B-172279, MAY 20, 1971

B-172279: May 20, 1971

Additional Materials:

Contact:

Edda Emmanuelli Perez
(202) 512-2853
EmmanuelliPerezE@gao.gov

 

Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800
youngc1@gao.gov

IN WHICH YOU SAY THAT BEFORE PREPARING A LEGISLATIVE PROPOSAL TO PERMIT PAYMENT BY AGENCIES OF PREEMPLOYMENT INTERVIEW EXPENSES IN FILLING COMPETITIVE POSITIONS YOU FIRST WHICH TO ASCERTAIN WHETHER OUR OFFICE WOULD RECOGNIZE SUCH PAYMENTS AS AUTHORIZED WITHOUT SUCH LEGISLATION WHEN THE PURPOSE OF THE INTERVIEW IS TO ENABLE THE APPOINTING OFFICER TO EXERCISE HIS RESPONSIBILITY FOR MAKING A SELECTION FROM AMONG THE ELIGIBLE APPLICANTS. YOU SAY THAT FOR SOME COMPETIVE POSITIONS AGENCIES FEEL THAT INTERVIEWS WITH THE ELIGIBLE APPLICANTS ARE ESSENTIAL BEFORE MAKING A SELECTION. THE AGENCY HEAD IS EXERCISING THE LEGAL RESPONSIBILITY VESTED IN HIM TO MAKE A SELECTION FROM AMONG VARIOUS APPLICANTS ALREADY IDENTIFIED BY THE COMMISSION AS QUALIFIED.

B-172279, MAY 20, 1971

CIVILIAN EMPLOYEES - REEMPLOYMENT INTERVIEWS - TRAVEL EXPENSES REGARDING PAYMENT OF TRAVEL AND SUBSISTENCE EXPENSES OF PROSPECTIVE EMPLOYEES FOR PREEMPLOYMENT INTERVIEWS. WITHOUT STATUTORY AUTHORIZATION, SUCH EXPENSES MAY NOT BE INCURRED BY THE APPOINTING OFFICE TO ENABLE HIM TO SELECT AMONG ELIGIBLE APPLICANTS FOR CIVIL SERVICE POSITIONS.

TO MR. HAMPTON:

THIS REFERS TO YOUR LETTER OF MARCH 17, 1971, IN WHICH YOU SAY THAT BEFORE PREPARING A LEGISLATIVE PROPOSAL TO PERMIT PAYMENT BY AGENCIES OF PREEMPLOYMENT INTERVIEW EXPENSES IN FILLING COMPETITIVE POSITIONS YOU FIRST WHICH TO ASCERTAIN WHETHER OUR OFFICE WOULD RECOGNIZE SUCH PAYMENTS AS AUTHORIZED WITHOUT SUCH LEGISLATION WHEN THE PURPOSE OF THE INTERVIEW IS TO ENABLE THE APPOINTING OFFICER TO EXERCISE HIS RESPONSIBILITY FOR MAKING A SELECTION FROM AMONG THE ELIGIBLE APPLICANTS.

YOU SAY THAT FOR SOME COMPETIVE POSITIONS AGENCIES FEEL THAT INTERVIEWS WITH THE ELIGIBLE APPLICANTS ARE ESSENTIAL BEFORE MAKING A SELECTION. WHEN A STAFFING ACTION HAS REACHED THE AGENCY INTERVIEW STAGE, THE COMMISSION FUNCTION OF ASCERTAINING QUALIFICATIONS HAS BEEN COMPLETED. THE POINT WHEN AN AGENCY ASKS CERTAIN QUALIFIED APPLICANTS TO COME IN FOR AN INTERVIEW, THE AGENCY HEAD IS EXERCISING THE LEGAL RESPONSIBILITY VESTED IN HIM TO MAKE A SELECTION FROM AMONG VARIOUS APPLICANTS ALREADY IDENTIFIED BY THE COMMISSION AS QUALIFIED. THIS SELECTION ACTION BY AN AGENCY OFFICIAL IS STATED TO BE A DISCRETE FUNCTION, READILY DISTINGUISHABLE FROM THE COMMISSION'S FUNCTION OF SUPPLYING HIM WITH THE NAMES OF QUALIFIED PERSONS FROM AMONG WHOM HE CAN MAKE HIS SELECTION, AND YOU THEREFORE ASK WHETHER AGENCIES MAY PAY THE EXPENSES OF TRAVEL IN THESE SITUATIONS.

