B-155748, DEC. 28, 1964

B-155748: Dec 28, 1964

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SORENSEN WAS ONE OF A NUMBER OF SEASONAL EMPLOYEES HIRED TO PERFORM VARIOUS DUTIES AT THE REGIONAL FOREST SERVICE WAREHOUSE IN PORTLAND. IT APPEARS THAT THE POSITIONS TO WHICH THEY WERE APPOINTED FORMALLY WERE ESTABLISHED IN A PRIOR YEAR IN A REGULAR WAGE BOARD CLASSIFICATION WITH AN HOURLY COMPENSATION RATE CONSISTENT WITH THOSE CURRENTLY IN EFFECT IN THE METROPOLITAN AREA OF PORTLAND. THROUGH ADMINISTRATIVE ERROR THEY WERE GRADED AND PAID AS FIREFIGHTERS WHOSE HOURLY WAGE BOARD RATES WERE LOWER THAN THOSE ESTABLISHED FOR THE POSITIONS TO WHICH THEY WERE APPOINTED. AS THE RESULT OF THE ERRONEOUS DESIGNATIONS THEY WERE PAID AN ADDITIONAL 25 CENTS PER HOUR IN LIEU OF SUBSISTENCE TO WHICH THEY WERE NOT ENTITLED BUT SUCH ADDITIONAL AMOUNT DID NOT EQUAL THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE HOURLY RATES ESTABLISHED FOR THE POSITIONS OCCUPIED BY THE EMPLOYEES.

B-155748, DEC. 28, 1964

TO MR. REED H. JENSEN, AUTHORIZED CERTIFYING OFFICER, FOREST SERVICE:

YOUR LETTER OF OCTOBER 30, 1964, REFERENCE 6540 (RECEIVED DECEMBER 11, 1964), REQUESTS OUR DECISION WHETHER YOU MAY CERTIFY FOR PAYMENT A VOUCHER IN THE AMOUNT OF $196.10, REPRESENTING SALARY ADJUSTMENT FOR THE PERIOD JULY 25 THROUGH DECEMBER 23, 1963, IN THE CASE OF HARRY A. SORENSEN, AN EMPLOYEE OF THE FOREST SERVICE, DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE.

IT APPEARS THAT MR. SORENSEN WAS ONE OF A NUMBER OF SEASONAL EMPLOYEES HIRED TO PERFORM VARIOUS DUTIES AT THE REGIONAL FOREST SERVICE WAREHOUSE IN PORTLAND, OREGON. THEIR DUTIES CONSISTED OF THE PREPARATION, RECONDITIONING AND SHIPPING OF FIREFIGHTING TOOLS AND EQUIPMENT FOR THE FIELD UNITS OF THE NATIONAL FOREST SERVICE LOCATED IN THE STATES OF WASHINGTON AND OREGON. ALSO, IT APPEARS THAT THE POSITIONS TO WHICH THEY WERE APPOINTED FORMALLY WERE ESTABLISHED IN A PRIOR YEAR IN A REGULAR WAGE BOARD CLASSIFICATION WITH AN HOURLY COMPENSATION RATE CONSISTENT WITH THOSE CURRENTLY IN EFFECT IN THE METROPOLITAN AREA OF PORTLAND. HOWEVER, THROUGH ADMINISTRATIVE ERROR THEY WERE GRADED AND PAID AS FIREFIGHTERS WHOSE HOURLY WAGE BOARD RATES WERE LOWER THAN THOSE ESTABLISHED FOR THE POSITIONS TO WHICH THEY WERE APPOINTED. MOREOVER, AS THE RESULT OF THE ERRONEOUS DESIGNATIONS THEY WERE PAID AN ADDITIONAL 25 CENTS PER HOUR IN LIEU OF SUBSISTENCE TO WHICH THEY WERE NOT ENTITLED BUT SUCH ADDITIONAL AMOUNT DID NOT EQUAL THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE HOURLY RATES ESTABLISHED FOR THE POSITIONS OCCUPIED BY THE EMPLOYEES, THE DUTIES OF WHICH THEY PERFORMED, AND THE RATES AT WHICH THEY WERE COMPENSATED. SINCE MR. SORENSEN WAS STILL IN SERVICE WHEN THE ERROR WAS DISCOVERED AN AMOUNT REPRESENTING THE 25 CENTS PER HOUR WAS RECOVERED FROM HIM BUT NO ADJUSTMENTS HAVE BEEN MADE WITH RESPECT TO THE OTHER EMPLOYEES.

THE VOUCHER SUBMITTED REPRESENTS THE AMOUNT DUE, BASED UPON THE DIFFERENCE IN THE TWO RATES, LESS FICA DEDUCTIONS. IN THE EVENT PAYMENT THEREOF IS AUTHORIZED YOU PROPOSE TO MAKE SETTLEMENT WITH THE OTHER EMPLOYEES WITH DUE CONSIDERATION TO THE ERRONEOUS PAYMENT OF 25 CENTS PER HOUR AND THE REQUIRED FICA DEDUCTIONS.

FROM THE FACTS GIVEN IT IS CLEAR THAT MR. SORENSEN WAS APPOINTED TO A CERTAIN POSITION FOR WHICH THE HIGHER HOURLY COMPENSATION RATE HAD BEEN ESTABLISHED. ALSO, IT IS CLEAR THAT HE PERFORMED THE DUTIES OF THAT POSITION AND WOULD HAVE BEEN PAID AT THE HOURLY RATE FIXED THEREFOR EXCEPT FOR THE ERROR OF THE ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICIALS FOR WHICH HE WAS IN NO WAY RESPONSIBLE. UNDER SUCH CIRCUMSTANCES, HIS ENTITLEMENT TO THE LEGALLY ESTABLISHED HOURLY RATE OF COMPENSATION MAY NOT BE DEFEATED BY ADMINISTRATIVE ERROR AND, ACCORDINGLY, THE VOUCHER MAY BE CERTIFIED FOR PAYMENT IF OTHERWISE CORRECT. ALSO, APPROPRIATE ADJUSTMENTS MAY BE MADE WITH THE OTHER INDIVIDUALS INVOLVED.