October 20, 1993
Office of the Director
TO THE HEADS OF EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENTS AND ESTABLISHMENTS
SUBJECT: Rental and Construction of Government Quarters
b. Determination of rents. Agencies of the Federal Government must adhere to the following in determining rental rates for Government rental quarters:
c. Employee responsibilities. Employees have a responsibility to inform themselves of all the conditions that prevail in and near the quarters and duty stations to which they might be assigned before accepting transfer to or employment at such duty stations.
b. Air conditioning. The process of cooling air either through evaporation of water (evaporative cooling) or refrigeration (mechanical or absorption), and the distribution of such air.
c. Base rental rate. The base rental rate is the rental value of the quarters, established in accordance with the provisions of this circular, before applying any administrative adjustments or charges for related facilities.
d. Comparable housing. Comparable housing is housing in the private sector that is generally equivalent in size to the rental quarters, with the same number of bedrooms, and with generally equivalent amenities and related facilities. Such housing is housing available on a landlord-tenant basis, with rental rates reflecting the fair market value of the accommodations. This is distinguished from-housing rented on an "employer-employee" basis or between friends and relatives, for which other considerations may have influenced the rental rates. In addition, other Government rental housing (Federal, State, or local) and housing provided by churches or religious societies are excluded from this definition of comparable housing.
e. Construction. "Construction" includes conversions of structures for dwelling purposes.
f. Established community. An established community is ordinarily the nearest population center (Metropolitan Statistical Area or an incorporated or unincorporated city or town) having a year-round population of 1,500 or more (5,000 or more in Alaska), provided that it has minimum essential medical facilities (i.e., at least one physician and one dentist) available to all occupants of Government quarters on a nonemergency basis and a private rental market with housing available to the general public. Population determinations will be based-upon the most recently published decennial census of the United States.
g. Net area. For purposes of construction of quarters, the net area of a dwelling is the space inside exterior or party walls, excluding only attic, garage, and basement (or service and storage space in lieu of basement).
h. Reasonable value. Reasonable value for rental quarters is to be measured by the test of equivalence, i.e., what the employee would pay for comparable housing in the open market. Rental rates, including charges for related facilities when appropriate, will be based upon prevailing rates for comparable private housing located in the same general area, after taking into account those factors that reduce or increase the value of the housing to the tenant.
i. Related facilities. Related facilities are equipment, supplies and services made available in connection with the occupancy of quarters including, but not limited to, household furniture and equipment, garage space, utilities, subsistence, and trash and laundry services.
j. Rental quarters. Except as specifically excluded herein or by statute, the term "rental quarters," includes all furnished and unfurnished quarters supplied under specific Government authority to Government employees, contractors, contractor employees, and all other persons to whom housing is provided as an incidental service in support of Government programs. It includes, but is not limited to, Government -owned or -leased dwellings, apartments, bunkhouses, dormitories, trailer pads, cabins, guard stations and lookouts, mobile homes, house trailers, and housekeeping as well as nonhousekeeping units. The term excludes tents, containers, housing which due to extreme deterioration is unsuitable for occupancy except in exigent circumstances, and "public quarters" designated for occupancy by members of the uniformed services with loss of allowances, but it includes quarters occupied by such personnel on a rental basis under 37 U.S.C. section 403(e), 42 U.S.C. subsection 1594a(f) and 1594b, and other authorities.
k. Room. A room is a living space such as a living room, bedroom, kitchen, finished attic or basement, or other suitable living space. A half room is a small space used for living purposes, such as a dinette, breakfast nook, dressing room, or reception room. No count is made of bathrooms, strip or pullman kitchens, halls or foyers, alcoves, pantries, laundries, storage or utility rooms, or unfinished attics and basements.
None of the administrative adjustments provided in subsection 7c will be made for isolation, site amenities, space devoted to official use, or excessive heating or cooling costs when an appraisal is made in an urban or suburban location. These factors, if appropriate, will already have been considered by the appraiser in the appraisal process. Adjustments, suitably documented, may be made by agencies when an appraiser has not considered or incorrectly calculated the effect of these factors.
