A-44259, AUGUST 31, 1932, 12 COMP. GEN. 312

A-44259: Aug 31, 1932

Additional Materials:

Contact:

Edda Emmanuelli Perez
(202) 512-2853
EmmanuelliPerezE@gao.gov

 

Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800
youngc1@gao.gov

ECONOMY ACT - COOPERATIVE EMPLOYEES - FOREST SERVICE EMPLOYEES UNDER THE FOREST SERVICE WHOSE COMPENSATION IS PAID PARTLY FROM APPROPRIATED FUNDS AND PARTLY FROM DONATIONS OR CONTRIBUTIONS FROM PRIVATE SOURCES TOWARD THE COST OF PROTECTION AND IMPROVEMENT WORK IN NATIONAL FORESTS ARE OFFICERS OR EMPLOYEES OF THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT WITHIN THE MEANING OF TITLE I OF THE ECONOMY ACT. THE COST OF A PROJECT IN A NATIONAL FOREST TOWARD WHICH DONATIONS OR CONTRIBUTIONS FROM PRIVATE INTERESTS ARE MADE INCLUDES THE AMOUNT OF THE SALARY OF FEDERAL EMPLOYEES ENGAGED IN CONNECTION THEREWITH REQUIRED TO BE DEDUCTED AND IMPOUNDED. UNDER STATUTES AUTHORIZING REFUND OF DONATIONS OR CONTRIBUTIONS IN EXCESS OF THE COST OF THE PROJECT THERE IS AUTHORIZED TO BE REFUNDED TO THE DONORS OR CONTRIBUTORS NO PART OF THE SALARY OF FEDERAL EMPLOYEES REQUIRED TO BE DEDUCTED AND IMPOUNDED UNDER THE PROVISIONS OF THE ECONOMY ACT.

A-44259, AUGUST 31, 1932, 12 COMP. GEN. 312

ECONOMY ACT - COOPERATIVE EMPLOYEES - FOREST SERVICE EMPLOYEES UNDER THE FOREST SERVICE WHOSE COMPENSATION IS PAID PARTLY FROM APPROPRIATED FUNDS AND PARTLY FROM DONATIONS OR CONTRIBUTIONS FROM PRIVATE SOURCES TOWARD THE COST OF PROTECTION AND IMPROVEMENT WORK IN NATIONAL FORESTS ARE OFFICERS OR EMPLOYEES OF THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT WITHIN THE MEANING OF TITLE I OF THE ECONOMY ACT, AND DEDUCTIONS AND IMPOUNDINGS THEREUNDER SHOULD BE BASED ON THE TOTAL SALARY RATE OF THE EMPLOYEES, INCLUDING ANY AMOUNT THAT MAY BE PAID FROM THE DONATIONS OR CONTRIBUTIONS OF PRIVATE INTERESTS. THE COST OF A PROJECT IN A NATIONAL FOREST TOWARD WHICH DONATIONS OR CONTRIBUTIONS FROM PRIVATE INTERESTS ARE MADE INCLUDES THE AMOUNT OF THE SALARY OF FEDERAL EMPLOYEES ENGAGED IN CONNECTION THEREWITH REQUIRED TO BE DEDUCTED AND IMPOUNDED, AND UNDER STATUTES AUTHORIZING REFUND OF DONATIONS OR CONTRIBUTIONS IN EXCESS OF THE COST OF THE PROJECT THERE IS AUTHORIZED TO BE REFUNDED TO THE DONORS OR CONTRIBUTORS NO PART OF THE SALARY OF FEDERAL EMPLOYEES REQUIRED TO BE DEDUCTED AND IMPOUNDED UNDER THE PROVISIONS OF THE ECONOMY ACT.

