Reimbursement by Federal Agencies for Services of Civil Service Commission Complaints Examiners

B-192875: Jan 15, 1980

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The Department of the Treasury requested an opinion concerning whether payment by a requesting agency for the services of complaints examiners employed by the Civil Service Commission (CSC) represented an illegal transfer of agency funds. Before January 1, 1979, a formal discrimination complaint was first heard within the agency where it arose at a hearing conducted by a complaints examiner who was an employee of another agency. The role of the complaints examiner was to conduct the hearings and make recommendations to the agency head. The agencies were required to request the name of a qualified complaints examiner from CSC. There was no requirement that the examiner be a CSC employee. When a CSC employee was assigned to conduct the hearings, CSC sought reimbursement for the service of that employee from the requesting agency. The Treasury, however, cited various decisions to support its contention that payment for services provided by one agency for another was not authorized when the performing agency was required by law to render the services and when appropriations were provided to carry out those activities. However, GAO held that, because there was no requirement for CSC to provide the examiners, the cases cited by Treasury to support its contentions were not applicable. Reimbursement to CSC for services of complaints examiners was held to be a proper transfer of funds since it was a necessary expense of the agency, CSC had no statutory authority to provide examiners, and it did not receive appropriations for the purpose of doing so. Assuming that circumstances remain the same, the same conclusion was held to apply to the providing of examiners on a reimbursable basis by the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission, the successor for this CSC function.