A-32292, JUNE 30, 1930, 9 COMP. GEN. 528

A-32292: Jun 30, 1930

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IT IS WITHIN ADMINISTRATIVE DISCRETION TO DETERMINE THE VALUE OF QUARTERS SUBSISTENCE. SINCE THE REGULATIONS OF THE VETERANS' BUREAU HAVE FIXED THE VALUE OF ALLOWANCES FURNISHED IN KIND TO NURSES IN HOSPITALS FOR PERIOD OF ACTUAL DUTY ONLY. THERE IS NO AUTHORITY TO REIMBURSE NURSES IN CASH VALUE OF ALLOWANCES FOR PERIODS OF AUTHORIZED ABSENCE FROM DUTY WHEN THE ALLOWANCES WERE AVAILABLE BUT NOT USED. CLAIM IS MADE THAT NO DEDUCTIONS SHOULD ME MADE FROM HER SALARY DURING THE TIME SHE WAS IN THE CITY HOSPITAL. MISS KIRKPATRICK'S POSITION WAS ALLOCATED ON THE BASIS OF THE WELCH ACT AS SET FORTH IN THE LETTER ADDRESSED TO HER. OF WHICH THE FOLLOWING IS A COPY: "YOU ARE ADVISED THAT YOUR POSITION HAS BEEN ALLOCATED TO GRADE 6.

A-32292, JUNE 30, 1930, 9 COMP. GEN. 528

COMPENSATION - ALLOWANCES IN KIND - ABSENCE FROM DUTY UNDER THE PROVISO TO SEC. 3 OF THE ACT OF MARCH 5, 1928, 45 STAT. 193, IT IS WITHIN ADMINISTRATIVE DISCRETION TO DETERMINE THE VALUE OF QUARTERS SUBSISTENCE, AND OTHER ALLOWANCES FURNISHED IN KIND TO CIVILIAN EMPLOYEES, TO BE CONSIDERED AS A PART OF COMPENSATION, EITHER FOR THE PERIOD OF ACTUAL DUTY ONLY, EXCLUSIVE OF PERIODS OF AUTHORIZED OR UNAUTHORIZED ABSENCE, OR FOR FULL TIME, INCLUDING PERIODS OF AUTHORIZED OR UNAUTHORIZED ABSENCE. SINCE THE REGULATIONS OF THE VETERANS' BUREAU HAVE FIXED THE VALUE OF ALLOWANCES FURNISHED IN KIND TO NURSES IN HOSPITALS FOR PERIOD OF ACTUAL DUTY ONLY, THERE IS NO AUTHORITY TO REIMBURSE NURSES IN CASH VALUE OF ALLOWANCES FOR PERIODS OF AUTHORIZED ABSENCE FROM DUTY WHEN THE ALLOWANCES WERE AVAILABLE BUT NOT USED.

COMPTROLLER GENERAL MCCARL TO THE DIRECTOR, UNITED STATES VETERANS' BUREAU, JUNE 30, 1930:

CONSIDERATION HAS BEEN GIVEN TO YOUR LETTER OF JUNE 16, 1930, AS FOLLOWS:

MISS AGNES J. KIRKPATRICK, HEAD NURSE, UNITED STATES VETERANS' HOSPITAL CHILLICOTHE, OHIO, DEVELOPED A SEVERE INTESTINAL INFLUENZA ATTACK, AND ON THE RECOMMENDATION OF THE HOSPITAL AUTHORITIES AND ON HER OWN DESIRE SHE ENTERED THE CHILLICOTHE CITY HOSPITAL JANUARY 24, 1930, WHERE SHE REMAINED UNTIL FEBRUARY 12, 1930. CLAIM IS MADE THAT NO DEDUCTIONS SHOULD ME MADE FROM HER SALARY DURING THE TIME SHE WAS IN THE CITY HOSPITAL, ON ACCOUNT OF THE ROOM WHICH SHE RELINQUISHED AND THE SUBSISTENCE SHE DID NOT RECEIVE AT THE VETERANS' BUREAU HOSPITAL.

MISS KIRKPATRICK'S POSITION WAS ALLOCATED ON THE BASIS OF THE WELCH ACT AS SET FORTH IN THE LETTER ADDRESSED TO HER, DATED DECEMBER 16, 1929, OF WHICH THE FOLLOWING IS A COPY:

"YOU ARE ADVISED THAT YOUR POSITION HAS BEEN ALLOCATED TO GRADE 6, S.P. SERVICE, WITH A SALARY OF $1,490 PER ANNUM, QS ($2,000) EFFECTIVE DECEMBER 1, 1929.'

