A-77317, JULY 9, 1936, 16 COMP. GEN. 10

A-77317: Jul 9, 1936

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AS FOLLOWS: TWO PROBLEMS HAVE ARISEN WITHIN THE RESETTLEMENT ADMINISTRATION WITH REFERENCE TO SUBSISTENCE DEDUCTIONS MADE BY THIS ADMINISTRATION FROM THE WAGES PAID TO WORKERS EMPLOYED ON PROJECTS. WORKERS NOT LIVING IN CAMPS MAINTAINED ON THE PROJECT BY THE RESETTLEMENT ADMINISTRATION ARE EMPLOYED 120 HOURS PER MONTH AND WORKERS LIVING IN CAMPS 140 HOURS PER MONTH. BOTH CLASSES OF WORKERS ARE PAID A SECURITY WAGE OF $22 PER MONTH. NO DEDUCTIONS FROM THE WAGES PAID TO THOSE WORKERS WHO ARE MAINTAINED IN CAMPS ARE BEING MADE FOR THE SUBSISTENCE FURNISHED THEM AND THE QUESTION HAS BEEN RAISED AS TO WHETHER IT IS LEGALLY NECESSARY THAT SOME AMOUNT BE DEDUCTED FROM THE WAGES OF SUCH EMPLOYEES. NO CRITERIA ARE SET UP BY THE EXECUTIVE ORDER WITH REFERENCE TO WHAT CONSTITUTES A REASONABLE CHARGE.

A-77317, JULY 9, 1936, 16 COMP. GEN. 10

PROJECT EMPLOYEES FURNISHED SUBSISTENCE - RESETTLEMENT ADMINISTRATION - WAGE DEDUCTIONS RESETTLEMENT ADMINISTRATION PROJECT EMPLOYEES PAID THE SECURITY WAGE MAY NOT BE FURNISHED SUBSISTENCE WITHOUT WAGE DEDUCTION THEREFOR, NOR MAY THERE BE SUBSTITUTED ADDITIONAL HOURS OF LABOR IN LIEU OF SAID DEDUCTION.

ACTING COMPTROLLER GENERAL ELLIOTT TO THE ADMINISTRATOR, RESETTLEMENT ADMINISTRATION, JULY 9, 1936:

CONSIDERATION HAS BEEN GIVEN YOUR LETTER OF JUNE 22, 1936, AS FOLLOWS:

TWO PROBLEMS HAVE ARISEN WITHIN THE RESETTLEMENT ADMINISTRATION WITH REFERENCE TO SUBSISTENCE DEDUCTIONS MADE BY THIS ADMINISTRATION FROM THE WAGES PAID TO WORKERS EMPLOYED ON PROJECTS. ON THE WELAKA WILD LIFE AND FOREST CONSERVATION PROJECT, PUTNAM COUNTY, FLORIDA, WORKERS NOT LIVING IN CAMPS MAINTAINED ON THE PROJECT BY THE RESETTLEMENT ADMINISTRATION ARE EMPLOYED 120 HOURS PER MONTH AND WORKERS LIVING IN CAMPS 140 HOURS PER MONTH. BOTH CLASSES OF WORKERS ARE PAID A SECURITY WAGE OF $22 PER MONTH. NO DEDUCTIONS FROM THE WAGES PAID TO THOSE WORKERS WHO ARE MAINTAINED IN CAMPS ARE BEING MADE FOR THE SUBSISTENCE FURNISHED THEM AND THE QUESTION HAS BEEN RAISED AS TO WHETHER IT IS LEGALLY NECESSARY THAT SOME AMOUNT BE DEDUCTED FROM THE WAGES OF SUCH EMPLOYEES.

