A-5019, SEPTEMBER 24, 1924, 4 COMP. GEN. 324

A-5019: Sep 24, 1924

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APPROPRIATIONS - BURIAL EXPENSES - PUBLIC HEALTH SERVICE WHERE AN AMERICAN SEAMAN DIED WHILE A PATIENT IN A PUBLIC HEALTH SERVICE HOSPITAL AND WAS PERMANENTLY BURIED ON A RESERVATION OF THE PUBLIC HEALTH SERVICE. ARE NOT CHARGEABLE TO ANY PUBLIC HEALTH SERVICE APPROPRIATION. 1924: I HAVE YOUR LETTER OF SEPTEMBER 5. IS BURIED ON THE RESERVATION AT PERRY POINT. NEAR A LOCATION WHERE NEW BUILDINGS ARE BEING CONSTRUCTED. DESIRES THAT THE REMAINS OF THIS MERCHANT SEAMAN BE REMOVED FROM THE PRESENT GRAVE AND THAT THE PUBLIC HEALTH SERVICE ASSUME RESPONSIBILITY FOR SUCH REMOVAL INASMUCH AS LAWSON TATE WAS NOT A BENEFICIARY OF THAT BUREAU. WAS A PATIENT OF THE PUBLIC HEALTH SERVICE AT THE TIME OF HIS DEATH.

A-5019, SEPTEMBER 24, 1924, 4 COMP. GEN. 324

APPROPRIATIONS - BURIAL EXPENSES - PUBLIC HEALTH SERVICE WHERE AN AMERICAN SEAMAN DIED WHILE A PATIENT IN A PUBLIC HEALTH SERVICE HOSPITAL AND WAS PERMANENTLY BURIED ON A RESERVATION OF THE PUBLIC HEALTH SERVICE, ANY SUBSEQUENT EXPENSES INCIDENT TO THE DISINTERMENT AND REBURIAL OF THE BODY MADE NECESSARY BY REASON OF THE ERECTION OF NEW BUILDINGS ON THE RESERVATION FOR THE VETERANS' BUREAU, WHICH ALSO OCCUPIES A PORTION OF THE RESERVATION, ARE NOT CHARGEABLE TO ANY PUBLIC HEALTH SERVICE APPROPRIATION.

COMPTROLLER GENERAL MCCARL TO THE SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY, SEPTEMBER 24, 1924:

I HAVE YOUR LETTER OF SEPTEMBER 5, 1924, REQUESTING DECISION OF A QUESTION PRESENTED AS OLLOWS:

THE BODY OF LAWSON TATE, A COLORED AMERICAN MERCHANT SEAMAN, IS BURIED ON THE RESERVATION AT PERRY POINT, MD., NEAR A LOCATION WHERE NEW BUILDINGS ARE BEING CONSTRUCTED.

THE U.S. VETERANS' BUREAU, WHICH OCCUPIES A PORTION OF THE RESERVATION, DESIRES THAT THE REMAINS OF THIS MERCHANT SEAMAN BE REMOVED FROM THE PRESENT GRAVE AND THAT THE PUBLIC HEALTH SERVICE ASSUME RESPONSIBILITY FOR SUCH REMOVAL INASMUCH AS LAWSON TATE WAS NOT A BENEFICIARY OF THAT BUREAU, BUT WAS A PATIENT OF THE PUBLIC HEALTH SERVICE AT THE TIME OF HIS DEATH.

AN INVESTIGATION OF THE RECORDS OF THE PUBLIC HEALTH SERVICE SHOWS THAT LAWSON TATE DIED ON MAY 9, 1920, AT THE PUBLIC HEALTH SERVICE HOSPITAL AT PERRYVILLE, BUT THE BOOKS DO NOT REVEAL THAT ANY BURIAL EXPENSES WERE INCURRED.

PLEASE ADVISE WHETHER EXPENDITURES INCIDENTAL TO SUCH REMOVAL, INCLUDING REBURIAL, LEGALLY CAN BE CHARGED TO THE APPROPRIATION "PAY OF PERSONNEL AND MAINTENANCE OF HOSPITALS, PUBLIC HEALTH SERVICE, 1925," OR ANY OTHER APPROPRIATION UNDER THE CONTROL OF THAT SERVICE.

THE PERTINENT PART OF THE APPROPRIATION SPECIFICALLY REFERRED TO BY YOU, BEING THE ACT OF APRIL 4, 1924, 43 STAT. 75, IS AS FOLLOWS:

FOR MEDICAL EXAMINATIONS, INCLUDING THE AMOUNT NECESSARY FOR THE MEDICAL INSPECTION OF ALIENS, AS REQUIRED BY SECTION 16, OF THE ACT OF FEBRUARY 5, 1917, MEDICAL, SURGICAL, AND HOSPITAL SERVICES AND SUPPLIES FOR BENEFICIARIES (OTHER THAN PATIENTS OF THE UNITED STATES VETERANS' BUREAU) OF THE PUBLIC HEALTH SERVICE, AND PERSONS DETAINED UNDER THE IMMIGRATION LAWS AND REGULATIONS AT ELLIS ISLAND IMMIGRATION STATION, INCLUDING * * * REASONABLE BURIAL EXPENSES (NOT EXCEEDING $100 FOR ANY PATIENT DYING IN HOSPITAL) * * *.

IT IS ASSUMED FROM THE FACTS SET FORTH THAT THE BURIAL OF THIS SEAMAN ON THE RESERVATION WAS A PROPER ONE AND THAT ADMINISTRATIVE AUTHORITY IN MAKING IT WAS DULY OBTAINED. THAT IT WAS INTENDED TO BE A PERMANENT BURIAL IS EVIDENCED BY THE FACT THAT THE BODY HAS REMAINED IN ITS ORIGINAL RESTING PLACE FOR THE PAST FOUR YEARS, AND NO QUESTION RAISED AS TO ITS REMOVAL UNTIL THE CONSTRUCTION OF NEW BUILDINGS FOR THE USE OF THE UNITED STATES VETERANS' BUREAU WAS BEGUN. ACCORDINGLY THE DUTY OWED TO THIS SEAMEN BY THE PUBLIC HEALTH SERVICE WAS ENTIRELY PERFORMED WHEN HE WAS BURIED, AT WHICH TIME UNDER EXISTING LAW REASONABLE BURIAL EXPENSES, IF ANY, NOT EXCEEDING $100 WERE AVAILABLE FROM A LIKE APPROPRIATION FOR THE FISCAL YEAR INVOLVED. AS THE BURIAL WAS A PERMANENT ONE AND THE DUTY OF THE PUBLIC HEALTH SERVICE FULLY DISCHARGED, NO NEW DUTY TO REMOVE THE REMAINS IS IMPOSED ON THAT SERVICE BY REASON OF THE FACT THAT THE RECORDS MAY NOT REVEAL THAT AN EXPENSE WAS INCURRED IN THE ORIGINAL INTERMENT OF THE DECEASED.

UPON THE FACTS APPEARING, IT MUST BE HELD THAT THE APPROPRIATION IN QUESTION IS NOT LEGALLY CHARGEABLE WITH THE EXPENSES, INCIDENT TO REMOVAL AND REBURIAL OF THIS SEAMAN'S BODY, AND THERE IS NO OTHER APPROPRIATION UNDER THE CONTROL OF THE PUBLIC HEALTH SERVICE AVAILABLE TO MEET THE PROPOSED EXPENDITURE.