B-158406, FEB. 11, 1966

B-158406: Feb 11, 1966

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IT APPEARS THAT THE OFFICE OF ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITY HAS ESTABLISHED JOB CORPS STAFF TRAINING CENTERS TO WHICH CERTAIN APPOINTEES OF THE JOB CORPS PROGRAM ARE SENT FOR ORIENTATION AND TRAINING. THE INITIAL TRAINING SESSIONS ARE OF APPROXIMATELY ONE WEEK'S DURATION AND HAVE ALSO BEEN DESIGNED AS PART OF THE SELECTION PROCESS OR. WAS NOTIFIED IN LATE MARCH 1965 THAT MR. NICHOLS WAS CONTACTED REGARDING HIS INTEREST IN THE APPOINTMENT AND AVAILABILITY TO REPORT FOR DUTY AT MCCOOK. WERE PAID UNDER PUBLIC LAW 86-587. BECAUSE OF CERTAIN DIFFICULTIES IT WAS AGREED THAT MR. HE WAS RETURNED TO MCCOOK. HE WAS TOLD THAT TRANSPORTATION EXPENSES WOULD BE PAID BY THE GOVERNMENT AND WAS FURNISHED A TRANSPORTATION REQUEST WHICH HE USED TO PROCURE AIRPLANE TRANSPORTATION FROM DENVER.

B-158406, FEB. 11, 1966

TO THE SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR:

ON JANUARY 21, 1966, THE DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY REQUESTED OUR DECISION AS TO THE PROPRIETY OF PAYING CERTAIN SALARY, TRAVEL EXPENSES, AND PER DIEM TO A FORMER EMPLOYEE OF THE BUREAU OF RECLAMATION, APPOINTED TO THE JOB CORPS CONSERVATION CENTER AT MCCOOK, NEBRASKA.

IT APPEARS THAT THE OFFICE OF ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITY HAS ESTABLISHED JOB CORPS STAFF TRAINING CENTERS TO WHICH CERTAIN APPOINTEES OF THE JOB CORPS PROGRAM ARE SENT FOR ORIENTATION AND TRAINING. THE INITIAL TRAINING SESSIONS ARE OF APPROXIMATELY ONE WEEK'S DURATION AND HAVE ALSO BEEN DESIGNED AS PART OF THE SELECTION PROCESS OR, IN OTHER WORDS, A "WASH-OUT" PERIOD FOR THOSE APPOINTEES WHOM THE AGENCY DETERMINES TO BE NOT PARTICULARLY WELL SUITED FOR CONSERVATION CENTER WORK. IN ADDITION THE TRAINING PERIOD PROVIDES AN OPPORTUNITY FOR ANY APPOINTEE TO RESIGN WITH DIGNITY IF AFTER REVIEWING THE JOB CORPS PROGRAM HE DOES NOT DESIRE TO CONTINUE THEREIN. THE BUREAU OF RECLAMATION, WITH HEADQUARTERS IN DENVER, COLORADO, WAS NOTIFIED IN LATE MARCH 1965 THAT MR. VERNON M. NICHOLS, CARMICHAEL, CALIFORNIA, HAD BEEN SELECTED BY THE OFFICE OF ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITY FOR AN EXCEPTED CIVIL SERVICE APPOINTMENT AS DEPUTY DIRECTOR FOR EDUCATION AT THE JOB CORPS CONSERVATION CENTER, MCCOOK, NEBRASKA. MR. NICHOLS WAS CONTACTED REGARDING HIS INTEREST IN THE APPOINTMENT AND AVAILABILITY TO REPORT FOR DUTY AT MCCOOK, NEBRASKA, ON APRIL 1, 1965, AND TRAVEL TO GRANTS, NEW MEXICO, FOR THE TRAINING SESSION BEGINNING APRIL 5, 1965. MR. NICHOLS ACCEPTED THE EXCEPTED APPOINTMENT MADE UNDER CIVIL SERVICE REGULATION 213.3212 (B) AND ENTERED ON DUTY AT MCCOOK ON APRIL 1, 1965, AS DEPUTY DIRECTOR FOR EDUCATION, GS-1710-12, $10,250 PER ANNUM, SUBJECT TO A ONE-YEAR TRIAL OR PROBATIONARY PERIOD. HIS TRAVEL EXPENSES FROM CARMICHAEL, CALIFORNIA, TO MCCOOK, NEBRASKA, HIS FIRST DUTY STATION, WERE PAID UNDER PUBLIC LAW 86-587, BY TRANSPORTATION REQUEST NO. A6,153,501. ON APRIL 4, 1965, MR. NICHOLS TRAVELED TO GRANTS, NEW MEXICO, UNDER OFFICIAL ORDERS, FOR THE ONE-WEEK TRAINING AND ORIENTATION SESSION. BECAUSE OF CERTAIN DIFFICULTIES IT WAS AGREED THAT MR. NICHOLS SHOULD NOT BE CONSIDERED FOR FURTHER EMPLOYMENT AT THE MCCOOK CENTER, BUT HE COULD BE CONSIDERED FOR PLACEMENT ELSEWHERE IN THE JOB CORPS PROGRAM. HE WAS RETURNED TO MCCOOK, NEBRASKA, AND THEN INSTRUCTED TO RETURN HOME IN A LEAVE-WITHOUT-PAY STATUS TO AWAIT A POSSIBLE TELEPHONE CALL FROM JOB CORPS OFFICIALS REGARDING ASSIGNMENT TO A CONSERVATION CENTER ELSEWHERE. HE WAS TOLD THAT TRANSPORTATION EXPENSES WOULD BE PAID BY THE GOVERNMENT AND WAS FURNISHED A TRANSPORTATION REQUEST WHICH HE USED TO PROCURE AIRPLANE TRANSPORTATION FROM DENVER, COLORADO, TO SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA (ADJACENT TO CARMICHAEL, CALIFORNIA, HIS HOME). HE WAITED FOR THE TELEPHONE CALL REGARDING FURTHER ASSIGNMENT UNTIL JUNE 12, 1965, WHEN HE SUBMITTED A RESIGNATION TO THE BUREAU OF RECLAMATION. IT IS SUGGESTED THAT SINCE THE LEAVE WITHOUT PAY WAS NOT AT MR. NICHOLS' REQUEST, EVEN THOUGH HE WAS IN FULL AGREEMENT, THAT TECHNICALLY HE SHOULD RECEIVE SALARY FOR THE TWO- MONTH PERIOD.

