B-42776, JULY 4, 1944, 24 COMP. GEN. 9

B-42776: Jul 4, 1944

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ETC. - NECESSITY FOR SPECIFIC CLAIM BY EMPLOYEE INVOLVED WHERE COMPENSATION IS NOT PAID CURRENTLY TO AN EMPLOYEE. OR WHERE HE IS UNDERPAID AND SUCH UNDERPAYMENT IS NOT DISCOVERED UNTIL SOME TIME LATER. THERE IS NO REQUIREMENT ON THE PART OF THE ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE TO MAKE SUCH PAYMENT TO THE EMPLOYEE OR TO ENCOURAGE THE FILING OF A CLAIM THEREFOR. IT IS IMPROPER FOR AN ADMINISTRATIVE AGENCY TO INITIATE AND FORWARD TO THE GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE FOR DIRECT SETTLEMENT CLAIMS FOR AMOUNTS OTHERWISE DUE FORMER EMPLOYEES. 1944: I HAVE YOUR LETTER OF JUNE 19. AS FOLLOWS: THERE IS SUBMITTED FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION A PROBLEM WHICH HAS ARISEN AS A RESULT OF ACTION OF THE CLAIMS DIVISION OF YOUR OFFICE ON PROPOSED ADJUSTMENTS OF SALARY UNDERPAYMENTS TO EMPLOYEES AND FORMER EMPLOYEES OF THE AGRICULTURAL ADJUSTMENT AGENCY.

B-42776, JULY 4, 1944, 24 COMP. GEN. 9

CLAIMS - COMPENSATION UNDERPAYMENTS, ETC. - NECESSITY FOR SPECIFIC CLAIM BY EMPLOYEE INVOLVED WHERE COMPENSATION IS NOT PAID CURRENTLY TO AN EMPLOYEE, OR WHERE HE IS UNDERPAID AND SUCH UNDERPAYMENT IS NOT DISCOVERED UNTIL SOME TIME LATER, THERE IS NO REQUIREMENT ON THE PART OF THE ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE TO MAKE SUCH PAYMENT TO THE EMPLOYEE OR TO ENCOURAGE THE FILING OF A CLAIM THEREFOR. IN THE SETTLEMENT OF CLAIMS COMING WITHIN THE PURVIEW OF SECTION 236, REVISED STATUTES, AS AMENDED, IT HAS BEEN THE INVARIABLE RULE--- SUCH AS THAT PRESCRIBED BY GENERAL REGULATIONS NO. 50--- THAT ALL SUCH CLAIMS MUST BE OVER THE SIGNATURE OF THE CLAIMANT OR OF ONE ACTING FOR HIM PURSUANT TO A DULY EXECUTED POWER OF ATTORNEY. IT IS IMPROPER FOR AN ADMINISTRATIVE AGENCY TO INITIATE AND FORWARD TO THE GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE FOR DIRECT SETTLEMENT CLAIMS FOR AMOUNTS OTHERWISE DUE FORMER EMPLOYEES, WITHOUT THE CLAIM BEING PRESENTED OVER THE SIGNATURE OF THE EMPLOYEE.

ACTING COMPTROLLER GENERAL YATES TO THE WAR FOOD ADMINISTRATOR, JULY 4, 1944:

I HAVE YOUR LETTER OF JUNE 19, 1944, AS FOLLOWS:

THERE IS SUBMITTED FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION A PROBLEM WHICH HAS ARISEN AS A RESULT OF ACTION OF THE CLAIMS DIVISION OF YOUR OFFICE ON PROPOSED ADJUSTMENTS OF SALARY UNDERPAYMENTS TO EMPLOYEES AND FORMER EMPLOYEES OF THE AGRICULTURAL ADJUSTMENT AGENCY. TYPICAL OF THE CLASS OF ADJUSTMENTS IN QUESTION IS THE CASE OF ALBERT I. WHITE SUBMITTED TO THE CLAIMS DIVISION, GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE, ON DECEMBER 31, 1943, BY THE ACTING DIRECTOR OF FINANCE. THE CASE IS SUMMARIZED AS FOLLOWS: MR. WHITE WAS UNDERPAID IN THE AMOUNT OF $22.62 DURING THE PERIOD FEBRUARY 1 TO 19, 1941. THE UNDERPAYMENT WAS NOT DISCOVERED BEFORE THE APPROPRIATION CHARGEABLE WITH HIS SALARY CEASED TO BE AVAILABLE FOR DISBURSEMENT THROUGH REGULAR CHANNELS. THE CASE WAS, THEREFORE, SUBMITTED TO THE CLAIMS DIVISION FOR CONSIDERATION AND APPROVAL FOR PAYMENT FROM THE SURPLUS OF THE APPROPRIATION. MR. WHITE IS NOW ON MILITARY FURLOUGH FROM THE AGRICULTURAL ADJUSTMENT AGENCY.

