B-78891, AUGUST 20, 1948, 28 COMP. GEN. 111

B-78891: Aug 20, 1948

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IT WAS IMPOSSIBLE FOR EMPLOYEES TO REPORT FOR DUTY ON DAYS WHEN THEIR OFFICES WERE NOT CLOSED. 1948: I HAVE A LETTER OF JULY 28. WHEN THEIR OFFICE WAS NOT CLOSED. THE EMPLOYEES ARE DESCRIBED IN THE FOLLOWING GROUPS: (A) A NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES OF THE STATION WERE RESIDENTS OF VANPORT CITY AND SUFFERED THE LOSS OF ALL THEIR PERSONAL BELONGINGS IN THE FLOOD ON SUNDAY. WERE UNABLE TO REPORT FOR DUTY IN THE REGIONAL OFFICE ON THE FOLLOWING TUESDAY DUE TO THE NECESSITY OF LOCATING MEMBERS OF THEIR FAMILIES AND/OR DUE TO THE ATTEMPTS TO REHABILITATE THEIR FAMILIES AND THEMSELVES. WHICH IS LOCATED ACROSS THE COLUMBIA RIVER FROM THE CITY OF PORTLAND. WERE UNABLE TO REPORT FOR DUTY ON TUESDAY. (C) THERE WAS AN EMPLOYEE OF THE STATION RESIDING IN VANCOUVER.

B-78891, AUGUST 20, 1948, 28 COMP. GEN. 111

ABSENCES OCCASIONED BY ACTS OF GOD - COMPENSATION PAYMENTS WITHOUT CHARGE TO ANNUAL LEAVE IF IT BE ADMINISTRATIVELY CERTIFIED ON APPLICABLE PAY ROLLS THAT, DUE TO A FLOOD--- AN ACT OF GOD--- OR BECAUSE OF THE FAILURE OF TRANSPORTATION FACILITIES, ETC., OCCASIONED THEREBY, IT WAS IMPOSSIBLE FOR EMPLOYEES TO REPORT FOR DUTY ON DAYS WHEN THEIR OFFICES WERE NOT CLOSED, PAYMENT OF COMPENSATION FOR SUCH DAYS MAY BE MADE TO SAID EMPLOYEES AND THE ABSENCES ADMINISTRATIVELY EXCUSED WITHOUT ANY CHARGE TO ANNUAL LEAVE.

COMPTROLLER GENERAL WARREN TO THE ADMINISTRATOR OF VETERANS' AFFAIRS, AUGUST 20, 1948:

I HAVE A LETTER OF JULY 28, 1948, FROM THE EXECUTIVE ASSISTANT ADMINISTRATOR, REQUESTING A DECISION AS TO WHETHER THE ABSENCE OF CERTAIN EMPLOYEES, MORE PARTICULARLY DESCRIBED THEREIN, SHOULD BE CHARGED TO ANNUAL LEAVE OR LEAVE WITHOUT PAY FOR DAYS OR PARTS OF DAYS WHEN ABSENT FROM DUTY DURING THE PERIOD JUNE 1, 1948, THROUGH JUNE 4, 1948, WHEN THEIR OFFICE WAS NOT CLOSED.

THE EMPLOYEES ARE DESCRIBED IN THE FOLLOWING GROUPS:

(A) A NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES OF THE STATION WERE RESIDENTS OF VANPORT CITY AND SUFFERED THE LOSS OF ALL THEIR PERSONAL BELONGINGS IN THE FLOOD ON SUNDAY, MAY 30, 1948, AND WERE UNABLE TO REPORT FOR DUTY IN THE REGIONAL OFFICE ON THE FOLLOWING TUESDAY DUE TO THE NECESSITY OF LOCATING MEMBERS OF THEIR FAMILIES AND/OR DUE TO THE ATTEMPTS TO REHABILITATE THEIR FAMILIES AND THEMSELVES, OR FOR OTHER REASONS SUCH AS LACK OF CLOTHING.

(B) OTHER EMPLOYEES OF THE STATION WHO RESIDE AT VANCOUVER, WASHINGTON, WHICH IS LOCATED ACROSS THE COLUMBIA RIVER FROM THE CITY OF PORTLAND, WERE UNABLE TO REPORT FOR DUTY ON TUESDAY, JUNE 1, 1948, DUE TO THE PROHIBITING OF TRAVEL BY THE STATE AUTHORITIES ACROSS THE INTERSTATE BRIDGE BETWEEN THE TWO CITIES AS A RESULT OF THE SAME FLOOD WATERS WHICH COVERED VANPORT CITY. THE NEAREST BRIDGE TO PORTLAND WOULD REQUIRE TRAVEL OF A DISTANCE OF APPROXIMATELY 100 MILES ONE WAY OR 200 MILES DAILY TO PLACE OF DUTY AND RETURN FOR THESE EMPLOYEES.

