A-44606, SEPTEMBER 27, 1932, 12 COMP. GEN. 381

A-44606: Sep 27, 1932

Additional Materials:

Contact:

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

 

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

ARE REQUIRED TO BE IMPOUNDED. AS FOLLOWS: REFERENCE IS MADE TO A LETTER FROM YOUR OFFICE OF AUGUST 18. THE INCUMBENTS OF WHICH WERE SEPARATED FROM THE SERVICE OF THE BOARD IN JUNE LAST. THE INQUIRY IN THIS MATTER IS NO DOUBT BASED UPON YOUR DECISION OF AUGUST 11. IN WHICH IT IS HELD THAT WHEN POSITIONS CARRIED IN THE 1933 ESTIMATES WERE ABOLISHED BY THE BOARD (BOARD OF MEDIATION) PRIOR TO JUNE 30. THEY ARE NOT IMPOUNDABLE VACANCIES IN 1933. THE SALARIES OF THE ESTIMATED POSITIONS WOULD HAVE TO BE IMPOUNDED. IN REPLY PERMIT ME TO ADVISE YOU THAT FORMAL ACTION TO ABOLISH THE SAID POSITIONS WAS NOT TAKEN PRIOR TO JUNE 30 LAST SIMPLY BECAUSE OF A LACK OF KNOWLEDGE ON THE PART OF THIS BOARD AS TO WHAT POSITIONS WOULD BE CONSIDERED "VACANCIES" WITHIN THE MEANING OF THE SECTION ABOVE REFERRED TO.

A-44606, SEPTEMBER 27, 1932, 12 COMP. GEN. 381

ECONOMY ACT - IMPOUNDING OF SALARIES OF VACANT POSITIONS - FEDERAL FARM BOARD IN THE ABSENCE OF ACTION BY THE PRESIDENT, PURSUANT TO THE LAST PROVISO TO SECTION 203 OF THE ECONOMY ACT, THE SALARIES OF ALL POSITIONS UNDER THE FEDERAL FARM BOARD VACANT AS OF JUNE 30, 1932, AND/OR THEREAFTER, ARE REQUIRED TO BE IMPOUNDED.

COMPTROLLER GENERAL MCCARL TO THE CHAIRMAN OF THE FEDERAL FARM BOARD, SEPTEMBER 27, 1932:

THERE HAS BEEN RECEIVED YOUR LETTER OF SEPTEMBER 1, 1932, AS FOLLOWS:

REFERENCE IS MADE TO A LETTER FROM YOUR OFFICE OF AUGUST 18, FILE A EML- 121, ADDRESSED TO THE DISBURSING OFFICER OF THIS BOARD, REGARDING THE ABOLITION OF CERTAIN POSITIONS, THE INCUMBENTS OF WHICH WERE SEPARATED FROM THE SERVICE OF THE BOARD IN JUNE LAST. THE INQUIRY IN THIS MATTER IS NO DOUBT BASED UPON YOUR DECISION OF AUGUST 11, 1932, A 43755, IN WHICH IT IS HELD THAT WHEN POSITIONS CARRIED IN THE 1933 ESTIMATES WERE ABOLISHED BY THE BOARD (BOARD OF MEDIATION) PRIOR TO JUNE 30, 1932, BY FORMAL RECORDED ACTION, THEY ARE NOT IMPOUNDABLE VACANCIES IN 1933, BUT ATTEMPTED ABOLITION SUBSEQUENT TO JUNE 30, PURPORTING TO BE EFFECTIVE AS OF THAT DATE WOULD NOT BE OPERATIVE; THE SALARIES OF THE ESTIMATED POSITIONS WOULD HAVE TO BE IMPOUNDED.

IN REPLY PERMIT ME TO ADVISE YOU THAT FORMAL ACTION TO ABOLISH THE SAID POSITIONS WAS NOT TAKEN PRIOR TO JUNE 30 LAST SIMPLY BECAUSE OF A LACK OF KNOWLEDGE ON THE PART OF THIS BOARD AS TO WHAT POSITIONS WOULD BE CONSIDERED "VACANCIES" WITHIN THE MEANING OF THE SECTION ABOVE REFERRED TO. HAD THE BOARD BEEN ABLE TO FORESEE THE NECESSITY FOR FORMALLY ABOLISHING THESE POSITIONS IN JUNE, I ASSURE YOU THAT ACTION WOULD HAVE BEEN TAKEN.

