B-46486, MARCH 14, 1945, 24 COMP. GEN. 673

B-46486: Mar 14, 1945

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IN THE DISCRETION OF THE SECRETARY OF THE NAVY AND ON CONDITION THAT THE SUGGESTER EXECUTE AN AGREEMENT TO THE EFFECT THAT NO FURTHER CLAIM BASED UPON THE SUGGESTION WILL BE MADE AGAINST THE UNITED STATES BY HIM. 1945: REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTER OF DECEMBER 19. ARE AVAILABLE FOR PAYMENT TO THE ESTATE OF A DECEASED CIVILIAN EMPLOYEE OF A REWARD IN CONNECTION WITH THE MAKING OF A SUGGESTION BY THE DECEDENT WHICH RESULTED IN SAVINGS TO THE UNITED STATES BUT WHO DIED PRIOR TO THE ADOPTION OF HIS SUGGESTION. THE REFERRED-TO APPROPRIATION IS AVAILABLE. PROVIDES: THE SECRETARY OF THE NAVY IS AUTHORIZED. IT APPEARS THAT THE CONTEMPLATED AWARD IS BASED UPON A BENEFICIAL SUGGESTION MADE BY A CIVIL EMPLOYEE OF THE NAVY YARD.

B-46486, MARCH 14, 1945, 24 COMP. GEN. 673

CASH REWARDS FOR SUGGESTIONS - NAVY DEPARTMENT - PAYMENT AFTER DEATH A CASH REWARD FOR A USEFUL SUGGESTION PAYABLE UNDER THE ACT OF JULY 1, 1918, IN THE DISCRETION OF THE SECRETARY OF THE NAVY AND ON CONDITION THAT THE SUGGESTER EXECUTE AN AGREEMENT TO THE EFFECT THAT NO FURTHER CLAIM BASED UPON THE SUGGESTION WILL BE MADE AGAINST THE UNITED STATES BY HIM, HIS HEIRS, OR ASSIGNS, MAY NOT BE PAID TO THE ESTATE OF AN EMPLOYEE WHO DIED PRIOR TO THE ADOPTION OF HIS SUGGESTION.

COMPTROLLER GENERAL WARREN TO THE SECRETARY OF THE NAVY, MARCH 14, 1945:

REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTER OF DECEMBER 19, 1944; JAG: II:RFM:Z, A13 -7, REQUESTING DECISION AS TO WHETHER FUNDS PROVIDED IN SECTION 114 OF THE NAVAL APPROPRIATION ACT, 1945, 58 STAT. 321, PUBLIC LAW 347, APPROVED JUNE 22, 1944, ARE AVAILABLE FOR PAYMENT TO THE ESTATE OF A DECEASED CIVILIAN EMPLOYEE OF A REWARD IN CONNECTION WITH THE MAKING OF A SUGGESTION BY THE DECEDENT WHICH RESULTED IN SAVINGS TO THE UNITED STATES BUT WHO DIED PRIOR TO THE ADOPTION OF HIS SUGGESTION.

THE REFERRED-TO APPROPRIATION IS AVAILABLE, AMONG OTHER THINGS, FOR "PAYMENT OF REWARDS TO CIVILIAN OFFICERS OR EMPLOYEES AND OTHER PERSONS IN CIVIL LIFE FOR SUGGESTIONS RESULTING IN IMPROVEMENT OR ECONOMY IN MANUFACTURING PROCESS OR PLANT OR NAVAL MATERIAL AS AUTHORIZED BY THE ACT OF JULY 1, 1918, 40 STAT. 718 (5 U.S.C. 416), AND FOR SUGGESTIONS RESULTING IN EFFICIENCY OR ECONOMY IN THE OPERATION OR ADMINISTRATION OF THE NAVY DEPARTMENT AND THE NAVAL ESTABLISHMENT.'

