B-161581, JULY 6, 1967, 47 COMP. GEN. 3

B-161581: Jul 6, 1967

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EVEN THOUGH ORDINARILY STATUTES ARE NOT RETROACTIVELY EFFECTIVE. 1967: THIS IS IN REPLY TO THE LETTER OF YOUR ASSISTANT SECRETARY FOR ADMINISTRATION OF MAY 19. THE DEVICE WAS PATENTED IN 1955. AN EARLIER RECOMMENDATION FOR AN AWARD WAS DISAPPROVED IN 1958. THE AFOREMENTIONED LETTER RAISES TWO QUESTIONS: (1) WHETHER THERE IS LEGAL AUTHORITY TO PAY AN INCENTIVE AWARD FOR AN INVENTION WHICH WAS PUT INTO USE DURING THE EXISTENCE OF AN EARLIER INCENTIVE AWARDS ACT. (2) IF THE AWARD CAN LEGALLY BE MADE IS IT LIMITED TO THE SUM PAYABLE UNDER THE EARLIER STATUTE? BULL'S INVENTION WAS ADOPTED THE GRANTING OF INCENTIVE AWARDS WAS GOVERNED BY SECTION 14 OF THE ACT OF AUGUST 2. WHICH WAS REPEALED AND SUPERSEDED BY THE ACT OF SEPTEMBER 1.

B-161581, JULY 6, 1967, 47 COMP. GEN. 3

OFFICERS AND EMPLOYEES - INVENTIONS - USE BY GOVERNMENT THE ADOPTION AND USE OF AN EMPLOYEE'S INVENTION PRIOR TO THE ACT OF SEPTEMBER 1, 1954 (5 U.S.C. 4501-4506), REPEALING AND SUPERSEDING THE 1946 INCENTIVE AWARDS AUTHORITY DOES NOT BAR PAYING AN INCENTIVE AWARD TO THE EMPLOYEE, EVEN THOUGH ORDINARILY STATUTES ARE NOT RETROACTIVELY EFFECTIVE, THE 1954 ACT BEING A CONTINUATION AND EXPANSION OF THE 1946 ACT, THE INVENTIONS THAT AROSE DURING THE PERIOD COVERED BY THE OLDER ACT MAY BE PROCESSED FOR AWARDS UNDER THE TERMS AND CONDITIONS OF THE 1954 ACT, WHICH NEITHER LIMITS THE TIME FOR CONSIDERATION OF AN INVENTION FOR AWARD, NOR LIMITS THE AWARD TO THE SUM AUTHORIZED UNDER THE 1946 ACT.

TO THE SECRETARY OF AGRICULTURE, JULY 6, 1967:

THIS IS IN REPLY TO THE LETTER OF YOUR ASSISTANT SECRETARY FOR ADMINISTRATION OF MAY 19, 1967, INQUIRING AS TO THE LEGALITY OF PAYING AN INCENTIVE AWARD IN THE AMOUNT OF $5,000 TO MR. A. D. BULL, AN EMPLOYEE OF THE SOIL CONSERVATION SERVICE OF THE DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE.

IT APPEARS THAT MR. BULL INVENTED A SOIL CORING MACHINE IN 1950 THAT HAS BEEN USED BY THE SERVICE SINCE THAT TIME. THE DEVICE WAS PATENTED IN 1955. AN EARLIER RECOMMENDATION FOR AN AWARD WAS DISAPPROVED IN 1958. YOUR ASSISTANT SECRETARY'S LETTER INDICATES THAT THE ADMINISTRATOR, SOIL CONSERVATION SERVICE, HAS AGAIN RECOMMENDED MR. BULL FOR AN AWARD WHICH THE DEPARTMENT PROPOSES TO APPROVE IN THE AMOUNT OF $5,000 IF IT CAN LEGALLY BE DONE.

THE AFOREMENTIONED LETTER RAISES TWO QUESTIONS: (1) WHETHER THERE IS LEGAL AUTHORITY TO PAY AN INCENTIVE AWARD FOR AN INVENTION WHICH WAS PUT INTO USE DURING THE EXISTENCE OF AN EARLIER INCENTIVE AWARDS ACT, NOW REPEALED BY THE EXISTING INCENTIVE AWARDS STATUTE, AND (2) IF THE AWARD CAN LEGALLY BE MADE IS IT LIMITED TO THE SUM PAYABLE UNDER THE EARLIER STATUTE?

AT THE TIME THAT MR. BULL'S INVENTION WAS ADOPTED THE GRANTING OF INCENTIVE AWARDS WAS GOVERNED BY SECTION 14 OF THE ACT OF AUGUST 2, 1946, PUB. L. 600, 79TH CONG., 60 STAT. 809, WHICH WAS REPEALED AND SUPERSEDED BY THE ACT OF SEPTEMBER 1, 1954, PUB. L. 763, 83D CONG., 68 STAT. 1113, NOW 5 U.S.C. 4501 - 4506. THE PURPOSE OF THE NEW LAW WAS TO ESTABLISH "A UNIFORM AND PROGRESSIVE GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES' INCENTIVE AWARDS PROGRAM WHICH CONSOLIDATES AND CODIFIES EXISTING LAWS.' U.S.C. CONGRESSIONAL AND ADMINISTRATIVE NEWS, 83D CONG., 2ND SESS., 1954, VOL. 3, PAGE 3817. WHILE STATUTES ARE ORDINARILY NOT RETROACTIVELY EFFECTIVE IN THE PRESENT INSTANCE WHERE THE NEWER LAW IS A CONTINUATION AND AN EXPANSION OF THE OLDER LAW INVENTIONS WHICH AROSE DURING THE PERIOD COVERED BY THE OLDER ACT AND PRIOR TO THE PASSAGE OF THE LATER ACT MAY BE PROCESSED FOR THE AWARDS UNDER THE TERMS AND CONDITIONS OF THE EXISTING STATUTE, WHERE AS HERE NO AWARD FOR SUCH INVENTION WAS MADE UNDER THE EARLIER STATUTE.

SINCE NO SPECIFIED LIMITATIONS ARE ESTABLISHED UNDER THE EXISTING LAW DURING WHICH AN INVENTION MUST BE CONSIDERED FOR AN AWARD, WE SEE NO BAR TO PROCESSING AN AWARD UNDER THAT STATUTE AT THIS TIME, ASSUMING, OF COURSE, THAT SUCH AN AWARD WOULD NOT BE INCONSISTENT WITH THE REGULATIONS OF THE CIVIL SERVICE COMMISSION OR YOUR DEPARTMENT. THEREFORE, THE FIRST QUESTION IS ANSWERED IN THE AFFIRMATIVE, AND THE SECOND QUESTION IN THE NEGATIVE.