WHILE MR. NICHOLS WAS PLACED ON LEAVE WITHOUT PAY THERE IS NO INDICATION THAT HE PROTESTED THIS ACTION AT ANY TIME. ON THE CONTRARY, HE APPARENTLY AGREED TO SUCH AN ARRANGEMENT. THEREFORE, IT WOULD BE DIFFICULT TO CONCLUDE THAT HIS LEAVE WITHOUT PAY WAS TANTAMOUNT TO A SUSPENSION FROM THE SERVICE. IN ANY EVENT, THERE DOES NOT APPEAR TO BE ANY BASIS FOR REGARDING THE ACTION TAKEN IN HIS CASE AS COMING WITHIN THE PURVIEW OF 5 U.S.C. 652, SO AS TO PERMIT BACK PAY DURING THE PERIOD IN QUESTION.

CONCERNING THE PAYMENT OF MR. NICHOLS' EXPENSES OF TRAVEL BACK TO CALIFORNIA UPON BEING RELIEVED FROM FURTHER DUTY AND GRANTED LEAVE WITHOUT PAY, YOU MAY BE ADVISED THAT WE ARE AWARE OF NO LEGAL OBLIGATION OR AUTHORITY TO RETURN MR. NICHOLS TO CALIFORNIA AT GOVERNMENT EXPENSE UNDER THE RELATED CIRCUMSTANCES, THAT IS, EITHER BECAUSE OF THE LEAVE WITHOUT PAY OR BECAUSE OF HIS SEPARATION FROM THE SERVICE. THE FACT THAT MR. NICHOLS WAS "INSTRUCTED" TO GO TO CALIFORNIA WHEN IT BECAME APPARENT THAT HIS EMPLOYMENT IN THE POSITION CONTEMPLATED WAS NOT DESIRABLE PROVIDES NO BASIS FOR REIMBURSEMENT OF THE EXPENSES FOR SUCH TRAVEL, SINCE THE OFFICIAL WHO ISSUED SUCH INSTRUCTION AND WHO MIGHT HAVE INFORMED MR. NICHOLS THAT HE WAS ENTITLED TO TRAVEL EXPENSES HAD NO AUTHORITY TO DO SO, THE TRAVEL NOT BEING FOR THE PURPOSE OF THE PERFORMANCE OF OFFICIAL BUSINESS. MR. NICHOLS WAS ENTIRELY FREE TO TRAVEL TO CALIFORNIA OR NOT, OR TO GO WHERE HE PLEASED, WHILE AWAITING THE POSSIBILITY OF PLACEMENT ELSEWHERE IN THE JOB CORPS PROGRAM.

THE VOUCHER, WHICH IS RETURNED HEREWITH, MAY NOT BE CERTIFIED FOR PAYMENT. COLLECTION OF THE $65 PAID TO UNITED AIRLINES UNDER TRANSPORTATION REQUEST NO. A6,153,234, SHOULD BE MADE FROM MR. NICHOLS.