(b) Rural areas. When the appraisal method is used to determine the reasonable value of quarters that are not located in, or within five miles of, an established community, it will be subject to the-following limitation: To ensure a uniform approach to valuation when conducting an appraisal in such areas, the staff or contract appraiser will be limited to comparing the Government rental quarters with housing in the nearest established community. (If the nearest established community does not contain sufficient comparables or is unduly affected by severe economic conditions, the appraiser may select comparable rental units from the next closest established community that does have sufficient comparables or does not have a severely deflated or inflated housing market.) Such comparison will be limited to adjustments for the physical differences in the housing. The appraiser in such circumstances will not make adjustments for location (isolation) or for the absence of site amenities. These adjustments, if applicable, will be made administratively in the same manner as authorized for regional surveys in subsections 7c(1) and 7c(2).
To avoid duplication and inconsistent rates, all agencies with quarters in a given location should coordinate their survey plans and conduct a single survey applicable to all. The area selected for survey should be large enough to permit an adequate sampling of comparable rental properties in several established communities and may encompass one or more States. Ideally, the survey would establish the rental rates for a large number of Government quarters and thereby reduce the cost per unit surveyed. The methods of analysis must be capable of recognizing both the physical characteristics and the differences in economic conditions, and reflecting such differences in the base rental rates. Private rental housing samples reflecting extremely high or low rental rates should be excluded from the data base subjected to final analysis. Appropriate adjustments may be made to the base rental rates established for quarters in accordance with the provisions of subsection 7c.
b. Charges for related facilities and costs.
When Government furnished utilities are provided, they should be metered or measured, where practicable. The rate for utilities furnished by the Government will be the same as the residential rate for these utilities in the nearest established community (when the appraisal method is used) or survey area (when the survey method is used) used in determining the base rental rate. The consumed amount of Government furnished utilities that are individually metered or measured will be determined by actual readings.
When Government furnished utilities are not individually metered or measured, consumption will be determined on the basis of an analysis of the average amounts of utilities used in comparable private rental housing in the nearest established community (when the appraisal method is used) or survey area (when the survey method is used). (Such estimates are usually available from local utility companies.) Alternatively, consumption may be determined using engineering tables (such as design heat loss tables from the American Society of Heating and Refrigeration Engineers) and meteorological records. Normally, utility charges will be clearly shown and separated from rent charges. Utility charges may be combined, however, in one charge for nonhousekeeping rooms. Where it is impractical to shut off heat and electricity to unused rooms and the employee is otherwise entitled to the reduction in section 7c(5) for quarters of excessive size, a proportionate reduction in the utility charges based on the area of the unused quarters may be made.
c. Administrative adjustments. Additional adjustments in the form of deductions from, the base rental rate are appropriate in the specific situations described below. The total amount deducted for all reasons must not be excessive, resulting in a rental rate to the occupant that is less than the reasonable value of the quarters, since this would constitute a supplementation of salary in contravention of law. The rental rate, after all adjustments, must not be less than 50 percent of the base rental rate, unless an adjustment for isolation has been made. In such instances, the rental rate may be set at not less than 40 percent of the base rental rate.
The nearest established community will be used as the community for calculating the deduction, even though that community may not serve as the location of the comparable private rental housing used in establishing the base rental rates. The mileage used in computing the adjustment will be the shortest route usually traveled from the rental quarters to the center of the nearest established community. If that route is closed seasonally, a weighted average adjustment will be used for the entire year, based upon the number of months each route would ordinarily be used.
The adjustment is designed to recognize different categories of highways and modes of transportation. Because of the range of possible travel conditions and modes of transportation, point values have been assigned to each category of transportation. These point values represent differences in time, cost, or both, associated with each mile of each category of transportation from the quarters to the nearest established community.
The point values are multiplied by the number of one-way miles from the quarters to the nearest established community, to produce one-way points. When travel from the quarters to the nearest established community involves more than one category of transportation, the one-way miles are distributed accordingly. When the category of travel is category 4 or 5 on the Isolation Adjustment Computation form in the appendix, 29 and 27 points are added, respectively, to the product of columns A and B. The one-way points in each category are then added to produce total one-way points, which must exceed 30, or there is no adjustment. Finally, the total adjusted points for all modes of transport are multiplied by an Isolation Adjustment Factor (based on the automobile mileage allowance determined by the General Services Administration) to produce the monthly dollar adjustment.
(b) Reliability and adequacy of electric service. Service must equal or exceed a 100-ampere power system capable of providing 24-hour service under normal conditions. (Occasional temporary outages are considered normal.) If an adequate backup generator is available, the amenity will be rated as present regardless of the reliability of the primary power source. (No more than a -3 percent adjustment can be made for this category.)
