A-44110, AUGUST 24, 1932, 12 COMP. GEN. 281

A-44110: Aug 24, 1932

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NO IMPOUNDMENT OF FUNDS WILL BE REQUIRED UNDER THE PROVISIONS OF SECTION 202 AND 203 OF THE ECONOMY ACT. IS NOT SUCH A "FILLING OF A VACANCY" WITHIN THE MEANING OF SECTION 203 OF THE ECONOMY ACT AS WOULD REQUIRE THE APPROVAL OF THE PRESIDENT OR AUTHORIZE THE RESTORATION TO THE APPROPRIATION OF ANY AMOUNT OF THE IMPOUNDED SALARY OF THE VACANT POSITION. AS FOLLOWS: I HAVE THE HONOR TO REQUEST YOUR DECISION AS TO THE EFFECT OF SECTIONS 202 AND 203 OF THE ECONOMY ACT ON CERTAIN CHANGES IN PERSONNEL ASSIGNMENTS IN THE VETERANS' ADMINISTRATION. IS STILL GOING ON. THE PROPER STAFFING OF HOSPITALS IS NECESSARY IN ORDER TO RENDER CARE TO THE SICK AND DISABLED. WHERE THE ACTION IS DUE TO AN UNEXPECTED INCREASE IN PATIENTS THE EMPLOYMENT PRESUMABLY WILL BE NO LONGER THAN THE DURATION OF THE EMERGENCY CONDITION.

A-44110, AUGUST 24, 1932, 12 COMP. GEN. 281

ECONOMY ACT - FILLING OF VACANCIES - TRANSFERS - REASSIGNMENT OF DUTIES THE TRANSFER OR REASSIGNMENT OF EMPLOYEES ALREADY IN THE SERVICE TO NEW OR ADDITIONAL POSITIONS NOT INVOLVING INCREASED EXPENDITURES FROM APPROPRIATED FUNDS OR THE CREATION OF A VACANCY DOES NOT REQUIRE THE PRIOR APPROVAL OF THE PRESIDENT, AND NO IMPOUNDMENT OF FUNDS WILL BE REQUIRED UNDER THE PROVISIONS OF SECTION 202 AND 203 OF THE ECONOMY ACT. THE REASSIGNMENT OF THE DUTIES OF A POSITION WHICH BECOMES VACANT, THE SALARY OF WHICH HAS BEEN IMPOUNDED, TO OTHER EMPLOYEES, IS NOT SUCH A "FILLING OF A VACANCY" WITHIN THE MEANING OF SECTION 203 OF THE ECONOMY ACT AS WOULD REQUIRE THE APPROVAL OF THE PRESIDENT OR AUTHORIZE THE RESTORATION TO THE APPROPRIATION OF ANY AMOUNT OF THE IMPOUNDED SALARY OF THE VACANT POSITION.

COMPTROLLER GENERAL MCCARL TO THE ADMINISTRATOR OF VETERANS' AFFAIRS, AUGUST 24, 1932:

CONSIDERATION HAS BEEN GIVEN TO YOUR LETTER OF AUGUST 15, 1932, AS FOLLOWS:

I HAVE THE HONOR TO REQUEST YOUR DECISION AS TO THE EFFECT OF SECTIONS 202 AND 203 OF THE ECONOMY ACT ON CERTAIN CHANGES IN PERSONNEL ASSIGNMENTS IN THE VETERANS' ADMINISTRATION.

AS YOU KNOW, THE VETERANS' ADMINISTRATION HAS FOR SOME TIME BEEN ENGAGED IN THE CONSOLIDATION OF FUNCTIONS OF THE VARIOUS ACTIVITIES TRANSFERRED TO AND MERGED THEREIN BY THE ACT OF JULY 3, 1930, AND THE EXECUTIVE ORDER OF JULY 21, 1930. IN ADDITION TO THE CONSOLIDATION OF FUNCTIONS THE ADMINISTRATION HAS TO DEAL WITH THE EXPANSION OF SERVICE DUE TO THE PROGRESS OF THE HOSPITAL CONSTRUCTION PROGRAM. THIS PROCESS OF CRYSTALLIZING FUNCTIONS AND REASSIGNING OF DUTIES, ETC., IS STILL GOING ON.

