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Department of State Standardized Regulations - (Last updated 07/22/2007)

OFFICIAL RESIDENCE EXPENSES (Last updated 7/22/2007)


 411 Definitions 

a. "Principal representative" means a senior official of the United States Government serving in a foreign country who has been designated by the Secretary of State as occupying a position of such importance that the Government should defray the unusual expenses incident to the operation and maintenance of his/her official residence.

b. "Official residence" means the residence designated by the head of agency for occupancy by a principal representative of an agency. The term "official residence" includes the building and grounds:


(1) purchased or leased by the Government and assigned to a principal representative; or


(2) leased or owned by a principal representative, or by a member of his/her family, and occupied by the principal representative as his/her residence.


c. "Official residence expenses" means those unusual expenses that a principal representative is obliged to incur in the operation and maintenance of a suitable official residence. These expenses must be in excess of the usual expenses incident to the operation and maintenance of the residence he/she would occupy if he/she were serving at the post in any other capacity.


d. "Household staff" means a person employed to perform household duties at the official residence.


e. "Staff’s maintenance" means the board, lodging, clothing, local transportation, medical and dental care, social security and other assessments, gratuities, burial expenses, and so forth, which are required in accordance with local law or custom to be provided by the principal representative in addition to wages. Transportation costs and necessary training described in Section 451 also are considered to be a part of staff’s maintenance.


412 Scope


The defraying of official residence expenses is intended to make possible the operation and maintenance of official residences in which principal representatives can properly represent the United States abroad by extending official (as distinct from personal) hospitality to foreign dignitaries and important visitors, by receiving official deputations and callers, and by holding requisite and appropriate ceremonies smoothly and with dignity. Also, payment of official residence expenses is intended to keep the official residences staffed and in operation to the extent necessary, even during intervals between the departure of an officer because of recall, transfer, or some other reason and his/her return or the arrival of his/her successor. Payment of official residence expenses should not be considered to be a gratuity, allowance, or other emolument.




421 Designation of Principal Representatives


The Secretary of State will designate the positions whose incumbents shall be considered principal representatives for the purpose of this chapter.


422 Designation of Official Residences


The head of agency shall determine which residences at a post shall be considered as official residences for occupancy by principal representatives. When a principal representative is expected to be absent from his/her post for a period in excess of 30 consecutive calendar days, the head of agency may, in addition, designate as a temporary official residence the residence of the employee acting for the principal representative.





Unusual expenses defined in Section 411c which are incurred in the following circumstances may be charged as official residence expenses in accordance with provisions of Sections 440 and 450 when pertinent:


a. when an employee is authorized by the head of agency to occupy the official residence during the absence from the post of the principal representative; (If the head of agency determines it to be necessary for such an employee to maintain and operate another residence at the post while occupying the official residence, the "usual" and "unusual" expenses (see Sections 411c and 440) of maintaining and operating the official residence may be charged as official residence expenses.);


b. during periods when no principal representative is assigned to an official residence. Periods of time when a principal representative is temporarily absent, including annual and home leave, do not relieve him/her from the requirements of Section 440 for the periods of the absence;


c. when the residence of another employee who is acting for the principal representative is temporarily designated as an official residence. (See Section 422.)




The amount of annual usual household expenses (accounted for on an annual per calendar year basis) that must be borne personally by a principal representative regardless of rank or grade is three and one-half percent of salary. The amount of annual usual household expenses that must be borne personally by an employee serving as Chief of Mission (officer temporarily in charge of the operations of an agency at a post, or in some other similar capacity) is three and one-half percent of his/her salary plus any additional compensation that he/she may be authorized to receive while serving in such capacity. All allowances, differentials, or other additional compensation are excluded. (See definition of salary in Section 040(l).)