THE CLAIMS DIVISION HAS REQUESTED CERTAIN ADDITIONAL INFORMATION IN CONNECTION WITH THIS CASE (MISC-1281286-JJO) AND AT THE SAME TIME ADVISED THAT, IN VIEW OF GENERAL REGULATION NO. 50, DATED APRIL 21, 1926, NO ACTION TOWARD SETTLEMENT COULD BE TAKEN BY THAT OFFICE IN THE ABSENCE OF A CLAIM OVER THE SIGNATURE OF MR. WHITE.

THAT PART OF GENERAL REGULATION NO. 50 IN QUESTION READS AS FOLLOWS:

"CLAIMS WILL NOT BE CONSIDERED UNLESS PRESENTED IN WRITING OVER THE BONA FIDE SIGNATURE AND ADDRESS OF THE CLAIMANT AND ONLY THE CLAIMANT WILL BE RECOGNIZED THEREIN EXCEPT PURSUANT TO HIS DULY EXECUTED POWER OF ATTORNEY.'

THE PAY ROLLS COVERING THE SALARIES OF THE EMPLOYEES OF THIS ADMINISTRATION ARE PREPARED FROM APPOINTMENT DATA IN CONJUNCTION WITH RELATED SERVICE REPORTS. THE EMPLOYEE RECEIVES A NOTICE OF HIS APPOINTMENT FROM WHICH HE CAN DETERMINE THE AMOUNT HE SHOULD RECEIVE EACH PAY PERIOD FOR SERVICES RENDERED. IN ORDER TO MAKE SUCH DETERMINATION, HOWEVER, IT WOULD BE NECESSARY FOR HIM TO BE FAMILIAR WITH ALL REGULATIONS AND APPLICABLE INTERPRETATION RELATING TO THE COMPUTATIONS OF FEDERAL SALARY PAYMENTS, INCLUDING NECESSARY DEDUCTIONS.

ALTHOUGH IN MR. WHITE'S CASE NO DEDUCTIONS WERE NECESSARY, THE PRINCIPLE HERE INVOLVED APPLIES EQUALLY TO CURRENT PAYMENTS. IT MUST BE RECOGNIZED THAT THE REGULATIONS ARE RATHER COMPLICATED AND DIFFICULT TO LEARN WHEN THE PRESENT WITHHOLDING TAX, BOND, AND RETIREMENT DEDUCTIONS ARE CONSIDERED. THERE WOULD NOW BE FEW EMPLOYEES SUFFICIENTLY FAMILIAR WITH THE APPLICABLE REGULATIONS TO COMPUTE THEIR NET SALARY PAYMENT FOR ANY GIVEN PAY PERIOD UNLESS THEY WERE ACTUALLY ENGAGED IN THIS LINE OF WORK. THE MAJORITY OF OUR EMPLOYEES RELY UPON THE ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE TO SEE THAT THEY ARE PAID THE CORRECT AMOUNT OF SALARY AND ONLY THE MOST UNUSUAL ERRORS WOULD NORMALLY BE RECOGNIZED BY THEM. CONSEQUENTLY, CLAIMS FOR UNDERPAYMENTS OF SALARY WOULD SELDOM, IF EVER, BE VOLUNTARILY FILED BY THE EMPLOYEE WITHOUT BEING SO INSTRUCTED BY THE ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE.

MOREOVER, AS YOU KNOW, EMPLOYEES, GENERALLY, ARE NOT REQUIRED TO MAKE CLAIMS FOR THEIR CURRENT SALARIES AND, THEREFORE, IT APPEARS THAT THE QUOTED PORTION OF GENERAL REGULATION NO. 50 NEED NOT NECESSARILY BE APPLICABLE TO AMOUNTS DUE EMPLOYEES AND FORMER EMPLOYEES FOR SALARY. APPLY THE RULE TO FORMER EMPLOYEES WHO HAVE OUTSTANDING SALARY DUE WOULD, IN MANY INSTANCES, WORK A DISTINCT HARDSHIP ON THE INDIVIDUAL IF STRICTLY APPLIED, SINCE, GENERALLY, HE WOULD NOT BE AWARE OF THE FACT THAT UPON SEPARATION HE MUST FORMALLY CLAIM ANY SALARY DUE, WHEREAS, WHILE EMPLOYED, HE IS NOT SO REQUIRED. MOST EMPLOYEES DO NOT RECEIVE THEIR FINAL SALARY CHECK PRIOR TO THE EFFECTIVE DATE OF THEIR SEPARATION AND OFTEN THE PAY ROLL VOUCHER HAS NOT BEEN CERTIFIED AS OF SUCH DATE. FURTHERMORE, IT IS VERY UNDESIRABLE FROM AN ADMINISTRATIVE STANDPOINT TO REQUIRE THE FILING OF A FORMAL CLAIM BY AN EMPLOYEE OR A FORMER EMPLOYEE. SUCH A RESULT WOULD UNDULY DELAY THE CLOSING OUT OF PAY ROLL FILES, INCLUDING TAX, RETIREMENT, AND BOND ACCOUNTS, WHERE SALARY UNDERPAYMENT EXISTS.

