24:0006(2)AR - HHS, SSA and AFGE -- 1986 FLRAdec AR

[ v24 p6 ]
The decision of the Authority follows:

 24 FLRA No. 2
                                            Case No. 0-AR-1253
                        ORDER DISMISSING EXCEPTIONS
    This case is before the Authority on exceptions to the bench
 ruling(s) of Arbitrator Justin Smith filed by the Agency pursuant to
 section 7122(a) of the Federal Service Labor Management Relations
 Statute and section 2425.1 of the Authority's Rules and Regulations.
 For the reason stated below, it has been determined that the exceptions
 must be dismissed as untimely filed.
    This case involves a dispute submitted to the Arbitrator concerning
 official time for representational activities.  By agreement of the
 parties, a two-phase arbitration process was established to resolve the
 basic dispute and the resulting numerous individual grievances.  The
 first phase involved the interpretation of the official time provisions
 of the Statute and the parties' collective bargaining agreement.  In the
 second phase, the Arbitrator held hearings to resolve, by bench
 decisions when practicable, specific grievances pending in various
 regions of the Agency.  The exceptions in this case have been filed to
 bench decisions of the Arbitrator rendered at ex parte hearings held on
 August 6 and 7, 1986 at which the Agency declined to participate.  The
 official transcript of the hearings was apparently served on the parties
 by mail on September 24, 1986.
    Under section 7122(b) of the Statute, as amended, /1/ and section
 2425.1 of the Authority's Rules and Regulations, as amended, /2/ which
 amendments are applicable to exceptions pending or filed with the
 Authority on or after March 2, 1984, and under sections 2429.21 and
 2429.22 of the Rules and Regulations, which are also applicable to
 computation of the time limit here involved, any exceptions to the
 Arbitrator's rulings in this case had to be filed, that is, received in
 the national office of the Authority not later than the close of
 business on September 4 and 5, 1986, respectively.  However, the
 Agency's exceptions awere not filed with the Authority until October 23,
    The Agency asserts essentially that because the instant arbitration
 hearings were conducted ex parte, no representative of the Agency was
 present at the hearing to be served with notice of the Arbitrator's
 bench decisions in question.  The Agency contends, therefore, that since
 its exceptions were filed within thirty days after it was served with
 the official transcript of the hearing, which is the date that it
 received notice of the Arbitrator's bench decisions, the exceptions were
 timely filed.
    It is well set