A-58464, NOVEMBER 14, 1934, 14 COMP. GEN. 392

A-58464: Nov 14, 1934

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THERE IS NO AUTHORITY FOR ADMINISTRATIVE ACTION PRESCRIBING A SALARY RANGE FOR A CERTAIN CLASS OF POSITION IN THE FIELD SERVICE BEGINNING AT A RATE HIGHER THAN THE MINIMUM SALARY RATE OF THE RANGE PRESCRIBED BY THE CLASSIFICATION ACT. FOR THE ENTIRE GRADE IN WHICH SUCH POSITION IS PROPERLY PLACED OR ALLOCATED. THERE IS NO AUTHORITY OR JUSTIFICATION FOR ANY DIFFERENCE IN THE RULE IN THIS RESPECT BETWEEN THE DEPARTMENTAL SERVICE AND THE FIELD SERVICE. IS NO LONGER FOR APPLICATION. AS THE APPOINTMENT OF THE EMPLOYEE WAS MADE AT $1. CREDIT WILL BE ALLOWED IN THE ACCOUNTS FOR OTHERWISE PROPER PAYMENTS OF COMPENSATION AT THE RATE THUS FIXED ADMINISTRATIVELY.'. IF YOUR RULING IS APPLIED TO THE FIELD SERVICE OF THIS DEPARTMENT.

A-58464, NOVEMBER 14, 1934, 14 COMP. GEN. 392

CLASSIFICATION - FIELD SERVICE - GRADE AND CLASS AS THE ENTIRE SALARY RANGE PRESCRIBED BY THE CLASSIFICATION ACT, AS AMENDED, FOR A PARTICULAR GRADE, RATHER THAN ONE OR ANY NUMBER OF SALARY RATES LESS THAN THE TOTAL PRESCRIBED FOR THE GRADE, ATTACHES TO ANY POSITION, EITHER FIELD OR DEPARTMENTAL, PLACED OR ALLOCATED IN SAID GRADE, REGARDLESS OF THE CLASS OF POSITION, THERE IS NO AUTHORITY FOR ADMINISTRATIVE ACTION PRESCRIBING A SALARY RANGE FOR A CERTAIN CLASS OF POSITION IN THE FIELD SERVICE BEGINNING AT A RATE HIGHER THAN THE MINIMUM SALARY RATE OF THE RANGE PRESCRIBED BY THE CLASSIFICATION ACT, AS AMENDED, FOR THE ENTIRE GRADE IN WHICH SUCH POSITION IS PROPERLY PLACED OR ALLOCATED.

COMPTROLLER GENERAL MCCARL TO THE SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR, NOVEMBER 14, 1934:

CONSIDERATION HAS BEEN GIVEN TO YOUR LETTER OF OCTOBER 26, 1934, AS FOLLOWS:

YOUR DECISION OF AUGUST 31, 1934, ADDRESSED TO THE NATIONAL ADVISORY COMMITTEE FOR AERONAUTICS, A-56683, READS IN PART AS FOLLOWS:

"* * * THERE EXISTS NO REASONABLE BASIS NOW ON WHICH IT MAY BE HELD GENERALLY, OR IN INDIVIDUAL CASES, TO BE IMPRACTICABLE TO FIX THE INITIAL SALARY RATE OF THE APPROPRIATE GRADE AS REQUIRED BY RULE 6 OF SECTION 6 OF THE ORIGINAL CLASSIFICATION ACT. THERE IS NO AUTHORITY OR JUSTIFICATION FOR ANY DIFFERENCE IN THE RULE IN THIS RESPECT BETWEEN THE DEPARTMENTAL SERVICE AND THE FIELD SERVICE, AND THEREFORE, THE RULE QUOTED ABOVE FROM QUESTION AND ANSWER 5, DECISION OCTOBER 30, 1925, 5 COMP. GEN. 302, 305, IS NO LONGER FOR APPLICATION.

"IN THE INSTANT CASE, AS THE APPOINTMENT OF THE EMPLOYEE WAS MADE AT $1,080 PER ANNUM, THE SECOND SALARY RATE OF GRADE SP-1, JANUARY 22, 1934, PRIOR TO THE DECISION OF MAY 10, 1932, A-55251, CREDIT WILL BE ALLOWED IN THE ACCOUNTS FOR OTHERWISE PROPER PAYMENTS OF COMPENSATION AT THE RATE THUS FIXED ADMINISTRATIVELY.'