EXECUTIVE ORDER 7204, DATED OCTOBER 1, 1935, PROVIDES THAT WORKERS ON A PROJECT, OTHER THAN UNATTACHED WORKERS, WHO RECEIVE BOARD AND LODGING WITHOUT EXPENSE TO THEM, IN CAMPS OR LODGING HOUSES MAINTAINED AT OR NEAR THE SITE OF THE PROJECT BY THE AGENCY OF THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT SUPERVISING SUCH PROJECT,"SHALL BE PAID MONTHLY EARNINGS IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE SCHEDULE OF MONTHLY EARNINGS SET OUT ABOVE, LESS SUCH SUM AS THE HEAD OF THE AGENCY HAVING SUPERVISION OF SUCH PROJECT, OR HIS AUTHORIZED REPRESENTATIVE, SHALL DETERMINE TO BE A REASONABLE CHARGE FOR BOARD AND LODGING * * *.' NO CRITERIA ARE SET UP BY THE EXECUTIVE ORDER WITH REFERENCE TO WHAT CONSTITUTES A REASONABLE CHARGE.

IT APPEARS FROM THE WORDING OF EXECUTIVE ORDER 7204, THAT THE HEAD OF THE AGENCY HAVING SUPERVISION OF A PROJECT IS AUTHORIZED TO DETERMINE WHAT SHALL BE A REASONABLE CHARGE FOR BOARD AND LODGING FURNISHED TO WORKERS ON A PROJECT. IT HAS BEEN OUR UNDERSTANDING THAT THE EXECUTIVE ORDER DID NOT REQUIRE THAT IN ALL CASES SOME SUBSISTENCE DEDUCTIONS FOR BOARD AND LODGING WOULD HAVE TO BE MADE BY THE HEAD OF SUCH AN AGENCY, BUT THAT IN A PARTICULAR CASE, WHERE THE FACTS AND CIRCUMSTANCES WARRANTED, SUBSISTENCE DEDUCTIONS FROM WAGES WOULD NOT NECESSARILY HAVE TO BE MADE. IN OTHER WORDS, IT HAS BEEN OUR CONSTRUCTION OF THE EXECUTIVE ORDER THAT THE DETERMINATION OF WHETHER A CHARGE FOR BOARD AND LODGING SHOULD BE MADE RESTS WITHIN THE DISCRETION OF THE AGENCY HAVING SUPERVISION OF A PROJECT.

THE SECURITY WAGES PAID ON THE WELAKA WILD LIFE PROJECT, $22 PER MONTH, ARE EXTREMELY LOW, EVEN FOR THE COMMUNITY IN WHICH THE PROJECT IS SITUATED. SUFFICIENT WORKERS WHO RESIDED SUFFICIENTLY NEAR THE PROJECT TO BE EMPLOYED WITHOUT BEING GRANTED BOARD AND LODGING COULD NOT BE OBTAINED, AND IT WAS THEREFORE NECESSARY TO EMPLOY OTHER WORKERS WHO WOULD OF NECESSITY HAVE TO BE MAINTAINED ON THE PROJECT. IT WAS SOON DISCOVERED THAT DUE TO THE LOW WAGE, THE LATTER CLASS OF WORKERS COULD NOT BE OBTAINED UNLESS SUBSISTENCE WAS FURNISHED IN ADDITION TO THE REGULAR WAGES. FURTHERMORE, IT WAS THOUGHT ADVISABLE TO EMPLOY SUCH WORKERS FOR A GREATER NUMBER OF HOURS, NOT ONLY BECAUSE IT WAS DESIRED THAT MORE WORK BE ACCOMPLISHED, BUT ALSO BECAUSE IT WAS FELT EXTREMELY ADVISABLE TO KEEP THEM OCCUPIED AND NOT IDLE FOR A GREATER NUMBER OF HOURS. THE COST OF THE SUBSISTENCE TO BE FURNISHED SUCH WORKERS WAS TAKEN INTO CONSIDERATION, AND WITH THAT AS A BASIS AND IN VIEW OF ALL THE CIRCUMSTANCES, IT WAS ADMINISTRATIVELY DETERMINED BY ME THAT IF SUCH EMPLOYEES WERE EMPLOYED 140 HOURS PER MONTH AS DIFFERENTIATED FROM THE 120 HOURS PER MONTH WORKED BY EMPLOYEES NOT LIVING ON THE PROJECT, IT WOULD BE REASONABLE NOT TO MAKE ANY DEDUCTIONS FROM THEIR WAGES FOR THE BOARD AND LODGING FURNISHED THEM. YOUR OPINION IS REQUESTED AS TO WHETHER YOU ARE REQUIRED TO OBJECT TO THE PROCEDURE OUTLINED ABOVE.

