B-158194, JAN. 12, 1966

B-158194: Jan 12, 1966

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THE QUESTION SUBMITTED IS WHETHER THE TEN-YEAR STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS PRESCRIBED BY SECTION 1 OF THE ACT OF OCTOBER 9. THE CITED PROVISION PRECLUDES CONSIDERATION OF CLAIMS COGNIZABLE BY OUR OFFICE WHICH ARE NOT RECEIVED HERE WITHIN TEN YEARS FROM THEIR ACCRUAL. ALL ACCOUNTS WHATEVER IN WHICH THE GOVERNMENT OF THE UNITED STATES IS CONCERNED. THE RULE IS WELL SETTLED THAT WHERE THERE IS REPUGNANCY BETWEEN A SPECIAL STATUTE AND A GENERAL STATUTE. WE ARE NOT UNMINDFUL OF THE FACT THAT THE PRESIDENT'S AUTHORITY WAS GRANTED OVER A YEAR PRIOR TO THE GRANT OF OUR AUTHORITY AND THAT IT COULD BE ARGUED THAT OUR AUTHORITY. CRAWFORD ADVISES THAT THE RULE THAT A STATUTE RELATING TO A SPECIFIC SUBJECT CONTROLS A GENERAL STATUTE WHICH INCLUDES THE SPECIFIC SUBJECT IS NOT NECESSARILY DEPENDENT ON THE TIME OF THE ENACTMENT OF SUCH STATUTES.

B-158194, JAN. 12, 1966

TO THE SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY:

BY LETTER DATED NOVEMBER 22, 1965, THE COMMISSIONER OF ACCOUNTS WROTE TO OUR OFFICE CONCERNING REIMBURSEMENT SOUGHT BY THE NEW YORK CENTRAL RAILROAD FOR PAYMENTS MADE BY THAT RAILROAD TO THE WORKMEN'S COMPENSATION BOARD OF ONTARIO. THE TRANSACTION RELATES TO THE GUARANTY PERIOD THAT FOLLOWED FEDERAL CONTROL OF THE RAILROADS. THIS CONTROL TERMINATED ON MARCH 1, 1920.

THE BILLING SUBMITTED BY THE RAILROAD TOTALS $23,220.75. A PARTIAL REIMBURSEMENT OF $8,942, COVERING PAYMENTS MADE BY THE RAILROAD DURING AND SUBSEQUENT TO 1958, HAS BEEN MADE. THE QUESTION SUBMITTED IS WHETHER THE TEN-YEAR STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS PRESCRIBED BY SECTION 1 OF THE ACT OF OCTOBER 9, 1940, CH. 788, 54 STAT. 1061, 31 U.S.C. 71A AND 237, PRECLUDES REIMBURSEMENT OF THE REMAINING BALANCE WHICH COVERS PAYMENTS MADE PRIOR TO 1958. THE CITED PROVISION PRECLUDES CONSIDERATION OF CLAIMS COGNIZABLE BY OUR OFFICE WHICH ARE NOT RECEIVED HERE WITHIN TEN YEARS FROM THEIR ACCRUAL.

WHILE SECTION 305 OF THE BUDGET AND ACCOUNTING ACT, 1921, APPROVED JUNE 10, 1921, CH. 18, 42 STAT. 24, 31 U.S.C. 71, AFFORDS THIS OFFICE AUTHORITY TO SETTLE AND ADJUST "ALL CLAIMS AND DEMANDS WHATEVER BY THE GOVERNMENT OF THE UNITED STATES OR AGAINST IT, AND ALL ACCOUNTS WHATEVER IN WHICH THE GOVERNMENT OF THE UNITED STATES IS CONCERNED, EITHER AS DEBTOR OR CREDITOR * * *," WE DO NOT FEEL THAT THIS GENERAL AUTHORITY LODGES HERE THE RESPONSIBILITY FOR SETTLEMENT OF THE PRESENT CONSIDERATION IN VIEW OF THE SPECIFIC AUTHORITY GRANTED THE PRESIDENT OVER SUCH MATTERS BY SECTION 202 OF THE TRANSPORTATION ACT, 1920, APPROVED FEBRUARY 28, 1920, CH. 91, 41 STAT. 459, 49 U.S.C. 72 (1946 ED.). SECTION 202 OF THE TRANSPORTATION ACT, 1920, PROVIDES IN PERTINENT PART:

