The term approving official used here and on the Notice of Personnel Action (NPA) means the appointing officer or the individual, usually the CPAC director, officially designated to "act for" the appointing officer.
The appointing officer is the individual in whom the power of appointment is vested by law or to whom it has been legally delegated. The delegation must be in writing and define clearly the extent of the authority being granted; for example, the authority to approve all personnel actions for the activity. In the Army, the activity commander is normally delegated appointment authority; and under regionalization, the CPAC director administratively "acts for" the commander. The CPAC director authenticates requests, recommendations, and decisions made by functional managers, and certifies that each personnel action meets all legal and regulatory requirements by dating and signing the NPA.
When a position is reclassified to a higher grade with no changes in duties and responsibilities (e.g., by application of new classification standards), the incumbent must be promoted within a reasonable time after that date if qualified, or removed from the position. The Comptroller General has upheld retroactive promotion of an employee wrongly denied such entitlement (B-165307, 1968)and (B-179216, 1973) and has specified that a reasonable time to implement the promotion action is within four pay periods of the reclassification, in accordance with 5 CFR 511.701 and 5 CFR 511.702.
On the other hand, a classification review of position descriptions in a series of career-ladder positions resulting in delayed approval would NOT justify retroactive promotions of the incumbents (B-227331, 1988). The findings state "We have found that alleged delays by an agency in processing job descriptions used to support a higher grade position do not provide a basis for backpay." Gordon L. Wedemeyer, B-200639, October 9, 1981.
Note: Demotions cannot be made retroactive (5 CFR Sec. 511.701).