A-5693, FEBRUARY 16, 1925, 4 COMP. GEN. 703

A-5693: Feb 16, 1925

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1925: I HAVE YOUR LETTER OF NOVEMBER 24. IT WAS RULED THAT EACH BUREAU WOULD BE THE APPROPRIATION UNIT WITHIN THE MEANING OF THE AVERAGE RESTRICTION PROVISION APPEARING IN THE APPROPRIATION ACT FOR THE FISCAL YEAR 1925. IN VIEW OF THAT DECISION IT WOULD APPEAR TO BE IMMATERIAL OUT OF WHICH APPROPRIATION MADE FOR THE RESPECTIVE BUREAUS AN EMPLOYEE WAS PAID. IN ADMINISTERING THE AFFAIRS OF A BUREAU IT IS OFTEN FOUND ADVISABLE TO TRANSFER AN EMPLOYEE. AT THE PRESENT TIME RECOMMENDATIONS FROM A BUREAU IN CASE OF ORIGINAL APPOINTMENT THEREIN INDICATES THE APPROPRIATION FROM WHICH PAYMENT WILL BE MADE. IF THE RECOMMENDATION IS APPROVED BY THE DEPARTMENT THE NOTICE OF APPOINTMENT SPECIFIES THE INDIVIDUAL APPROPRIATION.

A-5693, FEBRUARY 16, 1925, 4 COMP. GEN. 703

CLASSIFICATION OF CIVILIAN EMPLOYEES - CONSOLIDATION OF APPROPRIATIONS PROVIDING FOR PERSONAL SERVICES THE AUTHORITY UNDER THE "AVERAGE" PROVISIONS TO GROUP THE VARIOUS APPROPRIATION ITEMS FOR SIMILAR ACTIVITIES UNDER A BUREAU OF THE DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE INTO ONE UNIT FOR THE PURPOSE OF COMPUTING THE AVERAGE COMPENSATION IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CLASSIFICATION ACT OF 1923, DOES NOT RELAX THE PROVISIONS OF SECTION 3678, REVISED STATUTES, NOR PERMIT THE CONSOLIDATION OF THE SUMS APPROPRIATED FOR PERSONAL SERVICES UNDER VARIOUS APPROPRIATION ITEMS INTO ONE FUND TO BE USED FOR PERSONAL SERVICES WITHOUT REGARD TO THE RESTRICTIONS OR AMOUNTS OF THE RESPECTIVE APPROPRIATIONS SO CONSOLIDATED. NO OBJECTION WOULD BE OFFERED TO AN ADMINISTRATIVE PROCEDURE OF APPOINTING EMPLOYEES FOR DUTY IN A PARTICULAR BUREAU RATHER THAN APPOINTING THEM SPECIFICALLY UNDER A PARTICULAR APPROPRIATION AND THUS OBVIATING THE NECESSITY OF FORMAL REAPPOINTMENT WHEN FOUND EXPEDIENT TO TRANSFER THE EMPLOYEE TO A ROLL PAYABLE FROM ANOTHER APPROPRIATION ITEM IN THE SAME BUREAU. THE PARTICULAR APPROPRIATION ITEM CHARGED WITH THE COMPENSATION OF THE EMPLOYEE AND THE TIME ENGAGED ON THE WORK PROVIDED FOR UNDER EACH APPROPRIATION SO CHARGED SHOULD BE SHOWN ON THE PAY ROLLS.

COMPTROLLER GENERAL MCCARL TO THE SECRETARY OF COMMERCE, FEBRUARY 16, 1925:

I HAVE YOUR LETTER OF NOVEMBER 24, 1924, AS FOLLOWS:

UNDER DATE OF OCTOBER 9 I ADDRESSED A LETTER TO YOU REQUESTING DECISION AS TO WHETHER OR NOT APPOINTMENTS OF EMPLOYEES OF THIS DEPARTMENT COULD BE MADE TO READ PAYABLE FROM "MISCELLANEOUS APPROPRIATIONS," INSTEAD OF NAMING THE SPECIFIC APPROPRIATION FROM WHICH PAYMENT WOULD BE MADE.

