B-13321, JANUARY 2, 1941, 20 COMP. GEN. 339

B-13321: Jan 2, 1941

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EXCEPT CLAIMS ON ACCOUNT OF DAMAGE TO AUTOMOBILES WHICH OCCUR WHILE THE AUTOMOBILES ARE BEING USED FOR OFFICIAL TRAVEL ON A MILEAGE BASIS. AS OLLOWS: UNDER SECTION 26 OF THE EMERGENCY RELIEF APPROPRIATION ACT OF 1939 THE NATIONAL YOUTH ADMINISTRATOR IS AUTHORIZED TO CONSIDER. THE NATIONAL YOUTH ADMINISTRATION IS GIVEN A LIKE AUTHORITY UNDER PARAGRAPH 19 OF THE NATIONAL YOUTH ADMINISTRATION APPROPRIATION ACT OF 1941 TO PAY SUCH CLAIMS WITH THE APPROVAL OF THE FEDERAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATOR. THE QUESTION IS PRESENTED WHETHER CLAIMS OF SUCH EMPLOYEES MAY BE PAID ON ACCOUNT OF DAMAGE TO OR LOSS OF THEIR PRIVATELY OWNED PROPERTY UNDER THE PROVISIONS OF THE SAID ACTS. IS AUTHORIZED TO CONSIDER.

B-13321, JANUARY 2, 1941, 20 COMP. GEN. 339

PROPERTY - PRIVATE - DAMAGES - CLAIMS OF GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES THE NATIONAL YOUTH ADMINISTRATION'S STATUTORY AUTHORITY TO CONSIDER, ASCERTAIN, ADJUST, DETERMINE, AND PAY FROM ITS APPROPRIATIONS FOR THE FISCAL YEARS 1940 AND 1941, CERTAIN CLAIMS ARISING OUT OF OPERATIONS THEREUNDER, ON ACCOUNT OF DAMAGE TO, OR LOSS OF, PRIVATELY OWNED PROPERTY CAUSED BY THE NEGLIGENCE OF ANY EMPLOYEE OF SAID ADMINISTRATION WHILE ACTING WITHIN THE SCOPE OF HIS EMPLOYMENT, INCLUDES THE AUTHORITY TO CONSIDER AND PAY OTHERWISE PROPER CLAIMS OF EMPLOYEES OF THE ADMINISTRATION ON ACCOUNT OF DAMAGE TO THEIR OWN PRIVATE PROPERTY, EXCEPT CLAIMS ON ACCOUNT OF DAMAGE TO AUTOMOBILES WHICH OCCUR WHILE THE AUTOMOBILES ARE BEING USED FOR OFFICIAL TRAVEL ON A MILEAGE BASIS.

COMPTROLLER GENERAL WARREN TO THE FEDERAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATOR, JANUARY 2, 1941,*

THERE HAS BEEN CONSIDERED THE QUESTIONS PRESENTED IN YOUR LETTER OF NOVEMBER 4, 1940, AS OLLOWS:

UNDER SECTION 26 OF THE EMERGENCY RELIEF APPROPRIATION ACT OF 1939 THE NATIONAL YOUTH ADMINISTRATOR IS AUTHORIZED TO CONSIDER, ASCERTAIN, ADJUST, DETERMINE, AND PAY FROM THE APPROPRIATION MADE TO THE NATIONAL YOUTH ADMINISTRATION IN SECTION 2 OF THE ACT, ANY CLAIM, NOT IN EXCESS OF $500, ARISING OUT OF ITS OPERATIONS ON ACCOUNT OF DAMAGE TO OR LOSS OF PRIVATELY OWNED PROPERTY CAUSED BY THE NEGLIGENCE OF ANY EMPLOYEE OF THE NATIONAL YOUTH ADMINISTRATION, WHILE ACTING WITHIN THE SCOPE OF HIS EMPLOYMENT. THE NATIONAL YOUTH ADMINISTRATION IS GIVEN A LIKE AUTHORITY UNDER PARAGRAPH 19 OF THE NATIONAL YOUTH ADMINISTRATION APPROPRIATION ACT OF 1941 TO PAY SUCH CLAIMS WITH THE APPROVAL OF THE FEDERAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATOR, FROM THE APPROPRIATION MADE TO THE NATIONAL YOUTH ADMINISTRATION IN PARAGRAPH 1 OF THAT ACT.

