B-134203, DEC. 6, 1957

B-134203: Dec 6, 1957

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BECKWITH ORIGINALLY WERE EMPLOYED AS EXPERTS UNDER THE AUTHORITY OF SECTION 15 OF THE ACT OF AUGUST 2. BECKWITH WAS GIVEN AN EXCEPTED APPOINTMENT FOR A PERIOD NOT TO EXCEED 2 YEARS TO A POSITION UNDER THE GENERAL SCHEDULE AND. MILLER WAS GIVEN AN APPOINTMENT TO A GENERAL SCHEDULE POSITION FOR A PERIOD OF NOT TO EXCEED 2 YEARS. THE FOREIGN POST DIFFERENTIAL IS CLAIMED BY EACH EMPLOYEE FOR A PERIOD IN EXCESS OF 60 DAYS. MILLER CLAIMS HE IS ENTITLED TO A 25 PERCENT FOREIGN POST DIFFERENTIAL WHILE IN KABUL. BECKWITH CLAIMS HE IS ENTITLED TO A 20 PERCENT FOREIGN POST DIFFERENTIAL WHILE IN BANGKOK. BOTH CLAIMS APPARENTLY ARE BASED UPON INFORMATION BULLETIN NO. 313. THE PERTINENT PART OF THAT BULLETIN IS AS FOLLOWS: "4.

B-134203, DEC. 6, 1957

TO MRS. MURIEL B. SCOTT, AUTHORIZED CERTIFYING OFFICER, DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE:

YOUR LETTER OF OCTOBER 18, 1957, REQUESTS OUR DECISION CONCERNING THE PROPRIETY OF CERTIFYING FOR PAYMENT A PAYROLL VOUCHER FOR FOREIGN POST DIFFERENTIAL IN FAVOR OF MR. TOM HALL MILLER AND MR. JOHN W. BECKWITH, EMPLOYEES OF THE OFFICE OF INTERNATIONAL TRADE FAIRS. MR. MILLER'S CLAIM, IN THE GROSS AMOUNT OF $1,379.30, COVERS THE PERIOD MARCH 30THROUGH OCTOBER 10, 1956, AND MR. BECKWITH'S CLAIM, IN THE GROSS AMOUNT OF $619.36, COVERS THE PERIOD OCTOBER 25, 1956, THROUGH FEBRUARY 13, 1957.

BOTH MR. MILLER AND MR. BECKWITH ORIGINALLY WERE EMPLOYED AS EXPERTS UNDER THE AUTHORITY OF SECTION 15 OF THE ACT OF AUGUST 2, 1946, AS AMENDED, 5 U.S.C. 55A. HOWEVER, ON JANUARY 12, 1956, MR. BECKWITH WAS GIVEN AN EXCEPTED APPOINTMENT FOR A PERIOD NOT TO EXCEED 2 YEARS TO A POSITION UNDER THE GENERAL SCHEDULE AND, SIMILARLY, ON MARCH 25, 1956, MR. MILLER WAS GIVEN AN APPOINTMENT TO A GENERAL SCHEDULE POSITION FOR A PERIOD OF NOT TO EXCEED 2 YEARS. EACH APPOINTMENT DESIGNATED WASHINGTON, D.C., AS THE HEADQUARTERS OF THE EMPLOYEE.

THE TRAVEL ORDERS OF EACH EMPLOYEE AUTHORIZED HIS TRAVEL TO VARIOUS COUNTRIES AND AREAS FOR WHICH POST DIFFERENTIALS HAD BEEN PRESCRIBED "AS OFTEN AS MAY BE NECESSARY OR DIRECTED, AND RETURNED TO WASHINGTON," D.C. THE FOREIGN POST DIFFERENTIAL IS CLAIMED BY EACH EMPLOYEE FOR A PERIOD IN EXCESS OF 60 DAYS, DURING WHICH HE REMAINED AT A PARTICULAR DIFFERENTIAL POST. MR. MILLER CLAIMS HE IS ENTITLED TO A 25 PERCENT FOREIGN POST DIFFERENTIAL WHILE IN KABUL, AFGHANISTAN, DURING THE PERIOD MARCH 30 THROUGH OCTOBER 10, 1956, AND MR. BECKWITH CLAIMS HE IS ENTITLED TO A 20 PERCENT FOREIGN POST DIFFERENTIAL WHILE IN BANGKOK, THAILAND, DURING THE PERIOD OCTOBER 25, 1956, THROUGH FEBRUARY 13, 1957.