IN VIEW OF THE MANNER IN WHICH THESE OBLIGATIONS OCCUR AND THE ADMINISTRATIVE DESIRABILITY OF HANDLING THEM AS PROPOSED, IT IS REQUESTED THAT YOU ADVISE ME WHETHER SUCH ACCOUNTS MAY BE FORWARDED TO YOUR OFFICE FOR SETTLEMENT WITHOUT THE NECESSITY OF A SIGNED CLAIM.

WHERE COMPENSATION IS NOT PAID CURRENTLY TO AN EMPLOYEE, OR WHERE HE IS UNDERPAID AND SUCH UNDERPAYMENT IS NOT DISCOVERED UNTIL SOME TIME LATER, THERE IS NO REQUIREMENT ON THE PART OF THE ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE TO MAKE SUCH PAYMENT TO THE EMPLOYEE OR TO ENCOURAGE THE FILING OF A CLAIM THEREFOR. SEE 23 COMP. GEN. 398 (PARTICULARLY ANSWERS TO QUESTION 3, AT PAGE 401); ALSO 23 ID. 721 (PARTICULARLY ANSWERS TO CIRCUMSTANCES 2 AND 5, AT PAGE 723).

SECTION 236 OF THE REVISED STATUTES, AS AMENDED BY SECTION 305 OF THE BUDGET AND ACCOUNTING ACT OF JUNE 10, 1921, 42 STAT. 24 (31 U.S.C. 71), PROVIDES:

ALL CLAIMS AND DEMANDS WHATEVER BY THE GOVERNMENT OF THE UNITED STATES OR AGAINST IT, AND ALL ACCOUNTS WHATEVER IN WHICH THE GOVERNMENT OF THE UNITED STATES IS CONCERNED, EITHER AS DEBTOR OR CREDITOR, SHALL BE SETTLED AND ADJUSTED IN THE GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE.

IN THE SETTLEMENT OF CLAIMS COMING WITHIN THE PURVIEW OF THE ABOVE QUOTED STATUTE IT HAS BEEN THE INVARIABLE RULE--- SUCH AS THAT PRESCRIBED BY GENERAL REGULATIONS 50, 5 COMP. GEN. 1058--- THAT ALL SUCH CLAIMS MUST BE OVER THE SIGNATURE OF THE CLAIMANT OR OF ONE ACTING FOR HIM PURSUANT TO A DULY EXECUTED POWER OF ATTORNEY. A CLAIM--- COGNIZABLE BY THIS OFFICE UNDER THE STATUTE, SUPRA--- NOT SO PRESENTED WITHIN 10 YEARS FROM THE TIME IT ACCRUES, IS FOREVER BARRED BY THE TERMS OF THE ACT OF OCTOBER 9, 1940, 54 STAT. 1061. SEE DECISION OF JUNE 28, 1944, B-42638, TO THE GOVERNOR OF THE PANAMA CANAL.

THE RULE THUS ESTABLISHED THAT ALL CLAIMS MUST BE PRESENTED OVER THE SIGNATURE OF THE CLAIMANT IS A SALUTARY ONE, AS OTHERWISE THERE WOULD BE NO ASSURANCE THAT THE CLAIMANT IS STILL ALIVE, THAT THE RECORD ADDRESS IS STILL THE PROPER ADDRESS, THAT THE CLAIMANT HIMSELF MAY NOT HAVE WAIVED OR FORFEITED HIS RIGHT TO THE AMOUNT INVOLVED, OR THAT THE CHECK IN PAYMENT OF THE CLAIM WOULD REACH THE CLAIMANT HIMSELF. ACCORDINGLY, THE ACTION OF THE CLAIMS DIVISION OF THIS OFFICE IN THE MATTER WAS CORRECT AND YOUR PROPOSAL TO INITIATE AND PAY CLAIMS OTHERWISE DUE FORMER EMPLOYEES WHO NO LONGER ARE IN THE EMPLOY OF YOUR ADMINISTRATION, WITHOUT THE SIGNATURE OF THE CLAIMANT, MAY NOT BE ACQUIESCED IN BY THIS OFFICE. COMPARE 4 COMP. DEC. 332; 4 COMP. GEN. 56; 7 ID. 751; 21 ID. 871; 23 ID. 398, AND 721.