(c) Reliability and adequacy of fuel for heating, cooling and cooking. There should be sufficient fuel storage capacity to meet prevailing weather conditions and cooking needs. Where electricity is used to heat, cool, or cook, this adjustment is to be made only when the deduction in (b), above, applies. (No more than a -3 percent adjustment can be made for this category.)
(d) Reliability and adequacy of Police protection. Law enforcement personnel, including Government employees with law enforcement authority, should be available on a 24-hour basis. Availability is defined as the ability to respond to emergencies as quickly as any officer in the nearest established community. Part-time officers are not necessarily unable to meet this test of availability. Gaps in availability due to temporary illness or injury, use of annual leave, temporary duties, training, or other short absences, do not render law enforcement personnel "unavailable" at the Government quarters. (No more than a -3 percent adjustment can be made for this category.)
(e) Fire insurance availability or reliability and adequacy of fire protection. Fire insurance should be available with the premium charge based upon a rating equal to the rating available to comparable housing located in or adjacent to the nearest established community, or, in the alternative, adequate equipment, adequate water (or fire retardant chemical) supply, and trained personnel should be available on a 24-hour basis to meet foreseeable emergencies. If either element is present, i.e., adequate insurance or an adequate fire fighting capability, no adjustment may be made. (No more than a -3 percent adjustment can be made for this category.)
(f) Reliability and adequacy of sanitation service. An adequately functioning sewage disposal system and a solid waste disposal system, whether community or individually provided, should be available. Individual sewage disposal systems (septic, cesspool, or other) will be considered adequate even though they may require periodic maintenance, as long as they are usable during periods of occupancy. (No more than a -3 percent adjustment can be made for this category.)
(g) Reliability and adequacy of telephone service. Twenty-four-hour accessibility to commercial telephone facilities should be available. A deduction of 3 percent is authorized if telephone service is unavailable both within the employee's quarters and within 100 yards of the quarters. A deduction of 2 percent is authorized if there is no telephone service within the employee's quarters, but telephone service (either private or party line) is available within 100 yards of the quarters. A deduction of 1 percent is authorized if telephone service is available in the employee's quarters, but is not private line service and/or is not accessible on a 24 hour per day basis.
(h) Noise and odors. There should be an absence of significant, frequent disturbing noises or offensive odors. (No more than a -3 percent adjustment can be made for this category.)
(i) Miscellaneous improvements. One or more of the following improvements should be present: paved roads, sidewalks, or street lights. (No more than a -1 percent adjustment can be made for this category.)
(b) Space devoted to official use. When the agency determines that the use of a portion of the quarters is required for official business (i.e., office, storage, etc.), loss of living space should be reflected by an adjustment to the base rental rate, based on the square footage occupied.
(b) Temporary quarters. This adjustment will apply when an employee occupies quarters for the convenience of the Government on a temporary basis (normally more than 60 days) and does not receive per diem. Under these circumstances, if the employee maintains two households, the agency is authorized to adjust the rental rate on the quarters unit so that the combined rent or rent and mortgage payment paid during the period of occupancy is not excessively burdensome. The adjustment may not exceed 20 percent of the base rental rate of the quarters unit, unless the agency determines that the circumstances fully justify a greater deduction.
(b) Any year when changes in the private rental market in the nearby established community indicate a need to adjust base rental rates on the basis of a survey or appraisal of the rental market.
(b) When the private rental market survey or appraisal is made during the months of March through August, no CPI adjustments will be made in March of that year, but will be deferred until the start of the first pay period that begins after March 1 of the following year. Rental adjustments based on the survey will be put into effect in the usual manner. Example: If the survey month is April 1989, no CPI adjustment will be made in March 1989, but will be deferred until Marchar?' (owned, leased, or otherwise available to the agency) is properly assigned. After ascertaining that there is a proper utilization of existing housing, the agency should determine what further construction, if any, is required to establish a proper pattern of housing at the station. The determination must discount temporary and unusual peak numbers of employees at the station, but not necessarily recurring requirements for seasonal employees who must be housed. Three general situations with basically different housing requirements are likely to occur:
NUMBER OF ROOMS Persons Rooms Baths Baths in household to be provided Bedrooms One-story Two-story 2-3 4 2 1 1 or l&1/2 4 5, 5&1/2 or 6 3 1 or 1&1/2 2 or 2&1/2 5 5&1/2, 6 or 7 3 or 4 l&1/2 or 2 2 or 2&1/2 6 7 4 2 2 or 2&1/2 Table 1
c. Prospective rental levels and their effect on construction. The type of dwellings to be constructed will also be governed by the amount of rent that the occupants can afford to pay (public quarters excepted) as determined in accordance with this circular. Hence, care must be taken to ensure that dwellings would rent at rates within the reach of employees to be housed. In cases where there are large numbers of high salaried personnel who would normally rent larger houses than are usually provided on the station and where the ability to hold such employees in Government service may be dependent upon the housing available, agencies may construct a limited number of larger houses upon securing specific advance approval from OMB.
