A-24418, SEPTEMBER 29, 1928, 8 COMP. GEN. 154

A-24418: Sep 29, 1928

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SAVING EMPLOYEES FROM LOSS OF SALARY AND FROM BEING DEPRIVED OF ADVANCEMENT AUTHORIZED BY LAW AND FOR WHICH FUNDS ARE AVAILABLE IS APPLICABLE TO THE FIELD SERVICE. FOR RETAINING THE SAME RELATIVE POSITION OR POSITIONS IN APPLYING THE AUTOMATIC PROVISIONS OF THE STATUTE IS NOT APPLICABLE TO THE FIELD SERVICE. ARE FOR THE ACTION OF THE ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE AND NOT THAT OF THE PERSONNEL CLASSIFICATION BOARD. THE INCREASES PROVIDED FOR UNDER SAID ACT ARE NOT TO BE REGARDED AS PROMOTIONS. THE FOLLOWING IS PRESENTED FOR YOUR DECISION: 1. ARE THE PROVISIONS OF THIS LEGISLATION RETROACTIVE IN EFFECT. THAT IS. IF CLASSIFICATION GRADES ARE ALLOCATED AND COMPENSATION SCHEDULES ASSIGNED AT THIS TIME.

A-24418, SEPTEMBER 29, 1928, 8 COMP. GEN. 154

CLASSIFICATION OF CIVILIAN EMPLOYEES - APPLICATION OF ACT OF MAY 28, 1928 - FIELD EMPLOYEES OF VETERANS' BUREAU SECTION 3 OF THE ACT OF MAY 28, 1928, 45 STAT. 785, DOES NOT MAKE MANDATORY THE CLASSIFICATION OF ALL POSITIONS IN THE FIELD SERVICE OF THE VETERANS' BUREAU. ANY READJUSTMENT IN SALARY RATES MADE SUBSEQUENT TO JULY 1, 1928, FOR FIELD POSITIONS UNDER AUTHORITY OF SECTION 3 OF THE ACT OF MAY 28, 1928, TO CORRESPOND TO THE SALARY RATES AUTHORIZED FOR SIMILAR POSITIONS IN THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA BY SAID ACT, MAY NOT BE MADE RETROACTIVELY EFFECTIVE TO JULY 1, 1928, BUT PROSPECTIVELY ONLY FROM THE DATE OF ADMINISTRATIVE ACTION. THE CLAUSE IN SECTION 1 OF THE ACT OF MAY 28, 1928, SAVING EMPLOYEES FROM LOSS OF SALARY AND FROM BEING DEPRIVED OF ADVANCEMENT AUTHORIZED BY LAW AND FOR WHICH FUNDS ARE AVAILABLE IS APPLICABLE TO THE FIELD SERVICE. THE PROVISION IN SECTION 1 OF THE ACT OF MAY 28, 1928, FOR RETAINING THE SAME RELATIVE POSITION OR POSITIONS IN APPLYING THE AUTOMATIC PROVISIONS OF THE STATUTE IS NOT APPLICABLE TO THE FIELD SERVICE. ADJUSTMENTS IN SALARY RATES FOR FIELD POSITIONS AUTHORIZED BY SECTION 3 OF THE ACT OF MAY 28, 1928, ARE FOR THE ACTION OF THE ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE AND NOT THAT OF THE PERSONNEL CLASSIFICATION BOARD. WHILE THE ACT OF MAY 28, 1928, DOES NOT ABROGATE RULES AND REGULATIONS GOVERNING EFFICIENCY RATINGS, PROMOTIONS, AND DEMOTIONS, THE INCREASES PROVIDED FOR UNDER SAID ACT ARE NOT TO BE REGARDED AS PROMOTIONS.

COMPTROLLER GENERAL MCCARL TO THE DIRECTOR, UNITED STATES VETERANS' BUREAU, SEPTEMBER 29, 1928:

CONSIDERATION HAS BEEN GIVEN TO YOUR LETTER OF SEPTEMBER 12, 1928, AS FOLLOWS:

THE QUESTION HAS ARISEN IN THIS BUREAU AS REGARDS THE INTERPRETATION OF PUBLIC 555, DATED MAY 28, 1928, KNOWN AS THE WELCH BILL, AS IT APPLIES TO EMPLOYEES ASSIGNED TO THE FIELD SERVICE, AND THE FOLLOWING IS PRESENTED FOR YOUR DECISION:

1. DOES PUBLIC 555 MAKE MANDATORY THE CLASSIFICATION OF ALL POSITIONS IN THE FIELD SERVICE OF THIS BUREAU?

2. ARE THE PROVISIONS OF THIS LEGISLATION RETROACTIVE IN EFFECT; THAT IS, IF CLASSIFICATION GRADES ARE ALLOCATED AND COMPENSATION SCHEDULES ASSIGNED AT THIS TIME, SUCH GRADES AND SCHEDULES PROVIDING INCREASES IN SALARIES, ARE SUCH INCREASES EFFECTIVE JULY 1, 1928?