IF YOUR RULING IS APPLIED TO THE FIELD SERVICE OF THIS DEPARTMENT, PARTICULARLY THE INDIAN FIELD SERVICE, A VERY GRAVE SITUATION WILL BE CREATED. WITHOUT ATTEMPTING TO REVIEW THE VARIOUS LAWS COVERING CLASSIFICATION OF FIELD POSITIONS, IT MAY BE SAID THAT AT THE TIME THE ORIGINAL CLASSIFICATION BECAME OPERATIVE IN 1924, IT WAS FELT ESSENTIAL TO APPLY SHORTENED GRADES TO CERTAIN CLASSES OF EMPLOYMENTS IN THE INDIAN SERVICE. WHILE THESE CLASSES COVER VARIOUS INDIAN SERVICE ACTIVITIES THE MOST IMPORTANT CLASS AFFECTED IS THE TEACHING FORCE. TEACHING POSITIONS WERE ORIGINALLY ALLOCATED ONE STEP ABOVE THE ENTRANCE SALARY OF THE GRADE TO CONFORM TO RATES PAID OUTSIDE OF GOVERNMENT SERVICE, AND THIS PLAN HAS BEEN FOLLOWED FOR THE TEN YEARS IN WHICH CLASSIFICATION LAWS HAVE BEEN OPERATIVE. AS A RESULT, ALL OF THE TEACHING FORCE NOW ON DUTY IS SERVING AT MORE THAN THE ENTRANCE SALARY OF THE VARIOUS GRADES AND ALL CIVIL- SERVICE EXAMINATIONS FOR TEACHING POSITIONS SINCE THESE POSITIONS HAVE BEEN CLASSIFIED HAVE BEEN ANNOUNCED AND HELD WITH ENTRANCE SALARIES FIXED ACCORDINGLY. AS AN EXAMPLE, THE EXAMINATION FOR TEACHER IN COMMUNITY SCHOOL (PRIMARY, INTERMEDIATE, OR JUNIOR HIGH), HELD BY THE CIVIL SERVICE COMMISSION WITH A CLOSING DATE OF JUNE 25, 1934, GIVES AN ENTRANCE SALARY OF $1,680 A YEAR WHICH IS THE SECOND STEP IN FIELD GRADE 7, CORRESPONDING TO GRADE CAF-3. IF THE DEPARTMENT IS COMPELLED NOW TO APPOINT AT AN ENTRANCE SALARY OF $1,620 A YEAR, AND IT IS CERTAIN THAT AN APPRECIABLE NUMBER OF APPOINTMENTS WILL BE REQUIRED, SUCH ACTION WILL NOT BE IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CONDITIONS UNDER WHICH THE VARIOUS APPLICANTS QUALIFIED THROUGH REGULAR CIVIL-SERVICE CHANNELS. MOREOVER, APPOINTEES AT THE LOWER SALARY WILL BE REQUIRED TO WORK AT $1,620 A YEAR, WHEREAS ALL OTHER TEACHERS NOW ON DUTY ARE RECEIVING SALARIES IN EXCESS OF THE ENTRANCE SALARIES OF THE GRADE. THE COMPARISON CAN BE CARRIED ON TO COVER POSITIONS OF SENIOR HIGH SCHOOL TEACHER IN THE SERVICE FOR WHICH THE LAST CIVIL-SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT FIXED $1,860 A YEAR AS THE ENTRANCE SALARY; TEACHERS OF HOME ECONOMICS, BOTH RESERVATION AND JUNIOR HIGH; TEACHER, SCHOOL MUSIC; TEACHER, BAND AND ORCHESTRA; TEACHER, FINE AND APPLIED ARTS, ETC., ALL CARRYING ENTRANCE SALARIES OF $1,860 A YEAR.

ANOTHER COMPLICATION IS THAT UNTIL THIS MATTER IS DECIDED WE CANNOT MAKE ANY ARRANGEMENTS TO FILL THROUGH PRESIDENTIAL CLEARANCE ANY POSITIONS IN THE AFFECTED CLASSES. AS A RESULT, FIELD WORK IS BEING SERIOUSLY HANDICAPPED AND PROGRAMS WHICH ARE BEING INAUGURATED IN CONNECTION WITH OUR FIELD WORK ARE BEING DELAYED.

SECTION 2 OF THE BROOKHART ACT OF JULY 3, 1930, READS IN PART AS FOLLOWS:

"THE HEADS OF SEVERAL EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENTS AND INDEPENDENT ESTABLISHMENTS ARE AUTHORIZED AND DIRECTED TO ADJUST THE COMPENSATION OF CERTAIN CIVILIAN POSITIONS IN THE FIELD SERVICE, THE COMPENSATION OF WHICH WAS ADJUSTED BY THE ACT OF DECEMBER 6, 1924 (43 STAT. 604), TO CORRESPOND SO FAR AS MAY BE PRACTICABLE TO THE RATES ESTABLISHED BY THE ACT OF MAY 28, 1928 * * *.'

IN YOUR DECISION OF NOVEMBER 12, 1931, TO THE SECRETARY OF WAR,11 C.G. 177, YOU STATE THAT THE PHRASE "SO FAR AS MAY BE PRACTICABLE" APPEARING IN THESE SECTIONS OF THE WELCH AND BROOKHART SALARY ACTS, HAS BEEN CONSTRUED PROPERLY AS VESTING IN THE ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE A DISCRETION ONLY AS TO THE PARTICULAR GRADE OR SALARY RANGE.