THE REFERRED-TO ACT OF JULY 1, 1918, AS INCORPORATED IN SECTION 416 OF TITLE 5, U.S. CODE, PROVIDES:

THE SECRETARY OF THE NAVY IS AUTHORIZED, IN HIS DISCRETION AND UNDER SUCH RULES AND REGULATIONS AS HE MAY PRESCRIBE, TO PAY CASH REWARDS TO CIVILIAN EMPLOYEES OF THE NAVY DEPARTMENT OR THE NAVAL ESTABLISHMENT OR OTHER PERSONS IN CIVIL LIFE WHEN DUE TO A SUGGESTION OR SERIES OF SUGGESTIONS BY THEM THERE RESULTS AN IMPROVEMENT OR ECONOMY IN MANUFACTURING PROCESS OR PLANT OR NAVAL MATERIAL. SUCH SUMS AS MAY BE AWARDED TO EMPLOYEES OR OTHER PERSONS IN CIVIL LIFE IN ACCORDANCE WITH THIS SECTION SHALL BE PAID THEM OUT OF CURRENT NAVAL APPROPRIATIONS IN ADDITION TO THEIR USUAL COMPENSATION. NO EMPLOYEE OR OTHER PERSON IN CIVIL LIFE SHALL BE PAID A REWARD UNDER THIS SECTION UNTIL HE HAS PROPERLY EXECUTED AN AGREEMENT TO THE EFFECT THAT THE USE BY THE UNITED STATES OF THE SUGGESTION OR SERIES OF SUGGESTIONS MADE BY HIM SHALL NOT FORM THE BASIS OF A FURTHER CLAIM OF ANY NATURE FROM THE UNITED STATES OF THE SUGGESTION OR SERIES OF SUGGESTIONS MADE BY HIM SHALL NOT FORM THE BASIS OF A FURTHER CLAIM OF ANY NATURE FROM THE UNITED STATES BY HIM, HIS HEIRS, OR ASSIGNS. ( JULY 1, 1918, CH. 114, 40 STAT. 718.)

IT APPEARS THAT THE CONTEMPLATED AWARD IS BASED UPON A BENEFICIAL SUGGESTION MADE BY A CIVIL EMPLOYEE OF THE NAVY YARD, CHARLESTON, SOUTH CAROLINA. THE UNDATED LETTER FROM THE COMMANDANT OF THE SAID NAVY YARD, COPY OF WHICH WAS ENCLOSED WITH YOUR LETTER, STATES THAT THE SAID EMPLOYEE DIED PRIOR TO ADOPTION OF HIS SUGGESTION AND THAT IF THE SUGGESTER WERE LIVING "A CASH AWARD WOULD HAVE BEEN RECOMMENDED.'

IT HAS BEEN THE UNIFORM HOLDING OF THIS OFFICE, AS WELL AS OF THE FORMER ACCOUNTING OFFICERS OF THE GOVERNMENT, THAT THE RIGHT TO RECEIVE A GRATUITY UNDER EITHER A GENERAL STATUTE OR A PRIVATE ACT IS PERSONAL TO THE PERSON OR PERSONS INCLUDED WITHIN THE SCOPE OF THE STATUTE AND LAPSES AT THE DEATH OF SUCH PERSON OR PERSONS AND, THEREFORE, DOES NOT BECOME A PART OF HIS OR THEIR ESTATES SO AS TO FORM THE BASIS OF A VALID CLAIM BY THEIR HEIRS OR PERSONAL REPRESENTATIVES. 22 COMP. DEC. 524; 26 ID. 1038; 3 COMP. GEN. 642; 11 ID. 207; 24 ID. 61. ALTHOUGH PAYMENTS MADE BY THE UNITED STATES UNDER AUTHORITY OF THE STATUTORY PROVISIONS ABOVE QUOTED MAY NOT BE REGARDED AS GRATUITIES IN THE STRICT MEANING OF THAT TERM, YET THEY PARTAKE OF THE NATURE OF GRATUITIES IN THAT THEY ARE NOT BASED UPON CONTRACT OR ENFORCEABLE RIGHT. THEY ARE NOT BASED UPON ANY DEFINITE OFFER OF REWARD FOR RENDERING SPECIFIED SERVICES OR DOING A SPECIFIED ACT, AS IN THE USUAL CASES PERTAINING TO REWARDS, IN WHICH LATTER CASES THE PERFORMANCE OF THE SPECIFIED SERVICES OR ACT CONSUMMATES AN ENFORCEABLE CONTRACT WITHOUT FURTHER ACTION. THEY ARE BASED UPON A STATUTORY AUTHORIZATION WHICH MAKES PAYMENT OF ANY REWARD DEPENDENT UPON THE DISCRETION OF THE SECRETARY OF THE NAVY.

