A-5260, SEPTEMBER 30, 1924, 4 COMP. GEN. 337

A-5260: Sep 30, 1924

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1924: I HAVE YOUR LETTER OF SEPTEMBER 15. REQUESTING DECISION WHETHER THE UNITED STATES VETERANS' BUREAU IS AUTHORIZED TO PAY FOR THE MEALS OF A PERSON WHILE TRAVELING AS AN ATTENDANT ACCOMPANYING THE BODY OF A FORMER BENEFICIARY OF THE UNITED STATES VETERANS' BUREAU BACK TO HIS HOME. WHERE DEATH OCCURS WHILE THE BENEFICIARY WAS AWAY FROM HIS HOME AND UNDER THE CARE OF THE BUREAU. IS REENACTED IN THE WORLD WAR VETERANS' ACT DATED JUNE 7. WHERE THE SERVICES OF AN ATTENDANT WERE REQUIRED BY STATE HEALTH LAWS. WERE IN FORCE PRIOR TO THE ENACTMENT OF JUNE 7. REGULATIONS TO THE SAME EFFECT APPLICABLE TO DECEASED PATIENTS OF THE PUBLIC HEALTH SERVICE HAVE BEEN RECOGNIZED. THESE DECISIONS AND REGULATIONS WERE NOT BASED ON ANY EXPRESS STATUTORY AUTHORITY FOR TRANSPORTATION AND SUBSISTENCE EXPENSES OF ESCORTS OR ATTENDANTS TO THE REMAINS OF A PERSON DYING WHILE IN THE CHARGE OF THE GOVERNMENT.

A-5260, SEPTEMBER 30, 1924, 4 COMP. GEN. 337

VETERANS' BUREAU - TRANSPORTATION OF REMAINS - EXPENSES OF ATTENDANT THE PROVISION IN SUBDIVISION (1) OF SECTION 201 OF THE WORLD WAR VETERANS' ACT OF JUNE 7, 1924, 43 STAT. 617, AUTHORIZING THE PAYMENT OF ACTUAL AND NECESSARY COST OF TRANSPORTATION OF AN ATTENDANT WHO ACCOMPANIES THE BODY OF A DECEASED BENEFICIARY OF THE VETERANS' BUREAU BACK TO HIS HOME, INCLUDES NOT ONLY ITEMS ORDINARILY CLASSED AS TRANSPORTATION, SUCH AS RAILROAD FARE, BUT ALSO THE REASONABLE AND NECESSARY EXPENSES OF SUBSISTENCE INCIDENT TO THE JOURNEY, SUCH AS MEALS EN ROUTE, IF THE DIRECTOR IN THE EXERCISE OF THE DISCRETION VESTED IN HIM UNDER SAID PROVISION SHOULD SEE FIT TO AUTHORIZE REIMBURSEMENT OF SUCH EXPENSES.

COMPTROLLER GENERAL MCCARL TO THE DIRECTOR, UNITED STATES VETERANS' BUREAU, SEPTEMBER 30, 1924:

I HAVE YOUR LETTER OF SEPTEMBER 15, 1924, REQUESTING DECISION WHETHER THE UNITED STATES VETERANS' BUREAU IS AUTHORIZED TO PAY FOR THE MEALS OF A PERSON WHILE TRAVELING AS AN ATTENDANT ACCOMPANYING THE BODY OF A FORMER BENEFICIARY OF THE UNITED STATES VETERANS' BUREAU BACK TO HIS HOME, WHERE DEATH OCCURS WHILE THE BENEFICIARY WAS AWAY FROM HIS HOME AND UNDER THE CARE OF THE BUREAU.

THE PROVISION FOR PAYMENT OF BURIAL EXPENSES AND TRANSPORTATION OF THE REMAINS OF A BENEFICIARY OF THE UNITED STATES VETERANS' BUREAU DYING AWAY FROM HOME AND WHILE UNDER THE CARE OF THE BUREAU, APPEARING IN THE ACT OF MARCH 4, 1923, 42 STAT., 1523, IS REENACTED IN THE WORLD WAR VETERANS' ACT DATED JUNE 7, 1924, 43 STAT. 617, AS SUBDIVISION (1) OF SECTION 201, AND THE FOLLOWING PROVISION HAS BEEN ADDED THERETO:

* * * AND INCLUDING ALSO, IN THE DISCRETION OF THE DIRECTOR, THE ACTUAL AND NECESSARY COST OF TRANSPORTATION OF AN ATTENDANT: * * *.