AS INDICATED IN YOUR LETTER, OUR DECISIONS HAVE NOT AUTHORIZED PAYMENT OF TRAVELING EXPENSES OF PROSPECTIVE EMPLOYEES FOR PREEMPLOYMENT INTERVIEWS UNLESS A PARTICULAR AGENCY HAS COMPLETE SELECTION AND RECRUITMENT AUTHORITY, A FUNCTION NORMALLY REPOSED IN THE CIVIL SERVICE COMMISSION FOR POSITIONS IN THE COMPETITIVE SERVICE. THE EXCEPTION TO THE GENERAL RULE AS STATED IN OUR DECISIONS AT 41 COMP. GEN. 482 (1962) AND 40 ID. 221 (1960), CONCERNS POSITIONS WHICH ARE EXCEPTED FROM THE COMPETITIVE CIVIL SERVICE OR ARE OTHERWISE NOT SUBJECT TO ALL OF THE CIVIL SERVICE LAWS AND REGULATIONS GENERALLY.

THE GENERAL RULE WAS APPLIED IN 31 COMP. GEN. 175 (1951) TO A SITUATION SUCH AS EXPLAINED IN YOUR LETTER. IN THAT CASE ONE OF THE SPECIFIC QUESTIONS WAS "MAY THE DEPARTMENT PAY THE TRAVEL AND SUBSISTENCE EXPENSES OF INDIVIDUALS WHO ARE REACHED ON CIVIL SERVICE REGISTERS IN ORDER TO INTERVIEW THEM AT THE APPROPRIATE HEADQUARTERS OFFICE *** ?" ALTHOUGH NOT RESTATED IN THE PUBLISHED DECISION, THE DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE IN ITS REQUEST FOR THE DECISION POINTED OUT THAT THE INTERVIEW OF PERSONS DESIRED TO BE CONSIDERED FOR EMPLOYMENT WAS NOT DESIGNED TO DETERMINE QUALIFICATIONS OF APPLICANTS FOR FEDERAL EMPLOYMENT OR OTHER MATTERS WITHIN THE SCOPE OF AUTHORITY OF THE CIVIL SERVICE COMMISSION. THEREFORE, SINCE THE PURPOSE WAS FOR THE SELECTION OF QUALIFIED APPLICANTS, THE SITUATION THERE IS SIMILAR TO THE SITUATION EXPLAINED IN YOUR LETTER AND UPON WHICH YOU REQUEST AN OPINION. WE FIND NO BASIS TO DEPART FROM THE GENERAL RULE THAT TRAVEL EXPENSES IN SUCH SITUATIONS MAY NOT BE PAID BY THE AGENCIES CONCERNED IN THE ABSENCE OF SPECIFIC STATUTORY AUTHORITY THEREFOR. IN THAT CONNECTION WE NOTE THAT THE CONGRESS IN THE PAST HAS DECLINED TO ENACT LEGISLATION AUTHORIZING EXPENSES FOR INTERVIEWS OF PROSPECTIVE EMPLOYEES SUCH AS HERE INVOLVED. SEE SENATE REPORT NO. 2185, 85TH CONGRESS ON H.R. 11133. COMPARE HOUSE REPORT NO. 881, ON H.R. 9382, 90TH CONGRESS, 1ST SESSION. ALSO, SEE S. 1770 AND S. 2275, 91ST CONGRESS, 1ST SESSION.