B-158756, MAY 19, 1966

B-158756: May 19, 1966

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WE PRESUME THAT YOU ARE AUTHORIZED TO REPRESENT THE 49 EMPLOYEES IDENTIFIED IN THE MATERIAL YOU SUBMITTED WITH YOUR LETTER AS WELL AS TWO OTHER EMPLOYEES. ALL OF THE OVERPAYMENTS WHILE HAVING BEEN MADE AS THE RESULT OF ERRORS IN THE ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE CONCERNED WERE MADE CONTRARY TO APPLICABLE LAWS. IT IS WELL ESTABLISHED THAT ALL MONIES PAID FOR SALARY IN EXCESS OF THE LAWFUL AMOUNT MUST BE REFUNDED TO THE GOVERNMENT EVEN THOUGH THE EMPLOYEES WERE NOT AT FAULT IN ACCEPTING THE ERRONEOUS PAYMENTS. 31 COMP. SINCE WE ARE WITHOUT AUTHORITY TO RELIEVE THE INDIVIDUALS FROM LIABILITY FOR THE OVERPAYMENTS. WE HAVE NO ALTERNATIVE BUT TO CONTINUE COLLECTION ACTION IN THE MATTER. THE PAPERS SUBMITTED WITH YOUR LETTER ARE RETURNED HEREWITH.

B-158756, MAY 19, 1966

TO AMERICAN FEDERATION OF GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES:

YOUR LETTER OF MARCH 10, 1966, REFERENCE 4G/L-1603, CONCERNS OVERPAYMENTS TOTALING $16,422.07 MADE TO A NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES AT THE NAVAL AIR TEST CENTER, U.S. NAVAL AIR STATION, PATUXENT RIVER, MARYLAND, AS A RESULT OF ADMINISTRATIVE ERRORS. YOU POINT OUT THAT THE DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY HAS REFUSED TO WAIVE SUCH OVERPAYMENTS APPARENTLY BECAUSE OF LACK OF AUTHORITY. THEREFORE, YOU NOW ASK US TO DETERMINE THAT SUCH OVERPAYMENTS NEED NOT BE REFUNDED.

WE PRESUME THAT YOU ARE AUTHORIZED TO REPRESENT THE 49 EMPLOYEES IDENTIFIED IN THE MATERIAL YOU SUBMITTED WITH YOUR LETTER AS WELL AS TWO OTHER EMPLOYEES, J. G. ADAMS AND R. H. DORCH, FOUND TO BE INVOLVED BUT NOT REPORTED TO THE NAVY DEPARTMENT. OUR REPLY TO YOU HAS BEEN DELAYED PENDING RECEIPT OF A REPORT FROM OUR AUDITORS.

IT APPEARS THAT THE OVERPAYMENTS RESULTED FROM (1) THE GRANTING OF WITHIN -GRADE INCREASES TO EMPLOYEES PRIOR TO THEIR ATTAINING A LEGAL ENTITLEMENT THERETO; (2) THE FAILURE OF THE ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICIALS TO CONSIDER WAGE ADJUSTMENTS RECEIVED BY EMPLOYEES IN THEIR UNGRADED POSITIONS AS EQUIVALENT INCREASES WHEN COMPUTING WITHIN-GRADE INCREASE WAITING PERIODS IN THE GS POSITIONS CONTRARY TO THE REQUIREMENTS OF SECTION 701 (A) OF THE CLASSIFICATION ACT OF 1949, AS AMENDED, 5 U.S.C. 1121, SECTION 531.406, FEDERAL PERSONNEL MANUAL, SUPP. 990-1, THE NAVY CIVILIAN PERSONNEL INSTRUCTIONS 552.5-1C AND OUR HOLDINGS IN 21 COMP. GEN. 1067 AND 39 ID. 270; AND (3) THE PREMATURE GRANTING OF STEP INCREASES CONTRARY TO LAW TO EMPLOYEES WHO OCCUPIED SPECIAL RATE RANGE POSITIONS AND WHO HAD BEEN ADVANCED TO STEP 4 OF THEIR GRADES BY OPERATION OF REVISED SPECIAL RATE SCHEDULES PRESCRIBED BY THE CIVIL SERVICE COMMISSION UNDER THE AUTHORITY OF SECTION 504 OF THE FEDERAL SALARY REFORM ACT OF 1962, 5 U.S.C. 1173.

ALL OF THE OVERPAYMENTS WHILE HAVING BEEN MADE AS THE RESULT OF ERRORS IN THE ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE CONCERNED WERE MADE CONTRARY TO APPLICABLE LAWS, RULES AND REGULATIONS. IT IS WELL ESTABLISHED THAT ALL MONIES PAID FOR SALARY IN EXCESS OF THE LAWFUL AMOUNT MUST BE REFUNDED TO THE GOVERNMENT EVEN THOUGH THE EMPLOYEES WERE NOT AT FAULT IN ACCEPTING THE ERRONEOUS PAYMENTS. 31 COMP. GEN. 177. MOREOVER, SINCE WE ARE WITHOUT AUTHORITY TO RELIEVE THE INDIVIDUALS FROM LIABILITY FOR THE OVERPAYMENTS, WE HAVE NO ALTERNATIVE BUT TO CONTINUE COLLECTION ACTION IN THE MATTER.

THE PAPERS SUBMITTED WITH YOUR LETTER ARE RETURNED HEREWITH. ALSO, WE ENCLOSE A REVISED SCHEDULE OF THE OVERPAYMENTS TO THE 51 EMPLOYEES INVOLVED. THE MIDDLE COLUMN APPEARS TO CONTAIN THE CORRECT AMOUNTS OF THE INDEBTEDNESS OF EACH EMPLOYEE.