B-160464, FEBRUARY 9, 1967, 46 COMP. GEN. 662

B-160464: Feb 9, 1967

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APPROPRIATIONS - AVAILABILITY - PLASTIC HOLDER FOR CREDENTIALS COSTS FOR AN ENGRAVED PLASTIC HOLDER CONTAINING AN EMPLOYEE'S CREDENTIALS WHICH IS TO BE PRESENTED TO A CAREER EMPLOYEE AT RETIREMENT MAY BE CONSIDERED EXPENSES FOR THE HONORARY RECOGNITION OF EMPLOYEES SERVICE WITHIN THE MEANING OF THE GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES INCENTIVE AWARDS ACT. 1967: THIS IS IN REPLY TO YOUR LETTER OF NOVEMBER 23. THE INVOICES IN THE AMOUNT OF $280 ARE STATED IN FAVOR OF READ PLASTICS. WHETHER OR NOT THEY MAY BE CERTIFIED FOR PAYMENT DEPENDS ON WHETHER THE COSTS COVERED BY THE INVOICES PROPERLY WERE INCURRED PURSUANT TO THE GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES' INCENTIVE AWARDS ACT. IT IS EXPLAINED THAT THE OFFICE OF THE INSPECTOR GENERAL ISSUES CREDENTIALS TO ITS PROFESSIONAL STAFF SIGNED BY THE SECRETARY OF AGRICULTURE AND THE INSPECTOR GENERAL.

B-160464, FEBRUARY 9, 1967, 46 COMP. GEN. 662

APPROPRIATIONS - AVAILABILITY - PLASTIC HOLDER FOR CREDENTIALS COSTS FOR AN ENGRAVED PLASTIC HOLDER CONTAINING AN EMPLOYEE'S CREDENTIALS WHICH IS TO BE PRESENTED TO A CAREER EMPLOYEE AT RETIREMENT MAY BE CONSIDERED EXPENSES FOR THE HONORARY RECOGNITION OF EMPLOYEES SERVICE WITHIN THE MEANING OF THE GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES INCENTIVE AWARDS ACT, 5 U.S.C. 4501, AND, THEREFORE, SUCH EXPENSES MAY BE PAID.

TO RUTH L. JERIDEAU, UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE, FEBRUARY 9, 1967:

THIS IS IN REPLY TO YOUR LETTER OF NOVEMBER 23, 1966, ASKING WHETHER THE INVOICES ENCLOSED THEREWITH PROPERLY MAY BE CERTIFIED FOR PAYMENT. THE INVOICES IN THE AMOUNT OF $280 ARE STATED IN FAVOR OF READ PLASTICS, INC., AND WHETHER OR NOT THEY MAY BE CERTIFIED FOR PAYMENT DEPENDS ON WHETHER THE COSTS COVERED BY THE INVOICES PROPERLY WERE INCURRED PURSUANT TO THE GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES' INCENTIVE AWARDS ACT.

IT IS EXPLAINED THAT THE OFFICE OF THE INSPECTOR GENERAL ISSUES CREDENTIALS TO ITS PROFESSIONAL STAFF SIGNED BY THE SECRETARY OF AGRICULTURE AND THE INSPECTOR GENERAL. THE CREDENTIALS ARE USED TO VERIFY THAT THE INDIVIDUALS PRESENTING THEM ARE IN FACT AUTHORIZED OFFICIALS PERFORMING AUDITS OR INVESTIGATIONS ON BEHALF OF THE DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE. RECENTLY, IT WAS DETERMINED THAT UPON RETIREMENT OF AN EMPLOYEE IT WOULD BE DESIRABLE TO MOUNT HIS CREDENTIALS IN AN ATTRACTIVE HOLDER, SUCH HOLDER TO BE PRESENTED TO THE EMPLOYEE AT A SUITABLE CEREMONY.

PURSUANT TO SUCH DETERMINATION, APPROPRIATE INSCRIPTIONS WERE ENGRAVED IN GOLD LETTERS AND THE RETIREE'S CREDENTIALS THEN WERE FORWARDED TO READ PLASTICS, INC., TO BE MOUNTED IN A BLOCK OF CLEAR PLASTIC.

IN SUPPORT OF THESE COSTS, IT IS STATED THAT THESE PRESENTATIONS SERVE TO ACKNOWLEDGE IN AN APPEALING AND DIGNIFIED MANNER THE CONTRIBUTIONS MADE BY THE RETIREE TO THE FEDERAL SERVICE. ALSO, THAT IT IMPRESSES AND ENCOURAGES FELLOW EMPLOYEES REMAINING IN ACTIVE STATUS AND IS CONDUCIVE TO IMPROVEMENT OF MORALE. CONSEQUENTLY, IT IS URGED THAT THESE RETIREE CREDENTIALS PROPERLY MAY BE CONSTRUED TO BE A FINAL RECOGNITION OF THE EMPLOYEE'S SERVICES UNDER THE INCENTIVE AWARDS PROGRAM.