(C) THERE WAS AN EMPLOYEE OF THE STATION RESIDING IN VANCOUVER, WASHINGTON, WHO HAD BEEN PLACED ON TEMPORARY DUTY PRIOR TO THE FLOOD AT THE VETERANS ADMINISTRATION BRANCH OFFICE, SEATTLE, WASHINGTON, AND WHO HAD RETURNED TO HIS HOME THE WEEKEND PREVIOUS TO THE DISASTER AND WAS UNABLE TO REPORT FOR DUTY AT EITHER HIS TEMPORARY DUTY STATION AT SEATTLE OR TO HIS OFFICIAL STATION AT PORTLAND DUE TO THE LACK OF TRANSPORTATION OUT OF VANCOUVER TO SEATTLE AND BECAUSE OF THE CLOSING OF THE INTERSTATE BRIDGE.

(D) ANOTHER EMPLOYEE OF THE STATION WAS COMMANDEERED TO WORK OUTSIDE OF PORTLAND, DUE TO HIS PRESENCE THERE WITH A TRUCK AT THE TIME OF THE EMERGENCY. ALTHOUGH THIS EMPLOYEE'S RESIDENCE WAS NOT IN VANPORT CITY, HE WAS UNABLE TO REPORT FOR DUTY ON TUESDAY, JUNE 1, FOR THE REASONS THAT HE WAS ASSISTING AT THE SCENE OF THE DISASTER AND PROVED OF GREAT BENEFIT DUE TO THE DIRE NEED FOR A TRUCK IN THE EMERGENCY.

IN 15 COMP. GEN. 1048, ONE OF THE DECISIONS REFERRED TO BY YOU, IT WAS HELD BY THIS OFFICE, QUOTING FROM THE SYLLABUS:

PER ANNUM EMPLOYEES OF THE WASHINGTON NAVY YARD RELEASED FROM WORK, DUE TO AN ACT OF GOD, ON DAYS ON WHICH THE YARD WAS NOT CLOSED, MAY BE CHARGED WITH ANNUAL LEAVE, IN THE DISCRETION OF THE ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE, FOR THE PERIOD OF SUCH ABSENCE, BUT COMPENSATION MAY NOT BE WITHHELD FOR SUCH DAYS BECAUSE THE EMPLOYEES HAVE NO ACCRUED LEAVE TO THEIR CREDIT. 13 COMP. GEN. 277 AND 15 ID. 911, AMPLIFIED.

HOWEVER, IT WAS REPORTED BY THE ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE THAT THE EMPLOYEES THERE INVOLVED COULD NOT WORK DUE TO FLOOD CONDITIONS IN THE NAVY YARD.

IN A SUBSEQUENT DECISION, DATED APRIL 1, 1937, A-84584, AFTER QUOTING THE ABOVE SYLLABUS, IT WAS STATED:

WHILE THE QUOTED RULE HAS HERETOFORE BEEN APPLIED ONLY IN CASES WHERE A FEDERAL OFFICE, PLANT, ETC., HAS BEEN CLOSED IN WHOLE OR IN PART, THIS OFFICE IS NOT REQUIRED TO OBJECT TO THE APPLICATION OF THAT RULE IN THE INSTANT CASE IF IT BE ADMINISTRATIVELY DETERMINED, AND SUCH FACT CERTIFIED ON THE PAY ROLLS, THAT THE RECENT UNUSUAL FLOOD--- AN ACT OF GOD--- INTERRUPTED ALL MEANS OF TRANSPORTATION, ISOLATED THE EMPLOYEES IN THEIR HOMES, AND MADE IT ABSOLUTELY IMPOSSIBLE FOR THEM TO REPORT FOR DUTY. THE UNIFORM LEAVE REGULATIONS DO NOT PROVIDE FOR SITUATIONS OF THIS CHARACTER AND, IN VIEW THEREOF, IT MAY BE SAID THAT WHILE IT IS WITHIN ADMINISTRATIVE DISCRETION TO CHARGE THE ABSENCES REFERRED TO TO ANNUAL LEAVE, IT IS WITHIN ADMINISTRATIVE DISCRETION, ALSO, TO EXCUSE SUCH ABSENCES IN THE CASE OF THE EMPLOYEES OTHERWISE BEING IN A PAY STATUS, WITHOUT ANY CHARGE TO ANNUAL LEAVE.

WITH RESPECT TO EMPLOYEES IN GROUP A, WHILE UNQUESTIONABLY THEIR ABSENCE FROM DUTY WAS DIRECTLY ATTRIBUTABLE TO THE FLOOD, IT CANNOT BE DETERMINED FROM YOUR SUBMISSION WHETHER, UNDER THE CIRCUMSTANCES, IT WAS IMPOSSIBLE FOR THEM TO REPORT FOR DUTY. HOWEVER, IF IT BE DETERMINED ADMINISTRATIVELY THAT SUCH WAS A FACT AND A CERTIFICATE TO SUCH EFFECT BE PLACED ON THE PAY ROLL, THIS OFFICE WILL NOT OBJECT TO THE APPLICATION OF THE ABOVE STATED RULE TO SAID GROUP. WITH RESPECT TO THE OTHER THREE GROUPS, THE SITUATION APPEARS COMPARABLE TO THAT DESCRIBED IN A-84584, SUPRA, AND WHAT WAS STATED THEREIN MAY BE CONSIDERED APPLICABLE TO THE EMPLOYEES IN THESE THREE GROUPS. YOUR SUBMISSION IS ANSWERED ACCORDINGLY.