COMPTROLLER GENERAL MCCARL TO THE SECRETARY OF AGRICULTURE, AUGUST 31, 1932:

CONSIDERATION HAS BEEN GIVEN TO YOUR LETTER OF AUGUST 23, 1932, AS FOLLOWS:

REFERENCE IS MADE TO VARIOUS DECISIONS REQUIRING THAT 8 1/3 PERCENT DEDUCTIONS BE MADE IN THE WAGES OF TEMPORARY EMPLOYEES WHOSE RATES ARE ABOVE THE $1,000 ANNUAL EQUIVALENT. IN THE FOREST SERVICE IT HAS BEEN THE UNIFORM PRACTICE TO FIX WAGES OF SEASONAL EMPLOYEES AS CLOSELY AS PRACTICABLE TO LOCAL WAGE SCALES IN OTHER COMPARABLE LINES OF WORK AND TO THOSE PAID BY FOREST FIRE PROTECTIVE ASSOCIATIONS AND OTHERS ENGAGED IN WORK SIMILAR TO THAT OF THE FOREST SERVICE. FOLLOWING THIS ESTABLISHED POLICY, THE WAGES OF SEASONAL EMPLOYEES, FOREST GUARDS, LOOKOUTS, FIREMEN, ROAD LABORERS, ETC., WERE REDUCED FROM APPROXIMATELY 5 TO 15 PERCENT IN THE SPRING, BEFORE THE OPENING OF THE FIELD SEASON AND PRIOR TO THE PASSAGE OF THE ACT OF JUNE 30, 1932 (PUBLIC, NO. 212). FOR EXAMPLE: IN ONE REGION THE AVERAGE MONTHLY PAY OF FIRE GUARDS WAS $110 IN 1931 AND $100 IN 1932; IN ANOTHER, $110 IN 1931 AND $105 IN 1932; IN A THIRD, $120 IN 1931 AND $108 IN 1932. SOME WAGES OF LABORERS WITH SUBSISTENCE FURNISHED BY THE GOVERNMENT WERE $2.70 IN 1931 AND $2.40 IN 1932; $3.00 IN 1931 AND $2.75 IN 1932; WITHOUT SUBSISTENCE, $4.00 IN 1931 AND $3.25 IN 1932, ETC.

HAD IT BEEN KNOWN AT THE TIME OF DETERMINING THE WAGE SCALES FOR THE FIELD SEASON THAT A SIMILAR DEDUCTION WOULD BE MADE BY LEGISLATION, OUR PREVIOUS REDUCTIONS WOULD NOT HAVE BEEN MADE. THE RESULT IS UNFAIRNESS TO THESE EMPLOYEES, WHO HAVE BEEN SUBJECTED TO A DOUBLE WAGE CUT CONSISTING OF APPROXIMATELY 5 TO 15 PERCENT PLUS AN ADDITIONAL 8 1/3 PERCENT UNDER THE ACT. INSTEAD OF CONFORMING AS NEARLY AS PRACTICABLE TO THE CURRENT WAGE SCALES, AS WAS THE AIM, THEY ARE ON A LOWER WAGE BASIS THAN THOSE IN OTHER LINES OF WORK WHOSE WAGES HAVE NOT BEEN CORRESPONDINGLY REDUCED SINCE THE WAGE SCALES FOR THE SEASON WERE ESTABLISHED.

I SHOULD BE GLAD TO HAVE YOUR DECISION AS TO WHETHER THE 8 1/3 PERCENT REDUCTION MUST BE APPLIED TO THE WAGES THAT HAD PREVIOUSLY BEEN REDUCED AS MUCH AS 8 1/3 PERCENT. IF SO, MAY THESE WAGES BE RESTORED TO APPROXIMATELY LAST YEAR'S SCALE AND THE REDUCTION MADE FROM THAT BASIS? IF THE LATTER IS ANSWERED IN THE AFFIRMATIVE IT IS ASSUMED THAT THE WAGES THAT ARE NOW ONLY 5 PERCENT BELOW LAST YEAR MUST BE REDUCED AN ADDITIONAL 3 1/3 PERCENT OF LAST YEAR'S SCALE; AND THAT THOSE REDUCED 15 PERCENT MAY BE RESTORED TO AN AMOUNT WHICH, REDUCED BY 8 1/3 PERCENT, WILL RESULT IN APPROXIMATELY THE WAGES AGREED UPON FOR THE CURRENT FIELD SEASON.

REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR DECISION A-43819 OF AUGUST 8 TO THE SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR, HOLDING THAT FUNDS DEPOSITED FOR COOPERATIVE WORK ARE TO BE IMPOUNDED THE SAME AS APPROPRIATED FUNDS. UNDER FOUR ACTS (JULY 30, 1914; AUGUST 11, 1916; MARCH 3, 1925; AND JUNE 9, 1930; 38 STAT. 430; 39 STAT. 462; 43 STAT. 1132; 46 STAT. 527) MONEYS ARE DONATED BY OUTSIDE FIRMS, PERSONS, ETC., FOR WORK IN COOPERATION WITH THE FOREST SERVICE, MUCH OF WHICH IS WITH THE UNDERSTANDING THAT IN THE EVENT THE WORK COSTS LESS THAN CONTEMPLATED THE COOPERATOR'S PROPORTIONATE SHARE WILL BE REFUNDED. FOR EXAMPLE: IF THE CONSTRUCTION OF A ROAD IS ESTIMATED TO COST $6,000, OF WHICH THE FOREST SERVICE ISTO SUPPLY $3,000, A COUNTY $2,000, AND A PRIVATE FIRM $1,000, AND THE ACTUAL CONSTRUCTION COSTS ONLY $5,000, THE TWO LATTER WOULD BE ENTITLED TO A REFUND OF ONE-SIXTH OF THEIR DEPOSITS. PRIOR TO RECEIPT OF YOUR DECISION INDICATING THAT SUCH IMPOUNDAGE WOULD BE NECESSARY FOR COOPERATIVE FUNDS, INSTRUCTIONS WERE ISSUED BY THE FOREST SERVICE TO DEDUCT 8 1/3 PERCENT FROM WAGES PAID FROM THOSE FUNDS, BUT TO INDICATE ON THE PAY ROLL THAT THE AMOUNT RELATING TO THE FUND "COOPERATIVE WORK, FOREST SERVICE" WAS NOT TO BE IMPOUNDED, SINCE IN PRACTICALLY ALL CASES THIS SAVING BELONGS TO THE COOPERATOR AND IS SUBJECT TO REFUND.

I SHALL BE GLAD TO KNOW WHETHER THIS PLAN MAY BE FOLLOWED OR WHETHER WE SHOULD REPORT FOR IMPOUNDING ON FORMS 1077 THE FULL AMOUNT OF THE DEDUCTION. IT MIGHT BE STATED THAT IN SOME OF THESE CASES INDIVIDUALS RECEIVE THEIR FULL WAGES FROM COOPERATIVE FUNDS AND IN OTHER CASES THEY MAY RECEIVE WAGES PARTLY FROM APPROPRIATED FUNDS. SINCE IT IS MERELY A MATTER OF CHANCE OR ADMINISTRATIVE CONVENIENCE WHETHER THE PARTICULAR INDIVIDUAL IS PAID FROM ONE FUND OR THE OTHER, OR PARTLY FROM BOTH, THE DEDUCTION SHOULD BE MADE AS A MATTER OF FAIRNESS, SO THAT A MEMBER OF A CREW WHO RECEIVES HIS FULL COMPENSATION FROM THE COOPERATIVE FUND WILL BE PAID THE SAME WAGES AS ANOTHER SIMILARLY EMPLOYED AND PAID WHOLLY FROM APPROPRIATED FUNDS. IF THESE FUNDS MUST BE IMPOUNDED, I SHALL BE GLAD TO BE INFORMED AS TO THE PROCEDURE FOR RESTORING FROM THE IMPOUNDED RESERVE TO A STATUS AVAILABLE FOR DISBURSEMENT AMOUNTS THAT ARE TO BE REFUNDED. THERE APPEARS TO BE NO OBJECTION TO THE IMPOUNDAGE PROCEDURE ON THESE FUNDS SO LONG AS IT DOES NOT DEPRIVE THE DEPOSITOR OF HIS SHARE OF THE SAVINGS IN THOSE CASES WHERE HE IS ENTITLED TO REFUND OF THE EXCESS OF HIS DEPOSIT OVER HIS PROPORTIONATE SHARE OF THE COST.

