B-136074, JUN. 26, 1958

B-136074: Jun 26, 1958

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THE PROPOSED REGULATIONS SEEM TO REQUIRE THE SAME PROCEDURE TO BE FOLLOWED WHENEVER A GOVERNMENT VEHICLE IS INVOLVED IN ANY ACCIDENT. PROPOSED SUBSECTION 309.02 PROVIDES FOR THE OFFICIAL OR EMPLOYEE TO WHOM A VEHICLE IS ASSIGNED . INSTANCES WILL OCCUR WHERE THE DRIVER OF A VEHICLE IS SO INJURED IN THE ACCIDENT THAT HE IS HOSPITALIZED AND UNABLE TO FILE THE REPORT WITHIN 48 HOURS. IT WOULD SEEM THAT THE DRIVER SHOULD NOT BE HELD RESPONSIBLE FOR FILING THE REPORT OR PENALIZED FOR FAILING TO DO SO AND IT IS SUGGESTED THAT SOME ALTERNATIVE INDIVIDUAL BE NAMED TO HAVE THAT RESPONSIBILITY WHERE THE DRIVER IS SO INCAPACITATED BECAUSE OF THE ACCIDENT AS TO BE UNABLE TO FILE THE REPORT. QUESTION IS LIKELY TO ARISE THEREUNDER IN THOSE INSTANCES WHERE AN ACCIDENT OCCURS LATE IN THE DAY PRECEDING NON-WORK PERIODS WHETHER SUCH INVESTIGATIONS ARE CONTEMPLATED TO BE MADE ON SATURDAYS.

B-136074, JUN. 26, 1958

TO HONORABLE FRANKLIN FLOETE, ADMINISTRATOR, GENERAL SERVICES ADMINISTRATION:

YOUR LETTER OF APRIL 22, 1958, FORWARDED FOR OUR REVIEW COPIES OF A PROPOSED REVISED SECTION 309.00, CHAPTER V, TITLE I, PERSONAL PROPERTY MANAGEMENT, REGULATIONS OF THE GENERAL SERVICES ADMINISTRATION.

REGARDING THE GENERAL MATTER OF REPORTING ACCIDENTS, THE PROPOSED REGULATIONS SEEM TO REQUIRE THE SAME PROCEDURE TO BE FOLLOWED WHENEVER A GOVERNMENT VEHICLE IS INVOLVED IN ANY ACCIDENT, REGARDLESS OF THE EXTENT OF DAMAGE IF ANY. SUBSECTION 309.04 WOULD REQUIRE COMPLETE INVESTIGATION REPORTS, AS DEFINED THEREIN, TO BE FILED AS TO EACH SUCH ACCIDENT. MANY INSTANCES, PARTICULARLY IN CITY DRIVING, ACCIDENTS OCCUR INVOLVING MERELY DENTED FENDERS AND LIKE PROPERTY DAMAGES WHERE THE ACTUAL DAMAGES WOULD BE OF A MINOR NATURE. IN THOSE INSTANCES THE COST OF THE COMPLETE REPORTS AND INVESTIGATIONS MIGHT MORE THAN EXCEED THE DAMAGES. FOR THIS REASON, YOU MAY WISH TO CONSIDER REPORTS AND INVESTIGATIONS OF A MORE LIMITED SCOPE WHERE THE ACCIDENT INVOLVES MINOR PROPERTY DAMAGES ONLY.

PROPOSED SUBSECTION 309.02 PROVIDES FOR THE OFFICIAL OR EMPLOYEE TO WHOM A VEHICLE IS ASSIGNED ,REPORTING IMMEDIATELY (OR IN ANY CASE WITHIN 48 HOURS) ANY ACCIDENT IN WHICH THE VEHICLE MAY BE INVOLVED.' ALSO, SUBSECTION 309.03, PROVIDES PENALTIES FOR NOT SO REPORTING. INSTANCES WILL OCCUR WHERE THE DRIVER OF A VEHICLE IS SO INJURED IN THE ACCIDENT THAT HE IS HOSPITALIZED AND UNABLE TO FILE THE REPORT WITHIN 48 HOURS. SUCH AN EVENT, IT WOULD SEEM THAT THE DRIVER SHOULD NOT BE HELD RESPONSIBLE FOR FILING THE REPORT OR PENALIZED FOR FAILING TO DO SO AND IT IS SUGGESTED THAT SOME ALTERNATIVE INDIVIDUAL BE NAMED TO HAVE THAT RESPONSIBILITY WHERE THE DRIVER IS SO INCAPACITATED BECAUSE OF THE ACCIDENT AS TO BE UNABLE TO FILE THE REPORT.

