A-4908, SEPTEMBER 30, 1924, 4 COMP. GEN. 333

A-4908: Sep 30, 1924

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1924: I HAVE YOUR LETTER OF AUGUST 28. INCLUDING ONE OR MORE POSITIONS FOR WHICH APPROXIMATELY THE SAME BASIC QUALIFICATIONS AND COMPENSATION ARE PRESCRIBED. ABILITY ARE DEMANDED OF INCUMBENTS. THE SAME TESTS OF FITNESS ARE USED TO CHOOSE QUALIFIED APPOINTEES. THE SAME SCHEDULE OF COMPENSATION IS MADE TO APPLY WITH EQUITY. THERE ARE 7 GRADES IN THE SERVICE. IN EACH GRADE THERE ARE A NUMBER OF CLASSES. THERE ARE ASSOCIATE ATTORNEYS. THE QUESTION IS WHETHER IN MAINTAINING THE AVERAGE THE BASIS FOR DETERMINATION IS ALL POSITIONS OF THE GRADE IN ANY BUREAU OR OTHER APPROPRIATION UNIT. IN DETERMINING THE SALARY AVERAGE "GRADE OR CLASS" IS SPECIFIED AS CONTROLLING. WHEREAS IN DETERMINING THE RATE AVERAGE THE GRADE ONLY IS SPECIFIED.

A-4908, SEPTEMBER 30, 1924, 4 COMP. GEN. 333

CLASSIFICATION OF CIVILIAN EMPLOYEES - AVERAGE APPLICABLE TO GRADE IN DETERMINING AND MAINTAINING THE PROPER AVERAGE UNDER THE CLASSIFICATION ACT OF MARCH 4, 1923, 42 STAT. 1488, AND THE APPROPRIATION ACTS FOR THE FISCAL YEAR 1925, THE AVERAGE OF THE SALARIES FOR ANY GRADE SHOULD BE ON THE BASIS OF THE TOTAL NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES IN A GRADE AS A WHOLE AND NOT ON THE BASIS OF THE TOTAL NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES IN A CLASS WITHIN THE GRADE.

COMPTROLLER GENERAL MCCARL TO THE SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR, SEPTEMBER 30, 1924:

I HAVE YOUR LETTER OF AUGUST 28, 1924, REQUESTING DECISION OF THE QUESTION WHETHER THE "GRADE" OF THE "CLASS," ESTABLISHED UNDER THE CLASSIFICATION ACT CONTROLS IN APPLYING THE "AVERAGE" PROVISION OF THE ACT OF JUNE 5, 1924, 43 STAT. 390, MAKING APPROPRIATIONS FOR THE DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR FOR THE FISCAL YEAR 1925.

THE ACT OF JUNE 5, 1924, 43 STAT. 391, PROVIDES AS FOLLOWS:

* * * THAT IN EXPENDING APPROPRIATIONS OR PORTIONS OF APPROPRIATIONS, CONTAINED IN THIS ACT, FOR THE PAYMENT FOR PERSONAL SERVICES IN THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA IN ACCORDANCE WITH "THE CLASSIFICATION ACT OF1923," THE AVERAGE OF THE SALARIES OF THE TOTAL NUMBER OF PERSONS UNDER ANY GRADE OR CLASS THEREOF IN ANY BUREAU, OFFICE, OR OTHER APPROPRIATION UNIT, SHALL NOT AT ANY TIME EXCEED THE AVERAGE OF THE COMPENSATION RATES SPECIFIED FOR THE GRADE BY SUCH ACT: * * *

SECTION 2 OF THE CLASSIFICATION ACT OF MARCH 4, 1923, 42 STAT. 1488, AS AMENDED BY JOINT RESOLUTION OF JUNE 7, 1924, DEFINES "GRADE" AND "CLASS" AS FOLLOWS:

THE TERM "GRADE" MEANS A SUBDIVISION OF A SERVICE, INCLUDING ONE OR MORE POSITIONS FOR WHICH APPROXIMATELY THE SAME BASIC QUALIFICATIONS AND COMPENSATION ARE PRESCRIBED, THE DISTINCTION BETWEEN GRADES BEING BASED UPON DIFFERENCES IN THE IMPORTANCE, DIFFICULTY, RESPONSIBILITY, AND VALUE OF THE WORK.

