A-11954, SEPTEMBER 20, 1926, 6 COMP. GEN. 193

A-11954: Sep 20, 1926

Additional Materials:

Contact:

Edda Emmanuelli Perez
(202) 512-2853
EmmanuelliPerezE@gao.gov

 

Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800
youngc1@gao.gov

AS FOLLOWS: I HAVE THE HONOR TO INVITE ATTENTION TO YOUR DECISION OF NOVEMBER 21. IN WHICH WAS CONSIDERED THE QUESTION WHETHER THE APPROPRIATION "MILITARY AND NAVAL COMPENSATION. PRIOR YEARS" WAS PROPERLY CHARGEABLE WITH THE AMOUNT OF CLAIMS FOR REIMBURSEMENT OF FUNERAL EXPENSES OF VETERANS DYING IN PRIOR FISCAL YEARS AND WHEREIN IT WAS HELD THAT SUCH APPROPRIATION WAS NOT SO CHARGEABLE BUT THAT SUCH CLAIMS SHOULD BE PAID FROM THE APPROPRIATION FOR MEDICAL AND HOSPITAL SERVICES. THE LATTER APPROPRIATION WAS NOT IN ITS TERMS AVAILABLE FOR THE PAYMENT OF ANY CLAIMS EXCEPT THOSE ACCRUING DURING THE THEN CURRENT FISCAL YEAR. THIS BUREAU WAS DIRECTED NEVERTHELESS TO CHARGE CLAIMS ACCRUING DURING PRIOR FISCAL YEARS TO SUCH APPROPRIATION FOR THE TIME BEING.

A-11954, SEPTEMBER 20, 1926, 6 COMP. GEN. 193

VETERANS' BUREAU - AVAILABILITY OF APPROPRIATIONS FOR PAYMENT OF CLAIMS FOR BURIAL EXPENSES THE APPROPRIATION OF THE VETERANS' BUREAU FOR "MEDICAL AND HOSPITAL SERVICES" FOR THE FISCAL YEAR 1927, ACT OF APRIL 22, 1926, 44 STAT. 320, MAY BE CONSIDERED AS AVAILABLE FOR PAYMENT OF CLAIMS ACCRUING DURING THE FISCAL YEAR 1927, OR IN PRIOR FISCAL YEARS, FOR FUNERAL, BURIAL, AND OTHER INCIDENTAL EXPENSES, INCLUDING PREPARATION FOR SHIPMENT AND TRANSPORTATION OF REMAINS.

COMPTROLLER GENERAL MCCARL TO THE DIRECTOR, UNITED STATES VETERANS' BUREAU, SEPTEMBER 20, 1926:

CONSIDERATION HAS BEEN GIVEN TO YOUR LETTER OF AUGUST 23, 1926, AS FOLLOWS:

I HAVE THE HONOR TO INVITE ATTENTION TO YOUR DECISION OF NOVEMBER 21, 1925 (A-11954), IN WHICH WAS CONSIDERED THE QUESTION WHETHER THE APPROPRIATION "MILITARY AND NAVAL COMPENSATION, VETERANS' BUREAU, 1925, AND PRIOR YEARS" WAS PROPERLY CHARGEABLE WITH THE AMOUNT OF CLAIMS FOR REIMBURSEMENT OF FUNERAL EXPENSES OF VETERANS DYING IN PRIOR FISCAL YEARS AND WHEREIN IT WAS HELD THAT SUCH APPROPRIATION WAS NOT SO CHARGEABLE BUT THAT SUCH CLAIMS SHOULD BE PAID FROM THE APPROPRIATION FOR MEDICAL AND HOSPITAL SERVICES, 1926. THE LATTER APPROPRIATION WAS NOT IN ITS TERMS AVAILABLE FOR THE PAYMENT OF ANY CLAIMS EXCEPT THOSE ACCRUING DURING THE THEN CURRENT FISCAL YEAR, BUT THIS BUREAU WAS DIRECTED NEVERTHELESS TO CHARGE CLAIMS ACCRUING DURING PRIOR FISCAL YEARS TO SUCH APPROPRIATION FOR THE TIME BEING. IT WAS SUGGESTED, HOWEVER, THAT IF IT WERE DESIRED TO MAKE THIS PRACTICE PERMANENT, STATUTORY AUTHORITY TO CHARGE THE FISCAL YEAR APPROPRIATION CURRENT AT THE TIME THE VOUCHER OR SETTLEMENT IS ALLOWED FOR PAYMENT, SHOULD BE SOUGHT. ACCORDINGLY, WHEN THE BUREAU PRESENTED ITS ESTIMATES FOR APPROPRIATIONS FOR THE FISCAL YEAR ENDING JUNE 30, 1927, TO THE DIRECTOR OF THE BUREAU OF THE BUDGET IT WAS RECOMMENDED THAT THE WORDING OF THE APPROPRIATION FOR MEDICAL AND HOSPITAL SERVICES BE AMENDED TO READ AS FOLLOWS:

"MEDICAL AND HOSPITAL SERVICES: FOR MEDICAL, * * * FUNERAL, BURIAL, AND OTHER INCIDENTAL EXPENSES (INCLUDING PREPARATION FOR SHIPMENT AND TRANSPORTATION OF REMAINS) ACCRUING DURING THE FISCAL YEAR 1927 OR IN PRIOR FISCAL YEARS * * *.'

