Before you take that government-paid transfer across country, sit down with the kids and ask if they have done anything silly - like maybe getting married - without your knowledge. It could save a lot of grief and red tape.

All the above happened to a Marion, Va., man. He was ordered to move to a new U.S. Forest Service job in Idaho. The government agreed to pay moving expenses for him, his wife and their minor children. In his case, that included an advanced 16-year-old named Barbara.

What daddy didn't know was that his daughter and a 17-year-old neighbor, supposedly on a trip to the malt shop, slipped across the North Carolina border and returned as man and wife.

After what had to be a brief honeymoon (federal records are blurred here), Barbara the bride kissed Jack the husband farewell, got in the family station wagon and headed for Idaho.

The family reaction, when the truth came out, isn't known. But when the Agriculture Department (parent of the U.S. Forest Service) found that the taxpayers had been hit, even innocently, for transporting a married woman traveling as a minor across state lines, it said it wanted its money back.

The father, who had lots of other problems, appealed. He lost, and was told to repay the government for money given his daughter for travel expenses. The couple, Jack and Barbara, meantime decided to set up housekeeping in Idaho. Jack paid his own way out.

The message, for taxpayers, is relax. The government can pinch a penny when necessary.

For government workers planning a similar trip, a different message: In addition to asking the kids if there is anything they want to do before you drive off, also check to see if there is anything they need to tell you before you turn in an expense account.