AS I INFORMED YOU IN MY LETTER OF JULY 5, 1932, TO WHICH YOU RESPONDED ON JULY 13, 1932, THE PROPER STAFFING OF HOSPITALS IS NECESSARY IN ORDER TO RENDER CARE TO THE SICK AND DISABLED, AND IT WOULD SEEM THAT ORDINARILY THE EMPLOYMENT OF NURSES, ATTENDANTS, ETC., COULD BE CLASSIFIED AS ,EMERGENCY" APPOINTMENTS WITHIN THE MEANING OF SECTION 203 (B). YOU ADVISED ME AS FOLLOWS:

"WITH RESPECT TO CERTAIN ESSENTIAL POSITIONS AT A HOSPITAL, SUCH AS NURSES, ATTENDANTS, ETC., AND BECAUSE OF THE NATURE OF THE WORK INVOLVED THE EXIGENCY MIGHT ARISE BY AN UNEXPECTED VACANCY IN THE REGULAR FORCE OR BY AN UNEXPECTED INCREASE IN THE NUMBER OF PATIENTS, WHERE SUCH SITUATIONS ARISE, THE APPOINTMENTS MAY BE MADE FORTHWITH WITHOUT THE WRITTEN AUTHORIZATION OR APPROVAL OF THE PRESIDENT, BUT THERE SHOULD BE SUBMITTED FOR FILING WITH THE PAY ROLL OR VOUCHER COVERING THE FIRST SALARY PAYMENT A SIGNED STATEMENT OF THE FACTS OF THE EMERGENCY MAKING THE IMMEDIATE ACTION ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY. WHERE THE ACTION IS DUE TO AN UNEXPECTED INCREASE IN PATIENTS THE EMPLOYMENT PRESUMABLY WILL BE NO LONGER THAN THE DURATION OF THE EMERGENCY CONDITION.

"WHERE A NEW HOSPITAL OR FACILITY, OR AN ADDITION TO AN EXISTING HOSPITAL OR FACILITY, IS TO BE OPENED THE PERSONNEL ESSENTIAL TO THE OPERATION THEREOF MAY NOT BE ENGAGED UNDER EXCEPTION (B) OF SECTION 203, BUT MAY BE ENGAGED ONLY IF AND WHEN AUTHORIZED IN WRITING BY THE PRESIDENT AS PROVIDED UNDER EXCEPTION (A) THEREOF.'

THERE IS ANOTHER PHASE OF THIS PROBLEM WHICH I DID NOT PRESENT TO YOUR ATTENTION, BUT WHICH I DESIRE THAT YOU CONSIDER. THAT IS THE FOLLOWING:

IN THE FURTHERANCE OF THE ECONOMY PROGRAM OF THE GOVERNMENT IT IS NOW PROPOSED TO REDUCE THE RATIO OF NURSES AND OTHER HOSPITAL PERSONNEL TO THE PATIENT LOAD IN ANY HOSPITAL WHERE IT WOULD BE POSSIBLE TO DO SO WITHOUT REDUCTION IN THE STANDARD OF SERVICE AND TO UTILIZE THE TRAINED PERSONNEL THUS MADE AVAILABLE FOR THE STAFFING OF NEW INSTITUTIONS OR FOR FILLING NEEDS AT OTHER HOSPITALS ALREADY IN OPERATION. WILL TRANSFERS OF THIS CHARACTER BE WITHIN THE LIMITATIONS OF SECTION 203? THE DUTIES OF THE EMPLOYEES WILL BE THE SAME AND THERE WILL BE NO INCREASE IN SALARY OR GRADE.

IN THE REORGANIZATION OF THE LEGAL WORK OF THE ADMINISTRATION IT WILL BE DESIRABLE TO TRANSFER ATTORNEYS, AT THE SAME GRADE AND SALARY, FROM FIELD STATIONS TO CENTRAL OFFICE, AND VICE VERSA, TO MEET THE FLUCTUATING DEMANDS OF THE LEGAL WORK IN THE CENTRAL OFFICE OR IN THE FIELD AS NECESSITY MAY REQUIRE. THESE WILL NOT BE NEW APPOINTMENTS, BUT SIMPLY THE TRANSFERS OF THE EMPLOYEES CONCERNED AND THE ONLY EFFECT ON THE BUDGET OF THE ADMINISTRATION WILL BE THE REALLOCATION OF THE FUNDS ORIGINALLY ALLOTTED TO THE REGIONAL OFFICE FROM THE APPROPRIATION FOR PERSONNEL TO THE BUDGET ALLOWANCE IN THE CENTRAL OFFICE, OR VICE VERSA. WILL IT BE NECESSARY TO OBTAIN THE PRESIDENT'S APPROVAL, AND WHAT IMPOUNDMENT OF FUNDS WILL BE NECESSARY, IF ANY?

A VACANCY HAS OCCURRED IN THE POSITION OF LEDGER ACCOUNT CLERK, GRADE CAF -3, AND THE SALARY OF THE POSITION HAS BEEN IMPOUNDED. IT IS PROPOSED TO CHANGE THE DUTIES OF AN EMPLOYEE, GRADE CAF-3, DESIGNATED AS VOUCHER EXAMINER, AND TO ASSIGN SUCH EMPLOYEE AS LEDGER ACCOUNT CLERK, THE VOUCHER EXAMINING DUTIES TO BE DISTRIBUTED AMONG THE REMAINING VOUCHER EXAMINERS. IS THIS SUCH A "FILLING OF A VACANCY" AS COMES WITHIN THE LIMITATION OF SECTION 203 OF THE ECONOMY ACT AND CONSEQUENTLY REQUIRES THE APPROVAL OF THE PRESIDENT?