WHEN THE BUDGET WAS TRANSMITTED TO CONGRESS BY THE PRESIDENT THE PARENTHESIS WHICH WAS OPENED IMMEDIATELY PRECEDING THE WORD "INCLUDING" WAS, THROUGH SOME INADVERTENCE, LEFT UNCLOSED. HOWEVER, WHEN H.R. 9341,"A BILL MAKING APPROPRIATIONS FOR THE EXECUTIVE OFFICE AND SUNDRY INDEPENDENT EXECUTIVE BUREAUS, BOARDS, COMMISSIONS, AND OFFICERS FOR THE FISCAL YEAR ENDING JUNE 30, 1927, AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES," WAS INTRODUCED IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES THE CLOSING PARENTHESIS APPEARED AFTER THE WORD "YEARS," MAKING THE PROVISION AS FOLLOWS:

"MEDICAL AND HOSPITAL SERVICES: FOR MEDICAL, * * * FUNERAL, BURIAL, AND OTHER INCIDENTAL EXPENSES (INCLUDING PREPARATION FOR SHIPMENT AND TRANSPORTATION OF REMAINS ACCRUING DURING THE FISCAL YEAR 1927 OR IN PRIOR FISCAL YEARS) * * *.'

AND THIS ERROR WENT UNNOTICED UNTIL AFTER THE BILL HAD BEEN APPROVED BY THE HOUSE AND WAS PENDING BEFORE THE COMMITTEE ON APPROPRIATIONS OF THE SENATE. A LETTER WAS THEN ADDRESSED TO THE CHAIRMAN OF THE COMMITTEE ON APPROPRIATIONS OF THE SENATE, COPY OF WHICH IS INCLOSED FOR YOUR INFORMATION. REPRESENTATIVES OF THE BUREAU ALSO APPEARED BEFORE THE COMMITTEE IN PERSON AND DISCUSSED THE MATTER, AND WERE ASSURED THAT THE ERROR WOULD BE RECTIFIED. HOWEVER, THIS WAS NOT DONE AND THE CLOSING PARENTHESIS NOW APPEARS AFTER THE WORD "YEARS" IN PUBLIC, NO. 141, APPROVED APRIL 22, 1926.

IT IS BELIEVED THAT YOU WILL APPRECIATE THE SITUATION PRESENTED THEREIN. THERE IS NO DOUBT OF THE INTENTION OF THE FRAMERS OF THE LEGISLATION THAT THIS APPROPRIATION SHOULD BE AVAILABLE FOR THE PAYMENT OF ALL FUNERAL AND BURIAL EXPENSES ACCRUING DURING THE FISCAL YEAR 1927 OR IN PRIOR FISCAL YEARS. HOWEVER, IN VIEW OF THE FACT THAT THE LANGUAGE OF THIS APPROPRIATION AS PUNCTUATED WOULD INDICATE THAT AUTHORITY HAS BEEN GRANTED ONLY FOR THE PAYMENT OF EXPENSES OF PREPARATION FOR SHIPMENT AND TRANSPORTATION OF REMAINS ACCRUING DURING PRIOR FISCAL YEARS, IT WAS THOUGHT ADVISABLE TO PRESENT THIS MATTER FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION, BEFORE PASSING THESE CLAIMS FOR PAYMENT. YOUR IMMEDIATE SERVICE IN THE PREMISES IS RESPECTFULLY REQUESTED.

THE EXPLANATION OF THE POSITION OF THE CLOSING PARENTHESIS APPEARING IN THE STATUTE AS ENACTED (44 STAT. 320) IS CORRECT. SEE PAGE 102, BUDGET, 1927. IT IS EVIDENT THAT THE ERROR IN PLACING THE CLOSING PARENTHESIS AFTER THE WORD "YEARS" RATHER THAN AFTER THE WORD "REMAINS" WAS A CLERICAL OR TYPOGRAPHICAL ONE AND THAT THERE WAS NO INTENTION OF LIMITING THE AVAILABILITY OF THE ANNUAL APPROPRIATION FOR 1927 TO CLAIMS ACCRUING IN PRIOR FISCAL YEARS COVERING ONLY EXPENSES OF ,PREPARATION FOR SHIPMENT AND TRANSPORTATION OF REMAINS.' THE INSERTION OF THE CLAUSE "ACCRUING DURING THE FISCAL YEAR 1927 OR IN PRIOR FISCAL YEARS" IN THE ENACTMENT WAS INTENDED FOR THE EXPRESS PURPOSE OF MAKING THE ANNUAL APPROPRIATION FOR FUNERAL, BURIAL, AND OTHER INCIDENTAL EXPENSES, INCLUDING THE PREPARATION FOR SHIPMENT AND TRANSPORTATION OF REMAINS, AVAILABLE FOR SUCH EXPENSES REGARDLESS OF WHETHER THE DEATH OCCURRED DURING OR PRIOR TO THE FISCAL YEAR 1927, THE CHANGE IN THE LAW BEING MADE PURSUANT TO DECISION OF NOVEMBER 21, 1925, A-11954, TO WHICH YOU MAKE REFERENCE. SEE IN THIS CONNECTION PAGE 439 OF THE HEARINGS ON THE INDEPENDENT OFFICES APPROPRIATION BILL, 1927.

ACCORDINGLY, YOU ARE ADVISED THE APPROPRIATION,"MEDICAL AND HOSPITAL SERVICES" FOR THE FISCAL YEAR 1927, IS AVAILABLE FOR PAYMENT OF LEGAL AND PROPER CLAIMS ACCRUING DURING THE FISCAL YEAR 1927 OR IN PRIOR FISCAL YEARS FOR FUNERAL, BURIAL, AND OTHER INCIDENTAL EXPENSES, INCLUDING PREPARATION FOR SHIPMENT AND TRANSPORTATION OF REMAINS.