IN THIS CONNECTION, YOUR ATTENTION IS INVITED TO THE FACT THAT THE BUDGET OF THE FEDERAL FARM BOARD FOR 1933 AS SUBMITTED TO THE CONGRESS CALLED FOR AN APPROPRIATION OF $1,397,000 FOR SALARIES OF EMPLOYEES OF THE BOARD, AND A TOTAL OF $1,880,000 FOR THE ADMINISTRATIVE EXPENSES OF THE BOARD. CONGRESS, HOWEVER REDUCED THE BOARD'S APPROPRIATION BY $1,080,000, PROVIDING ONLY $800,000 FOR ITS ENTIRE ADMINISTRATIVE EXPENSES. THIS AMOUNT WAS $597,000 LESS THAN THE AMOUNT ESTIMATED FOR SALARIES OF THE BOARD'S PERSONNEL.

IT IS APPARENT, THEREFORE, THAT IT WAS THE INTENTION OF CONGRESS, IN REDUCING THE BOARD'S APPROPRIATION TO $800,000, WHICH WAS APPROVED JUNE 30, 1932, TO REDUCE MATERIALLY ITS PERSONNEL, AND WHILE CONGRESS DID NOT SPECIFICALLY DESIGNATE THE POSITIONS TO BE ABOLISHED ON JUNE 30, ITS ACTION IN REDUCING THE BOARD'S TOTAL APPROPRIATION TO AN AMOUNT LESS THAN ESTIMATED FOR DURING 1933 FOR PERSONNEL BY $597,000 WAS EQUIVALENT TO LEGISLATING CERTAIN POSITIONS OUT OF EXISTENCE ON JUNE 30, 1932, AND THE CONSEQUENT ABOLITION OF SUCH POSITIONS. THEREFORE, IN VIEW OF THE ACTION OF CONGRESS AND THE FURTHER FACT THAT THE BOARD CONSIDERED THE POSITIONS REFERRED TO AS ABOLISHED WHEN VACATED, EVEN THOUGH THE BOARD'S ACTION WAS NOT FORMALLY RECORDED, I TRUST THERE WILL BE NO FURTHER QUESTION RAISED REGARDING THE IMPOUNDING OF THE SALARIES ATTACHING TO THE POSITIONS FOR WHICH CONGRESS MADE NO PROVISION IN THE APPROPRIATION OF THE BOARD FOR 1933.

IN DECISION OF SEPTEMBER 19, 1932, TO THE SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY, A- 44541, 12 COMP. GEN. 363, IT WAS HELD:

IN THE ABSENCE OF A SPECIFIC PROVISION IN THE APPROPRIATION ACT ABOLISHING OR DISCONTINUING POSITIONS, OR EXPRESSLY LIMITING TO LESS THAN A YEAR THE PERIOD FOR WHICH CERTAIN POSITIONS ARE APPROPRIATED FOR, THE MERE FACT THAT A LESS AMOUNT IS APPROPRIATED FOR PERSONNEL FOR THE FISCAL YEAR 1933 THAN FOR THE FISCAL YEAR 1932, OR THAN WAS ESTIMATED FOR IN THE BUDGET, MAY NOT BE REGARDED AS ABOLISHING EXISTING POSITIONS VACANT PRIOR TO JULY 1, 1932, OR WHICH BECOME VACANT ON OR SUBSEQUENT TO THAT DATE BY RETIREMENT OR OTHER SEPARATIONS OF EMPLOYEES FROM THE SERVICE. FOR INSTANCE, IN THE ILLUSTRATION GIVEN, THE FACT THAT A LESS AMOUNT FOR PERSONNEL WAS ACTUALLY REQUESTED BY AND/OR ESTIMATED FOR THE MINT SERVICE DID NOT IPSO FACTO HAVE THE EFFECT OF ABOLISHING ANY POSITIONS THAT WERE VACANT AT THAT TIME, OR WHICH MIGHT THEREAFTER BECOME VACANT, THE APPROPRIATION BEING IN A LUMP SUM WITHOUT SPECIFYING THE NUMBER OR CHARACTER OF POSITIONS AND WITHOUT REFERENCE TO POSITIONS WHICH PREVIOUSLY WERE FILLED OR VACANT. IN THE ABSENCE OF ADMINISTRATIVE ACTION PRIOR TO JULY 1, 1932, AFFIRMATIVELY ABOLISHING VACANT POSITIONS, OR SUFFICIENT FACTS DISCLOSED TO SHOW THAT A POSITION HAD BEEN VACANT FOR SO LONG AS TO JUSTIFY A PRESUMPTION THAT IT HAD BEEN ABOLISHED OR DISCONTINUED, A REDUCTION MADE BY THE CONGRESS IN THE PERSONNEL APPROPRIATION MAY NOT BE CONSIDERED AS RELATING EXCLUSIVELY TO SALARIES OF POSITIONS VACANT JUNE 30, 1932, OR TO THOSE BECOMING VACANT ON JULY 1, 1932, BY OPERATION OF LAW OR OTHERWISE AND THE IMPOUNDING OF A SALARY RATE OF SUCH VACANT POSITION IS REQUIRED PURSUANT TO THE PROCEDURE STATED IN THE INSTRUCTIONS OF JULY 12, 1932.

