B-194625, JAN 9, 1987, OFFICE OF GENERAL COUNSEL

B-194625: Jan 9, 1987

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THE AUTHORITY OF THE COMPTROLLER GENERAL IS LIMITED TO PRESCRIBING ACCOUNTING PRINCIPLES. WE CONCLUDE THAT THE OFFICE OF WORKERS' COMPENSATION PROGRAMS IS THE APPROPRIATE ENTITY TO PROMULGATE SUCH GUIDELINES AND PROCEDURES. THE GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE (GAO) IS REVISING ITS POLICY AND PROCEDURES MANUAL FOR THE GUIDANCE OF FEDERAL AGENCIES (HEREAFTER REFERRED TO AS THE MANUAL). THIS REVISION IS BEING DONE BY THE GAO ACCOUNTING AND FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT DIVISION (AFMD). YOU NOTE THAT WE HAVE QUALIFIED OUR OBSERVATION IN OUR ABOVE-MENTIONED LETTER BY STATING THAT GAO DOES NOT HAVE THE AUTHORITY TO RENDER DECISIONS IN THIS MATTER. THE AUTHORITY OF THE COMPTROLLER GENERAL IS LIMITED TO PRESCRIBING ACCOUNTING PRINCIPLES.

B-194625, JAN 9, 1987, OFFICE OF GENERAL COUNSEL

CIVILIAN PERSONNEL - LEAVES OF ABSENCE - LEAVE REPURCHASE - ADMINISTRATIVE POLICIES - AUTHORITY DIGEST: THIS LETTER RESPONDS TO A REQUEST FROM THE DIRECTOR, OFFICE OF WORKERS' COMPENSATION PROGRAMS, UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF LABOR, THAT THE POLICY AND PROCEDURES MANUAL FOR THE GUIDANCE OF FEDERAL AGENCIES INCLUDE GUIDELINES OR PROCEDURES FOR COMPUTING THE AMOUNT TO BE REPAID BY AN EMPLOYEE IN A LEAVE REPURCHASE SITUATION UPON THE ACCEPTANCE OF THE EMPLOYEE'S WORKERS' COMPENSATION CLAIM. WE RESPOND THAT, AS RELEVANT HERE, THE AUTHORITY OF THE COMPTROLLER GENERAL IS LIMITED TO PRESCRIBING ACCOUNTING PRINCIPLES, STANDARDS, AND REQUIREMENTS. 31 U.S.C. SEC. 3511(A) (1982). THE AUTHORITY FOR DECIDING SUBSTANTIVE QUESTIONS RELATING TO WORKERS' COMPENSATION FOR INJURIES, INCLUDING THE REPURCHASE OF LEAVE, HAS BEEN VESTED IN THE UNITED STATES SECRETARY OF LABOR AND THE DIRECTOR, OFFICE OF WORKERS' COMPENSATION PROGRAMS. 5 U.S.C. SEC. 8145 (1982) AND 20 C.F.R. SEC. 10.2 (1986). THEREFORE, WE CONCLUDE THAT THE OFFICE OF WORKERS' COMPENSATION PROGRAMS IS THE APPROPRIATE ENTITY TO PROMULGATE SUCH GUIDELINES AND PROCEDURES.

LAWRENCE W. ROGERS, DIRECTOR:

THIS RESPONDS TO YOUR LETTER DATED JULY 10, 1986, IN WHICH YOU ASKED ABOUT THE OBSERVATION IN OUR LETTER B-194625, NOVEMBER 5, 1980, THAT THE REPURCHASE OF PREVIOUSLY USED LEAVE UPON THE ACCEPTANCE OF WORKERS' COMPENSATION CLAIMS SHOULD BE BASED ON THE GROSS VALUE OF THE LEAVE. YOU ASKED WHETHER OUR VIEW HAS CHANGED.