IN THIS CONNECTION IT SHOULD BE BORNE IN MIND THAT ALL SALARIES IN THE VETERANS' ADMINISTRATION ARE PAID OUT OF THE LUMP-SUM APPROPRIATION FOR ADMINISTRATION, MEDICAL, HOSPITAL, AND DOMICILIARY SERVICES. THE BUDGET ALLOTMENTS FOR THE VARIOUS UNITS IN THE FIELD AND CENTRAL OFFICE ARE MADE BY THE ADMINISTRATOR AND ARE SUBJECT TO CHANGE BY HIM AS THE EXIGENCIES OF THE SERVICE REQUIRE.

IN DECISION OF JULY 30, 1932, A-43525, 12 COMP. GEN. 142, IT WAS HELD AS FOLLOWS:

THE TRANSFER OF EMPLOYEES OF THE SAME GRADE OR CLASS FROM ONE POSITION TO ANOTHER, NOT INVOLVING ANY INCREASED EXPENDITURE FROM PERSONNEL APPROPRIATIONS FOR THE FISCAL YEAR 1933, IS NOT TO BE REGARDED AS THE FILLING OF VACANCIES WITHIN THE MEANING OF SECTIONS 202 AND 203 OF THE ECONOMY ACT. * * *

IN DECISION OF AUGUST 19, 1932, A-44038, 12 COMP. GEN. 261, IT WAS HELD AS FOLLOWS:

* * * THE INHIBITION OF SECTION 202 OF THE ECONOMY ACT IS AGAINST ADMINISTRATIVE PROMOTIONS. SAID SECTION DOES NOT PROHIBIT ADJUSTMENTS IN THE DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES OF PERSONNEL, EITHER IN THE DEPARTMENTAL OR IN THE FIELD SERVICE, WHICH DO NOT INVOLVE ANY INCREASED EXPENDITURE OF APPROPRIATED FUNDS OR WHICH DO NOT DEFEAT THE IMPOUNDING OF SALARIES OF VACANT POSITIONS, THE FILLING OF WHICH HAS NOT BEEN AUTHORIZED OR APPROVED BY THE PRESIDENT.

WHERE NEW DUTIES ARISE AND ARE ADDED TO AN EXISTING POSITION REQUIRING ITS ALLOCATION TO A HIGHER GRADE, BUT WITH NO INCREASE IN COMPENSATION, THERE IS INVOLVED NEITHER AN ADMINISTRATIVE PROMOTION WITHIN THE PURVIEW OF SECTION 202 NOR THE FILLING OF A VACANCY WITHIN THE PURVIEW OF SECTION 203. BUT WHERE THE DUTIES OF A POSITION THAT HAS BECOME VACANT ARE ADDED TO ONE OR MORE OTHER POSITIONS--- REGARDLESS OF WHETHER THE ADDED DUTIES DO OR DO NOT REQUIRE A REALLOCATION OF SUCH POSITION--- THE IMPOUNDING PROVISIONS OF SECTION 203 ARE FOR APPLICATION WITH RESPECT TO THE VACANCY.

SEE, ALSO, DECISIONS OF AUGUST 2, 1932, A-43568 AND A-43635.

IN ANSWER TO YOUR FIRST AND SECOND QUESTIONS, PARAGRAPHS 5 AND 6 OF YOUR LETTER, I HAVE TO ADVISE THAT THE PROPOSED TRANSFERS OR REASSIGNMENTS OF EMPLOYEES WILL NOT CONTRAVENE SECTIONS 202 OR 203 OF THE ECONOMY ACT, THE PRIOR APPROVAL OF THE PRESIDENT WILL NOT BE REQUIRED, AND NO IMPOUNDING OF FUNDS UNDER SAID SECTION 203 WILL BE NECESSARY ON ACCOUNT THEREOF.

WITH REFERENCE TO YOUR THIRD QUESTION, THE IMPOUNDING OF THE SALARY OF THE VACATED POSITION OF LEDGER ACCOUNT CLERK WAS PROPER, AND THE REASSIGNMENT OF THE DUTIES OF THE VACANT POSITION TO OTHER EMPLOYEES NOW IN THE SERVICE, AS PROPOSED, ALTHOUGH IT INVOLVES A CHANGE IN THE DESIGNATION OF ONE OF THEM, IS NOT SUCH A "FILLING OF A VACANCY" AS WOULD REQUIRE THE APPROVAL OF THE PRESIDENT, OR AUTHORIZE A RESTORATION TO THE APPROPRIATION OF ANY PART OF THE IMPOUNDED SALARY OF THE VACATED POSITION OF LEDGER ACCOUNT CLERK. NEITHER DOES THE REASSIGNMENT PROPOSED CREATE ANOTHER VACANCY, THAT IS, A VACANCY IN THE POSITION OF VOUCHER EXAMINER.