BOTH CLAIMS APPARENTLY ARE BASED UPON INFORMATION BULLETIN NO. 313, AUGUST 23, 1957, PROMULGATED BY THE OFFICE OF PERSONNEL MANAGEMENT, DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE. THE PERTINENT PART OF THAT BULLETIN IS AS FOLLOWS:

"4. NO ADVANCE DOCUMENTATION IS NECESSARY WHEN THE EMPLOYEE IS EXPECTED TO STAY 60 DAYS AT A FOREIGN POST. THE DIFFERENTIAL WILL BE PAID ONLY TO EMPLOYEES WHO ACTUALLY STAY 60 DAYS OR MORE AT A SINGLE FOREIGN POST CLASSIFIED FOR PAYMENT OF THE DIFFERENTIAL. THE LEAVE CARD AND THE TRAVEL VOUCHER WILL BE SUFFICIENT AS A BASIS FOR DETERMINING THAT AN EMPLOYEE'S STAY AT A CLASSIFIED FOREIGN POST AMOUNTS TO 60 DAYS OR MORE.'

AFTER EXPRESSING DOUBT AS TO WHETHER MR. MILLER'S SERVICE IN KABUL,AFGHANISTAN, AND MR. BECKWITH'S SERVICE IN BANGKOK, THAILAND, PROPERLY MAY BE REGARDED AS DETAILS WARRANTING PAYMENT OF THE FOREIGN POST DIFFERENTIAL, YOU PRESENT THE FOLLOWING SPECIFIC QUESTIONS CONCERNING TEMPORARY ASSIGNMENTS OR TEMPORARY DUTY WHEN THERE IS NO APPROPRIATE PERSONNEL DOCUMENTATION THAT THE DURATION OF THE TEMPORARY ASSIGNMENT OR TEMPORARY DUTY IS ESTIMATED AT NOT LESS THAN 60 CALENDAR DAYS.

"1. MAY THE ATTACHED VOUCHER BE PROPERLY CERTIFIED FOR PAYMENT, BASED ON THE TRAVEL VOUCHERS AS STATED IN ITEM 4 OF THE ATTACHED INFORMATION BULLETIN NO. 313?

"2. IF YOUR ANSWER TO QUESTION 1 IS IN THE AFFIRMATIVE, AND AS A GUIDE FOR FUTURE PAYMENTS,

"A.DOES THE WORDING ON THE TRAVEL AUTHORIZATIONS ATTACHED INDICATE A "DETAIL" WITHIN THE MEANING OF THE TRAVEL REGULATIONS, SUFFICIENTLY TO WARRANT PAYMENT OF FOREIGN POST DIFFERENTIALS?

"B. IF SO, SHOULD THIS OFFICE WAIT FOR CLAIM FROM THE EMPLOYEE, INASMUCH AS THE TRAVEL AUTHORIZATIONS OR TRAVEL VOUCHERS ARE NOT MAINTAINED IN THIS OFFICE; ASSUMING THE TIME AND ATTENDANCE REPORTS DO NOT INDICATE EMPLOYEE IN TRAVEL STATUS, AS IN THE PRESENT CASES?

"3. IF YOUR ANSWER TO QUESTION 1 IS IN THE NEGATIVE,

"A. WHAT DOCUMENTATION SHOULD THIS OFFICE RECEIVE TO AUTHORIZE PROPER PAYMENT OF FOREIGN POST DIFFERENTIAL?

THE PAYMENT OF FOREIGN POST DIFFERENTIAL TO ANY EMPLOYEE QUALIFYING THEREFOR UNDER SECTION 207 OF THE INDEPENDENT OFFICES APPROPRIATION ACT OF 1949 AS AMENDED BY SECTION 104 OF THE SUPPLEMENTAL INDEPENDENT OFFICES APPROPRIATION ACT OF 1949, 62 STAT. 1205, EXECUTIVE ORDER NO. 10,000, SEPTEMBER 16, 1948, AS AMENDED, AND THE IMPLEMENTING REGULATIONS OF THE SECRETARY OF STATE (CHAPTER 100 OF THE STANDARDIZED REGULATIONS) IS MANDATORY. HOWEVER, IN OUR DECISION OF MAY 26, 1952, 31 COMP. GEN. 614, CITED IN YOUR LETTER, INVOLVING AN EMPLOYEE DETAILED TO A DIFFERENTIAL AREA FOR A BRIEF PERIOD OF TIME, WE CONCLUDED THAT ONLY DETAILS OF SUCH CHARACTER AND DURATION AS WOULD INDICATE SOME SUBSTANTIAL DEGREE OF PERMANENCY TO THE ASSIGNMENT AND WHICH WOULD WARRANT THE PAYMENT OF ADDITIONAL COMPENSATION AS A RECRUITMENT INCENTIVE REASONABLY MAY BE REGARDED AS DETAILS FOR WHICH THE FOREIGN POST DIFFERENTIAL IS PAYABLE.

FOLLOWING THAT DECISION THE SECRETARY OF STATE MODIFIED THE DEFINITION OF DETAIL APPEARING IN THE DIFFERENTIAL REGULATIONS IN AN ATTEMPT TO SATISFY THE REQUIREMENTS OF THAT DECISION AND OUR OFFICE HAS NOT OBJECTED TO THOSE REGULATIONS. THE PRESENT DEFINITION OF DETAIL SO FAR AS IS PERTINENT TO EMPLOYEES TRAVELING FROM THE UNITED STATES TO DIFFERENTIAL AREAS IS AS FOLLOWS.

