B-51732, SEPTEMBER 4, 1945, 25 COMP. GEN. 251

B-51732: Sep 4, 1945

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THE PROMOTIONS WERE NOT AUTOMATICALLY EFFECTIVE ON JULY 1. 1945: I HAVE YOUR LETTER OF AUGUST 9. ARE ENTITLED TO AUTOMATIC PROMOTIONS IN SALARY EFFECTIVE JULY 1. FOR WHOM AUTOMATIC PROMOTION GRADES ARE PROVIDED IN THIS ACT. WAS A POST OFFICE INSPECTOR IN GRADE 4 OF THE POST OFFICE INSPECTION SERVICE AT $3. HE WOULD HAVE BEEN PROMOTED ON JULY 1. THE QUESTION IS PRESENTED WHETHER UNDER THE CIRCUMSTANCES SET OUT BELOW THE PROMOTION TO WHICH INSPECTOR NELSON WAS ENTITLED EFFECTIVE JULY 1. WAS AN "AUTOMATIC" PROMOTION "UNDER LAWS IN EFFECT JUNE 30. COMPENSATION OF POST OFFICE INSPECTORS WAS PAID UNDER THE AUTHORITY OF SECTION 693 (A. PROVIDING: "THE POSTMASTER GENERAL IS AUTHORIZED AND DIRECTED TO ADJUST THE COMPENSATION OF POST OFFICE INSPECTORS AND INSPECTORS IN CHARGE IN THE POST OFFICE INSPECTION SERVICE TO CORRESPOND.

B-51732, SEPTEMBER 4, 1945, 25 COMP. GEN. 251

POSTAL SERVICE - POST OFFICE INSPECTORS - SALARY ADJUSTMENTS UNDER ACT OF JULY 6, 1945 IN THE CASE OF POST OFFICE INSPECTORS, COMPENSATED PRIOR TO JULY 1, 1945, UNDER THE PROVISIONS IN 39 U.S.C. 693 (A) AT SALARY RATES BASED ON CLASSIFICATION ACT RATES, WHO HAD COMPLETED THE REQUIRED MINIMUM SERVICE IN THEIR RESPECTIVE GRADES ON JUNE 30, 1945, FOR PROMOTION TO THE NEXT HIGHER GRADES, THE PROMOTIONS WERE NOT AUTOMATICALLY EFFECTIVE ON JULY 1, 1945, SO AS TO AUTHORIZE THE USE OF THE SALARY RATES OF THE HIGHER GRADES AS A BASIS FOR INITIAL SALARY ADJUSTMENT EFFECTIVE JULY 1, 1945, PURSUANT TO SECTIONS 21 AND 23 OF THE POSTAL SERVICE PAY STATUTE OF JULY 6, 1945, SUCH PROMOTIONS BEING DEPENDENT UPON ADMINISTRATIVE ACTION.

COMPTROLLER GENERAL WARREN TO THE POSTMASTER GENERAL, SEPTEMBER 4, 1945:

I HAVE YOUR LETTER OF AUGUST 9, 1945, REFERENCE 3, AS FOLLOWS:

THE ACT OF JULY 6, 1945, PUBLIC LAW 134, 79TH CONGRESS, PROVIDES IN SECTION 21 (59 STAT. 459:)

"EMPLOYEES WHO, UNDER LAWS IN EFFECT JUNE 30, 1945, ARE ENTITLED TO AUTOMATIC PROMOTIONS IN SALARY EFFECTIVE JULY 1, 1945, AND FOR WHOM AUTOMATIC PROMOTION GRADES ARE PROVIDED IN THIS ACT, SHALL BE GIVEN CREDIT FOR THEIR EARNED AUTOMATIC PROMOTIONS IN SALARY BEFORE APPLYING THE PROVISIONS OF SECTION 23 AND 24 OF THIS ACT * * * .'