"THE PRESIDENT SHALL, AS SOON AS PRACTICABLE AFTER THE TERMINATION OF FEDERAL CONTROL, ADJUST, SETTLE, LIQUIDATE, AND WIND UP ALL MATTERS, INCLUDING COMPENSATION, AND ALL QUESTIONS AND DISPUTES OF WHATSOEVER NATURE, ARISING OUT OF OR INCIDENT TO FEDERAL CONTROL * * *.'

THE RULE IS WELL SETTLED THAT WHERE THERE IS REPUGNANCY BETWEEN A SPECIAL STATUTE AND A GENERAL STATUTE, THE SPECIAL STATUTE SHOULD PREVAIL BECAUSE THE SPECIFIC STATUTE MORE CLEARLY EVIDENCES THE LEGISLATIVE INTENT WITH REFERENCE TO THE SPECIAL MATTER THAN DOES THE GENERAL STATUTE. SEE CRAWFORD STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION, SECTION 230, PAGES 429, 430. WE ARE NOT UNMINDFUL OF THE FACT THAT THE PRESIDENT'S AUTHORITY WAS GRANTED OVER A YEAR PRIOR TO THE GRANT OF OUR AUTHORITY AND THAT IT COULD BE ARGUED THAT OUR AUTHORITY--- AS THE LATEST EXPRESSION OF THE CONGRESS--- SHOULD PREVAIL. HOWEVER, ALTHOUGH IT MAY BE A VITAL AND IMPORTANT CONSIDERATION, CRAWFORD ADVISES THAT THE RULE THAT A STATUTE RELATING TO A SPECIFIC SUBJECT CONTROLS A GENERAL STATUTE WHICH INCLUDES THE SPECIFIC SUBJECT IS NOT NECESSARILY DEPENDENT ON THE TIME OF THE ENACTMENT OF SUCH STATUTES. IBID. MOREOVER, THE AUTHORITY OF SETTLEMENT FOUND AT 31 U.S.C. 71 HAS AS ITS DERIVATIVE SOURCE SECTION 236 OF THE REVISED STATUTES OF THE UNITED STATES. THIS REVISED STATUTE WAS A CODIFICATION OF SECTION 2 OF THE ACT OF MARCH 3, 1817, 3 STAT. 366, WHICH, IN ALMOST IDENTICAL TERMS, LODGED THE SAME SETTLEMENT AUTHORITY IN THE DEPARTMENT OF THE TREASURY. FOLLOWS THAT ANY ARGUMENT THAT THE 1921 LANGUAGE OF 31 U.S.C. 71 TAKES PRECEDENCE OVER THE 1920 LANGUAGE OF 49 U.S.C. 72 (1946 ED.) MUST FALL WITH THE CLEAR RECOGNITION THAT THE 1921 LANGUAGE CONSTITUTES A MERE TRANSFER OF A LONG EXISTING AUTHORITY FROM THE TREASURY DEPARTMENT TO THE GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE.

IN SUMMARY, THE TEN-YEAR STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS OF 31 U.S.C. 71A, 237, DOES NOT CONTROL THE TIME FOR SETTLEMENT OF CLAIMS PROPERLY FOR CONSIDERATION UNDER SECTION 202 OF THE TRANSPORTATION ACT, 1920, 49 U.S.C. 72 (1946 ED.). CONSEQUENTLY, THE RUNNING OF THE TEN-YEAR PERIOD OF 31 U.S.C. 71A, 237, DOES NOT PRECLUDE AN APPROPRIATE SETTLEMENT UNDER SECTION 202 OF THE TRANSPORTATION ACT, 1920.