B-239515, Sep 20, 1990

B-239515: Sep 20, 1990

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CIVILIAN PERSONNEL - Compensation - Retroactive compensation - Quality step increase - Eligibility DIGEST: This summary letter decision addresses well established rules which have been discussed in previous Comptroller General decisions. McMains The issue here is whether an agency may grant a Quality Step Increase (QSI) to an employee retroactively. Apparently the paperwork was lost and never received by the agency's civilian personnel office. There is well-established authority to retroactively grant promotions where they are approved before the administrative error occurred. The promotion was never implemented. It appears that all steps taken after the Commander's approval are ministerial in nature.

B-239515, Sep 20, 1990

CIVILIAN PERSONNEL - Compensation - Retroactive compensation - Quality step increase - Eligibility DIGEST: This summary letter decision addresses well established rules which have been discussed in previous Comptroller General decisions. To locate substantive decisions addressing this issue, refer to decisions indexed under the above listed index entry.

Richard S. McMains

The issue here is whether an agency may grant a Quality Step Increase (QSI) to an employee retroactively, based on an administrative error. /1/

On the basis of an exceptional performance rating dated July 24, 1987 (DA Form 5398), Mr. Richard S. McMains' supervisor, Mr. Joseph H. Davis, recommended Mr. McMains for a QSI, and the organization's Acting Commander, Lieutenant Colonel Theodore H. Mueller, approved it. Apparently the paperwork was lost and never received by the agency's civilian personnel office. The paperwork included the signed, though undated, Incentive Award Nomination and Approval Form (DA Form 1256). In August 1989, when Mr. Davis and Colonel Mueller learned that Mr. McMains had never received his QSI, they requested that the award be granted retroactively.

There is well-established authority to retroactively grant promotions where they are approved before the administrative error occurred, and simply because of the failure to perform ministerial acts, the promotion was never implemented. See 54 Comp.Gen. 69 and 538 (1974); James A. Zamora, B-203615, Feb. 26, 1982. This principle also applies to QSI's. See Carolyn Whitlock, 58 Comp.Gen. 290 (1979).

The agency has provided copies of its regulations regarding the procedures for incentive awards, which indicate that the final approval authority for incentive awards at Fort Huachuca rests with the Commander or his delegate. See Army Regulation No. 672-20, para. 6-4 (1982); FH Supplement 1 to AR 672-20, Oct. 15, 1984. It appears that all steps taken after the Commander's approval are ministerial in nature. Since in this case Colonel Mueller was the Acting Commander, he presumably had been delegated approval authority for QSI's. Therefore, we would have no objection to a retroactive grant of the QSI to Mr. McMains, provided the effective date could be reasonably fixed. We suggest that the effective date may be reasonably established by computing the number of days usually required to process QSI paperwork from the date of appraisal, in this case July 24, 1987. We further note that the regulations stipulate that the total elapsed time between submission of and final action on a nomination for a QSI should not exceed 60 days from the date of completion of the period of service to be recognized. See AR 672-20, para. 6-5a.

The issue was raised by the U.S. Army Information Systems Command, Fort Huachuca, Arizona.