B-157649, NOV. 22, 1965

B-157649: Nov 22, 1965

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TO THE SECRETARY OF THE AIR FORCE: DURING THE AUDIT OF CIVILIAN PAYROLLS AT WARNER ROBINS AIR MATERIEL AREA WHICH WAS CONDUCTED BY OUR OFFICE IN MAY 1965. WE QUESTIONED THE SALARY RATES ALLOWED SEVEN EMPLOYEES ON THE BASIS THAT UPON PROMOTION THEY WERE PAID AT RATES ABOVE THE MINIMUM OF THE GRADES TO WHICH PROMOTED WITHOUT PROPER JUSTIFICATION UNDER THE HIGHEST PREVIOUS RATE RULE AS CONTAINED IN SECTION 531.203 (C) OF THE CIVIL SERVICE REGULATIONS (FORMERLY SECTION 25.103 (B) ). A QUESTION HAS ARISEN WITH REGARD TO THE MAXIMUM SALARY RATE WHICH COULD HAVE BEEN ALLOWED ONE OF THOSE EMPLOYEES. KERR WAS EMPLOYED AT GENTILE AIR FORCE BASE. SHE WAS CONVERTED TO A CLASSIFIED POSITION AT GRADE GS 5 (G).

B-157649, NOV. 22, 1965

TO THE SECRETARY OF THE AIR FORCE:

DURING THE AUDIT OF CIVILIAN PAYROLLS AT WARNER ROBINS AIR MATERIEL AREA WHICH WAS CONDUCTED BY OUR OFFICE IN MAY 1965, WE QUESTIONED THE SALARY RATES ALLOWED SEVEN EMPLOYEES ON THE BASIS THAT UPON PROMOTION THEY WERE PAID AT RATES ABOVE THE MINIMUM OF THE GRADES TO WHICH PROMOTED WITHOUT PROPER JUSTIFICATION UNDER THE HIGHEST PREVIOUS RATE RULE AS CONTAINED IN SECTION 531.203 (C) OF THE CIVIL SERVICE REGULATIONS (FORMERLY SECTION 25.103 (B) ).

A QUESTION HAS ARISEN WITH REGARD TO THE MAXIMUM SALARY RATE WHICH COULD HAVE BEEN ALLOWED ONE OF THOSE EMPLOYEES, MRS. ALMA W. KERR, UNDER APPLICABLE CIVIL SERVICE AND AIR FORCE REGULATIONS. MRS. KERR WAS EMPLOYED AT GENTILE AIR FORCE BASE, DAYTON, OHIO, IN A WAGE BOARD POSITION AT $2.40 PER HOUR FROM JULY 28, 1957, THROUGH MARCH 15, 1958, AT WHICH TIME SHE RECEIVED A WITHIN-GRADE INCREASE TO $2.54 PER HOUR. ON MAY 4, 1958, SHE WAS CONVERTED TO A CLASSIFIED POSITION AT GRADE GS 5 (G), $4,480 PER ANNUM AND AFTER RECEIVING A LONGEVITY INCREASE IN THAT GRADE SHE WAS PROMOTED TO GRADE GS-7 ON JANUARY 21, 1962, WITH COMPENSATION AT WITHIN- GRADE STEP (G), $6,345 PER ANNUM. ON JUNE 3, 1962, SHE TRANSFERRED TO WARNER ROBINS AT THE SAME GRADE AND RATE OF PAY.

IT WAS DETERMINED DURING OUR AUDIT THAT THE ALLOWANCE OF THE $6,345 RATE WAS IMPROPER UNDER SECTION 25.103 (C) OF THE CIVIL SERVICE REGULATIONS WHICH PROVIDED IN PERTINENT PART:

"* * * IF SUCH HIGHEST PREVIOUS RATE WAS EARNED IN A POSITION NOT SUBJECT TO THE CLASSIFICATION ACT, THIS RATE SHALL BE COMPUTED AS FOLLOWS: THE ACTUAL RATE EARNED AT THE TIME OF SUCH SERVICE SHALL BE CONVERTED TO THE EQUIVALENT PER ANNUM RATE UNDER THE CLASSIFICATION ACT AS OF THE TIME OF SUCH SERVICES; WHERE THERE WAS NO EXACT EQUIVALENT PER ANNUM RATE UNDER THE CLASSIFICATION ACT, THE NEXT HIGHER CLASSIFICATION ACT RATE SHALL BE CONSIDERED AN EQUIVALENT; WHERE THE RATE THUS DETERMINED FALLS WITHIN TWO OR MORE GRADES UNDER THE ACT, THE RATE IN THE GRADE WHICH GIVES THE EMPLOYEE THE MAXIMUM BENEFIT SHALL BE USED; THE EQUIVALENT CLASSIFICATION ACT RATE THUS DETERMINED SHALL BE CONVERTED TO THE CURRENT RATE FOR SUCH STEP AND GRADE AND SHALL BE THE EMPLOYEE'S HIGHEST PREVIOUS RATE.'

THE RATE OF $2.54 PER HOUR WHICH MRS. KERR EARNED FROM MARCH TO MAY 1958 WAS CONVERTED TO A RATE PRESCRIBED BY THE FEDERAL EMPLOYEES SALARY INCREASE ACT OF 1955 (69 STAT. 172) WHEREAS THE CLASSIFICATION ACT RATES IN FORCE DURING THE TIME SHE WAS PAID AT THE $2.54 RATE WERE THOSE PRESCRIBED BY THE FEDERAL EMPLOYEES SALARY INCREASE ACT OF 1958 (72 STAT. 203), WHICH BECAME EFFECTIVE IN JANUARY 1958. SEE 44 COMP. GEN. 518. DETERMINING THE AMOUNT OF THE OVERPAYMENT WHICH HAS BEEN MADE TO MRS. KERR AS A RESULT OF THAT ERROR IT IS ASSUMED THAT THE RESPONSIBLE OFFICERS OF YOUR DEPARTMENT INTENDED TO GIVE HER THE MAXIMUM BENEFIT OF THE HIGHEST PREVIOUS RATE RULE AT THE TIME THEY PROMOTED HER TO GRADE GS-7 ON JANUARY 21, 1962.