REFERRING TO THE FIRST QUESTION STATED IN THE THIRD PARAGRAPH OF YOUR SUBMISSION, THE FACT THAT THE SALARY RATES WERE REDUCED PRIOR TO JUNE 30, 1932, HAS NO BEARING ON THE APPLICATION OF THE ECONOMY ACT. PERCENTAGE REDUCTIONS REQUIRED BY THE ECONOMY ACT ARE TO BE BASED ON THE RATES EFFECTIVE AS OF JUNE 30, 1932, IRRESPECTIVE OF ANY REDUCTION PREVIOUSLY MADE. NOR ARE YOU AUTHORIZED TO RESTORE THE SCALE OF WAGES IN EFFECT PRIOR TO JUNE 30, 1932, AND BASE THE ECONOMY ACT REDUCTIONS ON THE INCREASED RATES. SEE DECISION OF AUGUST 17, 1932, TO YOU, A 43832, 12 COMP. GEN. 254, WHEREIN IT WAS STATED:

WITH REFERENCE TO THE SUGGESTION THAT IF THE 8 1/3 PERCENT MUST BE DEDUCTED "IT WILL BE NECESSARY TO EMPLOY THEM AT SUCH A RATE AS TO ALLOW THEM THE AMOUNT DEMANDED AFTER THE DEDUCTION HAS BEEN MADE," ATTENTION IS INVITED TO THE FACT THAT SECTION 202 OF THE ECONOMY ACT PROHIBITS ADMINISTRATIVE PROMOTIONS DURING THE FISCAL YEAR 1933. THE EFFECT OF THIS RESTRICTION IS THAT SALARY RATES AS OF JUNE 30, 1932, FOR ANY CLASS OF POSITIONS, EITHER PERMANENT, TEMPORARY, EMERGENCY, OR SEASONAL, MAY NOT BE INCREASED DURING THE FISCAL YEAR 1933, REGARDLESS OF WHETHER THE PARTICULAR POSITION INVOLVED WAS OR WAS NOT OCCUPIED ON JUNE 30, 1932.

SEE, ALSO, DECISION OF AUGUST 9, 1932, TO YOU, A-43840, 12 COMP. GEN. 221.

RELATIVE TO YOU SUGGESTION OF UNFAIRNESS TO THESE EMPLOYEES, THE FOLLOWING IS QUOTED FROM DECISION OF JULY 16, 1932, A-43338, 12 COMP. GEN. 63:

IT IS RECOGNIZED THAT THE OPERATION OF SOME OF THE PROVISIONS OF THE SAID ACT OF JUNE 30, 1932, AS APPLIED UNDER THIS AND OTHER DECISIONS OF THIS OFFICE WILL RESULT IN SOME INEQUALITIES BUT THIS CAN NOT BE AVOIDED WITHOUT DOING VIOLENCE TO ESTABLISHED RULES FOR THE CONSTRUCTION OF STATUTES AND TO CANONS OF INTERPRETATION. IN THIS CONNECTION, IT MAY BE OBSERVED THAT IT IS SELDOM POSSIBLE TO ENACT A LAW GRANTING OR WITHHOLDING PRIVILEGES OR BENEFITS, THE OPERATION OF WHICH WILL NOT RESULT IN SOME INEQUALITIES BECAUSE OF THE DIFFERENT CONDITIONS EXISTING WITH RESPECT TO THE DIFFERENT GROUPS OR CLASSES OF PERSONS TO BE AFFECTED THEREBY.

