B-126877, JUL. 9, 1956

B-126877: Jul 9, 1956

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HEINLY WAS PROMOTED ON MAY 8. AS FOLLOWS: "ANY OFFICER OR EMPLOYEE WHO IS PROMOTED OR TRANSFERRED TO A POSITION IN A HIGHER GRADE SHALL RECEIVE BASIC COMPENSATION AT THE LOWEST RATE OF SUCH HIGHER GRADE WHICH EXCEEDS HIS EXISTING RATE OF BASIC COMPENSATION BY NOT LESS THAN ONE STEP-INCREASE OF THE GRADE FROM WHICH HE IS PROMOTED OR TRANSFERRED. * * *" UNDER THAT STATUTE THE PROMOTION WAS REQUIRED TO BE MADE AT THE 3RD STEP OF GRADE GS-5. THIS MATTER WAS INFORMALLY BROUGHT TO THE BUREAU'S ATTENTION BY OUR SITE AUDIT. HEINLY'S SERVICE RECORD WAS REVIEWED AND IT WAS ADMINISTRATIVELY DETERMINED THAT. SHE WOULD HAVE COMPLETED THE REQUIRED WAITING PERIOD OF 52 WEEKS FOR A WITHIN-GRADE INCREASE IN THE LOWER GRADE.

B-126877, JUL. 9, 1956

TO MR. FRANCIS W. REICHELDERFER, CHIEF, WEATHER BUREAU:

OUR CIVIL ACCOUNTING AND AUDITING DIVISION HAS BROUGHT TO OUR ATTENTION A SITUATION FOUND IN OUR RECENT SITE AUDIT OF THE WEATHER BUREAU INVOLVING THE PROMOTION OF MRS. ALMA R. HEINLY.

THE RECORD SHOWS THAT MRS. HEINLY WAS PROMOTED ON MAY 8, 1955, FROM GRADE GS-4 TO GRADE GS-5. THE PROMOTION RESULTED IN THE EMPLOYEE'S RECEIVING AN INCREASE FROM THE PER ANNUM SALARY RATE OF $3,575 (6TH STEP) IN GRADE GS-4 TO $3,785 (4TH STEP) IN GRADE GS-5, A DIFFERENCE OF $210 PER ANNUM. THAT CONNECTION SECTION 302/B) OF THE CLASSIFICATION ACT OF 1949, AS AMENDED, 63 STAT. 969 (5 U.S.C. 1132/B) (, PROVIDES, IN PART, AS FOLLOWS:

"ANY OFFICER OR EMPLOYEE WHO IS PROMOTED OR TRANSFERRED TO A POSITION IN A HIGHER GRADE SHALL RECEIVE BASIC COMPENSATION AT THE LOWEST RATE OF SUCH HIGHER GRADE WHICH EXCEEDS HIS EXISTING RATE OF BASIC COMPENSATION BY NOT LESS THAN ONE STEP-INCREASE OF THE GRADE FROM WHICH HE IS PROMOTED OR TRANSFERRED. * * *"

UNDER THAT STATUTE THE PROMOTION WAS REQUIRED TO BE MADE AT THE 3RD STEP OF GRADE GS-5, OR $3,660, AND NOT AT THE 4TH STEP, $3,785--- THE STEP- INCREASE IN THE LOWER GRADE BEING ONLY $80.

