B-71141, JANUARY 27, 1948, 27 COMP. GEN. 405

B-71141: Jan 27, 1948

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THE EXPENSE OF EMPLOYING A PERSON TO ACT IN LIEU OF A FOURTH-CLASS POSTMASTER WHILE HE IS ABSENT ON COURT OR MILITARY LEAVE. AUTHORIZES PAYMENT ONLY TO REPLACEMENTS WHO SERVE UNTIL AN ACTING POSTMASTER IS DESIGNATED TO FILL THE VACANCY IN THE OFFICE. A FOURTH-CLASS POSTMASTER WHO IS SUBPOENAED AS A WITNESS OR FOR JURY DUTY IN A FEDERAL COURT IS NOT PAID THE USUAL FEE FOR SUCH SERVICE ALTHOUGH HE MUST EMPLOY A REPLACEMENT TO OPERATE THE POST OFFICE DURING SUCH ABSENCE. A DECISION IS REQUESTED AS TO WHETHER REPLACEMENTS FOR FOURTH-CLASS POSTMASTERS COVERING ABSENCE ON JURY DUTY OR AS WITNESSES FOR THE GOVERNMENT IN FEDERAL AND STATE COURTS MAY BE PAID FROM THE APPROPRIATION " COMPENSATION TO POSTMASTERS.'.

B-71141, JANUARY 27, 1948, 27 COMP. GEN. 405

APPROPRIATIONS - POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT - AVAILABILITY FOR EMPLOYMENT OF PERSONS AT FOURTH-CLASS OFFICES TO ACT IN LIEU OF POSTMASTER ON COURT OR MILITARY LEAVE UNDER THE ACT OF JULY 22, 1947, MAKING THE APPROPRIATION ITEM " COMPENSATION TO POSTMASTERS" AVAILABLE FOR THE COMPENSATION OF PERSONS ACTING IN LIEU OF POSTMASTERS AT FOURTH-CLASS OFFICES DURING THEIR ABSENCE ON SICK OR ANNUAL LEAVE, OR LEAVE WITHOUT PAY, THE EXPENSE OF EMPLOYING A PERSON TO ACT IN LIEU OF A FOURTH-CLASS POSTMASTER WHILE HE IS ABSENT ON COURT OR MILITARY LEAVE, AND FOR SUNDAYS AND HOLIDAYS THAT OCCUR DURING THE POSTMASTER'S ABSENCE, MAY NOT BE PAID FROM SAID APPROPRIATION ITEM WHICH, BY ITSELF, AUTHORIZES PAYMENT ONLY TO REPLACEMENTS WHO SERVE UNTIL AN ACTING POSTMASTER IS DESIGNATED TO FILL THE VACANCY IN THE OFFICE.

ACTING COMPTROLLER GENERAL YATES TO THE POSTMASTER GENERAL, JANUARY 27, 1948:

CONSIDERATION HAS BEEN GIVEN YOUR PREDECESSOR'S LETTER OF NOVEMBER 13, 1947, REFERENCE 15, AS FOLLOWS:

PUBLIC LAW 211, APPROVED JULY 22, 1947, PROVIDES COMPENSATION FROM THE APPROPRIATION " COMPENSATION TO POSTMASTERS" TO PERSONS WHO PERFORM THE DUTIES OF THE POSTMASTER AT POST OFFICES OF THE FOURTH CLASS DURING THE ABSENCE OF THE POSTMASTER ON SICK OR ANNUAL LEAVE WITHOUT PAY.

A FOURTH-CLASS POSTMASTER WHO IS SUBPOENAED AS A WITNESS OR FOR JURY DUTY IN A FEDERAL COURT IS NOT PAID THE USUAL FEE FOR SUCH SERVICE ALTHOUGH HE MUST EMPLOY A REPLACEMENT TO OPERATE THE POST OFFICE DURING SUCH ABSENCE. A FOURTH-CLASS POSTMASTER SUBPOENAED AS A WITNESS OR FOR JURY DUTY IN A STATE COURT MAY RECEIVE THE FEES, WHICH HE MUST DEPOSIT IN HIS ACCOUNTS, LIKEWISE EMPLOYS A REPLACEMENT TO CONDUCT THE OFFICE DURING SUCH ABSENCE.