THE QUESTION INVOLVED IS WHETHER THE $2.54 RATE--- THE HIGHEST RATE PAID MRS. KERR AS A WAGE BOARD EMPLOYEE--- MUST BE CONSIDERED HER HIGHEST PREVIOUS RATE OR WHETHER ANOTHER RATE ($2.40 PER HOUR) WHICH SHE HAD PREVIOUSLY EARNED MAY BE CONSIDERED HER HIGHEST PREVIOUS RATE SINCE THAT RATE GIVES HER A GREATER BENEFIT UNDER THE RULES FOR COMPUTING THE HIGHEST PREVIOUS RATE. ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICIALS OF WARNER ROBINS AIR MATERIEL AREA VIEW THE CIVIL SERVICE COMMISSION'S REGULATIONS AS REQUIRING USE OF THE HOURLY RATE OF $2.54 AS THE HIGHEST PREVIOUS RATE. THE COMPUTATIONS INVOLVED ARE AS FOLLOWS: (1) $2.54 BY 2080 EQUALS $5,283.20. THE RATE FOR GS-7 (C) WAS $5,280 AND FOR GS-7 (D) WAS $5,430 AT THE TIME MRS. KERR WAS PAID AT THE $2.54 RATE. UNDER CIVIL SERVICE REGULATIONS HER HIGHEST PREVIOUS RATE WAS THE RATE FOR GRADE GS-7 (D). ACCORDINGLY, UPON PROMOTION TO GRADE GS 7 MRS. KERR'S RATE OF PAY UNDER THE CIVIL SERVICE REGULATIONS, AND BY USE OF THE $2.54 HOURLY RATE, COULD NOT HAVE EXCEEDED THE RATE FOR GRADE GS-7 (D), $5,850. (2) $2.40 BY 2080 EQUALS $4,992. SINCE MRS. KERR EARNED THE $2,40 RATE BEFORE THE EFFECTIVE DATE OF THE FEDERAL EMPLOYEES SALARY INCREASE ACT OF 1958 THAT WAGE BOARD RATE MAY BE COMPARED TO THE RATES OF PAY PRESCRIBED BY THE FEDERAL EMPLOYEES SALARY INCREASE ACT OF 1958, THAT WAGE BOARD RATE MAY BE COMPARED TO THE RATES OF PAY PRESCRIBED BY THE FEDERAL EMPLOYEES SALARY INCREASE ACT OF 1955. THE RATE $4,992 FALLS BETWEEN THE RATES FOR GS-7 (D), $4,930, AND FOR GS-7 (E), $5,065, AND BETWEEN THE RATES FOR GS-8 (A), $4,970, AND FOR GS-8 (B), $5,105. UNDER THE CIVIL SERVICE REGULATION QUOTED ABOVE IF THE $2.40 RATE MAY BE USED MRS. KERR, UPON PROMOTION, COULD HAVE BEEN PAID AT THE RATE FOR GRADE GS-7 (F/--- $6,180 SINCE THE RATE FOR GRADE GS-8 (B) AT THE TIME OF HER PROMOTION ($6,050) FELL BETWEEN THE RATES FOR GS-7 (E) AND GS-7 (F).

WE BELIEVE THAT THE SECOND METHOD OF COMPUTATION IS PERMITTED UNDER THE CIVIL SERVICE REGULATION AND WE FIND NOTHING IN AIR FORCE REGULATIONS IN FORCE AT THE TIME WHICH PROHIBITS THE USE OF THAT METHOD OF COMPUTATION. THEREFORE, OUR OPINION IS THAT MRS. KERR'S DEBT SHOULD BE COMPUTED ON THE BASIS THAT SHE SHOULD HAVE BEEN ALLOWED THE RATE FOR STEP (F) OF GRADE GS- 7 ($6,180) INSTEAD OF FOR STEP (G) $6,345 WHEN SHE WAS PROMOTED TO THAT GRADE ON JANUARY 21, 1962. ON THE BASIS OF RECORDS FURNISHED US BY WARNER ROBINS AIR MATERIEL AREA WE HAVE DETERMINED THAT THE GROSS AMOUNT OF HER DEBT WAS $445.24 ON JUNE 26, 1965, OF WHICH $441.60 CONSISTS OF BASIC COMPENSATION AND $3.64 OVERTIME COMPENSATION. AFTER THAT DATE HER SALARY WAS REDUCED TO THE RATE OF GRADE GS-7, STEP 5, WHEREAS IN ACCORDANCE WITH COMPUTATION (2) ABOVE, HER COMPENSATION SHOULD HAVE BEEN REDUCED ONLY TO THAT FOR GRADE GS-7, STEP 7. AS A RESULT SHE HAS BEEN UNDERPAID AT THE RATE OF $16 PER DAY FROM JUNE 27, 1965. MRS. KERR'S SALARY SHOULD BE ADJUSTED TO THE RATE FOR GRADE GS-7, STEP 7, AND CREDIT SHOULD BE GIVEN HER AS A RESULT OF THE UNDERPAYMENTS IN QUESTION. APPROPRIATE REVISIONS WILL BE MADE BY OUR OFFICE IN INFORMAL INQUIRY NO. 58-0179 CONSISTENT WITH THE ABOVE DETERMINATIONS.