B-136198, JUL. 2, 1958

B-136198: Jul 2, 1958

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TO THE SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: REFERENCE IS MADE TO LETTER DATED MAY 16. SPECIAL OR INCENTIVE PAYS THAT THEY ARE OTHERWISE ENTITLED TO RECEIVE. THAT NO OFFICER SHALL BE ENTITLED TO RECEIVE SUCH SPECIAL PAY "WHILE HE IS SERVING AS A MEDICAL OR DENTAL INTERN.'. REVEALED A CLEAR INTENT THAT A RIGHT TO THE SPECIAL PAY SHOULD NOT ACCRUE TO THE OFFICERS INVOLVED UNTIL THEY WERE FULLY TRAINED AND QUALIFIED TO FUNCTION AS MEDICAL AND DENTAL OFFICERS. IT WAS HELD IN DECISION OF AUGUST 20. IT APPEARED IN THE HEARINGS REFERRED TO ABOVE THAT THE ARMY AND NAVY HAD INDICATED THAT THEY WANTED THEIR DOCTORS TO HAVE AN INTERNSHIP. THAT THAT SERVICE WAS A PREREQUISITE OF THEIR FUNCTIONING IN THE MEDICAL OR DENTAL CAPACITY FOR WHICH COMMISSIONED.

B-136198, JUL. 2, 1958

TO THE SECRETARY OF DEFENSE:

REFERENCE IS MADE TO LETTER DATED MAY 16, 1958, WITH ENCLOSURES, FROM THE ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF DEFENSE (COMPTROLLER), WHO REQUESTS A DECISION REGARDING THE RIGHT OF DENTAL CORPS OFFICERS OF THE UNIFORMED SERVICES, OTHERWISE ELIGIBLE, TO THE SPECIAL PAY FOR MEDICAL AND DENTAL CORPS OFFICERS AUTHORIZED BY SECTION 203 OF THE CAREER COMPENSATION ACT OF 1949, 63 STAT. 809, AS AMENDED, 37 U.S.C. 234, UPON THEIR ASSUMPTION OF FULL RESPONSIBILITIES AS DENTAL OFFICERS PRIOR TO FULFILLING INTERNSHIPS IF NOT REQUIRED BY STATE MEDICAL LAWS AND SERVICE REGULATIONS TO FIRST SERVE A PERIOD OF INTERNSHIP.

SECTION 203 OF THE CAREER COMPENSATION ACT, AS AMENDED, AUTHORIZES SPECIAL PAY TO CERTAIN MEDICAL AND DENTAL CORPS OFFICERS IN ADDITION TO ANY PAY, ALLOWANCES, SPECIAL OR INCENTIVE PAYS THAT THEY ARE OTHERWISE ENTITLED TO RECEIVE, WITH THE PROVISION, HOWEVER, THAT NO OFFICER SHALL BE ENTITLED TO RECEIVE SUCH SPECIAL PAY "WHILE HE IS SERVING AS A MEDICAL OR DENTAL INTERN.' DISCUSSIONS OF SUCH LIMITATION APPEARING IN THE HEARINGS CONDUCTED BY THE SENATE COMMITTEE ON ARMED SERVICES ON H.R. 5007-81ST CONGRESS, THAT BECAME THE CAREER COMPENSATION ACT OF 1949, REVEALED A CLEAR INTENT THAT A RIGHT TO THE SPECIAL PAY SHOULD NOT ACCRUE TO THE OFFICERS INVOLVED UNTIL THEY WERE FULLY TRAINED AND QUALIFIED TO FUNCTION AS MEDICAL AND DENTAL OFFICERS. CONSEQUENTLY, IT WAS HELD IN DECISION OF AUGUST 20, 1956, 36 COMP. GEN. 135, AS REASONABLY APPEARING THAT CONGRESS DID NOT INTEND THAT SUCH OFFICERS SHOULD RECEIVE THE SPECIAL PAY UNTIL AFTER THE COMPLETION OF THEIR INTERNSHIP, AND THAT NO AUTHORITY EXISTED, THEREFORE, FOR ITS PAYMENT FROM THE DATE AN OFFICER ENTERED ON ACTIVE DUTY UNTIL THE DAY PRIOR TO BEGINNING DUTY AS AN INTERN.

