B-36720, OCTOBER 5, 1943, 23 COMP. GEN. 251

B-36720: Oct 5, 1943

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DOES NOT ENLARGE THE CLASSES OF PERSONS ON ACCOUNT OF WHOM THE DEATH GRATUITY IS PAYABLE. AUTHORIZES PAYMENT OF THE SAID GRATUITY ONLY TO CLASSES OF PERSONNEL ON WHOSE ACCOUNT SPECIFIC PROVISION IS MADE BY OTHER STATUTES. IS UNAUTHORIZED. 1943: REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTER OF AUGUST 26. THE DEPARTMENT OF STATE IS PREPARING TO REVIEW THE CASE OF A CIVILIAN EMPLOYEE MISSING AT SEA. AT THE TIME HE WAS REPORTED MISSING HE WAS ON OFFICIAL BUSINESS ACCOMPANYING ARMED FORCES OF THE UNITED STATES. THE SIX MONTHS' DEATH GRATUITY PROVIDED BY LAW IS AUTHORIZED TO BE PAID.'. THE DEATH GRATUITIES REFERRED TO ARE SPECIFICALLY GRANTED TO CERTAIN ARMY PERSONNEL BY SECTION 903 OF TITLE 10 OF THE UNITED STATES CODE AND TO CERTAIN PERSONNEL OF THE NAVY AND OF THE COAST GUARD AND GEODETIC SURVEY BY SECTION 943 OF TITLE 34.

B-36720, OCTOBER 5, 1943, 23 COMP. GEN. 251

SIX MONTHS' DEATH GRATUITY PAY - CIVILIAN EMPLOYEES OF THE GOVERNMENT THE PROVISION IN SECTION 5 OF THE ACT OF MARCH 7, 1942, AS ORIGINALLY ENACTED AND AS AMENDED, WITH RESPECT TO THE PAYMENT OF THE SIX MONTHS' DEATH GRATUITY PROVIDED BY LAW UPON A FINDING OF DEATH OF PERSONS MISSING OR MISSING IN ACTION, DOES NOT ENLARGE THE CLASSES OF PERSONS ON ACCOUNT OF WHOM THE DEATH GRATUITY IS PAYABLE, BUT, RATHER, AUTHORIZES PAYMENT OF THE SAID GRATUITY ONLY TO CLASSES OF PERSONNEL ON WHOSE ACCOUNT SPECIFIC PROVISION IS MADE BY OTHER STATUTES, SO THAT PAYMENT OF THE SAID GRATUITY UPON A FINDING OF DEATH OF CIVILIAN EMPLOYEES OF THE GOVERNMENT, ON WHOSE ACCOUNT SUCH PAYMENT HAS NOT BEEN PROVIDED BY OTHER STATUTES, IS UNAUTHORIZED.

ASSISTANT COMPTROLLER GENERAL YATES TO THE SECRETARY OF STATE, OCTOBER 5, 1943:

REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTER OF AUGUST 26, 1943, AS FOLLOWS:

UNDER THE TERMS OF PUBLIC LAW 490, 77TH CONGRESS, AN ACT TO PROVIDE FOR CONTINUING PAYMENT OF PAY AND ALLOWANCES OF PERSONNEL OF THE ARMY, NAVY, MARINE CORPS, AND COAST GUARD, INCLUDING THE RETIRED AND RESERVE COMPONENTS THEREOF; THE COAST AND GEODETIC SURVEY AND THE PUBLIC HEALTH SERVICE, AND CIVILIAN EMPLOYEES OF THE EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENTS, INDEPENDENT ESTABLISHMENTS, AND AGENCIES, DURING PERIODS OF ABSENCE FROM POST OF DUTY, AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES, AS AMENDED BY PUBLIC LAW 848, 77TH CONGRESS, THE DEPARTMENT OF STATE IS PREPARING TO REVIEW THE CASE OF A CIVILIAN EMPLOYEE MISSING AT SEA. AT THE TIME HE WAS REPORTED MISSING HE WAS ON OFFICIAL BUSINESS ACCOMPANYING ARMED FORCES OF THE UNITED STATES.