THE TERM "CLASS" MEANS A GROUP OF POSITIONS TO BE ESTABLISHED UNDER THIS ACT SUFFICIENTLY SIMILAR IN RESPECT TO THE DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES THEREOF THAT THE SAME REQUIREMENTS AS TO EDUCATION, EXPERIENCE, KNOWLEDGE, AND ABILITY ARE DEMANDED OF INCUMBENTS, THE SAME TESTS OF FITNESS ARE USED TO CHOOSE QUALIFIED APPOINTEES, AND THE SAME SCHEDULE OF COMPENSATION IS MADE TO APPLY WITH EQUITY.

SECTION 3 OF THE CLASSIFICATION ACT PROVIDED AS FOLLOWS:

THE BOARD SHALL MAKE ALL NECESSARY RULES AND REGULATIONS NOT INCONSISTENT WITH THE PROVISIONS OF THIS ACT AND PROVIDE SUCH SUBDIVISIONS OF THE GRADES CONTAINED IN SECTION 13 HEREOF AND SUCH TITLES AND DEFINITIONS AS IT MAY DEEM NECESSARY ACCORDING TO THE KIND AND DIFFICULTY OF THE WORK. ITS REGULATIONS SHALL PROVIDE FOR ASCERTAINING AND RECORDING THE DUTIES OF POSITIONS AND THE QUALIFICATIONS REQUIRED OF INCUMBENTS, AND IT SHALL PREPARE AND PUBLISH AN ADEQUATE STATEMENT GIVING (1) THE DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES INVOLVED IN THE CLASSES TO BE ESTABLISHED WITHIN THE SEVERAL GRADES, ILLUSTRATED WHERE NECESSARY BY EXAMPLES OF TYPICAL TASKS, (2) THE MINIMUM QUALIFICATIONS REQUIRED FOR THE SATISFACTORY PERFORMANCE OF SUCH DUTIES AND TASKS, AND (3) THE TITLES GIVEN TO SAID CLASSES. * * *THE BOARD MAY FROM TIME TO TIME DESIGNATE ADDITIONAL CLASSES WITHIN THE SEVERAL GRADES AND MAY COMBINE, DIVIDE, ALTER, OR ABOLISH EXISTING CLASSES. DEPARTMENT HEADS SHALL PROMPTLY REPORT THE DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES OF NEW POSITIONS TO THE BOARD. * * *

IN PURSUANCE THEREOF THE PERSONNEL CLASSIFICATION BOARD HAS ISSUED, JULY 30, 1924, A PAMPHLET ENTITLED "CLASS SPECIFICATIONS FOR POSITIONS IN THE DEPARTMENTAL SERVICE," WHICH HAS GIVEN RISE TO THE QUESTION HERE PRESENTED, ILLUSTRATED BY YOU AS FOLLOWS:

AN INSTANCE OF THE QUESTION MAY BE PRESENTED BY REFERRING TO THE PROFESSIONAL AND SCIENTIFIC SERVICE. THERE ARE 7 GRADES IN THE SERVICE. IN EACH GRADE THERE ARE A NUMBER OF CLASSES. IN GRADE 3, WHICH PROVIDES FOR SALARIES OF FROM $3,000 TO $3,600 PER ANNUM, THERE ARE ASSOCIATE ATTORNEYS, ASSOCIATE ENGINEERS, ASSOCIATE DENTISTS, ETC. THE QUESTION IS WHETHER IN MAINTAINING THE AVERAGE THE BASIS FOR DETERMINATION IS ALL POSITIONS OF THE GRADE IN ANY BUREAU OR OTHER APPROPRIATION UNIT, I.E., GROUPING ATTORNEYS, ENGINEERS, DENTISTS, ETC., OF THE ASSOCIATE GRADE, OR ALL ATTORNEYS OF THE GRADE, ALL ENGINEERS OF THE GRADE, ETC., I.E., THE AVERAGE TO BE MAINTAINED IN EACH CLASS.

