Federal Pay:

Complexities in Calculating Federal Civilian Firefighters' Pay

GGD-89-131: Published: Sep 29, 1989. Publicly Released: Sep 29, 1989.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed federal civilian firefighters' compensation to determine whether: (1) pay calculation complexities have resulted in pay errors; (2) promotions to supervisory positions have resulted in pay reductions from lost overtime pay; and (3) legislation would correct these pay problems.

GAO found that: (1) errors from misinterpreted regulations could be attributed to payroll complexities; (2) errors will be less likely when the Department of Defense (DOD) completes the full automation of its payroll systems; (3) firefighters were undergoing pay reductions due to lost overtime following promotions to supervisory levels; and (4) legislation was needed to entitle supervisors to overtime.

Matter for Congressional Consideration

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Under P.L. 101-509, Congress gave the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) the authority to establish a special pay system for occupations that are not compatible with the general schedule. OPM is studying firefighters' pay regulations, as well as regulations of other protective services, that may not be compatible with the general schedule. GAO therefore considers this recommendation closed.

    Matter: Congress should enact legislation to change current pay provisions so that firefighters' pay is not reduced upon promotion.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: On March 1, 1990, the Assistant Secretary of Defense/Force Management and Personnel sent a letter to all DOD components alerting them that their pay systems are vulnerable to improper payments to firefighters resulting from random mistakes and misinterpretations of regulations.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should alert officials at Army and Navy payroll offices that are manually calculating firefighters' pay that their pay systems are vulnerable to improper payments resulting from random mistakes and misinterpretations of regulations.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: As of June 29, 1990, the Army and Navy initiated specialized training on firefighter pay calculations in their existing payroll training programs.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct Army and Navy payroll offices to provide specialized training to their personnel who do the manual calculations.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

 

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