"G. "ON DETAIL" MEANS ONE OR THE OTHER OF THE FOLLOWING:

"/1) THE TEMPORARY ASSIGNMENT OR TEMPORARY DUTY OF AN EMPLOYEE AWAY FROM HIS PERMANENT STATION NOT CLASSIFIED FOR DIFFERENTIAL TO A POST OR AREA WHICH IS SO CLASSIFIED, OR AWAY FROM HIS PERMANENT STATION WHICH IS CLASSIFIED FOR DIFFERENTIAL TO A POST OR AREA CLASSIFIED AT A HIGHER RATE, WHEN THE PERIOD OF SUCH ASSIGNMENT OR DUTY IS ACTUALLY 60 CALENDAR DAYS OR MORE, OR WHEN THE HEAD OF AGENCY SHALL HAVE DETERMINED BY APPROPRIATE PERSONNEL DOCUMENTATION THAT THE CONTEMPLATED DURATION OF THE TEMPORARY ASSIGNMENT OR TEMPORARY DUTY IS FOR A SUBSTANTIAL PERIOD OF TIME ESTIMATED AT NOT LESS THAN 60 CALENDAR DAYS.'

UNDER THE DEFINITION WE NOTE THAT NO DISTINCTION IS MADE BETWEEN A TEMPORARY ASSIGNMENT AND TEMPORARY DUTY AT A POST. IF AN EMPLOYEE IS OFFICIALLY LOCATED AT A DIFFERENTIAL POST FOR A PERIOD OF 60 DAYS OR MORE, HE BECOMES ENTITLED TO THE DIFFERENTIAL APPLICABLE TO THAT POST AND NO PERSONNEL DOCUMENTATION IS NECESSARY. THE MERE FACT THAT HE SERVES CONTINUOUSLY AT THE POST FOR THE PRESCRIBED 60-DAY PERIOD OR LONGER IS SUFFICIENT TO ENTITLE HIM TO THE POST DIFFERENTIAL FOR THAT PERIOD. ADMINISTRATIVE REGULATIONS IN CONFLICT WITH 31 COMP. GEN. 614 AND IMPLEMENTING REGULATIONS OF THE DEPARTMENT OF STATE ARE NOT CONTROLLING.

IN ANSWER TO YOUR FIRST QUESTION IT WOULD SEEM THAT AN EMPLOYEE'S PROPERLY CERTIFIED TRAVEL VOUCHER GENERALLY IS THE BEST EVIDENCE AVAILABLE AS TO HIS PRESENCE AT A DIFFERENTIAL POST FOR THE QUALIFYING 60-DAY PERIOD AND, IN THE ABSENCE OF OTHER EVIDENCE CONFLICTING WITH THE FACTS SHOWN THEREON, THE TRAVEL VOUCHER MAY BE REGARDED AS A SUFFICIENT BASIS FOR DETERMINING THE PROPRIETY OF PAYMENT OF THE POST DIFFERENTIAL TO EMPLOYEES DURING PERIODS OF TEMPORARY ASSIGNMENT OR TEMPORARY DUTY. THE PAYROLL VOUCHER, WHICH IS RETURNED HEREWITH, MAY BE CERTIFIED FOR PAYMENT IF THE ORIGINAL TRAVEL VOUCHERS OF THE EMPLOYEES AND SUCH OTHER EVIDENCE AS MAY BE AVAILABLE ESTABLISH THAT THE EMPLOYEES SERVED AT THE DIFFERENTIAL POSTS DURING THE PERIODS OF THEIR CLAIM.

IN REPLY TO PART A OF YOUR SECOND QUESTION, THE WORDING OF THE TRAVEL AUTHORIZATION WOULD APPEAR IMMATERIAL SINCE EMPLOYEES ON TEMPORARY DUTY AS WELL AS THOSE "ASSIGNED" TO A POST ARE ENTITLED TO THE POST DIFFERENTIAL IF THEY REMAIN AT SUCH POST FOR A PERIOD AS LONG AS 60 DAYS. CONCERNING PART B OF THE SECOND QUESTION, IN THOSE SITUATIONS WHERE AN EMPLOYEE WHOSE HEADQUARTERS IS IN THE UNITED STATES PERFORMS OFFICIAL TRAVEL TO AREAS OUTSIDE THE UNITED STATES WHICH ARE CLASSIFIED FOR POST DIFFERENTIAL PURPOSES, PAYMENTS OF THE POST DIFFERENTIAL PROPERLY MAY BE CERTIFIED ONLY AFTER IT IS DETERMINED THAT THE EMPLOYEE IN FACT HAS REMAINED AT A PARTICULAR DIFFERENTIAL POST FOR THE FULL 60-DAY QUALIFYING PERIOD. WHENEVER SUCH DETERMINATION IS MADE, WHETHER OR NOT CLAIM HAS BEEN FILED, WE WOULD INTERPOSE NO OBJECTION TO CERTIFICATION OF A VOUCHER FOR THE POST DIFFERENTIAL PROPERLY DUE.