A-83579, FEBRUARY 16, 1937, 16 COMP. GEN. 765

A-83579: Feb 16, 1937

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IS NOT FOR APPLICATION TO THE FILLING OF THE POSITIONS OF ASSISTANT CHIEF CLERK CLASSIFIED IN GRADE 8 UNDER AUTHORITY OF THE ACT OF MAY 26. IS AS FOLLOWS: WHEN THE POSTAL RECLASSIFICATION ACT OF 1912 WAS PASSED IT PROVIDED FOR TEN CLERICAL GRADES IN THE RAILWAY MAIL SERVICE. THE NUMBER OF THESE GRADES WAS SUBSEQUENTLY REDUCED TO SEVEN (39 U.S.C. 610). UNTIL RECENTLY ONLY SIX OF THE GRADES PROVIDED BY LAW WERE USED TO ANY CONSIDERABLE EXTENT. YOUR DECISION WAS SOUGHT AS TO THE PROPRIETY OF CREATING POSITIONS FOR ASSIGNMENT TO THIS GRADE AND ON MARCH 13. YOU STATED THAT THE MATTER WAS ONE REQUIRING THE EXERCISE OF ADMINISTRATIVE DISCRETION. WHEREUPON THE CLERKS IN CHARGE OF LARGE TERMINALS WERE ADVANCED TO GRADE 7.

A-83579, FEBRUARY 16, 1937, 16 COMP. GEN. 765

POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT - PROMOTIONS IN RAILWAY MAIL SERVICE - STATUTORY LIMITATIONS THE PROHIBITION IN THE ACT OF AUGUST 24, 1912, 37 STAT. 556, LIMITING ADVANCEMENTS OF EMPLOYEES IN THE RAILWAY MAIL SERVICE TO ONE GRADE IN A PERIOD OF A YEAR WHEN FILLING POSITIONS BELOW THAT OF CHIEF CLERK, IS NOT FOR APPLICATION TO THE FILLING OF THE POSITIONS OF ASSISTANT CHIEF CLERK CLASSIFIED IN GRADE 8 UNDER AUTHORITY OF THE ACT OF MAY 26, 1936, 49 STAT. 1374, BY A CLERK IN GRADE 6 ESTABLISHED BY THE POSTAL SERVICE RECLASSIFICATION ACT OF FEBRUARY 28, 1925, 43 STAT. 1062.

ACTING COMPTROLLER GENERAL ELLIOTT TO THE POSTMASTER GENERAL, FEBRUARY 16, 1937:

YOUR LETTER OF FEBRUARY 3, 1937, IS AS FOLLOWS:

WHEN THE POSTAL RECLASSIFICATION ACT OF 1912 WAS PASSED IT PROVIDED FOR TEN CLERICAL GRADES IN THE RAILWAY MAIL SERVICE. THE NUMBER OF THESE GRADES WAS SUBSEQUENTLY REDUCED TO SEVEN (39 U.S.C. 610). HOWEVER, UNTIL RECENTLY ONLY SIX OF THE GRADES PROVIDED BY LAW WERE USED TO ANY CONSIDERABLE EXTENT--- THE ACT OF FEBRUARY 28, 1925 (39 U.S.C. 610, ET SEQ.) HAVING SPECIFIED THE GRADES TO WHICH CLERKS IN DIFFERENT POSITIONS MIGHT BE PROMOTED. GRADE 7 NOT HAVING BEEN PROVIDED FOR, YOUR DECISION WAS SOUGHT AS TO THE PROPRIETY OF CREATING POSITIONS FOR ASSIGNMENT TO THIS GRADE AND ON MARCH 13, 1925 (A-8335), YOU STATED THAT THE MATTER WAS ONE REQUIRING THE EXERCISE OF ADMINISTRATIVE DISCRETION, WHEREUPON THE CLERKS IN CHARGE OF LARGE TERMINALS WERE ADVANCED TO GRADE 7. RECENTLY SIMILAR SUPERVISORY POSITIONS IN THE DIFFERENT ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICES THROUGHOUT THE COUNTRY WERE CREATED, SO THAT ALL DIVISIONS OF THE RAILWAY MAIL SERVICE NOW HAVE EMPLOYEES IN GRADE 7.