BY DECISION OF AUGUST 9, 1932, A-43819, 12 COMP. GEN. 220, TO WHICH YOU REFER, IT WAS STATED:

* * * ACCORDINGLY, IF THERE ARE ANY EMPLOYEES IN THE NATIONAL PARK SERVICE WHOSE SALARY IS PAID ENTIRELY FROM DONATED FUNDS, SUCH EMPLOYEES WOULD NOT BE SUBJECT TO THE COMPENSATION REDUCTION PROVIDED IN TITLE I OF THE ECONOMY ACT. A-43369, JULY 20, 1932. HOWEVER, IF EMPLOYEES' SALARIES ARE NOT PAID WHOLLY FROM DONATED FUNDS, OR IF THE FUNDS ARE DONATED MERELY AS A CONTRIBUTION TOWARD THE ACCOMPLISHMENT OF A WORK OR PROJECT ON WHICH APPROPRIATED MONEYS, ALSO, ARE TO BE USED, SO THAT THE DONATION SERVES TO AUGMENT THE APPROPRIATION OUT OF WHICH THE SALARIES ORDINARILY WERE PAID, IT COULD NOT BE SAID THAT SUCH EMPLOYEES ARE NOT PAID FROM THE FEDERAL TREASURY; HENCE, THEY WOULD BE SUBJECT TO THE APPLICABLE PROVISIONS OF TITLE I OF THE ECONOMY ACT.

IN DECISION OF AUGUST 2, 1932, A-43650, 12 COMP. GEN. 163, IT WAS STATED:

(2) AS THE AMOUNTS CONTRIBUTED BY THE STATES TOWARD THE WORK OF THE COAST AND GEODETIC SURVEY ARE NOT FOR THE COMPENSATION OF ANY PARTICULAR EMPLOYEE, IT MAY NOT BE SAID THAT THE SALARY OF ANY PARTICULAR EMPLOYEE OF THE COAST AND GEODETIC SURVEY IS THUS "NOT PAID FROM THE FEDERAL EASURY.' SEE SECTION 104 (A) (7) OF THE ECONOMY ACT. ACCORDINGLY, ALL OF THE EMPLOYEES ENGAGED UPON SUCH WORK RECEIVING COMPENSATION AT A RATE IN EXCESS OF $1,000 PER ANNUM ARE SUBJECT TO THE APPLICABLE PROVISIONS OF THE ECONOMY ACT AND THE ENTIRE AMOUNT DEDUCTED FROM THEIR SALARIES IN ACCORDANCE WITH SECTION 101 (A) OR (B) OR SECTION 105 (D) (6) MUST BE IMPOUNDED NOTWITHSTANDING THAT SOME PORTION THEREOF MAY EVENTUALLY BE REIMBURSED BY THE STATE.

SEE ALSO DECISIONS OF AUGUST 16, 1932, A-43882, 12 COMP. GEN. 248, AND AUGUST 17, 1932, A-43915, 12 COMP. GEN. 258, IN THE LATTER OF WHICH IT WAS STATED:

ACCORDINGLY, IT WOULD APPEAR THAT EMPLOYEES ENGAGED UPON ALASKA ROAD WORK FOR WHICH APPROPRIATIONS ARE MADE BY THE CONGRESS ARE IN FACT PAID FROM THE FEDERAL TREASURY AND THE FACT THAT CONTRIBUTIONS IN AID OF SUCH WORK ARE AUTHORIZED TO BE RECEIVED FROM OUTSIDE SOURCES DOES NOT EXEMPT SUCH EMPLOYEES, NOR THE APPROPRIATION, FROM THE PROVISIONS OF THE ECONOMY ACT AND ALL REDUCTIONS IN COMPENSATION REQUIRED TO BE IMPOUNDED BY THAT ACT MUST BE DEPOSITED IN THE GENERAL FUND OF THE TREASURY AND MAY NOT BE RETURNED TO THE APPROPRIATION.