THE NATIONAL YOUTH ADMINISTRATION HAS BEFORE IT FOR CONSIDERATION, AMONG OTHERS, A CLAIM SUBMITTED BY ONE OF ITS EMPLOYEES FOR DAMAGE TO HIS PERSONALLY OWNED AUTOMOBILE AS A RESULT OF AN ACCIDENT DUE TO THE NEGLIGENCE OF ANOTHER EMPLOYEE OF THIS ADMINISTRATION ACTING WITHIN THE SCOPE OF HIS EMPLOYMENT; AND THE QUESTION IS PRESENTED WHETHER CLAIMS OF SUCH EMPLOYEES MAY BE PAID ON ACCOUNT OF DAMAGE TO OR LOSS OF THEIR PRIVATELY OWNED PROPERTY UNDER THE PROVISIONS OF THE SAID ACTS.

THE NATIONAL YOUTH ADMINISTRATOR HAS REQUESTED THEREFORE, THAT YOUR DECISION BE SOLICITED ON THE QUESTION WHETHER CLAIMS OF EMPLOYEES OF THE NATIONAL YOUTH ADMINISTRATION MAY BE CONSIDERED UNDER THE PROVISIONS OF SECTION 26 AND PARAGRAPH 19, RESPECTIVELY, OF THE ACTS REFERRED TO, AND IF OTHERWISE PROPER, WHETHER SUCH CLAIMS MAY BE PAID FROM THE APPROPRIATION MADE TO THE NATIONAL YOUTH ADMINISTRATION UNDER THE PROVISIONS OF THE SAID ACTS.

PARAGRAPH 10 OF THE NATIONAL YOUTH ADMINISTRATION APPROPRIATION ACT OF 1941, APPROVED JUNE 26, 1940, 54 STAT. 593, PROVIDES AS FOLLOWS:

THE NATIONAL YOUTH ADMINISTRATOR, SUBJECT TO THE APPROVAL OF THE FEDERAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATOR, IS AUTHORIZED TO CONSIDER, ASCERTAIN, ADJUST, DETERMINE, AND PAY FROM THE APPROPRIATION IN PARAGRAPH 1 ANY CLAIM ARISING OUT OF OPERATIONS THEREUNDER ACCRUING AFTER JUNE 30, 1940, ON ACCOUNT OF DAMAGE TO, OR LOSS OF, PRIVATELY OWNED PROPERTY CAUSED BY THE NEGLIGENCE OF ANY EMPLOYEE OF THE NATIONAL YOUTH ADMINISTRATION, WHILE ACTING WITHIN THE SCOPE OF HIS EMPLOYMENT. NO CLAIM SHALL BE CONSIDERED HEREUNDER WHICH IS IN EXCESS OF $500 OR WHICH IS NOT PRESENTED IN WRITING WITHIN ONE YEAR FROM THE DATE OF ACCRUAL THEREOF. ACCEPTANCE BY A CLAIMANT OF THE AMOUNT ALLOWED ON ACCOUNT OF HIS CLAIM SHALL BE DEEMED TO BE IN FULL SETTLEMENT THEREOF, AND THE ACTION UPON SUCH CLAIM SO ACCEPTED BY THE CLAIMANT SHALL BE CONCLUSIVE.

SIMILAR PROVISION IS CONTAINED IN SECTION 26 OF THE EMERGENCY RELIEF APPROPRIATION ACT OF 1939, 53 STAT. 936.

YOUR SUBMISSION DOES NOT INDICATE THE SPECIFIC FACTS OF THE CASE IN QUESTION, BUT IT IS ASSUMED THERE WAS NO SUCH CONTRIBUTORY NEGLIGENCE ON THE PART OF THE EMPLOYEE-CLAIMANT AS WOULD, UNDER ORDINARY PRINCIPLES OF TORT, PRECLUDE HIM FROM ENFORCING COLLECTION FOR THE DAMAGES SUSTAINED AGAINST ANY OTHERS WHOSE NEGLIGENCE ALSO CONTRIBUTED TO THE ACCIDENT.

