B-128173, AUG. 31, 1956

B-128173: Aug 31, 1956

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TO THE ATTORNEY GENERAL: REFERENCE IS MADE TO LETTER OF JUNE 6. THE PROPOSED AMENDMENT PROVIDES THAT THE FOREST SERVICE WILL REIMBURSE THE BUREAU OF PRISONS FOR MEDICAL AND HOSPITAL CARE FOR FEDERAL PRISONERS INJURED WHILE ENGAGED IN FIRE-FIGHTING ACTIVITIES FOR THE FOREST SERVICE. IT IS STATED IN SUBSTANCE THAT SUCH AN AMENDMENT IS DEEMED NECESSARY BECAUSE YOUR APPROPRIATIONS DO NOT CONTEMPLATE EXPENDITURES FOR INJURIES TO PRISONERS OCCASIONED BY FIRE-FIGHTING ACTIVITIES FOR THE FORESTSERVICE. IT IS POINTED OUT THAT. INSOFAR AS FEDERAL PRISONERS ARE CONCERNED. YOUR DEPARTMENT IS NOT "INSURED" BY ANOTHER AGENCY SUCH AS THE BUREAU OF EMPLOYEES COMPENSATION AS IS THE CASE WHERE EMPLOYEES ARE INJURED.

B-128173, AUG. 31, 1956

TO THE ATTORNEY GENERAL:

REFERENCE IS MADE TO LETTER OF JUNE 6, 1956, FROM THE ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL, TRANSMITTING A FILE OF CORRESPONDENCE BETWEEN YOUR DEPARTMENT'S BUREAU OF PRISONS AND THE FOREST SERVICE, DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE, RELATIVE TO AMENDING CERTAIN "FIRE COOPERATIVE AGREEMENTS" BETWEEN THE LATTER AGENCY AND THE BUREAU OF PRISONS. THE PROPOSED AMENDMENT PROVIDES THAT THE FOREST SERVICE WILL REIMBURSE THE BUREAU OF PRISONS FOR MEDICAL AND HOSPITAL CARE FOR FEDERAL PRISONERS INJURED WHILE ENGAGED IN FIRE-FIGHTING ACTIVITIES FOR THE FOREST SERVICE.

IT IS STATED IN SUBSTANCE THAT SUCH AN AMENDMENT IS DEEMED NECESSARY BECAUSE YOUR APPROPRIATIONS DO NOT CONTEMPLATE EXPENDITURES FOR INJURIES TO PRISONERS OCCASIONED BY FIRE-FIGHTING ACTIVITIES FOR THE FORESTSERVICE. IT IS POINTED OUT THAT, INSOFAR AS FEDERAL PRISONERS ARE CONCERNED, YOUR DEPARTMENT IS NOT "INSURED" BY ANOTHER AGENCY SUCH AS THE BUREAU OF EMPLOYEES COMPENSATION AS IS THE CASE WHERE EMPLOYEES ARE INJURED.

IT APPEARS THAT THE FOREST SERVICE ADVISED YOUR DEPARTMENT THAT REGARDLESS OF THE MERITS OF THE MATTER, IT IS PREVENTED FROM GIVING CONSIDERATION TO THE REQUESTED AMENDMENT BECAUSE, IN ITS OPINION, FOREST SERVICE FUNDS ARE NOT AVAILABLE FOR SUCH EXPENDITURES. THE FOREST SERVICE INDICATED, HOWEVER, THAT IT HAD NO OBJECTION TO HAVING THE MATTER SUBMITTED TO US. ACCORDINGLY, THE FOLLOWING QUESTION IS PRESENTED FOR OUR CONSIDERATION:

"ARE APPROPRIATIONS TO THE FOREST SERVICE FOR FIRE-FIGHTING ACTIVITIES AVAILABLE TO REIMBURSE THE BUREAU OF PRISONS FOR UNUSUAL MEDICAL EXPENSES OF PRISONERS INJURED WHILE ENGAGED IN SUCH ACTIVITIES?

THE QUESTION PRESENTED INVOLVES CONSIDERATION OF SECTION 4125 (A) OF TITLE 18, UNITED STATES CODE, WHICH PROVIDES:

"/A) THE ATTORNEY GENERAL MAY MAKE AVAILABLE TO THE HEADS OF THE SEVERAL DEPARTMENTS THE SERVICES OF UNITED STATES PRISONERS UNDER TERMS, CONDITIONS, AND RATES MUTUALLY AGREED UPON, FOR CONSTRUCTING OR REPAIRING ROADS, CLEARING, MAINTAINING AND REFORESTING PUBLIC LANDS, BUILDING LEVEES, AND CONSTRUCTING OR REPAIRING ANY OTHER PUBLIC WAYS OR WORKS FINANCED WHOLLY OR IN MAJOR PART BY FUNDS APPROPRIATED BY CONGRESS.'