THE FOUR STATUTES YOU HAVE CITED AUTHORIZE THE SECRETARY OF AGRICULTURE TO ACCEPT DONATIONS AND CONTRIBUTIONS TOWARD THE COST OF PROTECTION AND IMPROVEMENT WORK IN NATIONAL PARKS AND TO REFUND OR SET ASIDE ANY AMOUNT DONATED OR CONTRIBUTED IN EXCESS OF THE ACTUAL COST OF THE WORK. IT IS NOT UNDERSTOOD, FROM THE TERMS OF THE STATUTES IN QUESTION OR FROM YOUR SUBMISSION, THAT THE ENTIRE COST OF THE WORK FOR WHICH THE DONATIONS OR CONTRIBUTIONS ARE MADE IS PAID FROM THE AMOUNTS DONATED OR CONTRIBUTED, BUT THAT A PART OF THE COST OF SUCH WORK IS PAID UNDER APPROPRIATIONS PROVIDED BY THE CONGRESS, OR AT LEAST THAT THERE IS NO STIPULATION OR CONDITION MADE BY THE DONORS OR CONTRIBUTORS AS TO THE PAYMENT OF SALARIES OF PARTICULAR EMPLOYEES OR GROUPS OF EMPLOYEES. ON THIS BASIS THE EMPLOYEES ARE TO BE REGARDED AS "OFFICERS" OR "EMPLOYEES" OF THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT WITHIN THE MEANING OF THE PROVISIONS OF TITLE I OF THE ECONOMY ACT, AND THE DEDUCTIONS AND IMPOUNDING THEREIN REQUIRED SHOULD BE BASED ON THE TOTAL SALARY RATES OF THE EMPLOYEES, INCLUDING ANY AMOUNT THAT MAY BE PAID FROM THE PORTION DONATED OR CONTRIBUTED BY PRIVATE INTERESTS. AND, IN SUCH CASES, THE COST OF THE PROJECT IS TO BE CONSIDERED AS INCLUDING THE AMOUNT IMPOUNDED. IN OTHER WORDS, THE IMPOUNDING IS NOT TO BE REGARDED AS REDUCING THE COST OF THE PROJECT.

IN DECISION OF AUGUST 5, 1932, A-43585, 12 COMP. GEN. 182, INVOLVING EMPLOYEES UNDER THE BUREAU OF ENGRAVING AND PRINTING ENGAGED ON WORK BEING PERFORMED FOR OTHER DEPARTMENTS OF THE GOVERNMENT, IT WAS STATED:

* * * THE NET RESULT WILL BE THAT FOR THE TIME SERVED BY EACHEMPLOYEE THERE WILL BE CHARGED AGAINST THE BUREAU APPROPRIATIONS THE NET AMOUNT PAID THE EMPLOYEE AS WELL AS THE AMOUNT OF SAVINGS TO BE IMPOUNDED. THE ACTUAL COST OF REPAY WORK, SO FAR AS THE BUREAU APPROPRIATIONS ARE CONCERNED IS, THEREFORE, THE GROSS AMOUNT OF SUCH CHARGES AGAINST THE BUREAU APPROPRIATIONS (INCLUDING AMOUNTS IMPOUNDED) AND SUCH GROSS AMOUNT SHOULD FORM THE BASIS OF CHARGES TO OTHER GOVERNMENT SERVICES, ETC., FOR WHICH REPAY WORK IS PERFORMED.

THE SAME PRINCIPLE IS APPLICABLE IN CHARGING THE COST OF WORK PERFORMED IN NATIONAL FORESTS AGAINST DONATED OR CONTRIBUTED AMOUNTS, AND THERE IS AUTHORIZED TO BE REFUNDED TO THE DONORS OR CONTRIBUTORS NO PART OF THE AMOUNT OF THE SALARY OF FEDERAL EMPLOYEES REQUIRED TO BE DEDUCTED AND IMPOUNDED UNDER THE PROVISIONS OF THE ECONOMY ACT.