B-141394, DEC. 18, 1959

B-141394: Dec 18, 1959

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READS AS FOLLOWS: "IN THE CASE OF ANY OFFICER OR EMPLOYEE WHOSE RATE OF BASIC COMPENSATION IS LESS THAN THE MAXIMUM SCHEDULED RATE OF BASIC COMPENSATION PROVIDED FOR GRADE GS-15 IN THE CLASSIFICATION ACT OF 1949. THE CLAIMANT WAS ADMINISTRATIVELY PAID GROSS COMPENSATION AT THE REGULAR RATE FOR 80 HOURS OF WORK AMOUNTING TO $265.60 PLUS OVERTIME AMOUNTING TO $272. THAT WAS THE MAXIMUM AMOUNT ALLOWABLE "WITH RESPECT TO ANY PAY PERIOD" UNDER 5 U.S.C. 943 (B/. YOU REPORT THAT SEVEN OTHER EMPLOYEES HAVE SIMILAR CLAIMS. WE NOTE THAT BUREAU EMPLOYEES ARE REQUIRED TO ASSIST IN FIGHTING FOREST FIRES PURSUANT TO AN AGREEMENT BETWEEN THE SUPERVISOR. WAS ADVISED DURING THE FIRST FIRE THE NUMBER OF HOURS OF OVERTIME THEY COULD BE PAID FOR.

B-141394, DEC. 18, 1959

TO MR. WILLIAM J. RIDER, AUTHORIZED CERTIFYING OFFICER, DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR:

YOUR LETTER OF NOVEMBER 19, 1959, REFERENCE 2-363, SUBMITS A VOUCHER FOR $170.80 REPRESENTING A CLAIM FOR PREMIUM COMPENSATION IN EXCESS OF THE LIMITATION PRESCRIBED IN 5 U.S.C. 943 (B). YOU ASK WHETHER YOU CAN CERTIFY THE VOUCHER FOR PAYMENT UNDER THE FACTS AND CIRCUMSTANCES HEREINAFTER RELATED.

5 U.S.C. 943 (B), READS AS FOLLOWS:

"IN THE CASE OF ANY OFFICER OR EMPLOYEE WHOSE RATE OF BASIC COMPENSATION IS LESS THAN THE MAXIMUM SCHEDULED RATE OF BASIC COMPENSATION PROVIDED FOR GRADE GS-15 IN THE CLASSIFICATION ACT OF 1949, AS AMENDED, SUCH PREMIUM COMPENSATION MAY BE PAID ONLY TO THE EXTENT THAT SUCH PAYMENT WOULD NOT CAUSE HIS AGGREGATE RATE OF COMPENSATION TO EXCEED SUCH MAXIMUM SCHEDULED RATE WITH RESPECT TO ANY PAY PERIOD.'

YOU REPORT THE CLAIMANT WORKED, DURING THE PAY PERIOD ENDING AUGUST 8, 1959, A TOTAL OF 182 1/2 HOURS PERFORMING HIS REGULAR DUTIES AND EMERGENCY WORK IN FIGHTING FOREST FIRES. THE CLAIMANT WAS ADMINISTRATIVELY PAID GROSS COMPENSATION AT THE REGULAR RATE FOR 80 HOURS OF WORK AMOUNTING TO $265.60 PLUS OVERTIME AMOUNTING TO $272, TOTALLING $537.60. THAT WAS THE MAXIMUM AMOUNT ALLOWABLE "WITH RESPECT TO ANY PAY PERIOD" UNDER 5 U.S.C. 943 (B/--- TOP STEP OF GRADE GS-15, $13,970 PER ANNUM. SEE LAST PARAGRAPH BEGINNING ON PAGE 4, SALARY TABLE NO. 39, APPROVED JUNE 20, 1958. YOU REPORT THAT SEVEN OTHER EMPLOYEES HAVE SIMILAR CLAIMS.

WE NOTE THAT BUREAU EMPLOYEES ARE REQUIRED TO ASSIST IN FIGHTING FOREST FIRES PURSUANT TO AN AGREEMENT BETWEEN THE SUPERVISOR, SHASTA TRINITY NATIONAL PARK AND THE PROJECT CONSTRUCTION ENGINEER, TRINITY RIVER PROJECT; THAT THE CLAIMANT, THE TIMEKEEPER FOR HIS MEN, WAS ADVISED DURING THE FIRST FIRE THE NUMBER OF HOURS OF OVERTIME THEY COULD BE PAID FOR, WHICH NUMBER OF HOURS HE AND ANOTHER EMPLOYEE EXCEEDED FIGHTING THAT FIRE; BUT HE CHOSE TO REMAIN EVEN THOUGH HE WAS ADMINISTRATIVELY EXCUSED; WHEN THE SECOND FIRE BROKE OUT HE AND HIS MEN WERE ORDERED TO ASSIST IN FIGHTING IT THUS ADDING AN ADDITIONAL 31 1/2 HOUR OVERTIME TO THE AMOUNT OF OVERTIME ALREADY EARNED FIGHTING THE FIRST FIRE.

THE LANGUAGE OF 5 U.S.C. 943 (B), QUOTED ABOVE, IS CLEAR. THE LIMITATION ON AGGREGATE COMPENSATION IS $537.60 "WITH RESPECT TO ANY PAY PERIOD.' THE EMERGENCY NATURE OF THE WORK INVOLVED IS APPARENT, AND IT IS COMMENDABLE THAT THE EMPLOYEES ASSISTED THEREIN, BUT WE FIND NOTHING IN THE AGREEMENT, OR ELSEWHERE, TO OVERCOME THE LIMITATION--- EVEN IN EMERGENCIES. SINCE THE CLAIMANT HAS BEEN PAID AGGREGATE COMPENSATION IN THE AMOUNT OF $537.60 WITH RESPECT TO THE PAY PERIOD ENDING AUGUST 8, 1959, PAYMENT OF THE VOUCHER WOULD HAVE THE EFFECT OF EXCEEDING THE MAXIMUM SCHEDULED RATE FOR THAT PAY PERIOD AND WOULD BE IN VIOLATION OF THE ABOVE STATUTORY PROVISION. HENCE, NO LEGAL BASIS EXISTS FOR PAYMENT OF THE VOUCHER.