IT APPEARED IN THE HEARINGS REFERRED TO ABOVE THAT THE ARMY AND NAVY HAD INDICATED THAT THEY WANTED THEIR DOCTORS TO HAVE AN INTERNSHIP, THE INFERENCE BEING, OF COURSE, THAT THAT SERVICE WAS A PREREQUISITE OF THEIR FUNCTIONING IN THE MEDICAL OR DENTAL CAPACITY FOR WHICH COMMISSIONED. A DISCUSSION OF THE QUESTION THAT YOU PRESENT, APPEARING IN COMMITTEE ACTION NO. 207 OF THE DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE MILITARY PAY AND ALLOWANCE COMMITTEE, COPIES OF WHICH ACCOMPANIED YOUR LETTER, IT IS STATED THAT IN CONTRAST TO THE ALMOST UNIVERSAL REQUIREMENT OF THE MEDICAL PROFESSION AND APPLICABLE LICENSING LAWS IN THE UNITED STATES THAT A PHYSICIAN SERVE A PERIOD OF INTERNSHIP PRIOR TO ASSUMING THE FULL DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES OF THE PROFESSION, THE DENTAL PROFESSION AND APPLICABLE LICENSING LAWS ORDINARILY DO NOT REQUIRE THAT DENTISTS COMPLETE A PERIOD OF INTERNSHIP PRIOR TO ASSUMING THE FULL DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES OF THAT PROFESSION. ALSO, IT IS STATED THAT THE ARMY DOES NOT HAVE SUCH A REQUIREMENT ALTHOUGH THAT SERVICE DOES PERMIT DENTAL CORPS OFFICERS TO VOLUNTARILY SERVE A PERIOD OF INTERNSHIP. IT IS SUGGESTED THAT SINCE AN INTERNSHIP IS NOT REQUIRED IN THE CASE OF SOME DENTAL OFFICERS, A LITERAL APPLICATION OF THE HOLDING IN 36 COMP. GEN. 135 COULD CONCEIVABLY RESULT IN DENYING THE SPECIAL PAY TO THOSE OFFICERS INDEFINITELY UNLESS AND UNTIL THEY VOLUNTARILY SERVED A PERIOD OF INTERNSHIP. THE VIEW IS EXPRESSED, THEREFORE, THAT QUALIFIED DENTAL OFFICERS ON ACTIVE DUTY WHO ASSUME THE FULL DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES OF THEIR PROFESSION SHOULD BE ENTITLED TO THE SPECIAL PAY FOR THE PERIOD OF SUCH SERVICE, IF OTHERWISE ENTITLED, PREDICATED UPON THE ASSUMPTION OF FULL DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES OF THE PROFESSION, IRRESPECTIVE OF A POSSIBLE SUBSEQUENT INTERN STATUS.

AS INDICATED IN 36 COMP. GEN. 135, IT IS CONSIDERED THAT THE SPECIAL PAY IN QUESTION IS AUTHORIZED FOR PAYMENT INCIDENT TO THE PERFORMANCE BY FULLY QUALIFIED MEDICAL AND DENTAL OFFICERS OF THEIR PROFESSIONAL FUNCTIONS. IF, AS IS SUGGESTED, CIRCUMSTANCES EXIST WHERE DENTAL OFFICERS ARE FULLY QUALIFIED TO ASSUME THOSE FUNCTIONS WITHOUT THE NEED FOR AN INTERNSHIP, AND DO ASSUME THEM WITHOUT VIOLATING THE REQUIREMENTS OF APPLICABLE LICENSING LAWS OR ADMINISTRATIVE REGULATIONS OR PRACTICES, THEIR RIGHT TO THE SPECIAL PAY, IF OTHERWISE EXISTING, WOULD APPEAR TO BE ESTABLISHED IRRESPECTIVE OF WHETHER THERE MIGHT FOLLOW THEREAFTER A PERIOD OF VOLUNTARY INTERNSHIP, THE QUALIFICATION FOR THE PERFORMANCE OF THE INITIAL ACTIVE DUTY IN SUCH CIRCUMSTANCES NOT BEING CONTINGENT UPON TRAINING GAINED IN THE ENSUING INTERNSHIP. YOU ARE ADVISED, THEREFORE, THAT OTHERWISE PROPER PAYMENTS OF THE SPECIAL PAY MAY BE MADE TO DENTAL OFFICERS IN THE CIRCUMSTANCES DISCUSSED, FROM THE TIME OF THEIR ASSUMPTION AND PERFORMANCE OF DUTIES AS FULLY QUALIFIED DENTAL OFFICERS, EVEN THOUGH THEY MAY NOT HAVE SERVED A PERIOD OF INTERNSHIP PRIOR TO THAT TIME.