3. DOES THE FOLLOWING PROVISION OF THE ACT APPLY TO EMPLOYEES IN THE FIELD SERVICE? "THAT NOTHING CONTAINED IN THIS ACT SHALL OPERATE TO DECREASE THE PAY OF ANY PERSON EMPLOYED, NOR DEPRIVE ANY EMPLOYEE ANY ADVANCEMENT AUTHORIZED BY LAW, AND FOR WHICH FUNDS ARE AVAILABLE.'

4. DOES THE FOLLOWING PROVISION OF THE ACT APPLY TO EMPLOYEES IN THE FIELD SERVICE? "THE HEADS OF THE SEVERAL EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENTS AND INDEPENDENT ESTABLISHMENTS OF THE GOVERNMENT WHOSE DUTY IT IS TO CARRY INTO EFFECT THE PROVISIONS OF THIS ACT ARE HEREBY DIRECTED TO SO ADMINISTER THE SAME THAT THE POSITIONS AND EMPLOYEES AFFECTED HEREIN SHALL RETAIN IN THE CLASSIFICATION SCHEDULES HEREIN PROVIDED THE SAME RELATIVE POSITION OR POSITIONS WITHIN THEIR RESPECTIVE GRADES AS THEY HOLD AT THE TIME THIS LAW GOES INTO EFFECT.'

5. IF POSITIONS IN THE FIELD SERVICE ARE CLASSIFIED, IS IT MANDATORY THAT THE ALLOCATION OF GRADES BE MADE BY THE PERSONNEL CLASSIFICATION BOARD?

6. IF THE POSITIONS IN THE FIELD SERVICE ARE CLASSIFIED, MUST THE RULES AND REGULATIONS GOVERNING EFFICIENCY RATINGS, PROMOTIONS, AND DEMOTIONS, BE FOLLOWED?

THE PROVISIONS OF THE ACT OF MAY 28, 1928, 45 STAT. 776, 785, KNOWN AS THE WELCH ACT, SPECIFICALLY APPLICABLE TO THE FIELD SERVICE, ARE CONTAINED IN SECTIONS 2 AND 3. ACTION UNDER SECTION 2, REQUIRING A CLASSIFICATION SURVEY OF THE FIELD SERVICE, IS FOR THE PERSONNEL CLASSIFICATION BOARD AND CONTEMPLATES NO ADJUSTMENT IN COMPENSATION RATES UNTIL AFTER CONSIDERATION BY THE CONGRESS.

SECTION 3 OF THE STATUTE PROVIDES AS FOLLOWS:

THE HEADS OF THE SEVERAL EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENTS AND INDEPENDENT ESTABLISHMENTS ARE AUTHORIZED TO ADJUST THE COMPENSATION OF CERTAIN CIVILIAN POSITIONS IN THE FIELD SERVICE, THE COMPENSATION OF WHICH WAS ADJUSTED BY THE ACT OF DECEMBER 6, 1924, TO CORRESPOND, SO FAR AS MAY BE PRACTICABLE, TO THE RATES ESTABLISHED BY THIS ACT FOR POSITIONS IN THE DEPARTMENTAL SERVICES IN THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA.

REFERENCE IS MADE TO DECISIONS OF THIS OFFICE PUBLISHED IN THE JUNE, 1928, PAMPHLET, CONSTRUING AND APPLYING THIS SECTION OF THE LAW, BEGINNING ON PAGES 804, 808, 816, 818, AND 828. PARTICULAR REFERENCE IS MADE TO DECISION OF JUNE 21, 1928, 7 COMP. GEN. 804, 805, ADDRESSED TO THE CHAIRMAN, INTERSTATE COMMERCE COMMISSION, WHEREIN AFTER QUOTING FROM THE ACT OF DECEMBER 6, 1924, 43 STAT. 704, 705, IT WAS STATED:

THIS ACT HAS BEEN EXTENDED THROUGH EACH SUBSEQUENT FISCAL YEAR. FOR THE FISCAL YEAR 1929, SEE SECTION 2 OF THE ACT OF MARCH 5, 1928, 45 STAT. 193. THESE STATUTES HAVE HERETOFORE BEEN CONSTRUED AND APPLIED AS AUTHORIZING THE ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE TO ADJUST THE COMPENSATION OF POSITIONS THE SALARY OF WHICH HAD THERETOFORE BEEN SPECIFICALLY FIXED BY OTHER STATUTE. 4 COMP. GEN. 582; ID. 625. THE PROVISIONS OF THE ACT OF MAY 28, 1928, DO NOT AUTOMATICALLY INCREASE THE RATES OF COMPENSATION OF ANY FIELD POSITION WHETHER THE RATES WERE OR WERE NOT SPECIFICALLY FIXED BY OTHER LAW, BUT THERE IS FOR ADMINISTRATIVE CONSIDERATION SUCH ACTION, IF ANY, AS MAY BE NECESSARY TO ADJUST THE RATES OF COMPENSATION FOR FIELD POSITIONS "TO CORRESPOND, SO FAR AS PRACTICABLE, TO THE RATES ESTABLISHED BY THE CLASSIFICATION ACT OF 1923 FOR POSITIONS IN THE DEPARTMENTAL SERVICES IN THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA," AS AMENDED BY THE ACT OF MAY 28, 1928, FIXING THE NEW SCHEDULE OF SALARY RATES.