THE APPROPRIATION ACT PROVIDES FOR TWO AVERAGES WHICH MAY BE DESIGNATED IN THE ORDER MENTIONED IN THE ACT AS THE SALARY AVERAGE AND THE RATE AVERAGE. IN DETERMINING THE SALARY AVERAGE "GRADE OR CLASS" IS SPECIFIED AS CONTROLLING, WHEREAS IN DETERMINING THE RATE AVERAGE THE GRADE ONLY IS SPECIFIED. IN VIEW OF THIS, AND BECAUSE OF THE FACT THAT THERE WERE NO CLASSES WITHIN A GRADE ESTABLISHED AT THE TIME OF THE ENACTMENT OF THE APPROPRIATION ACTS CONTAINING THIS PROVISION, WHICH CONGRESS COULD HAVE HAD IN MIND, I AM OF THE OPINION THAT THE WORDS "GRADE" AND "CLASS" IN THIS CONNECTION WERE INTENDED TO BE SYNONYMOUS. THE PHRASE "GRADE OR CLASS" ESTABLISHED ONE UNIT; THAT IS, THE ONE THEN IN EXISTENCE, THE GRADE. OTHER CONSIDERATIONS WOULD APPEAR TO SUPPORT THIS VIEW. FOR INSTANCE, IN DISCUSSING THIS RESTRICTIVE PROVISION IN THE HEARINGS ON THE AGRICULTURAL APPROPRIATION BILL, 1925 (PP. 7 AND 8) THE "GRADE" IS THE UNIT MENTIONED AND NOT THE "CLASS.' ALSO IN MAKING CERTAIN EXCEPTIONS FROM THE RESTRICTIVE PROVISION IN THE ACT, IT IS THE "GRADE" THAT IS MENTIONED THROUGHOUT AND NOT THE "CLASS.' FURTHERMORE, SECTION 3 OF THE CLASSIFICATION ACT EXPRESSLY PROVIDES THAT THE PERSONNEL CLASSIFICATION BOARD MAY FROM TIME TO TIME DESIGNATE ADDITIONAL CLASSES WITHIN THE SEVERAL GRADES AND IS AUTHORIZED TO COMBINE, DIVIDE, ALTER, OR ABOLISH EXISTING CLASSES. THIS GIVES A MEDIUM THROUGH WHICH THE ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICES MAY MEET CHANGING CONDITIONS IN THEIR OFFICES, BUT THERE APPEARS NO INTENTION TO REQUIRE THE STRIKING OF A NEW AVERAGE UPON EVERY CHANGE. THE AVERAGE PROVISION HAS A STABILIZING EFFECT ON THE RATES OF COMPENSATION PAID UNDER THE CLASSIFICATION ACT WHICH WOULD BE DEFEATED WERE A CHANGE IN THE AVERAGE TO OCCUR BY A CHANGE IN THE CLASSES WITHIN A GRADE.

ACCORDINGLY, YOU ARE ADVISED THAT IN DETERMINING AND MAINTAINING THE PROPER AVERAGE UNDER THE CLASSIFICATION ACT AND THE APPROPRIATION ACTS FOR 1925, THE AVERAGE OF THE SALARIES FOR ANY GRADE SHOULD BE ON THE BASIS OF THE TOTAL NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES IN A GRADE AS A WHOLE AND NOT ON THE BASIS OF THE TOTAL NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES IN A CLASS AS FIXED BY THE PERSONNEL CLASSIFICATION BOARD WITHIN THE GRADE. IN THE EXAMPLE YOU CITE, THE SALARY AVERAGE IS TO BE DETERMINED FROM THE TOTAL SALARIES OF ALL ATTORNEYS, ENGINEERS, DENTISTS, ETC., OF THE ASSOCIATE GRADE AS A WHOLE.