THE CONGRESS, IN THE ECONOMY ACT, PROVIDED A PROCEDURE WHICH WILL ENABLE ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICES TO KEEP WITHIN THE REDUCED APPROPRIATIONS FOR PERSONNEL. SEE SECTION 216 AUTHORIZING AND REQUIRING ADMINISTRATIVE FURLOUGHS THE SAVINGS FROM WHICH ARE NOT REQUIRED TO BE IMPOUNDED, AND, ALSO THE LAST PROVISO TO SECTION 203, AS FOLLOWS:

"* * * PROVIDED, THAT SUCH IMPOUNDING OF FUNDS MAY BE WAIVED IN WRITING BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES IN CONNECTION WITH ANY APPROPRIATION OR PORTION OF APPROPRIATION, WHEN, IN HIS JUDGMENT, SUCH ACTION IS NECESSARY AND IN THE PUBLIC INTEREST.'

AS THE APPROPRIATION ACT OF JUNE 30, 1932, 47 STAT. 458, PROVIDES A LUMP SUM FOR PERSONNEL OF THE FEDERAL FARM BOARD FOR THE FISCAL YEAR 1933 WITHOUT SPECIFYING THE NUMBER OR CHARACTER OF THE POSITIONS, AND WITHOUT REFERENCE TO POSITIONS WHICH PREVIOUSLY WERE FILLED OR VACANT, THE SAME PRINCIPLE STATED IN THE ABOVE-QUOTED DECISION IS APPLICABLE IN THE CASE OF THE FEDERAL FARM BOARD. THERE IS NOTHING IN THE APPROPRIATION ACT, IN THE ECONOMY ACT, OR OTHERWISE, SHOWING ANY INTENT TO EXEMPT THE FEDERAL FARM BOARD FROM THE REQUIREMENT UNDER SECTION 203 OF THE ECONOMY ACT THAT THE SALARIES OF VACANT POSITIONS BE IMPOUNDED UNLESS SUCH IMPOUNDING "BE WAIVED IN WRITING BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES.'

IT IS REALIZED THAT TO IMPOUND THE SALARIES OF ALL POSITIONS UNDER THE FEDERAL FARM BOARD WHICH WERE MADE VACANT EFFECTIVE JULY 1, 1932, DUE TO REDUCTION IN PERSONNEL APPROPRIATIONS, WOULD LEAVE THE BOARD LITTLE, IF ANY, FUNDS FOR PERSONNEL FOR THE REMAINDER OF THE FISCAL YEAR. HOWEVER, THE RESPONSIBILITY FOR THIS CONDITION IS NOT WITH THIS OFFICE, AND RELIEF FROM THE CONDITION WHICH NOW EXISTS IN THIS RESPECT CAN BE GRANTED ONLY BY THE PRESIDENT, IN WHOM THE ACT PLACED THE AUTHORITY AND RESPONSIBILITY FOR ANY EXCEPTION TO THE IMPOUNDING REQUIREMENT OF THE STATUTE.

IN THE ABSENCE OF ACTION BY THE PRESIDENT, THIS OFFICE HAS NO AUTHORITY BUT TO IMPOUND THE AMOUNT OF THE SALARIES OF ALL POSITIONS UNDER THE FEDERAL FARM BOARD VACANT AS OF JUNE 30, 1932, AND/OR THEREAFTER, IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE PROCEDURE STATED IN THE INSTRUCTIONS OF JULY 12, 1932.