A-53295, FEBRUARY 12, 1934, 13 COMP. GEN. 216

A-53295: Feb 12, 1934

Additional Materials:

Contact:

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

 

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

DOES NOT PRECLUDE AN ADJUSTMENT OF THE CASH PORTION OF THE COMPENSATION WHERE ALL OR A SUBSTANTIAL PART OF THE ALLOWANCES IN KIND ARE DISCONTINUED FOR ANY REASONABLE PURPOSE ADMINISTRATIVELY APPROVED. AS FOLLOWS: THERE HAVE ARISEN IN THE VETERANS' ADMINISTRATION QUESTIONS IN CONNECTION WITH EMPLOYMENT CONTRACTS WHEREIN PART OF THE SALARY IS PAYABLE IN CASH AND THE BALANCE IN ALLOWANCES IN KIND. ON WHICH IT IS DEEMED ADVISABLE TO HAVE YOU EXPRESS AN OPINION IN VIEW OF THE ECONOMY ACTS AND YOUR DECISIONS CONCERNING THE SAME. THE VETERANS' ADMINISTRATION HAS HAD OCCASION TO ADJUST CONTRACTS OF EMPLOYMENT PROVIDING FOR THE FURNISHING OF ALLOWANCES IN KIND WHERE ANY ONE OR ALL OF THE ALLOWANCES ARE NO LONGER AVAILABLE.

A-53295, FEBRUARY 12, 1934, 13 COMP. GEN. 216

ECONOMY ACT - ADMINISTRATIVE PROMOTION - DISCONTINUANCE OF ALLOWANCES IN KIND THE RULE STATED IN PRIOR DECISION THAT AN ADJUSTMENT IN THE DETERMINED VALUE OF ALLOWANCES FURNISHED IN KIND RESULTING IN AN INCREASE IN THE CASH PAID WOULD BE PROHIBITED AS AN ADMINISTRATIVE PROMOTION, DOES NOT PRECLUDE AN ADJUSTMENT OF THE CASH PORTION OF THE COMPENSATION WHERE ALL OR A SUBSTANTIAL PART OF THE ALLOWANCES IN KIND ARE DISCONTINUED FOR ANY REASONABLE PURPOSE ADMINISTRATIVELY APPROVED.

COMPTROLLER GENERAL MCCARL TO THE ADMINISTRATOR OF VETERANS' AFFAIRS, FEBRUARY 12, 1934:

THERE HAS BEEN RECEIVED YOUR LETTER OF JANUARY 18, 1934, AS FOLLOWS:

THERE HAVE ARISEN IN THE VETERANS' ADMINISTRATION QUESTIONS IN CONNECTION WITH EMPLOYMENT CONTRACTS WHEREIN PART OF THE SALARY IS PAYABLE IN CASH AND THE BALANCE IN ALLOWANCES IN KIND, ON WHICH IT IS DEEMED ADVISABLE TO HAVE YOU EXPRESS AN OPINION IN VIEW OF THE ECONOMY ACTS AND YOUR DECISIONS CONCERNING THE SAME.

THE VETERANS' ADMINISTRATION HAS HAD OCCASION TO ADJUST CONTRACTS OF EMPLOYMENT PROVIDING FOR THE FURNISHING OF ALLOWANCES IN KIND WHERE ANY ONE OR ALL OF THE ALLOWANCES ARE NO LONGER AVAILABLE, AND TO PAY THE EMPLOYEES CONCERNED AN ADDITIONAL AMOUNT OF CASH TO COVER THE UNAVAILABLE ALLOWANCES, THEREBY INCREASING THE CASH PORTION OTHERWISE PAYABLE TO SUCH EMPLOYEES, ALTHOUGH THE AGGREGATE OF THE SALARY REMAINED THE SAME. EXAMPLES THE FOLLOWING ARE CITED:

(1) THE QUARTERS BEING FURNISHED AN EMPLOYEE HAVE BEEN ORDERED REPAIRED AND THE EMPLOYEE HAS BEEN FORCED TO VACATE THE FURNISHED QUARTERS AND TO SECURE QUARTERS ELSEWHERE, PAYING FOR THE SAME FROM HIS OWN FUNDS. THIS EMPLOYEE IS TO OBTAIN ANY RELIEF BY REASON OF THE FACT THAT THE QUARTERS CONTRACTED TO BE FURNISHED BY THE GOVERNMENT ARE UNDER REPAIR, HIS CONTRACT OF EMPLOYMENT MUST BE ADJUSTED, TEMPORARILY AT LEAST, TO MEET THE SITUATION.

