B-164786, B-171785, APR 15, 1971, 50 COMP GEN 731

B-164786,B-171785: Apr 15, 1971

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OR OTHERWISE SETTLE RELIEF CASES CONCERNING THE POSTAL MATTERS IN THE POSTAL SERVICE AND REMOVES THE UNITED STATES GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE (GAO) FROM THE PROCESS DOES NOT HAVE THE EFFECT OF SETTING ASIDE THE DECISIONS ALREADY MADE BY GAO ON RELIEF MATTERS UNDER 31 U.S.C. 82A-1 OR 39 U.S.C. 2401. ALTHOUGH PROCEDURAL OR REMEDIAL STATUTES SUCH AS 39 U.S.C. 2601(B) ARE NOT SUBJECT TO THE GENERAL RULE AGAINST RETROACTIVE APPLICATION AND THEY APPLY TO ALL ACCRUED. UNLESS A CONTRARY INTENT IS MANIFESTED. THE POSTAL SERVICE WILL HAVE AUTHORITY TO RELIEVE. COMPROMISE OR OTHERWISE SETTLE RELIEF CASES THAT HAVE PREVIOUSLY BEEN DENIED BY OUR OFFICE. THIS SECTION WAS ENACTED IN ORDER TO "REFLECT THE FULL RESPONSIBILITY OF THE POSTAL SERVICE FOR ITS OWN FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT.".

B-164786, B-171785, APR 15, 1971, 50 COMP GEN 731

POSTAL SERVICE, UNITED STATES - AUTHORITY - RELIEVE, COMPROMISE, OR SETTLE RELIEF CASES THE NEW SECTION 39 U.S.C. 2601(B), WHICH PLACES THE RESPONSIBILITY TO RELIEVE, COMPROMISE, OR OTHERWISE SETTLE RELIEF CASES CONCERNING THE POSTAL MATTERS IN THE POSTAL SERVICE AND REMOVES THE UNITED STATES GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE (GAO) FROM THE PROCESS DOES NOT HAVE THE EFFECT OF SETTING ASIDE THE DECISIONS ALREADY MADE BY GAO ON RELIEF MATTERS UNDER 31 U.S.C. 82A-1 OR 39 U.S.C. 2401. ALTHOUGH PROCEDURAL OR REMEDIAL STATUTES SUCH AS 39 U.S.C. 2601(B) ARE NOT SUBJECT TO THE GENERAL RULE AGAINST RETROACTIVE APPLICATION AND THEY APPLY TO ALL ACCRUED, PENDING, AND FUTURE ACTIONS, THE STEPS ALREADY TAKEN, THE PLEADINGS, AND ALL THINGS DONE UNDER AN OLD LAW STAND, UNLESS A CONTRARY INTENT IS MANIFESTED. SINCE THE CHANGE IN THE PROCEDURAL LAW DOES NOT OPERATE RETROACTIVELY, THE NEW AUTHORITY OF 39 U.S.C. 2601(B) DOES NOT EXTEND TO AFFECT, CHANGE, OR MODIFY ACTIONS TAKEN BY GAO ON POSTAL RELIEF MATTERS PRIOR TO THE EFFECTIVE DATE OF THE SECTION.

TO THE POSTMASTER GENERAL, APRIL 15, 1971:

OUR AUDIT STAFF HAS ADVISED THAT A DECISION HAS BEEN MADE BY DEPARTMENT OFFICIALS THAT UPON THE EFFECTIVE DATE OF THE NEW SECTION 2601(B) OF TITLE 39 OF THE U.S.C. THE POSTAL SERVICE WILL HAVE AUTHORITY TO RELIEVE, COMPROMISE OR OTHERWISE SETTLE RELIEF CASES THAT HAVE PREVIOUSLY BEEN DENIED BY OUR OFFICE. AS YOU KNOW, THE CURRENT PROVISIONS OF 39 U.S.C. 2401 PROVIDE FOR THE REMOVAL OF DISABILITY OR THE COMPROMISE, RELEASE OR DISCHARGE OF CLAIMS STATED IN CONNECTION WITH POSTAL OPERATORS UPON THE DETERMINATION OF THE COMPTROLLER GENERAL WITH THE WRITTEN CONSENT OF THE POSTMASTER GENERAL. THE NEW SUBSECTION 2601(B) REMOVES OUR OFFICE FROM THE PROCESS OF GRANTING RELIEF IN THESE MATTERS AND PLACES THAT RESPONSIBILITY SOLELY IN THE POSTAL SERVICE. THIS SECTION WAS ENACTED IN ORDER TO "REFLECT THE FULL RESPONSIBILITY OF THE POSTAL SERVICE FOR ITS OWN FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT." SEE H. REPT. NO. 91-1104, 44. WE RECOGNIZED AS MUCH IN OUR DECISION TO YOU, 50 COMP. GEN. 253, OCTOBER 8, 1970, IN WHICH WE HELD THAT, IN VIEW OF THE PROVISIONS OF THE NEW 39 U.S.C. 2601(B), UPON THE EFFECTIVE DATE OF THAT SECTION, THE POSTAL SERVICE WILL NOT BE REQUIRED TO SUBMIT CASES OF LOSSES FOR OUR APPROVAL. THE DECISION SHOULD NOT BE CONSTRUED OR INTERPRETED, HOWEVER, TO HOLD THAT WITH THE EFFECTIVE DATE OF 39 U.S.C. 2601(B) THE POSTAL SERVICE UNDER ITS NEW AUTHORITY CAN IN EFFECT SET ASIDE DECISIONS ALREADY MADE BY OUR OFFICE ON RELIEF MATTERS UNDER 31 U.S.C. 82A-1 OR 39 U.S.C. 2401.