THE GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES' INCENTIVE AWARDS ACT NOW SET OUT IN 5 U.S.C. 4501-4506 PROVIDES IN PART (5 U.S.C. 4503) THAT---

THE HEAD OF AN AGENCY MAY PAY A CASH AWARD TO, AND INCUR NECESSARY EXPENSE FOR THE HONORARY RECOGNITION OF, AN EMPLOYEE WHO---

(1) BY HIS SUGGESTION, INVENTION, SUPERIOR ACCOMPLISHMENT, OR OTHER PERSONAL EFFORT CONTRIBUTES TO THE EFFICIENCY, ECONOMY, OR OTHER IMPROVEMENT OF GOVERNMENT OPERATIONS * * *. AND SECTION 4506 THEREOF PROVIDES THAT---

THE CIVIL SERVICE COMMISSION MAY PRESCRIBE REGULATIONS AND INSTRUCTIONS UNDER WHICH THE AGENCY AWARDS PROGRAM SET FORTH BY THIS CHAPTER SHALL BE CARRIED OUT.

IN VIEW OF THE PROVISIONS OF 5 U.S.C. 4503 THERE APPEARS NO QUESTION BUT THAT UPON THE RETIREMENT OF AN EMPLOYEE THE AGENCY HEAD MAY INCUR NECESSARY EXPENSES FOR THE HONORARY RECOGNITION OF HIS YEARS OF SERVICE. CONSEQUENTLY, IF THE PROGRAM OF YOUR AGENCY CONFORMS TO THE REGULATIONS AND INSTRUCTIONS PRESCRIBED BY THE CIVIL SERVICE COMMISSION PURSUANT TO 5 U.S.C. 4506, THERE WOULD APPEAR TO BE NO OBJECTION TO PAYMENT OF THE SUBJECT INVOICES.

AS STATED TO YOU IN OUR LETTER OF DECEMBER 20, 1966, WE FORWARDED A COPY OF YOUR LETTER TO THE CHAIRMAN OF THE CIVIL SERVICE COMMISSION FOR AN EXPRESSION OF HIS VIEWS ON THE MATTER. IN REPLY DATED JANUARY 30, 1967, WE WERE ADVISED, IN PART, AS FOLLOWS:SO FAR AS LEGALITY IS CONCERNED, WE DO NOT BELIEVE THAT THE PAYMENTS COULD BE CONSIDERED ILLEGAL. THE FEDERAL PERSONNEL MANUAL IN CHAPTER 451, HEADED "INCENTIVE AWARDS," AT SECTION 3- 11,"AWARDS FOR CAREER SERVICE," SAYS IN ART: "THE COMMISSION URGES AGENCIES TO ESTABLISH PROGRAMS TO RECOGNIZE THE CONTINUING SERVICE OF EMPLOYEES AT SIGNIFICANT POINTS IN THEIR CAREERS. THREE MINIMUM POINTS AT WHICH CAREER SERVICE AWARDS SEEM MOST APPROPRIATE ARE: COMPLETION OF 15 YEARS OF SERVICE CREDITABLE FOR RETIREMENT, COMPLETION OF 30 YEARS OF SERVICE CREDITABLE FOR RETIREMENT, AND RETIREMENT ITSELF.' THE ARTICLE GIVEN IN THIS INSTANCE MEETS THE REGULATORY DEFINITION OF AN HONORARY AWARD (CS REG. 451.103 (H) (, IN THAT IT IS MERELY AN ITEM THE EMPLOYEE CAN DISPLAY, AS IS A PIN OR A FRAMED CERTIFICATE. IT DOES NOT HAVE A CASH VALUE WHICH MIGHT MAKE IT THE EQUIVALENT OF A CASH AWARD AND SO UNAUTHORIZED FOR MERE LENGTH OF SERVICE OR RETIREMENT; THE COST REPRESENTS NOT CASH VALUE OF THE ITEM BUT THE EXPENSE OF PREPARING IT. NEITHER THE STATUTE NOR THE REGULATIONS PLACE A LIMIT ON THE EXPENSES ATTACHED TO CONFERRING AN HONORARY AWARD.

WHILE THE COST INVOLVED IS SOMEWHAT SUBSTANTIAL, THE REPLY NOTES THAT NEITHER THE STATUTE NOR THE REGULATIONS PLACE A LIMIT ON THE EXPENSES ATTACHED TO CONFERRING AN HONORARY AWARD AND WE WERE ADVISED THAT WHILE THE COMMISSION FELT THAT A SPECIFIC LIMIT ON SUCH EXPENSES MIGHT BE UNDESIRABLE, THE COMMISSION WOULD, IN ANY APPROPRIATE INSTANCE, WORK WITH THE AGENCY WITH A VIEW TO ECONOMY.

ACCORDINGLY, SINCE THE INVOICES COVER COSTS INCURRED IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE AUTHORITY CONTAINED IN THE GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES' INCENTIVE AWARDS ACT AND THE REGULATIONS ISSUED PURSUANT THERETO, THE INVOICES, RETURNED HEREWITH, IF OTHERWISE PROPER, MAY BE CERTIFIED FOR PAYMENT.