IT SEEMS PROBABLE THAT A FINDING OF DEATH MUST BE MADE IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE PROVISIONS OF THESE ACTS. IT HAS BEEN NOTED THAT SECTION 5 OF PUBLIC LAW 490 PROVIDES:

"FOLLOWING A FINDING OF DEATH, THE SIX MONTHS' DEATH GRATUITY PROVIDED BY LAW IS AUTHORIZED TO BE PAID.'

SECTION 5 OF PUBLIC LAW 490, AS AMENDED BY PUBLIC LAW 848, ALSO MENTIONS "PAYMENTS OF DEATH GRATUITIES," ALTHOUGH LESS CLEARLY.

THE DEATH GRATUITIES REFERRED TO ARE SPECIFICALLY GRANTED TO CERTAIN ARMY PERSONNEL BY SECTION 903 OF TITLE 10 OF THE UNITED STATES CODE AND TO CERTAIN PERSONNEL OF THE NAVY AND OF THE COAST GUARD AND GEODETIC SURVEY BY SECTION 943 OF TITLE 34. THESE SECTIONS PROVIDE RESPECTIVELY:

"IMMEDIATELY UPON OFFICIAL NOTIFICATION OF THE DEATH FROM WOUNDS OR DISEASE * * * OF ANY OFFICER OR ENLISTED MAN ON THE ACTIVE LIST OF THE REGULAR ARMY * * * THE CHIEF OF FINANCE OF THE ARMY SHALL CAUSE TO BE PAID TO THE WIDOW * * * AN AMOUNT EQUAL TO SIX MONTHS' PAY AT THE RATE RECEIVED BY SUCH OFFICER, ENLISTED MAN, OR NURSE AT THE DATE OF HIS OR HER DEATH.'

NO SIMILAR PROVISION HAS BEEN MADE FOR CIVILIAN EMPLOYEES, ALTHOUGH THE LANGUAGE OF PUBLIC LAW 490 MIGHT INDICATE THAT ALL CATEGORIES OF PERSONNEL LISTED IN THE TITLE OF THE ACT (I.E. PERSONNEL OF THE ARMY, NAVY, MARINE CORPS, COAST GUARD, COAST AND GEODETIC SURVEY, THE PUBLIC HEALTH SERVICE, AND CIVILIAN EMPLOYEES OF THE EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENTS, INDEPENDENT ESTABLISHMENTS, AND AGENCIES) SHOULD BE TREATED ALIKE IN THE MATTER OF DEATH GRATUITIES AS WELL AS IN THAT OF PAY AND ALLOWANCES.

I WISH TO INQUIRE, THEREFORE, WHETHER A SIX MONTHS' DEATH GRATUITY MAY BE PAID TO ANY CIVILIAN EMPLOYEE OF THIS DEPARTMENT WHO MAY BE DECLARED DEAD UNDER THE PROVISIONS OF PUBLIC LAW 490, 77TH CONGRESS, AS AMENDED.

AS INDICATED IN YOUR LETTER, SECTION 5 OF THE ACT OF MARCH 7, 1942, PUBLIC LAW 490, 56 STAT. 145, PROVIDES, IN PERTINENT PART, THAT " FOLLOWING A FINDING OF DEATH, THE SIX MONTHS' DEATH GRATUITY PROVIDED BY LAW IS AUTHORIZED TO BE PAID" ( ITALICS SUPPLIED), AND THAT SECTION AS AMENDED BY THE ACT OF DECEMBER 24, 1942, PUBLIC LAW 848, 56 STAT. 1093, PROVIDES, INSOFAR AS IS HERE MATERIAL, THAT "WHEN A FINDING OF DEATH IS MADE IT SHALL INCLUDE THE DATE UPON WHICH DEATH SHALL BE PRESUMED TO HAVE OCCURRED FOR THE PURPOSES OF * * * PAYMENTS OF DEATH GRATUITIES.'