FROM HER ANNUAL SALARY WERE DEDUCTED $360 ($30 PER MONTH) FOR SUBSISTENCE AND $150 ($12.50 PER MONTH) FOR QUARTERS, LEAVING HER PAY IN MONEY $1,490. HER CONTRACT OF EMPLOYMENT DOES NOT PROVIDE FOR ANY DEDUCTION FOR QUARTERS OR SUBSISTENCE IN CASE OF ABSENCE, EITHER ON ANNUAL OR SICK LEAVE.

IN A LETTER ADDRESSED TO THE MEDICAL OFFICER IN CHARGE, UNITED STATES, VETERANS' HOSPITAL, MUSKOGEE, OKLA., DATED FEBRUARY 18, 1928, THE CHIEF, PERSONNEL DIVISION, SAID:

"CAREFUL CONSIDERATION WAS GIVEN TO THE AMOUNT TO BE CHARGED FOR SUBSISTENCE BEFORE GENERAL ORDER NO. 265-Y WAS PUT INTO EFFECT, AND IT WAS FOUND THAT $360 PER ANNUM WAS THE MINIMUM CHARGE FOR THIS ALLOWANCE. THE MATTER OF REIMBURSING EMPLOYEES FOR SUBSISTENCE WHILE ON ANNUAL LEAVE WOULD HAVE NECESSITATED A CHARGE OF $390 PER ANNUM FOR SUBSISTENCE FIGURED ON THE BASIS OF AN EMPLOYEE SERVING 11 MONTHS INSTEAD OF 12.

"AS THE CHARGE FOR LAUNDRY HAS BEEN REDUCED TO $2.50 PER MONTH, IN LIEU OF $5 PREVIOUSLY CHARGED, AND A CHARGE IS NOW BEING MADE OF $12.50 PER MONTH FOR QUARTERS, INSTEAD OF THE $15 PER MONTH PREVIOUSLY CHARGED, IT IS THE OPINION OF CENTRAL OFFICE THAT THE MATTER OF NOT REIMBURSING EMPLOYEES FOR SUBSISTENCE WHEN ABSENT ON 30 DAYS' ANNUAL LEAVE IS MORE THAN TAKEN CARE OF BY THE REDUCED CHARGES FOR QUARTERS AND LAUNDRY.'

PARAGRAPH 4738 OF REGULATIONS AND PROCEDURE, UNITED STATES VETERANS' BUREAU, FINANCE, IS IN PART AS FOLLOWS:

"1. WHERE ALLOWANCES ARE PROVIDED FOR IN THE CONTRACT OF EMPLOYMENT AND THE MONETARY EQUIVALENT OF SUCH ALLOWANCES FIXED, THE FOLLOWING PROCEDURE WILL GOVERN:

"/A) IF AN EMPLOYEE IS ABSENT ON ACCOUNT OF SUCH OR ANNUAL LEAVE, NO REDUCTION WILL BE MADE IN THE CHARGE FOR QUARTERS, SUBSISTENCE, AND LAUNDRY, OR FOR ONE OR MORE OF SUCH ALLOWANCES.

IN A LETTER ADDRESSED TO THE DIRECTOR DATED FEBRUARY 20, 1930, THE MEDICAL OFFICER IN CHARGE, UNITED STATES VETERANS' HOSPITAL, CHILLICOTHE, OHIO, SAID:

"IT IS FELT BY THIS STATION THAT AFTER JULY 1, 1928, SALARIES FOR EMPLOYEES, WHETHER LIVING IN WASHINGTON OR LIVING ON OR OFF THE STATION, WERE FIXED BY CONGRESS AND THAT ONCE THE RECLASSIFICATION ACT WAS DECENTRALIZED TO THE FIELD THE BUREAU HAD AUTHORITY ONLY TO MAKE DEDUCTIONS TO EMPLOYEES LIVING AT THE HOSPITAL FOR SERVICES RENDERED WHILE THEY ARE LIVING IN THE HOSPITAL. IN OTHER WORDS, THE CHARGES FOR QUARTERS, SUBSISTENCE, AND LAUNDRY UNDER THE RECLASSIFICATION ACT PASSED BY CONGRESS COULD ONLY BE DEDUCTED WHILE THESE SERVICES ARE AVAILABLE TO THE EMPLOYEE WHILE LIVING ON THE STATION AND THAT THE QUESTION OF AVAILABILITY IS NOT ONLY THE QUESTION OF WHETHER OR NOT THERE ARE QUARTERS ON THE STATION, FOOD ON THE STATION, AND LAUNDRY SERVICE ON THE STATION, BUT WHETHER THE QUARTERS, FOOD, AND LAUNDRY ARE AVAILABLE TO THE EMPLOYEE IN THE STATUS IN WHICH HE HAPPENS TO BE PLACED. IF PLACED IN THE STATUS OF ABSENCE ON AUTHORIZED SICK LEAVE OR AUTHORIZED ANNUAL LEAVE, THEY ARE NOT AVAILABLE BECAUSE HE IS NOT THERE TO MAKE THEM AVAILABLE, AND THIS LETTER OF THE STATION IN THE CASE OF MISS AGNES J. KIRKPATRICK IS FORWARDED THROUGH THE MEDICAL SERVICE TO THE DIRECTOR FOR HIS DECISION UPON THIS QUESTION.'

