Claims for Retroactive Promotions and Backpay

B-200000: May 25, 1982

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A decision was requested as to whether GAO would accept the Social Security Administration's (SSA) interpretation of its own regulation concerning temporary promotions for overlong details as well as the interpretation of the parties of a similar provision in the collective bargaining agreement concerning temporary promotions for overlong details. These issues arose in connection with the reconsideration of the claims of two SSA employees for retroactive temporary promotions and backpay in connection with alleged overlong details to higher grade positions. In the prior decision, the Claims Group not only denied the employees' claims for the first 60 days of their details, but also held that the agency's action in granting backpay for the sixty-first day of the details was improper. GAO held that, where the agency asserts that its regulation was intended to make temporary promotions for details to higher grade positions mandatory after 60 days, thereby establishing a nondiscretionary agency policy, the regulation does provide the basis for backpay. While other interpretations of the regulation could be made, the agency's interpretation was a reasonable one. Similarly, in considering the interpretation given a provision of a collective bargaining agreement by the parties to the agreement, the interpretation of the parties was a reasonable one. Although the second employee's case pertains to the interpretation of a collective bargaining agreement, it was appropriate for GAO to assert jurisdiction, since to refuse to do so would be disruptive to labor-management procedures by virtue of the impact such a refusal would have on other claims and grievances. Also, there was no arbitration award involved, no one had objected to the submission of the matter to GAO, and the matter was in an area of GAO expertise which had traditionally been adjudicated by GAO. Accordingly, the claims should be paid as recommended by the agency.

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