THE RECORD FURTHER SHOWS THAT ON JANUARY 20, 1956, THIS MATTER WAS INFORMALLY BROUGHT TO THE BUREAU'S ATTENTION BY OUR SITE AUDIT. AS THE RESULT OF INFORMAL INQUIRY NO. 5Q0256 DATED JANUARY 20, 1956, QUESTIONING THE ERRONEOUS RATE, MRS. HEINLY'S SERVICE RECORD WAS REVIEWED AND IT WAS ADMINISTRATIVELY DETERMINED THAT, HAD THE PROMOTION BEEN DELAYED TWO PAY PERIODS, SHE WOULD HAVE COMPLETED THE REQUIRED WAITING PERIOD OF 52 WEEKS FOR A WITHIN-GRADE INCREASE IN THE LOWER GRADE, AFTER WHICH SHE WOULD HAVE BEEN ELIGIBLE FOR THE HIGHER RATE IN GRADE GS-5, THE RATE WHICH WAS ACTUALLY GRANTED UPON PROMOTION. NOTIFICATION OF PERSONNEL ACTION, SF 50, BACK DATED TO JANUARY 6, 1956, WAS ISSUED CHANGING THE EFFECTIVE DATE OF THE PROMOTION FROM MAY 8 TO JUNE 5, 1955. FROM THE EVIDENCE OF RECORD AT THAT TIME IT APPEARED TO OUR AUDITORS THAT THE ACTION TAKEN ON MAY 8, 1955, PROMOTING MRS. HEINLY WAS LEGAL AND PROPER, AND THAT NO PROPER BASIS EXISTED FOR THE ADMINISTRATIVE ACTION TAKEN CHANGING RETROACTIVELY THE PROMOTION TO JUNE 5, 1955. 31 COMP. GEN. 15.

UPON THAT STATE OF THE RECORD OUR OFFICE ISSUED FORMAL EXCEPTION NO. 602957 DATED APRIL 9, 1956, REGARDING THE MATTER. THE DIRECTOR OF PERSONNEL, UNITED STATES WEATHER BUREAU, IN HIS MEMORANDUM OF MAY 1, 1956, STATED IN REPLY TO OUR AUDIT EXCEPTION THAT THE PROMOTION OF MAY 8, 1956, WAS ERRONEOUSLY PROCESSED BECAUSE ON THAT DATE "THE POSITION TO WHICH SHE WAS PROMOTED WAS NOT APPROVED IN THE POSITION COMPLEMENT OF THE ORGANIZATIONAL UNIT UNTIL MAY 23, 1955.' IN VIEW OF THAT EXPLANATION, IT WOULD APPEAR THAT THE PROMOTION EFFECTED MAY 8, 1955, WAS ERRONEOUS AND THAT NO ADMINISTRATIVE ACTION WAS ACTUALLY TAKEN TO PROMOTE THE EMPLOYEE TO THE GRADE GS-5 POSITION UNTIL THE MATTER WAS CALLED TO ATTENTION OF OUR SITE AUDIT ON JANUARY 20, 1956.

SINCE UNDER THE GENERAL RULE A PROMOTION MAY NOT BE MADE RETROACTIVELY EFFECTIVE SO AS TO PERMIT AN ADJUSTMENT IN COMPENSATION FOR SERVICES PREVIOUSLY RENDERED, IN THE ABSENCE OF FACTS TO ESTABLISH AN ADMINISTRATIVE ERROR IT WOULD APPEAR FROM THE RECORD THAT THE EMPLOYEE HERE INVOLVED IS ENTITLED TO RECEIVE ONLY THE PERIODIC STEP INCREASE IN THE LOWER GRADE AUTHORIZED BY LAW RETROACTIVE TO JUNE 5, 1955, THE DATE IT WAS EARNED (SEE 21 COMP. GEN. 369), AND THAT THE PROMOTION TO GRADE GS-5 IS EFFECTIVE ONLY FROM JANUARY 20, 1956, THE DATE THE ADMINISTRATIVE ACTION WAS FIRST TAKEN TO EFFECT THE CHANGE IN GRADE. SEE 30 COMP. GEN. 156; 35 ID. 153; B-60865, APRIL 6, 1949; B 72758, FEBRUARY 9, 1948; B- 11371, APRIL 21, 1942.

BEFORE WE TAKE FINAL ACTION IN THIS CASE WE SHOULD LIKE TO HAVE AN EXPRESSION OF YOUR VIEWS REGARDING THE PROPRIETY OF THE ADMINISTRATIVE ACTION TAKEN IN LIGHT OF THE FACTS AND PRECEDENTS HEREIN SET OUT.