THE OTHER PROBLEM WHICH HAS ARISEN RELATES TO THOSE SITUATIONS WHERE IT HAS BEEN ADMINISTRATIVELY DETERMINED THAT A CERTAIN SUBSISTENCE DEDUCTION SHALL BE MADE FROM THE WAGES PAID ON A PARTICULAR PROJECT. THE QUESTION HAS BEEN RAISED AS TO WHETHER PAY ROLLS MUST HAVE THEREON, BESIDES THE AMOUNT OF DEDUCTIONS FOR SUBSISTENCE MADE BY THIS ADMINISTRATION, A SPECIFIC REFERENCE TO THE AUTHORITY PURSUANT TO WHICH SUCH DEDUCTIONS WERE MADE.

WAGES AND HOURS FOR PROJECT EMPLOYEES OF THIS ADMINISTRATION, AND DEDUCTIONS MADE FOR SUBSISTENCE FURNISHED THEM, ARE DETERMINED BY THE DIRECTOR OF OUR LABOR RELATIONS DIVISION. WHEN THEY ARE SO DETERMINED, THEY ARE IN ALL CASES FORWARDED TO ME FOR APPROVAL OR DISAPPROVAL. APPROVED, THEY ARE THEN RETURNED TO THE DIRECTOR OF THE LABOR RELATIONS DIVISION, WHO FILLS IN FORM RA-LR 10, ENTITLED "NOTICE OF WAGES AND HOURS DETERMINED BY THE RESETTLEMENT ADMINISTRATION--- PROJECT SUBJECT TO SCHEDULE OF MONTHLY EARNINGS EXCEPT WITH REGARD TO SKILLED WORKERS," OR FORM RA-LR 11, ENTITLED "NOTICE OF WAGES AND HOURS DETERMINED BY THE RESETTLEMENT ADMINISTRATION--- PROJECT EXEMPTED FROM SCHEDULE OF MONTHLY EARNINGS.' THE DIRECTOR CERTIFIES ON SUCH TERMS, COPIES OF WHICH ARE ATTACHED HERETO, THAT THE MONTHLY ASSIGNED HOURS OR WAGE RATES, WHICH INCLUDE THE AMOUNT OF SUBSISTENCE DEDUCTIONS, HAVE BEEN OFFICIALLY DETERMINED BY ME. ONE OR THE OTHER OF SUCH FORMS IS FILLED IN FOR EACH PROJECT UNDER THE SUPERVISION OF THIS ADMINISTRATION, AND IS THEN DISTRIBUTED IN ACCORDANCE WITH ADMINISTRATIVE INSTRUCTION 92 OF THIS ADMINISTRATION, DATED MAY 5, 1936, A COPY OF WHICH IS ATTACHED HERETO. YOU WILL NOTE FROM THE ADMINISTRATION INSTRUCTION THAT COPIES ARE FORWARDED TO THE STATE TREASURY ACCOUNTS OFFICE, THE COMMISSIONER OF ACCOUNTS IN WASHINGTON, AND YOUR OFFICE.

AS ALREADY INDICATED, THE FORMS ARE EXECUTED ONLY AFTER MY SPECIFIC APPROVAL OF THE WAGE RATES AND SUBSISTENCE DEDUCTIONS HAS BEEN OBTAINED. SINCE FORMS CONTAINING THE NECESSARY INFORMATION ARE IN THE POSSESSION OF YOUR OFFICE WITH REFERENCE TO EACH PROJECT, IT WOULD APPEAR THAT A PROPER AUDIT CAN BE MADE BY YOUR OFFICE WITHOUT THE NECESSITY OF A REFERENCE ON EACH PAY ROLL TO THE AUTHORITY PURSUANT TO WHICH THE DEDUCTIONS WERE MADE. YOUR OPINION IS DESIRED, THEREFORE, AS TO WHETHER THE PROCEDURE FOLLOWED BY THIS ADMINISTRATION IS SATISFACTORY TO YOUR OFFICE.

