect. 20401, 121 Stat. 8, 22 (
CENTCOM's request stems from the housing arrangement among the agencies at the
OMC's arrangement at the
Prior to 2001, the IAHB in Cairo occasionally placed OMC personnel in GO/LTL housing, even though the housing was not surplus to the housing needs of the Foreign Affairs Agencies and DIA. Armstrong Conversation; Gallagher Letter. OMC personnel were thus occupying housing that would otherwise have been allotted to Foreign Affairs Agency and DIA personnel. State bears all GO/LTL residential leasehold costs, regardless of the agency occupying the unit. 15 FAM 162.1(a). Other costs, such as building operating expenses and minor improvements, are borne by the occupying agency.
In 2001, when State objected to this arrangement, OMC entered into a memorandum of agreement with State and the other agencies at the embassy (collectively referred to in the memorandum of agreement as The Embassy) under which OMC agrees to fund a short-term lease for inclusion in the Cairo housing pool whenever OMC personnel are assigned to GO/LTL housing. Memorandum of Agreement between the American Embassy,
An agency's appropriated funds shall be applied only to the objects for which the appropriations were made except as otherwise provided by law. 31 U.S.C. sect. 1301(a). OMC does not receive an appropriation specifically to fund the housing of other agencies' personnel. Nevertheless, an agency's appropriation is available for expenses necessary and incident to the object of the appropriation. E.g., B-306748,
We have previously approved a similar reimbursement arrangement involving a housing pool at an embassy. In 59 Comp. Gen. 403 (1980), we considered whether DIA could use its appropriation to reimburse State for costs State incurred funding all the leases in the housing pool at the embassy in Jakarta, Indonesia. The housing pool in
We decided that such an arrangement was a proper use of DIA's appropriation. 59 Comp. Gen. at 405. When all the agencies at an embassy decide to pool housing for the convenience of the group, each agency may properly pay for its share of the housing costs, regardless of whether its personnel actually reside in the housing units it funds.
Indeed, if OMC were not to pay for these costs, it would improperly augment its appropriation. OMC's appropriation is available for its housing costs. State does not, by regulation, have to pay the cost of housing OMC personnel, as State does for the Foreign Affairs Agencies and DIA. See 15 FAM 162.1, 232. If OMC did not pay for its personnel to live in GO/LTL housing, in the form of offset leases or otherwise, it would receive free housing for its personnel. Because OMC does not have authority to receive housing free of charge, it may not do so without augmenting its appropriation.
OMC may use its appropriated funds to pay for leases for personnel of other agencies as part of its participation in the housing pool at the U.S. Embassy,
Gary L. Kepplinger
 State has authority to allocate space in buildings used for diplomatic establishments among the several agencies of the government. 22 U.S.C. sect. 292.
 OMC personnel regarded the government-owned housing as more child friendly than short-term leased housing because it consists of adjacently located units in a walled compound. Pulliam Letter, Attachment 2.
 OMC's appropriation is available, of course, to provide housing to OMC personnel.
 DOD has authority under 10 U.S.C. sect. 2834 to participate in State housing pools overseas if DOD determines that there is a shortage of adequate housing in the area and that participation in the housing pool is the most cost-effective means of providing housing for the DOD personnel. Under such agreements, DOD is to reimburse State for housing and related services provided DOD. We do not analyze the applicability of this statute here because we have not been made aware of either its applicability to OMC or whether DOD has made the necessary determinations for the statute to apply.
 Agencies in short-term lease housing pools today normally fund leases only for residential properties occupied by their own personnel. 15 FAM 233. This fact does not alter our legal analysis.