WALLACE N. NELSON ON JUNE 30, 1945, WAS A POST OFFICE INSPECTOR IN GRADE 4 OF THE POST OFFICE INSPECTION SERVICE AT $3,500 PER ANNUM. IF PUBLIC LAW 134 HAD NOT BEEN ENACTED, HE WOULD HAVE BEEN PROMOTED ON JULY 1, 1945, TO GRADE 5 AT $3,800 PER ANNUM. SECTION 15 (B) OF PUBLIC LAW 134 PROVIDES AUTOMATIC GRADES FOR POST OFFICE INSPECTORS.

THE QUESTION IS PRESENTED WHETHER UNDER THE CIRCUMSTANCES SET OUT BELOW THE PROMOTION TO WHICH INSPECTOR NELSON WAS ENTITLED EFFECTIVE JULY 1, 1945, WAS AN "AUTOMATIC" PROMOTION "UNDER LAWS IN EFFECT JUNE 30, 1945.'

ON JUNE 30, 1945, COMPENSATION OF POST OFFICE INSPECTORS WAS PAID UNDER THE AUTHORITY OF SECTION 693 (A,) TITLE 39, U.S.CODE, PROVIDING:

"THE POSTMASTER GENERAL IS AUTHORIZED AND DIRECTED TO ADJUST THE COMPENSATION OF POST OFFICE INSPECTORS AND INSPECTORS IN CHARGE IN THE POST OFFICE INSPECTION SERVICE TO CORRESPOND, SO FAR AS MAY BE PRACTICABLE, TO THE RATES PRESCRIBED BY SECTIONS 661 TO 674 OF TITLE 5, FOR POSITIONS IN THE DEPARTMENTAL SERVICE IN THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA * *

UNDER SECTION 693 (A) OF TITLE 39, REGULATIONS FOR THE ALLOCATION OF POST OFFICE INSPECTORS TO GRADES WITH RATES CORRESPONDING TO THOSE DESCRIBED IN CLASSIFICATION ACT OF 1923 WERE PROMULGATED BY THE DEPARTMENT FROM TIME TO TIME. THE EDITION IN EFFECT JUNE 30, 1945, IS THE EDITION OF APRIL 9, 1943, COPY HEREWITH.

UNDER THESE DEPARTMENTAL REGULATIONS ISSUED PURSUANT TO SECTION 693 (A), A DESCRIPTION OF DUTIES, OR CLASSIFICATION SHEET, WAS PREPARED FOR EACH ASSIGNMENT OF A POST OFFICE INSPECTOR. AFTER CONSIDERATION OF THE LEVEL OF DIFFICULTY OF THE WORK DESCRIBED, EACH JOB DESCRIPTION WAS ALLOCATED TO ONE OF THE GRADES OF THE POST OFFICE INSPECTION SERVICE. THE JOB DESCRIPTION TO WHICH INSPECTOR NELSON STOOD ASSIGNED ON JUNE 30, 1945, WAS ALLOCATED TO GRADE 5 IN THE POST OFFICE INSPECTION SERVICE, WHICH GRADE CORRESPONDS IN LEVEL OF DIFFICULTY AND IN SALARY RATES TO GRADE 11 OF THE CLERICAL ADMINISTRATIVE AND FISCAL SERVICE. NORMALLY, INSPECTOR NELSON WOULD HAVE BEEN ALLOCATED TO GRADE 5 AND PAID AT THE MINIMUM RATE OF THAT GRADE, NAMELY $3,800, BEGINNING WITH HIS ASSIGNMENT TO A JOB DESCRIPTION ALLOCATED TO THAT GRADE. HOWEVER, THIS WAS PROHIBITED BY A PROVISION IN THE REGULATIONS OF APRIL 9, 1943 (SEE MINIMUM QUALIFICATIONS, PAGE 6) WHICH REQUIRED THAT AN INDIVIDUAL BEFORE BEING ADVANCED TO GRADE 5 ON THE PAYROLL, SHOULD POSSESS CERTAIN MINIMUM QUALIFICATIONS, AMONG WHICH WAS "CONSISTENT DEVELOPMENT DURING NOT LESS THAN ONE YEAR'S SERVICE AS A POST OFFICE INSPECTOR IN GRADE 4.' INSPECTOR NELSON WAS THEREFORE ASSIGNED TO OPERATE THIS GRADE 5 ASSIGNMENT BUT HIS PAYROLL ADVANCEMENT TO A GRADE 5 SALARY WAS DEFERRED UNTIL HE COULD MEET THE MINIMUM REQUIREMENTS PRESCRIBED BY THE DEPARTMENT. THIS PROCEDURE IS CONSIDERED TO BE IN HARMONY WITH YOUR DECISION OF JANUARY 12, 1945, B-46558, REQUIRING THAT AN EMPLOYEE SELECTED BY THE DEPARTMENT FOR AN ASSIGNMENT OF A CERTAIN GRADE MIGHT BE REQUIRED TO OPERATE THIS ASSIGNMENT AT A LOWER PAYROLL SALARY UNTIL HE COULD MEET THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE HIGHER GRADE SET OUT BY THE CIVIL SERVICE COMMISSION IN ITS DEPARTMENTAL CIRCULAR 257.