IT IS PROVIDED BY 39 U.S.C. 628 THAT PROMOTIONS IN THE RAILWAY MAIL SERVICE SHALL BE LIMITED TO ONE GRADE A YEAR. ALL POSITIONS IN THAT SERVICE HAVE BEEN CLASSIFIED IN GRADES CORRESPONDING TO CAF GRADES 7 TO 12, INCLUSIVE, IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE PROVISIONS OF THE ACT OF MAY 26, 1936 (PUBLIC NO. 619). CHIEF CLERKS HAVE BEEN PLACED IN GRADES 9 AND 10, ASSISTANT CHIEF CLERKS IN GRADE 8, AND THE CLERKS IN CHARGE OF SECTIONS IN GRADE 7--- THESE ALL BEING OFFICIAL POSITIONS. HOWEVER, SINCE CLERKS OF GRADE 7 RECEIVE $2,700 PER ANNUM, WHEREAS OFFICIALS APPOINTED IN THIS GRADE RECEIVE AN INITIAL SALARY OF $2,600.00, IT HAPPENS THAT SOME OFFICIALS RECEIVE THE SAME OR EVEN LESS SALARY THAN SOME CLERKS.

IN CONSIDERATION OF THE SITUATION WHICH HAS DEVELOPED THROUGH THE CREATION OF POSITIONS IN GRADE 7 AND THE APPARENT REQUIREMENT THAT AUTOMATIC PROMOTIONS EXTEND TO THAT GRADE, YOUR DECISION IS SOUGHT AS TO THE PROPER ACTION WHEN A CLERK IN GRADE 6 IS PROMOTED TO THE POSITION OF ASSISTANT CHIEF CLERK. WOULD THERE BE OBJECTION TO PLACING HIM IN THE FIRST STEP IN OFFICIAL GRADE 8, THUS CAUSING HIM TO SKIP GRADE 7 ENTIRELY? AN ALTERNATIVE PROCEDURE MIGHT BE TO DESIGNATE A CLERK OF GRADE 6 RECEIVING $2,600 PER ANNUM AS ASSISTANT CHIEF CLERK, GIVING HIM AN ADVANCE IN SALARY TO $2,700 PER ANNUM AND REQUIRING HIM TO SERVE ONE YEAR IN GRADE 7 AT THAT SALARY BEFORE ADVANCING HIM TO GRADE 8 AT $2,900, THE MINIMUM SALARY FOR AN ASSISTANT CHIEF CLERK.

INASMUCH AS A NUMBER OF CASES ARE PENDING AT THE PRESENT TIME INVOLVING THE ISSUES HEREIN PRESENTED, A PROMPT DECISION WILL BE APPRECIATED.

THE ACT OF FEBRUARY 28, 1925, 43 STAT. 1062, PROVIDES, IN PART, AS FOLLOWS:

THAT RAILWAY POSTAL CLERKS SHALL BE DIVIDED INTO TWO CLASSES, CLASS A AND CLASS B, AND INTO SEVEN GRADES WITH ANNUAL SALARIES AS FOLLOWS: GRADE 1, SALARY $1,900; GRADE 2, SALARY $2,000; GRADE 3, SALARY $2,150; GRADE 4, SALARY $2,300; GRADE 5, SALARY $2,450; GRADE 6, SALARY $2,600; GRADE 7, SALARY $2,700.

ALL ORIGINAL APPOINTMENTS SHALL BE MADE TO THE RANK OF SUBSTITUTE RAILWAY POSTAL CLERK, AND PROMOTIONS SHALL BE MADE SUCCESSIVELY AT THE BEGINNING OF THE QUARTER FOLLOWING A TOTAL SATISFACTORY SERVICE OF THREE HUNDRED AND SIX DAYS IN THE NEXT LOWER GRADE.

SECTION 7 OF THE ACT OF AUGUST 24, 1912, 37 STAT. 556, CONTAINED A PROVISION AS FOLLOWS:

IN FILLING POSITIONS BELOW THAT OF CHIEF CLERK NO CLERK SHALL BE ADVANCED MORE THAN ONE GRADE IN A PERIOD OF A YEAR.