AS A MATTER OF LAW, PROCEDURAL OR REMEDIAL STATUTES SUCH AS 39 U.S.C. 2601(B) ARE NOT SUBJECT TO THE GENERAL RULE AGAINST RETROACTIVE APPLICATIONS AND THEY APPLY TO ALL ACCRUED, PENDING, AND FUTURE ACTIONS. IN APPLYING SUCH STATUTES, HOWEVER, A RECOGNIZED EXCEPTION IS THAT STEPS ALREADY TAKEN, THE PLEADINGS, AND ALL THINGS DONE UNDER THE OLD LAW STAND, UNLESS AN INTENT TO THE CONTRARY IS PLAINLY MANIFEST. SEE SUTHERLAND, STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION, 3D ED., VOL. 2, SEC. 2212, PAGE 136. OUR SEARCH OF THE LEGISLATIVE HISTORY OF 39 U.S.C. 2601(B) DOES NOT DISCLOSE ANY INTENT THAT THE SECTION SHALL OPERATE TO SET ASIDE ACTS TAKEN AND DECISIONS MADE UNDER THE OLD LAW.

IN BELANGER V GREAT AMERICAN INDEMNITY CO. OF NEW YORK, 188 F. 2D 196, 198 (1951), THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE FIFTH CIRCUIT HAD OCCASION TO APPLY THE RULES AS SET OUT ABOVE FROM SUTHERLAND IN RULING ON A PROPOSITION THAT A PROCEDURAL REMEDIAL RIGHT THAT BECAME EFFECTIVE BY LAW ON JULY 26, 1950, WAS FOR APPLICATION TO A CASE DISPOSED OF IN THE TRIAL COURT ON APRIL 5, 1950. THE COURT OF APPEALS HELD THAT A DIRECT ACTION ON A LIABILITY INSURANCE POLICY WAS NOT AUTHORIZED UNDER A STATE STATUTE EFFECTIVE WHEN THE JUDGMENT WAS ENTERED IN THE TRIAL COURT AND THAT THE ADJUDICATION COULD NOT BE ANNULLED BY SUBSEQUENT LEGISLATION. THE PRECISE QUESTION, THE COURT OF APPEALS HELD THAT "THIS CONTENTION (FOR RETROACTIVE APPLICATION) IS UNSOUND FOR THE REASON THAT IT MISAPPLIES THE PRINCIPLE WHICH PERMITS A CHANGE OF PROCEDURE TO AFFECT PENDING PROCEEDINGS FROM THE EFFECTIVE DATE OF THE CHANGE AND IN THE SUBSEQUENT COURSE OF LITIGATION TO AN ENTIRELY DIFFERENT SITUATION WHERE THE LITIGATION HAS BEEN TERMINATED AND CLOSED IN ACCORDANCE WITH THEN EXISTING LAW PRIOR TO THE CHANGE AND ENLARGEMENT OF REMEDY. IN SUCH LATTER CASE, A CHANGE IN THE PROCEDURAL LAW DOES NOT OPERATE RETROACTIVELY SO AS TO AFFECT A PROCEEDING WHICH HAD ALREADY BEEN TERMINATED BY JUDGMENT BEFORE THE ENACTMENT OF THE AMENDMENT."

ACCORDINGLY, UNDER THE LAW AS STATED BY THE TREATISE WRITERS AND ACCEPTED BY THE COURTS, THE NEW AUTHORITY OF 39 U.S.C. 2601(B) DOES NOT EXTEND TO AFFECT, CHANGE, OR MODIFY ACTIONS TAKEN BY OUR OFFICE ON POSTAL RELIEF MATTERS PRIOR TO THE EFFECTIVE DATE OF 39 U.S.C. 2601(B).