Claim for Backpay and Retroactive Reinstatement to Competitive Service

B-197902: Feb 13, 1981

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An employee of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) requested reconsideration of a Claims Division settlement in which his claim for backpay was denied. The claimant alleged that he was entitled to backpay because, if it had not been for the wrongful interpretation by NASA of the highest previous rate rule, he would have been assigned to his present grade and step earlier than he was. He had held a position which was excepted from competitive service, and his salary was fixed administratively until his position was converted to a competitive service position. An administrative change in salary cannot be made retroactively effective in the absence of a statute so providing. A retroactive personnel action is permitted where clerical or administrative errors occurred that: (1) prevented a personnel action from taking effect as originally intended; (2) deprived an employee of a right granted by statute or regulation; or (3) would result in failure to carry out a nondiscretionary administrative regulation or policy if not adjusted retroactively. None of the three exceptions applied to this claim. The granting of the claimant's reinstatement to competitive service and the conversion of his salary to the General Schedule was a discretionary matter solely within the province of the Administrator of NASA. The disallowance of the employee's claim was sustained.