INASMUCH AS INSPECTOR NELSON HAD BEEN FOUND TO MEET ALL OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR GRADE 5 EXCEPT THE REQUIREMENT OF ONE YEAR IN GRADE 4, THE DEPARTMENT CONSIDERS THAT HIS ADVANCEMENT ON THE PAYROLL ON JULY 1, 1945, WAS AUTOMATIC AND NOT DISCRETIONARY.

THE PROCEDURE OUTLINED ABOVE AS TO INSPECTOR NELSON IS A PROCEDURE WHICH HAS BEEN FOLLOWED UNIFORMLY SINCE THE ENACTMENT OF 693 (A) OF TITLE 39 WHICH WAS EFFECTIVE AUGUST 7, 1935. IF THE GRADE ADVANCEMENT DUE TO INSPECTOR NELSON ON JULY 1, 1945, IS REGARDED AS AN AUTOMATIC PROMOTION WITHIN THE MEANING OF SECTION 21 OF PUBLIC LAW 134, HIS SALARY WOULD HAVE BEEN ADJUSTED UNDER PUBLIC LAW 134 AS FOLLOWS:

SALARY ON JUNE 30, 1945, $3,500.

AUTOMATIC PROMOTION DUE JULY 1, 1945, $300.

APPLICATION OF SECTION 23 OF PUBLIC LAW 134, $4,200.

IN THE EVENT THAT THE GRADE PROMOTION DUE ON JULY 1 IS NOT REGARDED AS AN AUTOMATIC PROMOTION WITHIN THE MEANING OF SECTION 21, INSPECTOR NELSON'S SALARY WOULD BE CONVERTED UNDER THE PROVISIONS OF SECTION 23, FROM $3,500 TO $4,000.