d. Determination of the number of rooms to be provided in family housing. The number of rooms to be provided must be based on the size and normal composition of families to be housed. Consideration should be given to the trends in family size. It is permissible to provide larger houses for civilian directors or military commanders of large stations, for military officers of general or flag rank, chiefs of Foreign Service missions, Foreign Service officers with the rank of career minister, and to a limited extent, for higher salaried personnel who can afford to and will pay commercially comparable rents for superior quarters. Table 2, below, indicates the number of rooms and bedrooms that should normally be planned for families of varying sizes. Again, OMB will consider justified exceptions depending upon the remoteness of the small or medium station and the extent to which the family is isolated from normal community facilities.
MAXIMUM AND MINIMUM NET FLOOR AREA PER DWELLING UNIT 4 or more 1 Bedroom 1/ 2 Bedrooms 3 Bedrooms Bedrooms Minimum 2/ 550 sq. ft. 750 3/ 960 3/ 1,190 3/ Normal 4/ 730 1,000 1,415 1,670 Maximum 810 1,250 5/ 1,670 5/ 2,100 6/ Table 2 1/ For multi-family or apartment construction only. No one-bedroom houses should be built. 2/ Any construction proposed to provide less square footage than these minimums must be specifically approved by OMB. 3/ Applies to flats or multi-family construction. Not recommended for single or duplex houses. 4/ Budget estimates will not be considered for construction beyond these normal limits unless accompanied by a specific determination of the agency that up to the specified maximums are necessary. 5/ Applies to single-family houses without basements for higher salaried personnel only. 6/ Applies to single-family houses without basements for higher salaried personnel only. Larger areas may be considered by OMB on special justification for heads of large stations, flag officers, or in unusual circumstances only.
e. Net area of houses. The net areas shown below in Table 2 may be increased 10 percent (a) if outside the continental United States, (b) for commanding officers or civilian heads of large installations, or (c) under conditions of extreme isolation where the family may be confined to the home for long periods due to weather conditions or lack of community facilities within reasonable distance. The minimum floor areas below represent the limit below which it is not deemed advisable to go when building permanent housing; such minimum areas should be used only for multiple-family dwellings.
Maximum floor areas represent the limit above which Federal funds need not be invested to provide housing reasonably commensurate with income for all but the highest income groups.
Although agencies cannot always determine the grades of the occupants, there is a normal range of grades for the personnel who are required or permitted to occupy Government housing on the station. The minimum size for the number of bedrooms needed should be provided for those in the lowest grades in order that the housing may not be more expensive than the occupants could be expected to rent if they were securing their own quarters commercially. Larger quarters may be provided for progressively higher grades up to the maximums for personnel at and above general schedule grade 14 and ranks equivalent to the military rank of colonel.
f. Special features. Special features may be provided to meet special work or isolation conditions. These include: extra rooms with outside doors for the employee whose home is also his or her work headquarters; special access to bath or shower rooms without going through the house where the employee's work is particularly dirty and shower facilities are not provided in work buildings; fireplaces in remote areas where wood is readily available and the fireplaces would serve a practical purpose; extra storage space and facilities where distances to market are such as to necessitate purchasing food and other supplies in quantity; and some space for recreation purposes where families may be confined to the house for long periods of time during bad weather conditions.
Air conditioning may be installed in living quarters only in locations where during the six warmest months of the year the dry bulb temperature is 80 F or higher for over 650 hours or the wet bulb temperature is 67 F or higher for over 800 hours.
Air conditioning otherwise permitted by the standards described above, should employ evaporative cooling when engineering studies indicate it is feasible and more economical than refrigeration systems to install and operate.