I WISH TO WITHDRAW THAT LETTER AND SUBSTITUTE THEREFOR THE FOLLOWING:

BY YOUR DECISION RENDERED TO THIS DEPARTMENT UNDER DATE OF OCTOBER 1, 1924, IT WAS RULED THAT EACH BUREAU WOULD BE THE APPROPRIATION UNIT WITHIN THE MEANING OF THE AVERAGE RESTRICTION PROVISION APPEARING IN THE APPROPRIATION ACT FOR THE FISCAL YEAR 1925, AND IN VIEW OF THAT DECISION IT WOULD APPEAR TO BE IMMATERIAL OUT OF WHICH APPROPRIATION MADE FOR THE RESPECTIVE BUREAUS AN EMPLOYEE WAS PAID. IN ADMINISTERING THE AFFAIRS OF A BUREAU IT IS OFTEN FOUND ADVISABLE TO TRANSFER AN EMPLOYEE, WITHOUT IN ANY WAY CHANGING THE CHARACTER OF THE WORK, FROM ONE UNIT OF A BUREAU TO ANOTHER WITH A CORRESPONDING TRANSFER OF THE CHARGE OF THE EMPLOYEE'S COMPENSATION TO ANOTHER APPROPRIATION. AT THE PRESENT TIME RECOMMENDATIONS FROM A BUREAU IN CASE OF ORIGINAL APPOINTMENT THEREIN INDICATES THE APPROPRIATION FROM WHICH PAYMENT WILL BE MADE, AND IF THE RECOMMENDATION IS APPROVED BY THE DEPARTMENT THE NOTICE OF APPOINTMENT SPECIFIES THE INDIVIDUAL APPROPRIATION. SHOULD IT BE DESIRED TO TRANSFER THE EMPLOYEE TO ANOTHER APPROPRIATION, THAT ACTION, UNDER CURRENT PRACTICE, REQUIRES ANOTHER RECOMMENDATION TO THE DEPARTMENT AND INVOLVES ANOTHER APPOINTMENT. THE PRESENT PROCEDURE IS VOLUMINOUS AND REQUIRES CONSIDERABLE CLERICAL WORK WHICH IT WOULD SEEM MIGHT BE GREATLY CURTAILED IN THE INTEREST OF ECONOMY AND EFFICIENCY. IN VIEW OF THE FACT THAT THE BUREAU IS RESPONSIBLE FOR PLACING ITS EMPLOYEES ON THE CORRECT APPROPRIATION AND TRANSFERRING THEM TO ANY OTHER APPROPRIATION WHICH THEY MAY LATER BE MORE PROPERLY PAYABLE FROM, AND ALSO IN VIEW OF THE FACT THAT SUCH RECOMMENDATION IS CONCURRED IN BY THE DEPARTMENT, UNDER THE PRESENT PROCEDURE, I WOULD REQUEST THAT YOU ADVISE IF THERE WOULD BE ANY LEGAL OBJECTION TO THE APPOINTMENTS MADE IN ANY BUREAU WHICH, UNDER YOUR DECISION OF OCTOBER 1, 1924, CONSTITUTES AN APPROPRIATION UNIT, TO BE ON THE MISCELLANEOUS APPROPRIATIONS OF THE BUREAU IN QUESTION INSTEAD OF IN EACH CASE INDICATING THE SPECIFIC APPROPRIATION. WITH THE PROPOSED FLEXIBILITY IN APPOINTMENTS WHEN AN EMPLOYEE IS TRANSFERRED FROM ONE APPROPRIATION TO ANOTHER ALL THAT WOULD BE NECESSARY WOULD BE TO CANCEL THE LIABILITY FOR BALANCE OF EMPLOYEE'S SALARY AND MAKE A CORRESPONDING CHARGE ON THE NEW APPROPRIATION AND THE TRANSACTION IS COMPLETED. THE ONLY CHANGE BETWEEN THE PROPOSED AND PRESENT PROCEDURE WOULD BE THAT A BUREAU WOULD BE ENABLED TO MAKE THE MANY NECESSARY CHANGES THEY ARE AT PRESENT MAKING WITHOUT THE NECESSITY OF HAVING THE CHANGES PASSED UPON BY THE DEPARTMENT, WHICH CHANGES THE BUREAU COULD MAKE IMMEDIATELY WITH A SAVING OF AN IMMENSE VOLUME OF CLERICAL WORK AND TIME OF HIGHER OFFICIALS WHO NECESSARILY ARE AT PRESENT REQUIRED TO APPROVE AND SIGN THE DOCUMENTS IN EACH CASE.

I UNDERSTAND TWO OF THE LARGER DEPARTMENTS HAVE FOLLOWED THE PROPOSED PROCEDURE FOR A NUMBER OF YEARS AND IT WOULD SEEM THAT THERE WOULD BE SUFFICIENT PRECEDENT FOR THIS DEPARTMENT TO FOLLOW, BUT IT WAS THOUGHT THAT IT WOULD BE WISER TO SECURE YOUR APPROVAL BEFORE MAKING ANY CHANGE IN THE PRESENT PROCEDURE.