A DECISION IS REQUESTED AS TO WHETHER REPLACEMENTS FOR FOURTH-CLASS POSTMASTERS COVERING ABSENCE ON JURY DUTY OR AS WITNESSES FOR THE GOVERNMENT IN FEDERAL AND STATE COURTS MAY BE PAID FROM THE APPROPRIATION " COMPENSATION TO POSTMASTERS.'

A FOURTH-CLASS POSTMASTER WHO IS A MEMBER OF THE ARMY OR NAVY RESERVE CORPS MAY BE CALLED TO ACTIVE DUTY FOR 15 DAYS TRAINING AND A REPLACEMENT EMPLOYED TO CONDUCT THE OFFICE DURING THIS ABSENCE. UNDER SUCH CIRCUMSTANCES MAY THE REPLACEMENT DURING THE ABSENCE OF A FOURTH CLASS POSTMASTER ON MILITARY DUTY BE PAID IN THE SAME MANNER AS ABSENCES ON SICK OR ANNUAL LEAVE?

SOME FOURTH-CLASS POSTMASTERS HAVE OF NECESSITY FOLLOWED THE PRACTICE OVER A LONG NUMBER OF YEARS OF KEEPING THEIR OFFICE OPEN ON SUNDAYS AND HOLIDAYS FOR THE ACCOMMODATION OF PATRONS, AND WHEN SUCH SUNDAYS AND HOLIDAYS FALL WITHIN A PERIOD OF ABSENCE, A REPLACEMENT IS EMPLOYED TO CONDUCT THE OFFICE.

OUR PRESENT POLICY IS TO DEDUCT ALL SUNDAYS AND HOLIDAYS THAT FALL WITHIN THE PERIOD OF THE POSTMASTER'S LEAVE IN COMPUTING THE PAY DUE THE REPLACEMENT WHEN SUCH LEAVE IS WITH PAY. IN VIEW OF THE FACT THAT SOME FOURTH-CLASS OFFICES ARE KEPT OPEN A PORTION OF SUCH DAYS IN ADDITION TO REGULAR WEEK DAYS, MAY THE REPLACEMENT IN SUCH CASES BE PAID FOR SUNDAYS AND HOLIDAYS THAT OCCUR DURING THE POSTMASTER'S ABSENCE AND ON WHICH SERVICE IS ACTUALLY PERFORMED?

IT IS UNDERSTOOD THAT ORDINARILY POSTMASTERS AT OFFICES OF THE FOURTH CLASS RECEIVE NO ALLOWANCE FOR CLERICAL SERVICE AND THAT, IN THE ABSENCE OF SOME SPECIAL AUTHORITY, ANY EXPENSE OF EMPLOYING A PERSON TO ACT IN LIEU OF SUCH A POSTMASTER WHO IS ON LEAVE OF ABSENCE, WHETHER WITH OR WITHOUT PAY, IS PAYABLE BY THE POSTMASTER. SEE 21 COMP. GEN. 191, 194; 25 ID. 568. IN THAT CONNECTION THERE RECENTLY WAS ENACTED PUBLIC LAW 211, APPROVED JULY 22, 1947, 61 STAT. 400, TO WHICH REFERENCE IS MADE IN THE FIRST PARAGRAPH OF THE LETTER, SUPRA, PROVIDING FOR THE GOVERNMENT'S ASSUMPTION OF THE COST OF COMPENSATING PERSONS PERFORMING THE DUTIES OF POSTMASTERS AT OFFICES OF THE FOURTH CLASS DURING PERIODS OF ANNUAL AND SICK LEAVE OR WHILE SUCH POSTMASTER IS ABSENT IN A LEAVE WITHOUT PAY STATUS, SAID ACT PROVIDING AS FOLLOWS:

THAT THERE IS AUTHORIZED TO BE EXPENDED, FROM THE APPROPRIATION FOR COMPENSATION TO POSTMASTERS IN THE ANNUAL POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT'S APPROPRIATION ACTS, COMPENSATION, AT THE RATE PROVIDED BY LAW FOR POSTMASTERS' COMPENSATION, TO PERSONS WHO PERFORM THE DUTIES OF THE POSTMASTER AT POST OFFICES OF THE FOURTH CLASS DURING THE ABSENCE OF THE POSTMASTER ON SICK OR ANNUAL LEAVE, OR LEAVE WITHOUT PAY.

I AM NOT AWARE OF, AND MY ATTENTION HAS NOT BEEN INVITED TO, ANY SIMILAR LEGISLATION WHICH WOULD PURPORT TO PROVIDE COMPENSATION TO PERSONS PERFORMING THE DUTIES OF POSTMASTERS AT POST OFFICES OF THE FOURTH CLASS DURING PERIODS INVOLVING THE ABSENCE OF SUCH A POSTMASTER FOR REASONS OTHER THAN THOSE STATED IN THE STATUTE, SUPRA, THAT IS TO SAY, FOR ABSENCES OTHER THAN THOSE FOR ANNUAL OR SICK LEAVE, OR LEAVE WITHOUT PAY. NONE OF THE ABSENCES MENTIONED IN THE ABOVE-QUOTED LETTER WOULD OCCUR FOR ANY OF THOSE REASONS.

THE APPROPRIATION," COMPENSATION TO POSTMASTERS," FOR THE CURRENT FISCAL YEAR IS INCLUDED IN THE TREASURY AND POST OFFICE DEPARTMENTS APPROPRIATION ACT, 1948, APPROVED JULY 1, 1947, 61 STAT. 229, UNDER THE HEADING," OFFICE OF THE FIRST ASSISTANT POSTMASTER GENERAL," IN THE FOLLOWING LANGUAGE:

COMPENSATION TO POSTMASTERS: FOR COMPENSATION TO POSTMASTERS, INCLUDING COMPENSATION AS POSTMASTERS TO PERSONS WHO, PENDING THE DESIGNATION OF AN ACTING POSTMASTER, ASSUME AND PERFORM THE DUTIES OF POSTMASTERS IN THE EVENT OF A VACANCY IN THE OFFICE OF POSTMASTER OF THE THIRD OR FOURTH CLASS, AND FOR ALLOWANCES FOR RENT, LIGHT, FUEL, AND EQUIPMENT TO POSTMASTERS OF THE FOURTH CLASS, $87,470,000.

THAT LANGUAGE OF THE APPROPRIATION, BY ITSELF, AUTHORIZES PAYMENT ONLY TO POSTMASTERS OR TO PERSONS WHO, PENDING THE DESIGNATION OF ACTING POSTMASTER, ASSUME AND PERFORM THE DUTIES OF POSTMASTERS IN THE EVENT OF A VACANCY IN THE OFFICE OF POSTMASTER. NONE OF THE ABSENCES DESCRIBED IN THE ABOVE-QUOTED LETTER WOULD RESULT IN A VACANCY IN THE OFFICE OF POSTMASTER AND THE PERSONS FILLING THE POSITION OF THE POSTMASTERS DURING SUCH ABSENCES WOULD NOT BE POSTMASTERS.

ACCORDINGLY, AND IN THE ABSENCE OF SOME AUTHORIZING STATUTE SUCH AS PUBLIC LAW 211, SUPRA, EACH OF THE QUESTIONS PRESENTED IS ANSWERED IN THE NEGATIVE.