IT IS REQUESTED THAT YOU ADVISE THE BUREAU WHETHER IT WILL BE NECESSARY TO REIMBURSE MISS KIRKPATRICK FOR THE DEDUCTIONS THAT WERE MADE FROM HER SALARY TO COVER THE SUBSISTENCE THAT SHE DID NOT RECEIVE AND THE QUARTERS THAT SHE DID NOT OCCUPY DURING HER ABSENCE ON AUTHORIZED SICK LEAVE. SO, SHOULD ANY DEDUCTION BE MADE FOR SUBSISTENCE WHILE AN EMPLOYEE IS ON "LIBERTY" AS DISTINGUISHED FROM REGULAR AUTHORIZED LEAVE OF ABSENCE?

SECTION 3 OF THE ACT OF MARCH 5, 1928, 45 STAT. 193, PROVIDES AS FOLLOWS:

THE HEAD OF AN EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENT OR INDEPENDENT ESTABLISHMENT, WHERE, IN HIS JUDGMENT, CONDITIONS OF EMPLOYMENT REQUIRE IT, MAY CONTINUE TO FURNISH CIVILIANS EMPLOYED IN THE FIELD SERVICE WITH QUARTERS, HEAT, LIGHT, HOUSEHOLD EQUIPMENT, SUBSISTENCE, AND LAUNDRY SERVICE; AND APPROPRIATIONS FOR THE FISCAL YEAR 1929 AND THEREAFTER OF THE CHARACTER HERETOFORE USED FOR SUCH PURPOSES ARE HEREBY MADE AVAILABLE THEREFOR: PROVIDED, THAT THE REASONABLE VALUE OF SUCH ALLOWANCES SHALL BE DETERMINED AND CONSIDERED AS PART OF THE COMPENSATION IN FIXING THE SALARY RATE OF SUCH CIVILIANS.

THIS IS PERMANENT LEGISLATION. THE TERMS OF THE PROVISO HAVE BEEN MADE APPLICABLE TO ALL CLASSES OF CIVILIAN EMPLOYEES ENTITLED BY LAW OR REGULATION TO ALLOWANCES IN KIND FROM THE GOVERNMENT, IRRESPECTIVE OF THE ACT UNDER WHICH THEIR SALARIES ARE FIXED OR THE BRANCH OF THE SERVICE IN WHICH EMPLOYED. FOR PRIOR PERIODS SEE THE ACT OF MARCH 2, 1926, 44 STAT. 161, AND JANUARY 26, 1927, 44 STAT. 1052. WHERE A FIELD SERVICE IS SUBJECT TO THE CLASSIFICATION ACT TO THE EXTENT ITS PROVISIONS HAVE BEEN REQUIRED TO BE APPLIED IN THE FIELD SERVICES BY SECTION 3 OF THE AMENDATORY ACT OF MAY 29, 1928, 45 STAT. 785, KNOWN AS THE WELCH ACT, AND OTHER SIMILAR STATUTES COVERING PRIOR PERIODS, THE PROCEDURE SHOULD BE, FIRST, TO FIX THE PROPER GRADE AND SALARY RATE FOR THE FIELD POSITION ON THE BASIS OF THE DUTIES INVOLVED, AND THEN THERE SHOULD BE DETERMINED THE REASONABLE VALUE OF ANY ITEM OR ITEMS OF ALLOWANCE FURNISHED IN KIND. THE AMOUNT SO DETERMINED IS TO BE DEDUCTED FROM THE TOTAL SALARY RATE AS FIXED FOR THE POSITION AND ONLY THE REMAINDER PAID IN CASH. 5 COMP. GEN. 957, 958.