DUE TO THE FACT THAT INQUIRIES HAVE BEEN RECEIVED FROM OUR FIELD PERSONNEL WITH REFERENCE TO THESE PROBLEMS, AND IN ORDER TO AVOID A POSSIBLE DELAY IN THE PAYMENT OF PAY ROLLS, YOUR EARLY REPLY IS REQUESTED.

THE EXTRACT FROM EXECUTIVE ORDER 7204, QUOTED IN YOUR SUBMISSION, DIRECTS THE PAYMENT OF THE MONTHLY EARNINGS FIXED BY THE PRIOR EXECUTIVE ORDER WHICH IT AMENDS, LESS SUCH SUM AS THE HEAD OF THE AGENCY SHALL DETERMINE TO BE REASONABLE CHARGE FOR BOARD AND LODGING. IT IS TRUE THAT NO GUIDE IS SET UP TO AID THE HEAD OF THE AGENCY IN DETERMINING WHAT IS A REASONABLE CHARGE, EXCEPT THAT IT SHALL NOT EXCEED $15 PER MONTH, BUT IT IS ALSO TRUE THAT THE EXECUTIVE ORDER MAKES IT MANDATORY THAT WHATEVER SUM IS FOUND TO BE A REASONABLE CHARGE SHALL BE DEDUCTED. THERE IS NO DISCRETION VESTED IN THE HEAD OF THE AGENCY TO SUBSTITUTE ADDITIONAL HOURS OF LABOR IN LIEU OF SUCH DEDUCTION. IT IS NOTED THAT ON PROJECTS OTHER THAN THE WELAKA WILD LIFE AND FOREST CONSERVATION PROJECT THE WORKERS SUBSISTED AT THE PROJECT NOT ONLY WORK 140 HOURS PER MONTH AS COMPARED WITH 120 HOURS BY WORKERS NOT LIVING IN CAMP, BUT ALSO THAT $4 PER MONTH IS DEDUCTED FOR SUBSISTENCE. THE REASONABLENESS OF THIS CHARGE NEED NOT BE QUESTIONED BY THIS OFFICE, BUT THE EXECUTIVE ORDER DOES NOT INDICATE AN INTENT TO MAKE SUCH A DEDUCTION ON SOME PROJECTS AND NOT ON OTHERS WHEN THE CLASS OF WORKERS, WAGES, AND HOURS OF LABOR ARE PRACTICALLY IDENTICAL AND SUBSISTENCE IS FURNISHED IN BOTH CASES.

WITH RESPECT TO YOUR QUESTION WHETHER THE PAY ROLLS ON WHICH DEDUCTIONS FOR SUBSISTENCE ALLOWANCES ARE MADE SHOULD CONTAIN A SPECIFIC REFERENCE TO THE AUTHORITY PURSUANT TO WHICH THE DEDUCTIONS ARE MADE, IT MAY BE STATED THAT IF FORMS RA-LR 10 AND RA-LR 11--- SHOWING THE MONTHLY ASSIGNED HOURS, WAGES, THE DETERMINED VALUE OF ALLOWANCE, AND THE NUMBER, NAME, AND LOCATION OF THE PROJECT--- ARE FORWARDED FOR FILING IN THIS OFFICE, IT WILL NOT BE NECESSARY TO REFER TO THE AUTHORITY UNDER WHICH THE DEDUCTION IS MADE, WHERE NUMBER, NAME, AND LOCATION OF THE PROJECT ARE STATED ON EACH VOUCHER AND THE VOUCHER SHOWS, ALSO, THE TOTAL COMPENSATION AND THE DETERMINED VALUE OF THE ALLOWANCES.