THE ACT OF DECEMBER 6, 1924, SUPRA, CONTAINED AN APPROPRIATION FOR THE UNITED STATES VETERANS' BUREAU, AND WHAT WAS HELD IN SAID DECISION WITH RESPECT TO THE INTERSTATE COMMERCE COMMISSION IS EQUALLY APPLICABLE TO THE VETERANS' BUREAU. IT IS UNDERSTOOD THAT ADJUSTMENTS IN THE COMPENSATION RATES OF FIELD POSITIONS UNDER THE VETERAN'S BUREAU WERE MADE PURSUANT TO THE ACT OF DECEMBER 6, 1924, AS EXTENDED THROUGH SUBSEQUENT FISCAL YEARS, TO CORRESPOND, SO FAR AS PRACTICABLE, TO THE RATES ESTABLISHED IN THE CLASSIFICATION ACT OF 1923 FOR POSITIONS IN THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA. SO, FURTHER ADJUSTMENT UNDER SECTION 3 OF THE WELCH ACT WOULD BE FOR CONSIDERATION OF THE DIRECTOR OF THE VETERANS' BUREAU WITH A VIEW TO INCREASING THE COMPENSATION OF THE POSITIONS SO ADJUSTED TO THE EXTENT THAT THEIR CORRESPONDING POSITIONS IN THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA WERE AUTOMATICALLY INCREASED UNDER THE WELCH ACT. ACTION BY THE ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE UNDER SECTION 3 OF THE STATUTE IS INDEPENDENT OF ACTION BY THE PERSONNEL CLASSIFICATION BOARD UNDER SECTION 2. WITH THIS PREFACE YOUR QUESTIONS ARE ANSWERED CATEGORICALLY, AS FOLLOWS:

1. NO.

2. NO. ANY ADJUSTMENT IN COMPENSATION RATES UNDER SECTION 3 WOULD BE EFFECTIVE PROSPECTIVELY ONLY.

3. YES. WHILE THE SAVING CLAUSE APPEARS IN THE ADMINISTRATIVE PROVISION HAVING TO DO WITH THE AUTOMATIC INCREASES IN SALARY RATES APPLICABLE ONLY TO THE DEPARTMENTAL SERVICES IN THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, THE TERMS OF THE CLAUSE EXTEND IT TO THE OPERATION OF THE ENTIRE ACT. BUT IN THIS CONNECTION IT MUST BE UNDERSTOOD THAT SAID PROVISION DOES NOT PROHIBIT OR PRECLUDE ADMINISTRATIVE REDUCTIONS IN COMPENSATION FOR CAUSE; THAT IS, REDUCTIONS THAT LEGALLY COULD HAVE BEEN MADE IF THE WELCH ACT HAD NOT BEEN ENACTED.

4. NO. THE PROVISION FOR RETAINING THE SAME RELATIVE POSITION OR POSITIONS IS APPLICABLE ONLY TO THE OPERATION OF THE AUTOMATIC PROVISIONS FOR ADJUSTMENT OF SALARY RATES IN THE DEPARTMENTAL SERVICE IN THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA.

5. IF YOU MEAN CLASSIFICATION AS A RESULT OF THE FIELD SURVEY AUTHORIZED AND REQUIRED BY THE PERSONNEL CLASSIFICATION BOARD, UNDER SECTION 2 OF THE ACT, YOU ARE ADVISED THAT THE CONDITIONS OF FIELD CLASSIFICATION AS A RESULT THEREOF WILL BE FOR THE CONSIDERATION OF THE CONGRESS. IF YOU MEAN THE ADJUSTMENTS AUTHORIZED UNDER SECTION 3 OF THE STATUTE, THE QUESTION IS ANSWERED IN THE NEGATIVE.

6. SEE ANSWER TO QUESTION 5. WHILE THE WELCH ACT DOES NOT ABROGATERULES AND REGULATIONS GOVERNING EFFICIENCY RATINGS, PROMOTIONS, AND DEMOTIONS, INCREASES PROVIDED FOR UNDER SAID ACT ARE NOT TO BE REGARDED AS PROMOTIONS.