A-17803, MARCH 30, 1927, 6 COMP. GEN. 643

A-17803: Mar 30, 1927

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YOUR LETTER READS IN PART: THE NUMEROUS DECISIONS ON THIS GENERAL SUBJECT HAVE BEEN GIVEN CAREFUL CONSIDERATION. ALL SUCH DECISIONS WERE RENDERED PRIOR TO JUNE 10. WERE IN INTERPRETATION OF STATUTES WHICH HAVE SUBSEQUENTLY BEEN REPEALED OR MODIFIED. THE LAST SENTENCE OF THE SECTION READING "DEPENDENT CHILDREN SHALL BE SUCH AS ARE DEFINED IN SECTION 4 OF THIS ACT.'. AUTHORIZED PAYMENT IN MONEY OF AN AMOUNT EQUAL TO THE COMMERCIAL COST OF THE TRANSPORTATION OF THE DEPENDENTS AND FURTHER PROVIDED THAT "DEPENDENT CHILDREN SHALL BE SUCH AS ARE DEFINED IN SECTION 4 OF THIS ACT.'. THE DEPENDENTS FOR WHOM TRANSPORTATION IN KIND WAS AUTHORIZED BY SECTION 12 OF THE ACT OF MAY 18. ARE DESCRIBED IN THAT ACT AS "A WIFE OR DEPENDENT CHILD OR CHILDREN.'.

A-17803, MARCH 30, 1927, 6 COMP. GEN. 643

TRANSPORTATION OF DEPENDENTS OF AN OFFICER OF THE ARMY - STEPCHILD A STEPCHILD MAY NOT BE RECOGNIZED AS BEING WITHIN THE TERM CHILD AS USED IN SECTION 4 OF THE ACT OF JUNE 10, 1922, 42 STAT. 627, FOR THE PURPOSE OF PAYMENT OF THE MONETARY ALLOWANCE AUTHORIZED BY SECTION 12 OF SAID ACT IN CONNECTION WITH THE TRANSPORTATION OF THE DEPENDENTS OF CERTAIN CLASSES OF ARMY PERSONNEL INCIDENT TO THEIR PERMANENT CHANGE OF STATION.

COMPTROLLER GENERAL MCCARL TO THE SECRETARY OF WAR, MARCH 30, 1927:

THERE HAS BEEN RECEIVED YOUR LETTER OF MARCH 17, 1927, ASKING DECISION WHETHER A STEPCHILD MAY BE RECOGNIZED TO BE WITHIN THE TERM CHILD AS USED IN SECTION 4 OF THE ACT OF JUNE 10, 1922, 42 STAT. 627, FOR THE PURPOSE OF PAYMENT OF THE MONETARY ALLOWANCE AUTHORIZED BY SECTION 12 OF SAID ACT IN CONNECTION WITH THE TRANSPORTATION OF THE DEPENDENTS OF CERTAIN CLASSES OF ARMY PERSONNEL INCIDENT TO THEIR PERMANENT CHANGE OF STATION.

YOUR LETTER READS IN PART:

THE NUMEROUS DECISIONS ON THIS GENERAL SUBJECT HAVE BEEN GIVEN CAREFUL CONSIDERATION, PARTICULARLY YOUR DECISION OF MAY 15, 1922, 1 COMP. GEN. 671, AND THE DECISION OF THE COMPTROLLER OF THE TREASURY DATED MAY 14, 1918, 24 COMP. DEC. 686, BUT ALL SUCH DECISIONS WERE RENDERED PRIOR TO JUNE 10, 1922, DATE OF APPROVAL OF THE STATUTE NOW CONTROLLING, AND WERE IN INTERPRETATION OF STATUTES WHICH HAVE SUBSEQUENTLY BEEN REPEALED OR MODIFIED.

WHILE SECTION 12 OF THE ACT OF JUNE 10, 1922, EXTENDS THE PROVISIONS OF THE EARLIER LAW, THE ACT OF MAY 18, 1920, BY PROVIDING FOR A NEW FORM OF ALLOWANCE, THE PAYMENT IN MONEY OF AMOUNTS EQUAL TO THE COMMERCIAL TRANSPORTATION COSTS, IT ALSO APPEARS TO MODIFY THE SCOPE OF THE PRIOR LAW WITH RESPECT TO THE CLASSES OF DEPENDENTS TO WHICH IT APPLIES, THE LAST SENTENCE OF THE SECTION READING "DEPENDENT CHILDREN SHALL BE SUCH AS ARE DEFINED IN SECTION 4 OF THIS ACT.' AND, IN VIEW OF YOUR DECISION OF AUGUST 29, 1923, 3 COMP. GEN. 109, AND OTHER SIMILAR DECISIONS, I BELIEVE YOU AGREE TO THE PRINCIPLE THAT THE DEFINITION OF DEPENDENTS STATED IN SECTION 4 CONTROLS WITH RESPECT TO THE MONEY ALLOWANCE IN LIEU OF TRANSPORTATION PROVIDED IN SECTION 12 OF THE ACT CITED.