AS YOU NOTED IN YOUR LETTER, THE GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE (GAO) IS REVISING ITS POLICY AND PROCEDURES MANUAL FOR THE GUIDANCE OF FEDERAL AGENCIES (HEREAFTER REFERRED TO AS THE MANUAL), TITLE 6 (PAY, LEAVE, AND ALLOWANCES). SPECIFICALLY, THIS REVISION IS BEING DONE BY THE GAO ACCOUNTING AND FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT DIVISION (AFMD). YOU SUGGESTED THAT AGENCIES WOULD BENEFIT FROM INCLUSION IN THIS TITLE OF A, "SET OF STANDARD GUIDELINES OR PROCEDURES FOR COMPUTING THE AMOUNT TO BE REPAID BY THE EMPLOYEE IN A LEAVE REPURCHASE SITUATION." YOU NOTE THAT WE HAVE QUALIFIED OUR OBSERVATION IN OUR ABOVE-MENTIONED LETTER BY STATING THAT GAO DOES NOT HAVE THE AUTHORITY TO RENDER DECISIONS IN THIS MATTER. HOWEVER, YOU STATED THAT YOU, "VIEW THE ESTABLISHMENT AND ISSUANCE OF GUIDELINES OR PROCEDURES FOR COMPUTING THE AMOUNT TO BE PAID IN A LEAVE BUY BACK SITUATION (A SITUATION WHICH MAY OR MAY NOT BE RELATED TO A WORKERS' COMPENSATION CLAIM) AS A PAYROLL MATTER AND A PROPER SUBJECT FOR INCLUSION IN TITLE 6 OF THE (MANUAL)."

THANK YOU FOR YOUR SUGGESTION. AS RELEVANT HERE, THE AUTHORITY OF THE COMPTROLLER GENERAL IS LIMITED TO PRESCRIBING ACCOUNTING PRINCIPLES, STANDARDS, AND REQUIREMENTS. 31 U.S.C. SEC. 3511(A) (1982). THE AUTHORITY FOR DECIDING SUBSTANTIVE QUESTIONS RELATING TO WORKERS' COMPENSATION FOR INJURIES, INCLUDING THE REPURCHASE OF LEAVE, HAD BEEN VESTED IN THE UNITED STATES SECRETARY OF LABOR AND YOU, AS THE DIRECTOR, OFFICE OF WORKERS' COMPENSATION PROGRAMS. 5 U.S.C. SEC. 8145 (1982) AND 20 C.F.R. SEC. 10.2 (1986). IT IS OUR VIEW THAT YOUR OFFICE IS THE APPROPRIATE ENTITY FOR THE ESTABLISHMENT AND ISSUANCE OF GUIDELINES AND PROCEDURES FOR COMPUTING THE AMOUNT TO BE REPAID BY THE EMPLOYEE IN A LEAVE REPURCHASE SITUATION UPON THE ACCEPTANCE OF THE EMPLOYEE'S WORKERS' COMPENSATION CLAIM. THIS COULD BE ACCOMPLISHED BY SUPPLEMENTING YOUR REGULATION ENTITLED: "BUY BACK OF ANNUAL OR SICK LEAVE." 20 C.F.R. SEC. 10.310 (1986).

WE HAVE CONSULTED WITH THE AFMD STAFF RESPONSIBLE FOR THE REVISION OF THE RELEVANT PARTS OF THE MANUAL. THEY AGREE THAT THE MANUAL IS NOT THE APPROPRIATE PLACE FOR SUCH GUIDELINES OR PROCEDURES. WE ENCOURAGE YOU TO PROMULGATE APPROPRIATE GUIDELINES OR PROCEDURES TO PROVIDE THE BENEFIT TO AGENCIES THAT YOU SUGGEST. WE WOULD BE PLEASED TO ASSIST YOU IN DOING SO. IF YOU HAVE FURTHER NEED TO COMMUNICATE WITH US IN THIS MATTER, PLEASE WRITE TO MR. STEWART GRAHAM OF MY STAFF AT THE ABOVE ADDRESS OR CALL HIM ON 275-6410.