THE ACT OF MAY 26, 1936, 49 STAT. 1374, PROVIDES:

THAT THE POSTMASTER GENERAL IS AUTHORIZED AND DIRECTED TO ADJUST THE COMPENSATION OF DIVISION SUPERINTENDENTS, ASSISTANT DIVISION SUPERINTENDENTS, ASSISTANT SUPERINTENDENTS AT LARGE, ASSISTANT SUPERINTENDENT IN CHARGE OF CAR CONSTRUCTION, CHIEF CLERKS, ASSISTANT CHIEF CLERKS, AND CLERKS IN CHARGE OF SECTIONS IN OFFICES OF DIVISION SUPERINTENDENTS, RAILWAY MAIL SERVICE, TO CORRESPOND, SO FAR AS MAY BE PRACTICABLE, TO THE RATES ESTABLISHED BY THE CLASSIFICATION ACT OF 1923, AS AMENDED, FOR POSITIONS IN THE DEPARTMENTAL SERVICE IN THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA. ANY APPROPRIATION NOW OR HEREAFTER AVAILABLE FOR THE PAYMENT OF COMPENSATION OF EMPLOYEES IN THE RAILWAY MAIL SERVICE SHALL BE AVAILABLE FOR PAYMENT OF COMPENSATION IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE RATES ADJUSTED IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE PROVISIONS OF THIS ACT.

YOUR QUESTION IS UNDERSTOOD TO BE WHETHER, IN VIEW OF THE INHIBITION CONTAINED IN THE 1912 STATUTE, ABOVE QUOTED, RAILWAY POSTAL CLERKS IN SALARY GRADE 6, $2,600 PER ANNUM, AS ESTABLISHED BY THE POSTAL SERVICE RECLASSIFICATION ACT OF FEBRUARY 28, 1925, SUPRA, MAY BE PROMOTED TO THE POSITION OF ASSISTANT CHIEF CLERK AND PAID THE INITIAL MINIMUM SALARY RATE OF GRADE 8, $2,900 PER ANNUM, AS ESTABLISHED BY THE CLASSIFICATION ACT OF 1923, AS AMENDED, WITHOUT HAVING SERVED IN SALARY GRADE 7, $2,700 PER ANNUM, AS ESTABLISHED BY THE POSTAL SERVICE RECLASSIFICATION ACT OF 1925.

THE TERM "GRADE" AS USED IN THE ACT OF AUGUST 24, 1912, LIMITING ADVANCEMENTS TO ONE GRADE IN A PERIOD OF A YEAR WHEN FILLING POSITIONS BELOW THAT OF CHIEF CLERK, HAS RELATION TO THE SALARY GRADES, THAT IS, THE SALARY RATES, ESTABLISHED BY THE POSTAL SERVICE RECLASSIFICATION ACT, WHEREAS THE TERM "GRADE" UNDER THE CLASSIFICATION ACT OF 1923 REFERS TO SALARY RANGES, GRADE CAF-8 HAVING SEVEN SALARY RATES. THUS, THE RESTRICTION IN THE 1912 ACT HAS NO APPLICATION IN THE CASE HERE PRESENTED WHERE THE POSITION OF ASSISTANT CHIEF CLERK--- A POSITION BELOW THAT OF CHIEF CLERK--- BY THE APPLICATION OF THE 1936 STATUTE, SUPRA, HAS BEEN ADMINISTRATIVELY DETERMINED AS COMING WITHIN GRADE 8 OF THE CLASSIFICATION ACT OF 1923, AS AMENDED. YOUR QUESTION IS ANSWERED ACCORDINGLY.

WHILE NOT SPECIFICALLY INVOLVED IN THE PRESENT SUBMISSION, YOUR LETTER SUGGESTS THAT ALL SEVEN SALARY GRADES ESTABLISHED BY THE ACT OF FEBRUARY 28, 1925, SUPRA, ARE AUTOMATIC, WHEREAS THIS OFFICE HELD IN DECISION OF MARCH 13, 1925, 4 COMP. GEN. 762, 766, QUESTION AND ANSWER 5, THAT GRADES 6 AND 7 ARE NOT AUTOMATIC BUT SELECTIVE--- THE PROMOTION OF RAILWAY POSTAL CLERKS THROUGH AUTOMATIC SALARY GRADES BEING LIMITED TO 1 YEAR. THIS WAS BASED ON THE NATURE OF THE WORK PERFORMED BY CLERKS IN GRADES 6 AND 7, FOR WHICH SELECTION WAS NECESSARY, AND ON THE PROVISIONS IN THE LAW LIMITING AUTOMATIC PROMOTION OF RAILWAY POSTAL CLERKS IN TERMINAL RAILWAY POST OFFICES, TRANSFER OFFICERS, AND CLERKS ASSIGNED TO THE OFFICES OF DIVISION SUPERINTENDENTS, AND CHIEF CLERKS. SEE, ALSO, THE SUBSEQUENT ACTS OF JUNE 5, 1934, 48 STAT. 880, AND JUNE 14, 1934, 48 STAT. 962.