IN THE CASE OF INSPECTOR JOHN J. MORAN, A SLIGHT VARIATION IN THE FACTS IS PRESENT. INSPECTOR MORAN WAS APPOINTED AS A POST OFFICE INSPECTOR IN GRADE 1 AT $2,600 PER ANNUM ON JANUARY 1, 1945. FROM JANUARY 1 TO JUNE 30, 1945, INSPECTOR MORAN PERFORMED THE DUTIES OF A STUDENT INSPECTOR AS DESCRIBED UNDER THE HEADING " GRADE 1" ON PAGE 3 OF THE REGULATIONS OF APRIL 9, 1943, ENCLOSED. HE HAD ACQUIRED ALL OF THE QUALIFICATIONS PRESCRIBED AS MINIMUM FOR GRADE 2 (SEE PAGE 4 OF THE REGULATIONS) EXCEPT THE COMPLETION OF SIX MONTHS' SERVICE IN GRADE 1, AND THIS SIX MONTHS' PERIOD WOULD HAVE EXPIRED AT THE CLOSE OF BUSINESS ON JUNE 30, 1945. UNDER THE PROCEDURES FOLLOWED BASED ON SECTION 693 (A) OF TITLE 39, THE DEPARTMENT REGARDED HIS ADVANCEMENT TO GRADE 2 AS AUTOMATIC. IT WILL BE NOTED FROM PAGE 4 OF THE REGULATIONS THAT GRADE 2 IS NOT THE GRADE OF ANY GEOGRAPHICAL ASSIGNMENT BUT IS AN ADVANCED TRAINING GRADE TO WHICH ALL STUDENT INSPECTORS PASS WHEN THEY NO LONGER NEED A SPECIAL INSTRUCTOR, AND HAVE COMPLETED AT LEAST SIX MONTHS IN THE LOWER TRAINING GRADE (GRADE 1).

IF ADVANCEMENT FROM THE ELEMENTARY TO THE ADVANCED TRAINING GRADE IS REGARDED AS AN AUTOMATIC PROMOTION WITHIN THE MEANING OF SECTION 20, INSPECTOR MORAN'S SALARY ADJUSTMENT TO CONFORM TO PUBLIC LAW 134 WOULD BE AS FOLLOWS:

SALARY ON JUNE 30, 1945, $2,600.

PROMOTION DUE JULY 1, 1945, $300.

APPLICATION OF SECTION 23 OF PUBLIC LAW 134, $3,400.

OTHERWISE, HIS SALARY UNDER SECTION 23 WOULD BE FIXED AT $3,200.

SECTION 15 (B) AND SECTION 23 OF THE STATUTE, 59 STAT. 450, 460, CITED IN YOUR LETTER PROVIDE, SO FAR AS HERE MATERIAL, AS FOLLOWS:

SEC. 15. * * *

(B) POST-OFFICE INSPECTORS SHALL BE DIVIDED INTO TEN GRADES WITH ANNUAL SALARIES AS FOLLOWS:

GRADE 1 ---------------$3,200 GRADE 6 ---------------$4,200

GRADE 2 --------------- 3,400 GRADE 7 --------------- 4,600

GRADE 3 --------------- 3,600 GRADE 8 --------------- 5,000

GRADE 4 --------------- 3,800 GRADE 9 --------------- 5,500

GRADE 5 --------------- 4,000 GRADE L0 -------------- 6,000AND SHALL BE PROMOTED SUCCESSIVELY AT THE BEGINNING OF THE QUARTER FOLLOWING ONE YEAR'S SATISFACTORY SERVICE IN EACH GRADE UNTIL THEY REACH GRADE 8 * * * .

SEC. 23. IN THE READJUSTMENT OF SALARIES TO CONFORM TO THE PROVISIONS OF THIS ACT, REGULAR EMPLOYEES FOR WHOM SALARY STEPS, AUTOMATIC AND ADDITIONAL GRADES HAVE BEEN PROVIDED IN SECTION 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 18, AND 19 SHALL BE ASSIGNED TO THE SALARY OF THEIR RESPECTIVE POSITIONS ON THE BASIS OF THEIR BASE SALARY PLUS 20 PERCENTUM, OR $400, WHICHEVER IS LESSER AMOUNT, BUT NOT LESS THAN $300: PROVIDED, THAT WHEN THE APPLICATION OF THE ABOVE FORMULA PRODUCES A SUM THAT IS NOT EQUAL TO A SALARY PROVIDED FOR THE POSITION, THE EMPLOYEE SHALL BE ASSIGNED TO THE NEXT HIGHER SALARY GRADE * * * .