IN THIS CONNECTION, IT IS TO BE NOTED THAT WHEN THE CONGRESS HAS SEEN FIT TO PROVIDE FOR PAYMENT OF THE SIX MONTHS' DEATH GRATUITY ITS POLICY HAS BEEN TO PROVIDE THEREFOR BY SPECIFIC LEGISLATION APPLICABLE TO PARTICULAR CLASSES OF PERSONNEL, AND THAT, WHEN THE SCOPE OF EXISTING LEGISLATION WAS TO BE ENLARGED AND EXTENDED TO CLASSES NOT ALREADY COVERED THEREBY, IT HAS BEEN BY SPECIFIC ENUMERATION OF THE CLASSES TO WHICH THE LEGISLATION WAS TO BE EXTENDED. SEE, FOR EXAMPLE, THE ACT OF DECEMBER 17, 1919, 41 STAT. 367, AS AMENDED, PROVIDING FOR PAYMENT OF A SIX MONTHS' DEATH GRATUITY IN THE CASE OF OFFICERS AND ENLISTED MEN OF THE REGULAR ARMY, AS EXTENDED TO NURSES OF THE REGULAR ARMY BY THE ACT OF MARCH 8, 1928, 45 STAT. 249, AND AS EXTENDED BY THE ACT OF DECEMBER 10, 1941, 55 STAT. 796, TO DEPENDENTS OF ALL ARMY PERSONNEL WHO DIE IN LINE OF DUTY WHILE IN ACTIVE MILITARY SERVICE. BROADLY SPEAKING, A SIMILAR PROCEDURE HAS BEEN FOLLOWED IN PROVIDING FOR PAYMENT OF THE SIX MONTHS' DEATH GRATUITY IN THE CASE OF NAVAL PERSONNEL.

EVEN WERE THE POLICY OF THE CONGRESS NOT AS THUS INDICATED, IT IS NOT TO BE PRESUMED THAT THE WORDS IN REGARD TO THE PAYMENT OF THE SIX MONTHS' DEATH GRATUITY QUOTED HEREINBEFORE FROM SECTION 5 OF THE ACT OF MARCH 7, 1942, AS AMENDED BY THE ACT OF DECEMBER 24, 1942, WERE INTENDED TO BROADEN THE CLASSES OF PERSONNEL ON ACCOUNT OF WHOM THE GRATUITY WAS TO BE PAYABLE, BUT RATHER IS IT TO BE CONSIDERED THAT THE WORDS ARE TO BE GIVEN THEIR USUAL AND ORDINARY SIGNIFICANCE AND THAT THE INTENT OF THE CONGRESS AS THUS EXPRESSED WAS THAT, UPON THE FINDING OF DEATH OF AN INDIVIDUAL, PAYMENT OF THE SIX MONTHS' DEATH GRATUITY SHOULD BE MADE ONLY WHERE PROVISION HAD BEEN MADE THEREFOR UNDER OTHER STATUTES.

WHILE THE ACT OF SEPTEMBER 7, 1916, AS AMENDED, PROVIDES (5 U.S.C. 751, 760), FOR THE PAYMENT OF COMPENSATION TO HEIRS OF CIVILIAN EMPLOYEES OF THE GOVERNMENT WHO DIE FROM INJURIES RECEIVED WHILE IN THE PERFORMANCE OF THEIR DUTIES, THERE APPEARS TO BE NO PROVISION OF LAW FOR THE PAYMENT UPON DEATH OF A CIVILIAN EMPLOYEE OF A SIX MONTHS' DEATH GRATUITY SUCH AS IS REFERRED TO IN SECTION 5 OF THE ACT OF MARCH 7, 1942, AS AMENDED.