PROPOSED SUBSECTION 309.04 PROVIDES FOR INVESTIGATION WITH 48 HOURS BY THE AGENCY EMPLOYING THE OPERATOR WHERE THERE HAS BEEN AN ACCIDENT. QUESTION IS LIKELY TO ARISE THEREUNDER IN THOSE INSTANCES WHERE AN ACCIDENT OCCURS LATE IN THE DAY PRECEDING NON-WORK PERIODS WHETHER SUCH INVESTIGATIONS ARE CONTEMPLATED TO BE MADE ON SATURDAYS, SUNDAYS, AND HOLIDAYS, OUTSIDE THE REGULAR WORKING HOURS OF THE AGENCY, AND IT MAY BE THAT THE REGULATIONS SHOULD BE CLARIFIED IN THAT REGARD.

PROPOSED SUBSECTION 309.07 PROVIDES FOR AGENCY LIABILITY WHENEVER A MOTOR POOL SYSTEM VEHICLE IS DAMAGED IN AN ACCIDENT CAUSED BY OR ATTRIBUTABLE TO THE NEGLIGENCE OR MISCONDUCT OF THE VEHICLE OPERATOR. IN 37 COMP. GEN. 308, WE HELD THE NAVY DEPARTMENT RESPONSIBLE FOR DAMAGE TO A MOTOR POOL SYSTEM VEHICLE, WHERE THE DAMAGE OCCURRED THROUGH THE ACTIONS OF NAVY DEPARTMENT PERSONNEL BUT THROUGH NO FAULT OR NEGLIGENCE OF THE NAVY DEPARTMENT EMPLOYEE TO WHOM THE VEHICLE WAS ASSIGNED. AS NOW DRAFTED, WE DO NOT THINK THAT SUBSECTION 309.07 ADEQUATELY FIXES RESPONSIBILITY IN THOSE INSTANCES WHERE THE DAMAGE WAS CAUSED BY AGENCY PERSONNEL OTHER THAN THE EMPLOYEE TO WHOM THE VEHICLE IS ASSIGNED. IN ORDER TO AVOID POSSIBLE MISUNDERSTANDING, WE BELIEVE THAT SUBSECTION 309.07 SHOULD BE REVISED OR CLARIFIED TO PROVIDE FOR AGENCY LIABILITY WHEN A MOTOR POOL SYSTEM VEHICLE IS DAMAGED OR DESTROYED BECAUSE OF NEGLIGENT ACTIONS BY AGENCY PERSONNEL EVEN THOUGH WITHOUT FAULT OR NEGLIGENCE OF THE VEHICLE OPERATOR.

SUBSECTION 309.06, SECOND PARAGRAPH, PROVIDES FOR THE ADMINISTRATION'S REGIONAL COUNSEL ASSISTING THE USING AGENCY IN THE GOVERNMENT DEFENSE OF SUITS FILED AGAINST THE USING AGENCY. IT WOULD SEEM TO US THAT SUITS IN SUCH CASES IN MOST INSTANCES WOULD BE FILED AGAINST THE UNITED STATES UNDER 28 U.S.C. 1346 (B) OR THE OPERATOR OF THE VEHICLE, AND WOULD BE DEFENDED BY THE ATTORNEY GENERAL OR HIS SUBORDINATES. IN VIEW THEREOF YOU MAY WISH TO MODIFY THIS PARAGRAPH TO PROVIDE GENERALLY FOR THE ADMINISTRATION'S REGIONAL COUNSEL COOPERATING WITH THE USING AGENCY AND THE DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE IN DEFENSE OF ANY SECTION AGAINST THE UNITED STATES, THE USING AGENCY, OR THE OPERATOR OF THE VEHICLE; ARISING OUT OF THE USE OF MOTOR POOL VEHICLES.

ASIDE FROM THE ABOVE, WE HAVE NO COMMENTS AS TO THE PROPOSED REGULATIONS.