NOTHING APPEARS IN 39 U.S.C. 693 (A) (49 STAT. 538), A PORTION OF WHICH IS QUOTED IN YOUR LETTER, OR IN THE COPY OF ADMINISTRATIVE REGULATIONS OF APRIL 9, 1943, FURNISHED WITH YOUR LETTER, IN FORCE ON JUNE 30, 1945, WHICH WOULD HAVE HAD THE EFFECT OF AUTHORIZING AN AUTOMATIC PROMOTION FROM ONE SALARY GRADE TO ANOTHER, EFFECTIVE JULY 1, 1945, IN EITHER OF THE CASES PRESENTED, HAD THE NEW STATUTE NOT BEEN ENACTED. THAT IS TO SAY, PRIOR TO JULY 1, 1945, THE ADVANCE OF POST OFFICE INSPECTORS FROM ONE SALARY GRADE TO ANOTHER, CORRESPONDING TO THE GRADES ESTABLISHED BY THE CLASSIFICATION ACT, AS AMENDED, WAS NOT AUTOMATIC BUT WAS DEPENDENT UPON ADMINISTRATIVE ACTION.

YOU STATE IN YOUR LETTER, WITH RESPECT TO THE CASE OF INSPECTOR NELSON, THAT ONE OF THE MINIMUM QUALIFICATIONS FOR ADVANCEMENT FROM GRADE 4 TO GRADE 5, VIZ,"CONSISTENT DEVELOPMENT DURING NOT LESS THAN ONE YEAR'S SERVICE AS A POST OFFICE INSPECTOR IN GRADE 4," WAS CONSIDERED TO BE IN HARMONY WITH THE DECISION OF THIS OFFICE OF JANUARY 12, 1945 (B-46558), 24 COMP. GEN. 518. IN THAT CONNECTION, IT IS PROPER TO CONSIDER HERE THE RULES STATED IN THAT DECISION, WHICH RULES ARE AS FOLLOWS (QUOTING FROM THE SYLLABUS):

THE CIVIL SERVICE COMMISSION HAS THE AUTHORITY UNDER SECTION 3 OF THE CLASSIFICATION ACT OF 1923, TO REQUIRE AN EMPLOYEE TO SERVE A FIXED MINIMUM LENGTH OF TIME "IN HIS PRESENT GRADE OR ONE OF EQUIVALENT OR HIGHER GRADE LEVEL IN THE FEDERAL SERVICE" TO QUALIFY HIM TO OCCUPY A POSITION ALLOCATED OR REALLOCATED IN A PARTICULAR GRADE, AS WELL AS THE AUTHORITY TO DETERMINE THE QUALIFICATIONS OF AN EMPLOYEE FOR PROMOTION OR ADVANCEMENT IN SALARY FROM ONE GRADE TO ANOTHER.

WHILE THE GENERAL RULE IS THAT A CHANGE IN SALARY RATE RESULTING FROM THE ALLOCATION OR REALLOCATION OF A POSITION IS EFFECTIVE FROM THE BEGINNING OF THE PAY PERIOD CURRENT WHEN NOTICE OF THE ACTION OF THE CIVIL SERVICE COMMISSION IS RECEIVED IN THE ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE, SUCH RULE IS NOT FOR APPLICATION UNLESS THE EMPLOYEE EFFECTED HAS ACTUALLY ATTAINED AT THAT TIME THE QUALIFICATIONS PRESCRIBED BY THE COMMISSION--- SUCH AS THE MINIMUM SERVICE ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS PRESCRIBED INDEPARTMENT CIRCULAR NO. 257, REVISION 3, AND SUPPLEMENTS THERETO--- TO ENTITLE HIM TO OCCUPY THE ALLOCATED OR REALLOCATED POSITION. 6 COMP. GEN. 358 AND 18 ID. 794, DISTINGUISHED.