IN VIEW OF YOUR MODIFICATION DATED NOVEMBER 17, 1924, OF THE DECISION OF OCTOBER 1, SO FAR AS IT COVERS SERVICE CHARGEABLE TO THE APPROPRIATION FOR CARRYING OUT THE PROVISIONS OF THE CHINA TRADE ACT, THE EMPLOYEES CARRIED ON THAT APPROPRIATION WOULD, OF COURSE, BE EXCLUDED FROM CONSIDERATION IN CONNECTION WITH THE QUESTION NOW SUBMITTED, AS UNDER THE MODIFIED RULING THE APPROPRIATION OF EACH WILL BE CHARGED TO THE MINOR APPROPRIATION AS AT PRESENT.

SECTION 3678, REVISED STATUTES, PROVIDES AS FOLLOWS:

ALL SUMS APPROPRIATED FOR THE VARIOUS BRANCHES OF EXPENDITURE IN THE PUBLIC SERVICE SHALL BE APPLIED SOLELY TO THE OBJECTS FOR WHICH THEY ARE RESPECTIVELY MADE, AND FOR NO OTHERS.

THE DECISION OF OCTOBER 1, 1924, 4 COMP. GEN. 342, TO WHICH YOU REFER, APPLIED THE TERM ,BUREAU, OFFICE, OR OTHER APPROPRIATION UNIT" APPEARING IN THE "AVERAGE" PROVISION OF APPROPRIATION ACTS FOR PERSONAL SERVICES FOR THE FISCAL YEAR 1925, TO THE VARIOUS APPROPRIATIONS UNDER THE DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE, AND IT WAS HELD THAT THE BUREAUS, UNDER WHICH THERE HAD BEEN PROVIDED TWO OR MORE APPROPRIATION ITEMS FOR SIMILAR OR RELATED ACTIVITIES, WERE THE UNITS FOR THE PURPOSE OF COMPUTING THE AVERAGE OF COMPENSATION PAID IN EACH GRADE UNDER THE CLASSIFICATION ACT OF 1923. EXCEPTION WAS MADE AS TO THE APPROPRIATION ITEM "ENFORCEMENT OF CHINA TRADE ACT" BY DECISION OF NOVEMBER 17, 1924. THE DECISIONS WERE BASED ON THE PRIOR DECISIONS OF JUNE 26, 1924, 3 COMP. GEN. 1002, AND AUGUST 8, 1924, 4 COMP. GEN. 167. THESE DECISIONS SHOW THE INTENT OF CONGRESS WHEN IT USED THE TERM "BUREAU, OFFICE, OR OTHER APPROPRIATION UNIT" AS ESTABLISHING THE UNIT, AND IN SO DOING, ADOPTED THE SIMILARITY OF PURPOSE FOR WHICH APPROPRIATION ITEMS WERE PROVIDED AS THE BASIS FOR DETERMINING WHETHER THE BUREAU AS A WHOLE, OR INDIVIDUAL ITEMS THEREUNDER, CONSTITUTE THE UNIT.

THERE IS NOTHING IN THE "AVERAGE" PROVISION, THE CLASSIFICATION ACT, OR THE CITED DECISIONS OF THIS OFFICE THAT IN ANY MANNER MAY BE TAKEN AS RELAXING THE REQUIREMENTS OF SECTION 3678, REVISED STATUTES. WHILE THERE MAY BE SUCH A SIMILARITY OF PURPOSE BETWEEN VARIOUS APPROPRIATION ITEMS UNDER A BUREAU HEADING AS TO JUSTIFY GROUPING THE PERSONNEL EMPLOYED UNDER ALL OF THEM TOGETHER FOR THE PURPOSE OF CLASSIFICATION, CONSTITUTING THE WHOLE BUREAU THE UNIT FOR THE PURPOSE OF COMPUTING THE AVERAGE, THOSE PARAGRAPH ITEMS PROVIDE FOR SEPARATE AND DISTINCT PROJECTS OR PURPOSES TO WHICH CONGRESS HAS GIVEN SEPARATE AND DISTINCT CONSIDERATION AND APPROVAL. THE AMOUNTS APPROPRIATED UNDER ONE ITEM, WHETHER FOR PERSONAL SERVICES OR OTHER LAWFUL EXPENDITURE, COULD NOT BE APPLIED TO THE PURPOSES UNDER ANOTHER ITEM IN THE ABSENCE OF EXPRESS STATUTORY AUTHORITY THEREFOR.