INASMUCH AS THE MATTER CONCERNS APPROPRIATIONS OF THE DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE, WE REQUESTED ITS COMMENTS THEREON. BY LETTER DATED AUGUST 24, 1956, THE DEPARTMENT SET FORTH ITS VIEWS, WHICH ARE IN PERTINENT PART, AS FOLLOWS:

"THIS DEPARTMENT TAKES THE VIEW THAT THE "TERMS, CONDITIONS, AND RATES" UNDER WHICH FEDERAL PRISON LABOR MAY BE MADE AVAILABLE, AS PROVIDED IN 18 U.S.C. 4125, RELATE EXCLUSIVELY TO THE WORK ASPECTS AND THE CONDITIONS UNDER WHICH THE PRISONERS PERFORM THEIR LABOR.

"THE OBLIGATION WHICH IS SOUGHT TO BE IMPOSED ON FOREST SERVICE APPROPRIATIONS WOULD APPEAR TO BE BEYOND THE AUTHORITY OF THE DEPARTMENT IN THAT IT WOULD INVOLVE THE ASSUMPTION OF AN OBLIGATION IN EXCESS OF APPROPRIATIONS FOR WHICH THE FOREST SERVICE HAS NO STATUTORY AUTHORITY.

"THIS CONCLUSION IS JUSTIFIED BY A REVIEW OF THE STATUTES RELATING TO THE BUREAU OF PRISONS. THE GENERAL RESPONSIBILITIES OF THE BUREAU OF PRISONS WITH RESPECT TO PRISONERS ARE SET OUT IN 18 U.S.C. 4042. ONE OF THE RESPONSIBILITIES IS THAT THE BUREAU PROVIDE FOR THE SAFEKEEPING, CARE, AND PROTECTION OF PRISONERS. CONSEQUENTLY, BECAUSE OF THAT STATUTORY OBLIGATION THIS DEPARTMENT CONSIDERS THAT FOREST SERVICE FUNDS ARE NOT AVAILABLE TO PAY DIRECTLY, OR BY REIMBURSEMENT, FOR MEDICAL AND HOSPITAL CARE FOR FEDERAL PRISONERS INJURED WHILE ENGAGED IN FOREST-FIRE SUPPRESSION.'

THE LANGUAGE "UNDER TERMS, CONDITIONS, AND RATES MUTUALLY AGREED UPON," IS VERY BROAD AND THE AMENDMENT IN QUESTION WOULD APPEAR TO BE A "TERM" OR "CONDITION" WITHIN THE PURVIEW OF SUCH LANGUAGE. ALSO, WHILE 18 U.S.C. 4042 REQUIRES THE BUREAU OF PRISONS TO PROVIDE FOR THE SAFEKEEPING, CARE AND PROTECTION OF PRISONERS, IT DOES NOT APPEAR TO PROHIBIT THE BUREAU BEING REIMBURSED BY OTHER GOVERNMENT AGENCIES FOR THE COST OF MEDICAL AND HOSPITAL CARE OF PRISONERS WHO ARE INJURED WHILE PERFORMING SERVICES FOR SUCH AGENCIES UNDER 18 U.S.C. 4125 (A), IF REIMBURSEMENT FOR SUCH COSTS IS MUTUALLY AGREED UPON.

NO GOOD REASON IS PERCEIVED WHY--- PURSUANT TO YOUR AUTHORITY UNDER 18 U.S.C. 4125 (A) TO MAKE THE SERVICES OF FEDERAL PRISONERS AVAILABLE TO THE HEADS OF GOVERNMENT DEPARTMENTS UNDER TERMS, CONDITIONS AND RATES MUTUALLY AGREED UPON--- YOUR AGENCIES MAY NOT AMEND THE AGREEMENTS TO PROVIDE THAT THE FOREST SERVICE WILL REIMBURSE THE BUREAU OF PRISONS FOR THE ACTUAL COST OF MEDICAL AND HOSPITAL CARE OF PRISONERS INJURED WHILE ENGAGED IN FIRE-FIGHTING ACTIVITIES FOR THE FOREST SERVICE.

IT IS OUR VIEW THAT IF IT BE ADMINISTRATIVELY DETERMINED BY THE FOREST SERVICE THAT THE SERVICES OF FEDERAL PRISONERS ARE NECESSARY IN FIGHTING FOREST FIRES AND THE AMENDMENT IN QUESTION IS ADOPTED, FUNDS APPROPRIATED TO THE FOREST SERVICE FOR FIGHTING FOREST FIRES COULD PROPERLY BE USED TO REIMBURSE THE BUREAU OF PRISONS FOR THE COST OF MEDICAL AND HOSPITAL CARE OF PRISONERS INJURED WHILE RENDERING SUCH SERVICES. IT IS A WELL-SETTLED RULE THAT AN APPROPRIATION MADE IN GENERAL TERMS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE IS AVAILABLE FOR EXPENSES NECESSARY TO THE ACCOMPLISHMENT OF THAT PURPOSE. CF. 29 COMP. GEN. 419.