IT IS WITHIN THE DISCRETION OF THE ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE TO DETERMINE THE VALUE OF QUARTERS AND SUBSISTENCE AND OTHER ALLOWANCES FURNISHED IN KIND EITHER FOR PERIOD OF ACTUAL DUTY ONLY, EXCLUSIVE OF PERIODS OF AUTHORIZED OR UNAUTHORIZED ABSENCE, OR FOR FULL TIME INCLUDING PERIODS OF AUTHORIZED OR UNAUTHORIZED ABSENCE. FOR INSTANCE, REFERENCE IS MADE TO THE FOLLOWING IN DECISION OF THIS OFFICE DATED NOVEMBER 16, 1926, 6 COMP. GEN. 332, 334, INVOLVING EMPLOYEES UNDER THE ALASKA RAILROAD:

THE GENERAL MANAGER STATES IN HIS LETTER DATED JULY 15, 1926, AS FOLLOWS:

"IF THE VALUE OF QUARTERS FURNISHED MUST BE REGARDED AS A PART OF A FIXED RATE OF COMPENSATION, THEN WHEN AN EMPLOYEE ENTERS UPON A LEAVE STATUS AND GIVES UP HIS QUARTERS FOR THE TIME BEING, THE REQUIREMENT OF THE CIRCULAR WOULD RESULT IN THE PAYMENT OF THE FULL COMPENSATION RATE DURING THE LEAVE PERIOD, NO DEDUCTION ON ACCOUNT OF ALLOWANCES BEING POSSIBLE, WHICH IS CONTRARY TO THE PAY REGULATIONS OF THE RAILROAD, WHICH CONTEMPLATE THAT ALLOWANCES PAYABLE IN KIND SHALL BE PAID IN KIND ONLY; THAT PAY-ROLL ARRANGEMENT SUGGESTED IN THE CIRCULAR WOULD MAKE THEM PAYABLE IN MONEY WHEN NOT PAID IN KIND. PAYMENT IN MONEY, WHEN NOT PAID IN KIND, WOULD BE PROPER WHERE A FIXED RATE OF COMPENSATION IS SPECIFIED BY STATUTE; BUT THIS DOES NOT APPLY TO THE ALASKA RAILROAD.

"THE ALASKA RAILROAD MAY LAWFULLY PRESCRIBE REGULATIONS PROVIDING THAT ONLY THE PAY ORDINARILY PAID IN CASH WILL BE PAID DURING LEAVE OF ABSENCE WITH PAY. THE CONTRACTS OF EMPLOYMENT OR APPOINTMENTS SHOULD SPECIFY ACCORDINGLY. THIS WOULD BE ON THE BASIS THAT QUARTERS AND SUBSISTENCE ARE AVAILABLE IN KIND WHILE ACTUALLY EMPLOYED, BUT IF THE EMPLOYEE DESIRES LEAVE OF ABSENCE NO RIGHT WOULD ATTACH TO BE REIMBURSED FOR THE DETERMINED VALUE OF QUARTERS AND SUBSISTENCE THAT WOULD BE AVAILABLE IF HE HAD REMAINED ON DUTY.'

THE SAME PRINCIPLE SHOULD BE APPLIED IN A FIELD SERVICE THE COMPENSATION RATES IN WHICH ARE CONTROLLED BY SECTION 3 OF SAID ACT OF MAY 29, 1928. BASED ON YOUR SUBMISSION IT WOULD APPEAR THAT THE REGULATIONS PRESCRIBED BY THE VETERANS' BUREAU HAVE DETERMINED THE VALUE OF ALLOWANCES FURNISHED IN KIND TO NURSES IN HOSPITALS AS ON A FULL-TIME BASIS, INCLUDING PERIODS OF AUTHORIZED OR UNAUTHORIZED ABSENCE, AND THAT NO PROVISION HAS BEEN MADE UNDER THE REGULATIONS FOR ANY ADJUSTMENT IN THE AMOUNT OF CASH PAID IF THE EMPLOYEE IS NOT ON DUTY. THAT IS TO SAY, THE ALLOWANCES ARE AVAILABLE ONLY IN KIND AND THE VALUE HAS BEEN DETERMINED ACCORDINGLY, REIMBURSEMENT IN CASH TO THE EMPLOYEE NOT BEING AUTHORIZED IF THE ALLOWANCES IN KIND ARE NOT AVAILED OF BY THE EMPLOYEE.

ANSWERING YOUR QUESTION SPECIFICALLY, YOU ARE ADVISED THAT IT WILL NOT BE NECESSARY TO REIMBURSE MISS KIRKPATRICK THE DETERMINED VALUE OF ALLOWANCES AVAILABLE IN KIND BUT NOT USED BY HER DURING PERIODS OF AUTHORIZED SICK LEAVE OF ABSENCE. NEITHER WOULD THERE BE ANY AUTHORITY UNDER THE LAW AND REGULATIONS TO REIMBURSE AN EMPLOYEE THE VALUE OF ALLOWANCES AVAILABLE IN KIND BUT NOT USED DURING "LIBERTY" PERIODS.