OVER A PERIOD OF YEARS THERE HAS BEEN ENACTED A SERIES OF STATUTES TO PROVIDE GENERALLY FOR PAYMENT FOR PRIVATE PROPERTY DAMAGED IN PARTICULAR OPERATIONS OF THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT. SUCH ACTS, HOWEVER, DIFFER FROM THE ACT QUOTED ABOVE IN THAT THEY APPLY NOT TO NEGLIGENT ACCIDENTS, BUT TO DAMAGING OCCURRENCES WHICH ARE THE NORMAL, AND, IN A SENSE, THE PREDICTABLE RESULT OF AUTHORIZED GOVERNMENT ACTIVITIES--- SUCH AS PROPERTY DAMAGE RESULTING FROM HEAVY GUNFIRE IN THE PRACTICE OF THE ARMY. ORDINARILY (THAT IS, IN THE ABSENCE OF SPECIAL PROVISION IN THE STATUTE OTHERWISE) IT HAS BEEN HELD THAT SUCH STATUTES PERTAIN TO PRIVATE OWNERS WHO ARE UNCONNECTED WITH THE GOVERNMENT, AND THAT THE RISK OF SUCH NORMAL DAMAGES IS ONE ASSUMED BY AN EMPLOYEE WHO ENTERS SUCH SERVICE. SEE 8 COMP. GEN. 420 AND THE CASES THERE CITED. THIS RULE WAS BASED, ALSO, IN PART UPON THE SEPARATE PROVISION WHICH HAD BEEN MADE BY CONGRESS FOR PAYMENT FOR DAMAGES TO THE PROPERTY OF EMPLOYEES IN CERTAIN BRANCHES OF THE SERVICE. SEE 6 COMP. GEN. 52.

CLAIMS FOR DAMAGE CAUSED BY THE NEGLIGENCE OF GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES ARE ADJUSTED UNDER A DIFFERENT SERIES OF STATUTES, STEMMING FROM THE ACT OF DECEMBER 28, 1922, 42 STAT. 1066, UNDER WHICH IT IS FOR THE HEAD OF EACH DEPARTMENT TO "CONSIDER, ASCERTAIN, ADJUST, AND DETERMINE" EACH CLAIM, AND CERTIFY THE ALLOWED CLAIMS TO CONGRESS FOR PAYMENT FROM AN APPROPRIATION TO BE MADE. THE TWO STATUTES REFERRED TO IN YOUR LETTER VARY FROM THE 1922 ACT JUST CITED ONLY TO LIMIT THE AMOUNT ALLOWABLE TO $500, INSTEAD OF $1,000, AND TO AUTHORIZE YOU TO PAY THE CLAIMS SO ADJUSTED AND ALLOWED FROM THE CURRENT APPROPRIATIONS RATHER THAN TO CERTIFY THEM TO CONGRESS FOR ITS CONSIDERATION. UNDER THE 1922 ACT IT IS NOT UNCOMMON FOR THE VARIOUS DEPARTMENTS TO REPORT TO CONGRESS CLAIMS OF THEIR OWN EMPLOYEES (SEE, FOR EXAMPLE, H.1DOC. NO. 621, 76TH CONG., AT PP. 25, ET SEQ.) , AND THE APPROPRIATIONS MADE HAVE NOT EXCEPTED SUCH CLAIMS FROM THE PAYMENTS AUTHORIZED.

ACCORDINGLY, EXCEPT WHERE THE DAMAGE IS TO AN AUTOMOBILE OF AN EMPLOYEE WHILE BEING USED FOR OFFICIAL TRAVEL ON A MILEAGE BASIS (AS TO WHICH SEE 7 COMP. GEN. 284; 15 ID. 76 AND 735), AND SUBJECT, OF COURSE, TO THE DETERMINATION OF EACH PARTICULAR CASE BY THE NATIONAL YOUTH ADMINISTRATOR AND THE APPROVAL OF THE FEDERAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATOR, YOUR QUESTIONS ARE ANSWERED IN THE AFFIRMATIVE.