PRIOR TO THE ENACTMENT OF THIS PROVISION IT HAD BEEN THE PRACTICE TO USE FUNDS APPROPRIATED FOR TRANSPORTATION OF REMAINS TO PAY THE ACTUAL, NECESSARY, AND REASONABLE EXPENSES OF AN ATTENDANT, INCLUDING BOTH TRANSPORTATION AND SUBSISTENCE EXPENSES, WHERE THE SERVICES OF AN ATTENDANT WERE REQUIRED BY STATE HEALTH LAWS. IN FACT, REGULATIONS TO THAT EFFECT WHICH HAD RECEIVED THE CONSIDERATION OF THIS OFFICE IN DECISION OF JUNE 11, 1923, 2 COMP. GEN. 791, 795, WERE IN FORCE PRIOR TO THE ENACTMENT OF JUNE 7, 1924. SEE SECTIONS 8102 AND 8103, REGULATIONS, UNITED STATES VETERANS' BUREAU, 1923, AND SECTION 8106, SUPPLEMENTS NOS. 1 AND 3, DATED SEPTEMBER 30, 1923, AND MARCH 31, 1924, RESPECTIVELY. SEE ALSO 27 COMP. DEC. 556, AUTHORIZING PAYMENT OF TRANSPORTATION AND SUBSISTENCE EXPENSES OF AN ESCORT ACCOMPANYING THE REMAINS OF A DECEASED TRAINEE OF THE FEDERAL BOARD FOR VOCATIONAL EDUCATION. REGULATIONS TO THE SAME EFFECT APPLICABLE TO DECEASED PATIENTS OF THE PUBLIC HEALTH SERVICE HAVE BEEN RECOGNIZED. SEE 27 COMP. DEC. 739.

THESE DECISIONS AND REGULATIONS WERE NOT BASED ON ANY EXPRESS STATUTORY AUTHORITY FOR TRANSPORTATION AND SUBSISTENCE EXPENSES OF ESCORTS OR ATTENDANTS TO THE REMAINS OF A PERSON DYING WHILE IN THE CHARGE OF THE GOVERNMENT, BUT AS NECESSARILY INCLUDED BY IMPLICATION UNDER THE TERMS OF THE APPROPRIATIONS FOR TRANSPORTATION OF THE REMAINS, AND NO DISTINCTION WAS MADE BETWEEN THE COST OF RAILROAD FARE AND NECESSARY AND REASONABLE SUBSISTENCE EXPENSES INCIDENT TO THE JOURNEY.

I AM OF OPINION THAT THE PROVISION IN THE ACT OF JUNE 7, 1924, SUPRA, WAS ENACTED IN THE LIGHT OF, AND FOR THE PURPOSE OF GIVING STATUTORY RECOGNITION TO, THE PRIOR EXISTING PRACTICE, AND WAS NOT INTENDED TO RESTRICT PAYMENT OF EXPENSES OF ATTENDANTS TO THOSE OF TRANSPORTATION AS DISTINGUISHED FROM SUBSISTENCE EXPENSES INCIDENT TO THE JOURNEY. IN OTHER WORDS, I THINK THE CLAUSE "THE ACTUAL AND NECESSARY COST OF TRANSPORTATION OF AN ATTENDANT" WAS INTENDED TO INCLUDE NOT ONLY ITEMS ORDINARILY CLASSED AS TRANSPORTATION EXPENSES, SUCH AS RAILROAD FARE, BUT ALSO REASONABLE AND NECESSARY EXPENSES OF SUBSISTENCE INCIDENT TO THE JOURNEY, SUCH AS MEALS EN ROUTE, IF IN THE EXERCISE OF THE DISCRETION VESTED IN YOU UNDER THE PROVISION, SUPRA, YOU SHOULD SEE FIT TO AUTHORIZE REIMBURSEMENT OF SUCH EXPENSES. IN CONNECTION WITH THE PROMULGATION OF ANY REGULATIONS WITH REFERENCE TO SUCH EXPENSES, THERE WOULD BE FOR CONSIDERATION THE MAXIMUM ALLOWANCES FOR ACTUAL EXPENSES OF SUBSISTENCE FIXED FOR OFFICERS AND EMPLOYEES OF THE GOVERNMENT TRAVELING ON OFFICIAL BUSINESS.