(2) A REGIONAL OFFICE IS CONSOLIDATED WITH A HOME. THE SPACE FORMERLY ASSIGNED AS QUARTERS IS NOW NECESSARY FOR USE AS OFFICE SPACE. THE PERSONNEL FORMERLY RECEIVING AN ALLOWANCE ON THE BASIS OF QUARTERS MUST HEREAFTER RENT THEIR LIVING QUARTERS FROM PRIVATE SOURCES. OF SIMILAR CHARACTER ARE THOSE CASES, WHERE, DUE TO THE CLOSING OF STATIONS, ONLY A FEW EMPLOYEES ARE NEEDED AT THE CLOSED STATIONS, AND WHERE, IT WOULD BE IMPRACTICABLE TO KEEP THE KITCHEN AND LAUNDRY OPEN SO AS TO FURNISH THE REMAINING EMPLOYEES WITH SUBSISTENCE AND LAUNDRY, IT HAS BEEN NECESSARY TO ADJUST CONTRACTS OF EMPLOYMENT SO AS TO PROVIDE FOR THE FAILURE OF THE GOVERNMENT TO FURNISH THESE ALLOWANCES.

THERE IS ANOTHER CLASS OF CASES, IN WHICH AN EMPLOYEE MAY DESIRE TO SURRENDER ALL OR A PART OF QUARTERS OCCUPIED AND RECEIVE THE RENTAL VALUE OF THE SURRENDERED QUARTERS IN CASH. THIS MAY BE DUE TO A REDUCTION IN THE SIZE OF HIS FAMILY OR OTHER CONDITIONS AND THE QUARTERS THERETOFORE ASSIGNED AND REQUIRED ARE NO LONGER NECESSARY OR SUITABLE TO HIS NEEDS.

THE FOLLOWING QUESTIONS ARE THEREFORE PRESENTED FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION:

(1) MAY A CONTRACT OF EMPLOYMENT, PAYABLE $900.00 IN CASH, WITH QUARTERS, SUBSISTENCE, AND LAUNDRY VALUED AT $540.00 ($1,440.00 PER ANNUM) BE CHANGED TO $1,440.00 PER ANNUM PAYABLE IN CASH, NO ALLOWANCES BEING AVAILABLE DUE TO THE RENOVATION AND REPAIR OF FACILITIES?

(2) MAY A CONTRACT OF EMPLOYMENT, PAYABLE $900 IN CASH, WITH QUARTERS, SUBSISTENCE, AND LAUNDRY VALUED AT $540.00 ($1,440.00 PER ANNUM) BE CHANGED TO A CONTRACT PROVIDING FOR A GREATER PORTION OF THE SALARY PAYABLE IN CASH (NOT TO EXCEED $1,440.00 PER ANNUM) WITH ALLOWANCES OF LESSER VALUE, BECAUSE ANY OR ALL OF THE ALLOWANCES ARE NO LONGER AVAILABLE, FACILITIES HAVING BEEN ABOLISHED OR DISCONTINUED AT THE STATION?

(3) MAY A CONTRACT OF EMPLOYMENT, PAYABLE $1,080.00 IN CASH, WITH QUARTERS IN KIND VALUED AT $360.00 (3 ROOMS AT $10.00 PER MONTH FURNISHED) ($1,440.00 PER ANNUM) BE CHANGED TO A CONTRACT PAYABLE $1,200.00 IN CASH, WITH QUARTERS IN KIND VALUED AT $240.00 (2 ROOMS AT $10.00 PER MONTH FURNISHED) BY REASON OF THE FACT THAT THE EMPLOYEE DOES NOT NEED AS MANY ROOMS AS FORMERLY, BUT TO REDUCTION IN THE SIZE OF THE EMPLOYEE'S FAMILY?

