October 28, 1987

I have signed S.1666, an act that extends and improves the Government's pay comparability allowance program for Federal civilian physicians. This important program has helped Federal agencies recruit and retain badly needed physicians by bringing their salaries closer to those available in the private sector.

I wish to set forth my understanding of a provision in section 1 of this act permitting certain physicians who were previously employed by the Veterans' Administration (VA) and the Public Health Service (PHS) and who are now employed in positions covered by the physician comparability allowance program in 5 U.S.C. section 5948 to count that previous service with the VA and the PHS in computing the total length of their service as a ``Government physician'' to determine the amount due them under the physician pay comparability allowance program. Nothing in this provision is intended to bring physicians currently employed in the VA or the PHS within the coverage of the pay comparability allowance program or to change in any way the definition of the term ``Government physician'' for purposes of that program. Further, this provision does not have the effect of amending any statute relating to the pay or allowances of a physician employed by the VA or the PHS. Its sole purpose is computation of the length of service as a ``Government physician'' for purposes of determining the amount of physicians' pay comparability allowance.

I also wish to point out that section 2 of the act, which requires payment of special allowances to certain nonphysician psychologists in the Public Health Service, is unnecessary since the agency is not experiencing any recruitment or retention problems regarding such professionals. This provision could also lead to pressure to provide similar allowances to psychologists in other agencies, which would be an equally unwarranted use of the taxpayers' money. Accordingly, the administration plans to seek its early repeal.

Note: S. 1666, approved October 26, was assigned Public Law No. 100 - 140.