[Appeal of Claims Group Denial of Claim for Military Leave]

B-217565: Jun 27, 1985

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A federal employee appealed a Claims Group denial of his claim for an additional 10 days of military leave with pay from his civilian position with the Veterans Administration for military duty he performed as a member of the National Guard. The employee contended that the provisions of the public law concerning leave were misconstrued and, as a result, he was improperly divested of 10 days of leave to which he had been entitled and had already used in good faith reliance on the advice he received from his personnel office. The statutory authority for military leave had been amended to provide members of the reserve components of the armed forces with military leave at the rate of 15 days per fiscal year rather than per calendar year and to allow the carryover of up to 15 days of unused leave into the following fiscal year. The amendment was made retroactive to an effective date 10 days prior to the enactment of the public law in order to coincide with the beginning of the fiscal year. GAO held that: (1) an amendment may not properly be construed as being only prospective in its operation if it contains express provision plainly requiring a retrospective application; and (2) the United States is not liable for the negligent or erroneous act of its officers, agents, or employees, even though committed in the performance of their official duties. Accordingly, the Claims Group's previous settlement was sustained.