IT IS NOT CLEAR WHETHER YOUR REQUEST TO CONSOLIDATE THE APPROPRIATION ITEMS PROVIDED UNDER THE BUREAU HEADING INTO ONE FUND IS DESIRED IN ORDER TO LESSEN THE ACCOUNTING RESULTING FROM TRANSFER OF PERSONNEL BETWEEN THE APPROPRIATION ITEMS OR WHETHER IT IS MERELY THE ADMINISTRATIVE PROCEDURE INCIDENT THERETO THAT YOU DESIRE TO CURTAIL. IF THE DESIRE TO LESSEN THE ACCOUNTING CONTROLS YOUR REQUEST, YOU ARE ADVISED THAT, IN THE ABSENCE OF STATUTORY AUTHORITY, THE SEVERAL AMOUNTS PROVIDED UNDER THE INDIVIDUAL APPROPRIATIONS UNDER THE BUREAU HEADING MAY NOT BE COMBINED AND INCLUDED IN ONE GENERAL FUND FOR THE BUREAU AND COST OF PERSONAL SERVICES CHARGED TO SUCH GENERAL FUND RATHER THAN TO THE INDIVIDUAL APPROPRIATION ITEMS. THE SEVERAL APPROPRIATION ITEMS UNDER THE SEVERAL BUREAUS APPEAR ON THE BOOKS OF THE GOVERNMENT UNDER SEPARATE HEADINGS, ON WHICH THE DISBURSING OFFICER OF THE DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE DRAWS HIS REQUISITION FOR FUNDS. WHILE THE APPROPRIATION ACCOUNTS ON THE BOOKS OF THE GOVERNMENT DO NOT REFLECT THE TRANSFER OF PERSONNEL COSTS BETWEEN APPROPRIATION ITEMS, THE AUDIT REQUIRES THAT THE PAY-ROLL ACCOUNTS OF THE DISBURSING OFFICER INDICATE THE PARTICULAR APPROPRIATION TO WHICH THE COMPENSATION OF EACH EMPLOYEE IS CHARGED, IN ORDER THAT IT MAY BE PROPERLY DETERMINED WHETHER THERE HAS BEEN A COMPLIANCE WITH SECTION 3678, REVISED STATUTES.

REFERRING TO THE STATEMENT IN YOUR LETTER TO THE EFFECT THAT TWO OF THE LARGER DEPARTMENTS HAVE FOLLOWED THE PROPOSED PROCEDURE FOR A NUMBER OF YEARS, IT IS PROBABLE THAT THE DEPARTMENTS REFERRED TO ARE WORKING UNDER STATUTORY AUTHORITY, SUCH AS "GENERAL ACCOUNT OF ADVANCES" AND ,NAVAL SUPPLY ACCOUNT," UNDER THE NAVY DEPARTMENT, ACTS OF JUNE 19, 1878, 20 STAT. 167, AND MARCH 1, 1921, 41 STAT. 1169, RESPECTIVELY, AND "ARMY ACCOUNT OF ADVANCES" UNDER THE WAR DEPARTMENT ACT OF JUNE 5, 1920, 41 STAT. 975.

IF AND TO THE EXTENT THAT THE PROPOSED CHANGE IN PROCEDURE INVOLVES MERELY THE ASSIGNMENT OF WORK TO THE EMPLOYEES WITHIN AN "APPROPRIATION UNIT"--- THAT IS TO SAY, CONTEMPLATES THE APPOINTMENT BY THE SECRETARY OF EMPLOYEES FOR SERVICE IN THE BUREAU OR OTHER APPROPRIATION UNIT WITHOUT DESIGNATING THE APPROPRIATION UNDER WHICH SALARY IS TO BE PAID, THE AMOUNT OF THE SALARY TO BE CHARGED TO THE APPROPRIATION FOR THE WORK ON WHICH ENGAGED DURING THE TIME COVERED BY THE PAYMENT--- I KNOW OF NO LEGAL OBJECTION THERETO, PROVIDED AN ACCOUNTING UNDER THE INDIVIDUAL APPROPRIATIONS IS MAINTAINED. THE PROCEDURE BY WHICH EMPLOYEES IN A BUREAU ARE ASSIGNED TO THE WORK REQUIRED OF THE VARIOUS APPROPRIATION ITEMS WITHIN THE SAME "APPROPRIATION UNIT," WOULD APPEAR TO BE ONE OF ADMINISTRATION. NO DOUBT, THE DETAILS OF THE PROCEDURE CAN BE WORKED OUT TO MATERIALLY LESSEN THE CLERICAL WORK WHICH YOU NOW STATE IS INVOLVED IN EFFECTING THE CHANGES IN PERSONNEL BETWEEN APPROPRIATION ITEMS UNDER ONE BUREAU HEADING. THE PARTICULAR APPROPRIATION CHARGED WITH THE COMPENSATION OF THE EMPLOYEES AND THE TIME ENGAGED ON WORK PROVIDED FOR UNDER EACH APPROPRIATION SO CHARGED SHOULD BE SHOWN ON THE PAY ROLLS.