THE ADJUSTMENTS INDICATED ABOVE WOULD INVOLVE ADDITIONAL CHARGES AGAINST APPROPRIATED FUNDS NOT OTHERWISE CONTEMPLATED AND THERE IS DOUBT IF THIS ACCORDS WITH YOUR DECISIONS (A-44110, AUGUST 24, 1932, AND A-50776, NOVEMBER 27, 1933) WHERE YOU EXPRESSED THE OPINION THAT THE STATUS QUO SHOULD BE MAINTAINED WITH RESPECT TO ANY ADMINISTRATIVE ACTION WHICH WOULD CALL FOR ADDITIONAL CHARGES AGAINST APPROPRIATED FUNDS IN THE SAME FISCAL YEARS AS THOSE COVERED BY THE ECONOMY ACT. HOWEVER, THESE ADJUSTMENTS DO NOT INVOLVE ADMINISTRATIVE PROMOTION IN VIOLATION OF THE PROVISIONS OF THE ECONOMY ACT (12 COMP. GEN. 521) SINCE IN NO INSTANCE IS THERE A FURNISHING OF THE SAME ALLOWANCES WITH AN INCREASE IN THE CASH PORTION OF THE SALARY. THE INCREASE IN THE CASH PORTION OF THE SALARY IS DUE IN EACH CASE TO A CORRESPONDING DECREASE IN THE AMOUNT OF ALLOWANCES FURNISHED IN KIND.

OBVIOUSLY, THE GOVERNMENT SHOULD NOT CONTRACT TO FURNISH AN EMPLOYEE QUARTERS, SUBSISTENCE, AND LAUNDRY, OR ANY ONE OF THESE ITEMS, IN LIEU OF A CASH PORTION OF SALARY AND THEREAFTER REFUSE TO PAY THE EMPLOYEE THE EQUIVALENT IN CASH FOR SUCH ALLOWANCES AS ARE NOT FURNISHED. IT MAY BE CONTENDED THAT THE VETERANS' ADMINISTRATION SHOULD TAKE NO ACTION WHICH WOULD PRODUCE SITUATIONS NECESSITATING THE ADJUSTMENT OF EMPLOYMENT CONTRACTS BUT SUCH ADMINISTRATIVE ACTIONS AS HAVE BEEN TAKEN ARE IN THE INTEREST OF ECONOMY AND FOR THE BETTER PERFORMANCE OF THE FUNCTIONS IMPOSED UPON THIS ADMINISTRATION.

IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, YOUR OPINION IS REQUESTED ON THE ABOVE QUESTIONS.

IN THE DECISION OF APRIL 22, 1933, 12 COMP. GEN. 606, IT WAS HELD (QUOTING FROM THE SYLLABUS) AS FOLLOWS:

ANY ACTION BY THE CIVIL SERVICE COMMISSION UNDER THE CLASSIFICATION ACT TO ADJUST COMPENSATION RATES OF POSITIONS CARRYING MAINTENANCE WITH REGARD TO EMPLOYEES IN THE DEPARTMENTAL SERVICE IN THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, OR BY THE ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE UNDER THE ACT OF MARCH 5, 1928, 45 STAT. 193, WITH REGARD TO THE EMPLOYEES IN THE FIELD SERVICE, WHICH WOULD RESULT IN AN INCREASE IN THE AMOUNT OF CASH PAID TO EMPLOYEES WHO WOULD CONTINUE TO RECEIVE THE SAME ALLOWANCES, IS PROHIBITED AS AN ADMINISTRATIVE PROMOTION DURING THE REMAINDER OF THE FISCAL YEAR 1933, UNDER THE TERMS OF SECTION 202 OF THE ECONOMY ACT, AND DURING THE FISCAL YEAR 1934, UNDER SECTION 7 OF THE ACT OF MARCH 3, 1933, 47 STAT. 1515.

SEE ALSO, 12 COMP. GEN. 520, AND DECISION OF MAY 2, 1933, A-48627, IN WHICH LATTER CASE EMPLOYEES OF THE VETERANS' ADMINISTRATION WERE CONSIDERED. SAID DECISIONS, AND OTHERS OF LIKE EFFECT, DO NOT PRECLUDE AN ADJUSTMENT OF THE CASH COMPENSATION WHERE ALL OR A SUBSTANTIAL PART OF THE ALLOWANCES IN KIND ARE DISCONTINUED FOR ANY REASONABLE PURPOSE ADMINISTRATIVELY APPROVED.

ACCORDINGLY, QUESTIONS (1), (2), AND (3) ARE ANSWERED IN THE AFFIRMATIVE.