IT IS FELT THAT THE WORDING "OR SALARY RANGE" COUPLED WITH THE FACT THAT APPOINTMENTS AT MORE THAN THE ENTRANCE SALARIES OF THE RESPECTIVE GRADES HAVE BEEN MADE AND RECOGNIZED THROUGHOUT THE YEARS OF CLASSIFICATION, SHOULD BE GIVEN CONSIDERATION. YOUR DECISION IS REQUESTED WHETHER THE DEPARTMENT MAY CONTINUE TO MAKE APPOINTMENTS AT SALARY RATES HERETOFORE FIXED, IN VIEW OF THE RECOGNIZED PRACTICE AND THE FACT THAT THERE HAS BEEN NO LEGAL EXTENSION OF CLASSIFICATION RATES TO THE FIELD, EXCEPT FOR THE PREVIOUSLY QUOTED PROVISION OF THE BROOKHART ACT.

IT WAS EARLY HELD THAT THE WORDS "GRADE" AND "CLASS" AS USED IN THE CLASSIFICATION ACT OF 1923, AND THE AVERAGE PROVISION WITH RELATION TO THE SALARY RANGE PRESCRIBED IN THE CLASSIFICATION ACT, WERE SYNONYMOUS, AND THAT THERE WAS NO AUTHORITY TO FIX A DIFFERENT SALARY RANGE FOR DIFFERENT CLASSES OF POSITIONS ALLOCATED IN THE SAME GRADE HAVING A COMMON SALARY RANGE. 4 COMP. GEN. 126; ID. 334; ID. 493; 10 ID 47; ID. 284. THE LEGAL PRINCIPLE INVOLVED IS THAT THE ENTIRE SALARY RANGE PRESCRIBED BY THE ACT FOR A PARTICULAR GRADE, RATHER THAN ONE OR ANY NUMBER OF SALARY RATES LESS THAN THE TOTAL PRESCRIBED FOR THE GRADE, ATTACHES TO ANY POSITION PLACED OR ALLOCATED IN SAID GRADE, REGARDLESS OF THE CLASS OF POSITION. ACCORDINGLY, THERE IS NO AUTHORITY FOR THE DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR, BY ADMINISTRATIVE ACTION, TO PRESCRIBE A SALARY RANGE FOR TEACHERS IN THE INDIAN FIELD SERVICE BEGINNING AT A RATE HIGHER THAN THE MINIMUM SALARY RATE OF THE RANGE PRESCRIBED BY THE CLASSIFICATION ACT, AS AMENDED, FOR THE ENTIRE GRADE IN WHICH THE POSITION IS PROPERLY PLACED OR ALLOCATED. THE CHARGING OF PUBLIC MONEYS MAY NOT BE CONSIDERED AS BOUND BY AN ANNOUNCEMENT OF A CIVIL-SERVICE EXAMINATION STATING ENTRANCE SALARIES FOR TEACHERS ABOVE THE MINIMUM RATE OF THE GRADE AUTHORIZED BY LAW.

THIS OFFICE HAS RECOGNIZED THAT THE DECISIONS OF MAY 10, 1934, A 55251, AND 14 COMP. GEN. 183, HOLDING THAT AN APPOINTEE IN THE FIELD SERVICE MAY BE PAID INITIALLY ONLY THE MINIMUM SALARY RATE OF THE GRADE IN WHICH THE POSITION TO WHICH APPOINTED HAS BEEN PROPERLY PLACED OR ALLOCATED, MODIFIED THE LONG-EXISTING RULE TO THE CONTRARY, BUT THE ERROR, IF ANY, IS NOT IN THE NEW DECISIONS BUT IN THE ADMINISTRATIVE FAILURE TO ANNOUNCE THE PROPER RULE AS TO FIELD POSITIONS AT AN EARLIER DATE. HOWEVER, THERE IS NO PROPER BASIS FOR MAKING AN EXCEPTION OF TEACHERS IN THE INDIAN FIELD SERVICE AND, ACCORDINGLY, THE QUESTION STATED IN THE LAST SENTENCE OF YOUR LETTER MUST BE AND IS ANSWERED IN THE NEGATIVE.

IN DECISION OF OCTOBER 29, 1934, A-58307, TO THE SECRETARY OF AGRICULTURE, IT WAS STATED AS FOLLOWS:

IN VIEW OF THE REPRESENTATIONS MADE IN YOUR LETTER, THE RULE STATED IN DECISION OF AUGUST 31, 1934, 14 COMP. GEN. 183, THAT THE INITIAL SALARY RATES OF FIELD EMPLOYEES SUBJECT TO THE CLASSIFICATION ACT, AS AMENDED, IS LIMITED TO THE MINIMUM SALARY RATE OF THE GRADE IN WHICH THE POSITION IS ADMINISTRATIVELY PLACED OR ALLOCATED, WILL NOT BE APPLIED IN THE AUDIT OF PAY-ROLL ACCOUNTS TO REQUIRE THE REDUCTION OF SALARY RATES OF FIELD EMPLOYEES UNDER THE DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE APPOINTED PRIOR TO SEPTEMBER 5, 1934.

THE SAME RULE MAY BE REGARDED AS APPLICABLE IN THE INTERIOR DEPARTMENT.