WHERE, AT THE TIME HIS POSITION WAS ALLOCATED TO A HIGHER GRADE ON THE BASIS OF INCREASED DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES, AN EMPLOYEE DID NOT MEET THE MINIMUM SERVICE ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS FOR PROMOTION TO SUCH HIGHER GRADE PRESCRIBED BY THE CIVIL SERVICE COMMISSION IN DEPARTMENTAL CIRCULAR NO. 257, REVISION 3, AND SUPPLEMENTS THERETO, HE MAY BE REGARDED AS REMAINING IN STATUS QUO AS ON DETAIL UNTIL HE QUALIFIES FOR THE HIGHER GRADE, AND MAY CONTINUE TO RECEIVE THE SALARY RATE OF THE FORMER GRADE DURING SUCH PERIOD.

WHERE, UPON ALLOCATION OF HIS POSITION TO A HIGHER GRADE ON THE BASIS OF INCREASED DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES, AN EMPLOYEE DID NOT MEET THE MINIMUM SERVICE ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS FOR THE HIGHER GRADE AND, HENCE, IS CONTINUED IN STATUS QUO AS ON DETAIL UNTIL HE BECOMES ELIGIBLE, THE SALARY RATE OF THE HIGHER GRADE DOES NOT BECOME AUTOMATICALLY EFFECTIVE, EITHER RETROACTIVELY TO THE BEGINNING OF THE PAY PERIOD CURRENT WHEN NOTICE OF THE ALLOCATION WAS RECEIVED IN THE ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE OR PROSPECTIVELY, WHEN THE EMPLOYEE ATTAINS ELIGIBILITY, BUT THERE MUST BE ADMINISTRATIVE ACTION TERMINATING THE DETAIL AND PROMOTING HIM TO BECOME EFFECTIVE ON OR AFTER THE DATE THE ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS ARE MET.

IN THE CASE OF NELSON, YOU DO NOT STATE SPECIFICALLY WHETHER HE HAD COMPLETED THE REQUIRED ONE YEAR'S SERVICE IN GRADE 4 ON JUNE 30, 1945-- THE INFERENCE IN SEVENTH PARAGRAPH OF YOUR LETTER BEING THAT HE HAD NOT. IN THE CASE OF MORAN, YOU STATE SPECIFICALLY THAT HE HAD COMPLETED THE REQUIRED SIX MONTHS' SERVICE IN GRADE 1 ON JUNE 30, 1945. HOWEVER, REGARDLESS OF THAT FACT, AS THE REALLOCATION OF A POSITION, OR THE ADMINISTRATIVE PROMOTION OF AN EMPLOYEE UNDER THE CLASSIFICATION ACT FROM ONE GRADE TO ANOTHER, IS NEVER REGARDED AS AUTOMATIC AS ARE WITHIN-GRADE SALARY ADVANCEMENTS--- CF. DECISION OF AUGUST 1, 1945, B-51247, 25 COMP. GEN. 149, TO YOU, INVOLVING EMPLOYEES OF THE MAIL EQUIPMENT SHOPS--- AND AS THE SALARY GRADES FOR INSPECTORS PRIOR TO JULY 1, 1945, WERE REQUIRED BY LAW TO CORRESPOND TO THE SALARY GRADES ESTABLISHED BY THE CLASSIFICATION ACT, IT FOLLOWS THAT EVEN THOUGH BOTH INSPECTORS, WHOSE CASES ARE HERE PRESENTED, HAD COMPLETED THE REQUIRED SERVICE IN THE LOWER GRADE ON JUNE 30, 1945, THERE REMAINED AN ADMINISTRATIVE ACTION TO BE TAKEN ON OR AFTER JULY 1, 1945, TO TERMINATE THE SO-CALLED "DETAIL" IN THE LOWER GRADES AND TO ADVANCE THE EMPLOYEES TO THE HIGHER GRADES.

THEREFORE, UNDER THE PROVISIONS OF THE ACT OF JULY 6, 1945, THE PROPER SALARY GRADE EFFECTIVE AS OF JULY 1, 1945, OF INSPECTOR NELSON WAS $4,000 PER ANNUM, AND OF INSPECTOR MORAN, $3,200 PER ANNUM.