Usual household expenses less than three and one-half percent


Should the total annual household and maintenance expenses (including any expenses identified in Sections 451-453 not paid through other funding sources such as described in Section 450, e.g., contracts for gardening services) total less than three and one-half percent of salary, the principal representative may pay only the cost of such expenses and may not seek any reimbursement under ORE.


If the principal representative chooses not to contribute the three and one-half percent of his/her salary when ORE costs are less than the contribution, then he/she must make this option upon arrival at the post.  The option “not to contribute” the three and one-half percent of salary and “not seek reimbursement” under ORE must remain in effect through the current calendar year ending December 31 and prorated for arrival and departure dates.




The head of agency is required to place a limitation on the total number of household staff that may be employed at Government expense in the official residence of a principal representative of that agency consistent with the needs of such representative.




Within allotted funds, and subject to the provisions of Section 445, an official residence allotment may be charged, or reimbursement made therefrom to principal representatives, for the official residence expenses (Section 411c) described in Sections 451, 452, and 453 that exceed on an annual basis the applicable amount of usual household expenses specified in Section 440.


Where applicable, individual agency appropriations should be used to provide alternative methods of funding for some or all of the expenses identified in Sections 451, 452 and 453 (e.g., household furnishings provided by the Overseas Building Operations program). Routine maintenance and repair funds can be used for Government-owned or long-term lease properties and S&E/DCP funds for short-term lease properties (6 FAM 773.3-2b or equivalent agency regulations). Under these circumstances such expenditures will not be considered in calculating the cost of ORE.


451 Household Staff

a. wages and maintenance of household staff;


b. transportation of household staff between the post and alternate seat of government;


c. transportation of household staff between the residence post and another post of assignment if the principal representative is designated as a principal representative at both posts concurrently;


d. protocol and/or English language training when such training is reasonable and necessary.


452 Household Operation and Maintenance


a. The rent, installation, repair, upkeep and removal of furnishings, equipment, and appliances;


b. the purchase of services such as those required to renovate and redecorate the premises for use as an official residence;


c. general house cleaning, dry cleaning, laundry, trash removal, and window washing;


d. telephone, internet, satellite, cable or other available communication services.


453 Expendable Household Supplies and Small Items


a. Purchases should be limited to no more than six months operating requirements for supplies which are normally consumed in use or lose their identity such as cleaning supplies, paper, light bulbs, linen, nails, and wire;


b. Supplies which are of insufficient value (less than $250) to justify maintenance of property accountability records, such as electrical equipment, kitchenware, plumbing supplies, and tools.  Posts are encouraged to directly procure items for use by the official residence when feasible in order to maximize purchasing power. All items acquired with U.S. Government funds become property of the U.S. Government.


454 Prohibitions


Expenses such as the following may not be reimbursed from or charged to the official residence expenses account:


a. Expenditures which are properly borne by representation allowance funds (such as staff overtime and extra waiters for official functions or other allowable items under Section 320);


b. Expenditures properly borne by any other appropriations as specified by acts of Congress or by internal agency regulations;


c. Expenditures prohibited by law;


d. Wages and maintenance of household staff who provide a personalized service or are commonly employed by most employees at post who do not have official residence responsibilities (such as a chauffeur, personal maid, personal secretary, nursemaid, or governess);


e. Transportation of staff for purposes other than delineated in Section 451, unless transportation is incorporated into the wage contract due to lack of available qualified personnel at the post and approved by head of the agency.


455 Payment


Official residence expenses authorized under this chapter must be accounted for on an annual calendar year basis and paid or reimbursed based on the annual amount calculated.  Each agency should establish policies and procedures in order to ensure employee pays appropriate amount.


456 Advance of Funds for Official Residence Expenses (eff. 7/22/07 TL:SR 679)


An agency may provide an advance of funds for official residence expenses to principal representatives eligible to receive reimbursements for such expenses.


457 Condition Requiring Repayment (eff. 7/22/07 TL:SR 679)


An advance of funds not substantiated by a receipt or other proof of payment shall be repaid by the employee to the agency.