IN LIEU OF THE TRANSPORTATION IN KIND AUTHORIZED BY SECTION 12 OF THE ACT OF MAY 18, 1920, 41 STAT. 604, TO BE FURNISHED THE DEPENDENTS OF OFFICERS AND CERTAIN ENLISTED MEN INCIDENT TO PERMANENT CHANGE OF STATION, SECTION 12 OF THE ACT OF JUNE 10, 1922, AUTHORIZED PAYMENT IN MONEY OF AN AMOUNT EQUAL TO THE COMMERCIAL COST OF THE TRANSPORTATION OF THE DEPENDENTS AND FURTHER PROVIDED THAT "DEPENDENT CHILDREN SHALL BE SUCH AS ARE DEFINED IN SECTION 4 OF THIS ACT.' SECTION 4 PROVIDES THAT THE TERM DEPENDENTS AS USED IN THAT ACT SHALL INCLUDE "UNMARRIED CHILDREN UNDER 21 YEARS OF AGE.'

THE DEPENDENTS FOR WHOM TRANSPORTATION IN KIND WAS AUTHORIZED BY SECTION 12 OF THE ACT OF MAY 18, 1920, ARE DESCRIBED IN THAT ACT AS "A WIFE OR DEPENDENT CHILD OR CHILDREN.' THE CONSISTENT HOLDING HAS BEEN THAT THE WORDS CHILD OR CHILDREN USED THEREIN DO NOT INCLUDE A STEPCHILD. 27 COMP. DEC. 583; 1 COMP. GEN. 670; 54 MS. COMP. GEN. 890.

THE CONSTRUCTION PLACED ON THE TERM CHILD, AS USED IN THE ACT OF APRIL 16, 1918, 40 STAT. 530, PROVIDING FOR THE PAYMENT OF COMMUTATION OF QUARTERS, HEAT, AND LIGHT UNDER CERTAIN CONDITIONS TO OFFICERS WHO MAINTAINED A PLACE OF ABODE FOR A "WIFE, CHILD, OR DEPENDENT PARENT," WAS THAT IT DID NOT INCLUDE A STEPCHILD, 24 COMP. DEC. 684, AND IN CONSIDERING THE RIGHTS OF OFFICERS WITH RESPECT TO THE SUBSISTENCE AND RENTAL ALLOWANCE PROVIDED BY SECTIONS 5 AND 6 OF THE ACT OF JUNE 10, 1922, 42 STAT. 631, THIS OFFICE HAS TAKEN A POSITION CONSISTENT WITH ITS HOLDING UNDER THE ACT OF APRIL 16, 1918, AND HAS UNIFORMLY DENIED THE RIGHT OF AN OFFICER TO BE PAID SUBSISTENCE OR RENTAL ALLOWANCE IN BEHALF OF A STEPCHILD.

THE VIEW OF THIS OFFICE HAS BEEN AND IS THAT THE LANGUAGE OF SECTION 4 OF THE ACT OF JUNE 10, 1922, CONTAINS NOTHING TO INDICATE AN INTENTION ON THE PART OF THE CONGRESS TO GIVE TO THE TERM CHILD AS USED THEREIN ANY DIFFERENT MEANING THAN IT WAS CONSTRUED TO HAVE AS USED IN THE ACT OF MAY 18, 1920, EXCEPT IN THE RESPECTS SPECIFICALLY PROVIDED FOR BY THE LANGUAGE OF THAT SECTION, I.E., THAT THE CHILD MUST BE UNMARRIED AND UNDER 21 YEARS OF AGE.

IN VIEW OF THE SITUATION STATED AND AFTER A FULL CONSIDERATION OF THE MATTER, I AM NOT AWARE OF ANY REASON FOR A DEPARTURE FROM THE CONSTRUCTION AND PRACTICE HERETOFORE FOLLOWED AND WHICH RECOGNIZED THAT A STEPCHILD IS NOT A DEPENDENT WITHIN THE MEANING OF SECTION 4 OF THE ACT OF JUNE 10, 1922.