B-148285, MAR. 12, 1962

B-148285: Mar 12, 1962

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WELFARE: REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTER OF FEBRUARY 27. YOU STATE THAT DURING THE PAST SEVERAL YEARS TWO COMMISSIONED OFFICERS OF THE PUBLIC HEALTH SERVICE HAVE RECEIVED ERRONEOUS PAYMENTS WHICH WERE DUE SOLELY TO ACTION ON THE PART OF THE PUBLIC HEALTH SERVICE. SENIOR DENTAL SURGEON CARSON WASSERMAN WAS OVERPAID IN THE AMOUNT OF $1. 632 DUE TO AN ERROR MADE BY HIS PAYROLL OFFICE IN COMPUTING HIS BASIC PAY UNDER THE TABLE IN SECTION 201 OF THE CAREER COMPENSATION ACT WHICH RELATES TO COMMISSIONED OFFICERS WHO HAVE BEEN CREDITED WITH OVER FOUR YEARS OF ACTIVE SERVICE AS ENLISTED MEMBERS. YOU SAY THAT SINCE IT APPEARS PROBABLE THAT H.R. 4131 WILL BE ENACTED BY THE CONGRESS DURING ITS CURRENT SESSION YOU HESITATE AT THIS TIME TO PREPARE SEPARATE LEGISLATION.

B-148285, MAR. 12, 1962

TO SECRETARY OF HEALTH, EDUCATION, AND WELFARE:

REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTER OF FEBRUARY 27, 1962, REQUESTING THAT OUR OFFICE APPROVE YOUR DEFERRING FURTHER COLLECTION ACTION ON ERRONEOUS PAYMENTS MADE TO TWO COMMISSIONED OFFICERS OF THE PUBLIC HEALTH SERVICE, PENDING ACTION BY THE CONGRESS ON PROPOSED LEGISLATION (H.R. 4131) WHICH, IF ENACTED, MIGHT BE A BASIS FOR WAIVING THE INDEBTEDNESS OF THE TWO OFFICERS INVOLVED.

YOU STATE THAT DURING THE PAST SEVERAL YEARS TWO COMMISSIONED OFFICERS OF THE PUBLIC HEALTH SERVICE HAVE RECEIVED ERRONEOUS PAYMENTS WHICH WERE DUE SOLELY TO ACTION ON THE PART OF THE PUBLIC HEALTH SERVICE. IN THE FIRST CASE, SENIOR DENTAL SURGEON CARSON WASSERMAN WAS OVERPAID IN THE AMOUNT OF $1,842 BECAUSE OF AN ERRONEOUS COMPUTATION BY THE PUBLIC HEALTH SERVICE OF HIS CUMULATIVE YEARS OF SERVICE FOR BASIC PAY PURPOSES AND HIS YEARS OF SERVICE FOR PURPOSES OF SPECIAL PAY UNDER SECTION 203 OF THE CAREER COMPENSATION ACT OF 1949, AS AMENDED. IN THE SECOND CASE, SENIOR ASSISTANT SANITARY ENGINEER ALBERT H. STORY HAS BEEN OVERPAID IN THE AMOUNT OF $1,632 DUE TO AN ERROR MADE BY HIS PAYROLL OFFICE IN COMPUTING HIS BASIC PAY UNDER THE TABLE IN SECTION 201 OF THE CAREER COMPENSATION ACT WHICH RELATES TO COMMISSIONED OFFICERS WHO HAVE BEEN CREDITED WITH OVER FOUR YEARS OF ACTIVE SERVICE AS ENLISTED MEMBERS, RATHER THAN UNDER THE TABLE NORMALLY APPLICABLE TO COMMISSIONED OFFICERS.

YOU FURTHER STATE THAT IN CONSIDERING THE NEED FOR LEGISLATION TO RELIEVE THESE OFFICERS FROM THEIR INDEBTEDNESS AND TO PROVIDE FOR A REFUND OF THE AMOUNT OF THE INDEBTEDNESS PAID ON THE DATE OF ENACTMENT OF SUCH LEGISLATION, YOUR ATTENTION HAS BEEN DIRECTED TO H.R. 4131, WHICH PASSED THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES DURING THE LAST SESSION OF THE CONGRESS, AND WHICH IF ENACTED WOULD AUTHORIZE THE COMPTROLLER GENERAL, UPON THE RECOMMENDATION OF THE HEAD OF THE DEPARTMENT OR AGENCY CONCERNED AND A SHOWING THAT COLLECTION WOULD BE AGAINST EQUITY AND GOOD CONSCIENCE, TO WAIVE CERTAIN INDEBTEDNESS GROWING OUT OF ERRONEOUS PAYMENTS OF MONEY MADE AFTER JUNE 30, 1950, TO ANY CIVILIAN EMPLOYEE OF THE GOVERNMENT OR TO ANY MEMBER OF THE UNIFORMED SERVICES OF THE UNITED STATES.

YOU SAY THAT SINCE IT APPEARS PROBABLE THAT H.R. 4131 WILL BE ENACTED BY THE CONGRESS DURING ITS CURRENT SESSION YOU HESITATE AT THIS TIME TO PREPARE SEPARATE LEGISLATION, THE PURPOSE AND SCOPE OF WHICH WOULD BE TO WAIVE AN INDEBTEDNESS WHICH OUR OFFICE MIGHT HAVE AUTHORITY TO WAIVE UNDER THE BILL. YOU ALSO SAY THAT A DELAY ON YOUR PART IN PREPARING SEPARATE LEGISLATION PENDING ENACTMENT OF H.R. 4131 WOULD WORK TO THE SERIOUS DISADVANTAGE OF THE OFFICERS CONCERNED SINCE BY THE TIME OF ENACTMENT OF H.R. 4131, THE OFFICERS CONCERNED WOULD HAVE MADE SUBSTANTIAL REPAYMENTS ON THEIR INDEBTEDNESS AND THAT BILL DOES NOT PROVIDE FOR A REFUND OF ANY SUCH REPAYMENTS. IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING AND IN ORDER TO OBVIATE THE NEED FOR PRIVATE LEGISLATION, YOU ASK OUR APPROVAL TO DEFER FURTHER COLLECTION OF THE INDEBTEDNESS OF THE TWO OFFICERS INVOLVED PENDING FINAL DISPOSITION OF H.R. 4131 BY THE CONGRESS.

YOU ARE ADVISED THAT SO LONG AS H.R. 4131 IS PENDING IN THE 87TH CONGRESS, COLLECTION ACTION IN THE TWO CASES INVOLVED MAY BE HELD IN ABEYANCE EXCEPT WHERE SUCH ACTION IS NECESSARY TO AVOID SUBSTANTIAL PREJUDICE TO THE RIGHTS OF THE GOVERNMENT. IN THIS CONNECTION, THE INTEREST OF THE GOVERNMENT WOULD REQUIRE COLLECTION IN THESE CASES IF THE OFFICERS SHOULD BE RELEASED FROM ACTIVE DUTY PRIOR TO FINAL ACTION ON THE PROPOSED LEGISLATION.

THIS ACTION ON OUR PART, HOWEVER, IS NOT TO BE UNDERSTOOD AS INDICATING A VIEW THAT THE INDEBTEDNESS HERE INVOLVED WOULD BE PROPER FOR WAIVER ACTION UNDER H.R. 4131, SHOULD THAT BILL BECOME LAW IN ITS PRESENT FORM.