THE ABOVE-QUOTED STATUTORY PROVISIONS SPECIFICALLY GIVE TO THE SECRETARY OF THE NAVY "IN HIS DISCRETION" THE AUTHORITY TO PAY CASH REWARDS TO CERTAIN PERSONS UNDER CERTAIN CONDITIONS. THEREFORE, UNLESS AND UNTIL THE SECRETARY OF THE NAVY SHALL HAVE EXERCISED THAT DISCRETION, NO PERSON HAS A VALID CLAIM TO ANY REWARD UNDER THE SAID PROVISIONS. SEE GORDON V. UNITED STATES, 92 C.1CLS. 499; KATZBERG V. UNITED STATES, 93 C.1CLS. 281. AT MOST, HE HAS ONLY AN INCHOATE RIGHT WHICH MAY OR MAY NOT BECOME A COMPLETE RIGHT AND THE BASIS OF A VALID CLAIM. SUCH INCHOATE RIGHT DOES NOT SURVIVE THE PERSON MAKING THE INVOLVED SUGGESTION AND BECOME A PART OF HIS ESTATE OR THE BASIS OF A VALID CLAIM BY HIS HEIRS OR PERSONAL REPRESENTATIVES.

IN HEIRS OF EMERSON V. HALL, 13 PET. 409, THE SUPREME COURT SAID:

A CLAIM HAVING NO FOUNDATION IN LAW, BUT DEPENDING ENTIRELY ON THE GENEROSITY OF THE GOVERNMENT, CONSTITUTES NO BASIS FOR THE ACTION OF ANY LEGAL PRINCIPLE. IT CANNOT BE ASSIGNED. IT DOES NOT GO TO THE ADMINISTRATOR AS ASSETS. IT DOES NOT DESCEND TO THE HEIR. * * *

IN THAT CONNECTION, IT IS TO BE NOTED THAT THE ABOVE-QUOTED STATUTORY PROVISIONS AUTHORIZE PAYMENT OF REWARDS TO CERTAIN PERSONS FOR SUGGESTIONS MADE "BY THEM; " THAT SUCH REWARDS "SHALL BE PAID THEM OUT OF CURRENT CANAL APPROPRIATIONS IN ADDITION TO THEIR USUAL COMPENSATION; " AND THAT PAYMENT IS CONDITIONED UPON THE EXECUTION OF AN AGREEMENT BY SUCH PERSONS THAT NO FURTHER CLAIM BASED UPON SUCH SUGGESTIONS SHALL BE MADE AGAINST THE UNITED STATES BY THEM, THEIR HEIRS, OR ASSIGNS. ALL OF THE SAID PROVISIONS INDICATE A LEGISLATIVE INTENT THAT THE ENTIRE MATTER SHOULD BE PERSONAL TO THE PERSONS MAKING THE USEFUL SUGGESTIONS. IT APPEARS DOUBTFUL WHETHER THE SAID STATUTORY REQUIREMENTS WOULD BE FULFILLED BY PAYMENT OF A REWARD TO ANY OTHER PERSON AFTER THE DEATH OF THE PERSON MAKING THE SUGGESTION OR BY THE EXECUTION OF AN AGREEMENT BY SUCH OTHER PERSON THAT NO FURTHER CLAIMS WOULD BE MADE, EVEN IF ALL NECESSARY STEPS PRELIMINARY TO PAYMENT HAD BEEN TAKEN PRIOR TO HIS DEATH.

IN THE INSTANT MATTER, IT APPEARS THAT THE SUGGESTER DIED NOT ONLY BEFORE PAYMENT AND BEFORE ADOPTION OF THE INVOLVED SUGGESTION. IN VIEW OF THE FACTS AND REASONS ABOVE SET OUT, THERE IS REQUIRED THE CONCLUSION THAT PAYMENT OF ANY AMOUNT TO THE ESTATE OF THE DECEASED EMPLOYEE BASED UPON THE INVOLVED SUGGESTION IS NOT AUTHORIZED. YOUR QUESTION IS ANSWERED ACCORDINGLY.