Despite the government's seemingly endless chain of paperwork, personnel manuals, required investigations and interviews, the federal hiring process is not 100 percent goof-proof. For example, Uncle Sam recently learned that:
In Washington, the Department of Transportation managed to overpay a sometime-consultant $25,666 in a two-year period while he was drawing full federal retirement pay.
In California, the Air Force learned that it had put a "junior" on the payroll for more than a year when the job was supposed to go to his father, the "senior."
Case number one involves a DOT employe who retired in mid-1975 from a Grade 15 job. Within a couple of months he was reemployed as an "intermittent consultant" at the rate of $138 per day.
The reemployment was legally correct. It happens all the time. But the law says that federal retirees who come back to work for the government cannot draw full salary and retired pay. Their active duty paycheck must be reduced by the amount of their civil service pension to avoid "double dipping."
In this case, the employes' $138-per-day salary should have been reduced (because of his federal pension) to $46 per day. But nobody caught it. So the employe continued to get two full checks -- one every two weeks from his DOT job and one each month as a DOT retiree.
When the Transportation Department discovered the error, it tried to get back the overpayment -- by that time it amounted to $25,666 -- from the employe/retiree. It said he should have known better and brought the error to the government's attention.
The employe-retiree said no way! He was a transportation expert, he argued, not a personnel type. He had no way of knowing that his full check was illegal. DOT went to the General Accounting Office. GAO said its investigation showed that there was no evidence of fraud or lack of good faith on the employe's part, so he could not be made to pay back the money. End, apparently, of case.
Item number two concerns McClellan Air Force Base, Calif., where a young man walked in and applied for a warehouse job. Personnel looked him up, saw that he had been cleared and certified for the job, was a veteran and fit the bill. It hired him. He was a "junior."
About a year later, a sharp-eyed clerk noted that the man who was supposed to have been hired was a "Senior" while the man who was actually hired was a "junior." When the Air Force dismissed the improperly hired "junior," he demanded payment for 56 hours of unused annual leave. The Air Force said he ought to leave well enough alone.
Again, the GAO got into the case. Again it ruled that there was no evidence that the hiring mixup was criminal, and said the leave payment was due "junior."
The investigative report is silent on the matter, but there appears to have been a gap in communications between father and son, even though they lived at the same address. No way of knowing what the father thought when his son walked in off the street and got the job he had applied, tested and been cleared for.
Office of Education has picked Leslie R. Wolfe to head the multi-million-dollar women's educational equity act grant program. She was with the Civil Rights Commission before joining Health, Education and Welfare as special assistant to the Assistant Secretary for Education.
Successful Women: Mount Vernon College begins a course this month aimed at helping women get ahead in government. Daisy B. Fields, former president and director of Federally Employed Women, is the instructor. Fields has her own consulting firm, which specializes in problems and programs of women in government.Call 311-3539 for course details.