It is suggested that Departments and agencies initiate a priority system for installing air conditioning in existing personnel living quarters to ensure that the air conditioning of quarters in the warmest areas under these criteria is completed first.
g. Design standards. Agencies should consult the Uniform Building Code or the codes developed by the Council of American Building Officials for guidance in planning construction of permanent family housing that is liveable, durable, safe, sanitary, and not impose an unreasonable and uneconomical burden upon the Government.
h. Compliance with design standards. Agencies shall plan new construction of family housing in accordance with this circular and nationally recognized design standards, such as those set forth in the Uniform Building Code or the codes developed by the Council of American Building Officials. Budget requests and apportionment requests for this purpose shall be based upon compliance with the approved design standards and the provisions of this circular. The squarefoot construction cost should not exceed that generally recognized as prevailing in the area for non-Federal dwellings of similar size and type of occupancy. Exceptions may be made by those agencies constructing housing outside the continental United States where climatic conditions or local building codes and restrictions prevent compliance. Any other exceptions should be plainly set forth in the budget or apportionment request.
i. Budget and apportionment requests. Consult OMB Circular No. A-11, Preparation and Submission of Budget Estimates, subsection 12.5(n), for guidance respecting budget and apportionment requests.
b. Consistent local patterns; Interagency Committees. Where several different Federal agencies provide rental quarters in the same area, those agencies will take necessary steps to ensure a consistent local pattern in rents and utility rates. In particular, such agencies are urged to establish interagency committees to coordinate and oversee the establishment of consistent and uniform rental rates.
c. Agency records regarding recommendations and adjustments. A full record of the findings and recommendations of the appraiser or survey team, as well as documentation to justify administrative adjustments, will be kept by the agency concerned.
d. Agency central records and supervision. Sufficient information will be maintained centrally by the agency to allow agency management to be informed of, and to monitor, the status of administration of the requirements of this circular.
e. Reconsideration, procedures for. Agencies will provide a procedure for dealing with requests for reconsideration of rental determinations and other charges.
f. Leave status, charges during. Employees on leave will continue to be charged for quarters and related facilities, unless the quarters are vacated and made available for reassignment.
g. Landlord-tenant relationship. To aid all agency administrative officials and employees in understanding how the circular is to be applied, agencies will make clear that they assume the customary responsibilities of the landlord and that those who occupy rental quarters assume the customary responsibilities of tenants.
h. Required occupancy. Agency regulations will specify the conditions under which the agency head, or his or her designee, will require occupancy of Government rental quarters, in accordance with the limitations cited in 5 U.S.C. section 5911(e), which provides that employee or member occupancy of rental quarters may not be required unless the agency head determines that necessary service cannot be rendered, or that property of the Government cannot adequately be protected.
i. Safe and sanitary quarters. Agency heads will ensure that Government rental quarters are safe and sanitary. Although adjustments to the basic rental rate are permitted for such circumstances as excessive heating and cooling costs, poor condition, and lack of potable water, such conditions should not be permitted to continue any longer than absolutely necessary.
j. Agency housing officers. Each Federal agency that provides rental quarters shall appoint a principal housing officer with responsibility to supervise the agency's implementation of the policies of this circular.
Leon E. Panetta
Step 1. Determine the one-way distance in miles (from the quarters to the nearest established community) for each affected category of transportation listed in Figure 1. Enter mileages) in the appropriate block(s) under Column B.
Step 2. Multiply mileage figures entered in Column B by point values listed in Column A for each affected category of transportation to produce one-way points for each category. Add 29 points to the category 4 subtotal and 27 points to the category 5 subtotal to reflect relative differences in cost or time by use of these modes of travel.
Step 3. Add all categories of one-way points in Column C to produce total one-way points. (The total must exceed 30 points or there is no adjustment for isolation.)
Figure 1 Column A Column B Column C Category Point One-way One-way of Travel Value Miles Points (1) Paved road or rail 1.0 X _____ = (2) Unpaved but improved road 1.5 X _____ = (3) Unimproved road 2.0 X _____ = (4) Water, snowmobile, pack 2.5 X _____ = _____ + 29 = ____ animal, foot or other special purpose conveyance (5) Air 4.0 X _____ = _____ + 27 = ____
TOTAL ONE-WAY POINTS
Step 4. Calculate the Isolation Adjustment Factor (IAF) using the following formula: Multiply 2 (to reflect round-trip points) by 4 (to reflect number of trips per month) and then multiply by $x.xx (GSA's current automobile mileage allowance). For example, the GSA mileage allowance, as of the date of this circular, is $0.25 per mile, resulting in a IAF of 2.0 (rounded to the nearest tenth).
ISOLATION ADJUSTMENT FACTOR = 2.0
Step 5. Multiply total adjusted points by the Isolation Adjustment Factor to produce the monthly adjustment for isolation (rounded to the nearest whole dollar).
MONTHLY ADJUSTMENT = _____