B-78644, AUGUST 19, 1948, 28 COMP. GEN. 105

B-78644: Aug 19, 1948

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EVEN THOUGH SALARY PAYMENTS ARE MADE FROM FUNDS APPROPRIATED BY THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA APPROPRIATION ACT. 1948: I HAVE YOUR LETTER OF JULY 21. AS FOLLOWS: YOU ARE RESPECTFULLY REQUESTED TO ADVISE WHETHER THE COMMISSION ON MENTAL HEALTH. IS ENTITLED TO THE BENEFITS OF SECTION 304 OF H.R. 6916. THE COMMISSION ON MENTAL HEALTH WAS ESTABLISHED BY PUBLIC LAW 582 75TH CONGRESS. PROVIDES " THERE IS HEREBY ESTABLISHED A COMMISSION ON MENTAL HEALTH. IS THEREFORE A BRANCH OF THE DISTRICT COURT OF THE UNITED STATES FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA. FROM WHICH IT APPEARS THAT THE FUNCTIONS OF THE COMMISSION ON MENTAL HEALTH ARE PERFORMED EXCLUSIVELY IN CONNECTION WITH THE BUSINESS OF THE DISTRICT COURT OF THE UNITED STATES FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA.

B-78644, AUGUST 19, 1948, 28 COMP. GEN. 105

COMPENSATION - RATES - INCREASED UNDER POSTAL RATE REVISION AND FEDERAL EMPLOYEES SALARY ACT OF 1948 - COMMISSION ON MENTAL HEALTH THE PROVISIONS OF SECTION 304 OF THE POSTAL RATE REVISION AND FEDERAL EMPLOYEES SALARY ACT OF 1948, EXCLUDING EMPLOYEES "IN OR UNDER THE MUNICIPAL GOVERNMENT OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA" FROM THE BENEFITS OF THE SALARY INCREASE PROVISIONS OF THE ACT, DO NOT PRECLUDE PAYMENT OF THE SALARY INCREASES TO EMPLOYEES OF THE COMMISSION ON MENTAL HEALTH, DISTRICT COURT OF THE UNITED STATES FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, WHICH FUNCTIONS SOLELY AS AN ADJUNCT OF THE COURT UNDER THE JUDICIAL BRANCH OF THE GOVERNMENT, EVEN THOUGH SALARY PAYMENTS ARE MADE FROM FUNDS APPROPRIATED BY THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA APPROPRIATION ACT, 1949.

COMPTROLLER GENERAL WARREN TO THE CHAIRMAN, COMMISSION ON MENTAL HEALTH, DISTRICT COURT OF THE UNITED STATES FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, AUGUST 19, 1948:

I HAVE YOUR LETTER OF JULY 21, 1948, AS FOLLOWS:

YOU ARE RESPECTFULLY REQUESTED TO ADVISE WHETHER THE COMMISSION ON MENTAL HEALTH, WHICH ACTS UNDER THE DIRECTION OF THE DISTRICT COURT OF THE UNITED STATES FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, IS ENTITLED TO THE BENEFITS OF SECTION 304 OF H.R. 6916, NOW THE ENROLLED ACT " TO PROVIDE PERMANENT POSTAL RATES AND PAY INCREASES FOR GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES.'

THE COMMISSION ON MENTAL HEALTH WAS ESTABLISHED BY PUBLIC LAW 582 75TH CONGRESS, AND AMENDED BY PUBLIC LAW 359-76TH CONGRESS, NOW CONTAINED IN TITLE 21, SECTIONS 301 AND 308 OF CHAPTER III OF THE CODE OF LAWS OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA (1940). PUBLIC LAW 582, SECTION 2, PROVIDES " THERE IS HEREBY ESTABLISHED A COMMISSION ON MENTAL HEALTH--- WHO SHALL BE APPOINTED BY THE JUDGES OF THE DISTRICT COURT OF THE UNITED STATES FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA.' AGAIN,"EACH PHYSICIAN MEMBER OF THE PANEL SHALL BE ASSIGNED BY THE CHIEF JUSTICE OF THE DISTRICT COURT OF THE UNITED STATES FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA--- THE CHIEF JUSTICE MAY CHANGE SUCH ASSIGNMENTS AT ANY TIME AT HIS DISCRETION.'

FURTHER," THE SAID COMMISSION SHALL ACT IN ALL RESPECTS UNDER THE DIRECTION OF THE EQUITY COURT. THE COURT MAY COMPEL, BY SUBPOENA, THE APPEARANCE OF ALLEGED INSANE PERSONS BEFORE THE COMMISSION FOR EXAMINATION, AND MAY COMPEL THE ATTENDANCE OF WITNESSES BEFORE THE COMMISSION.' ,THE COURT MAY IN ITS DISCRETION APPOINT AN ATTORNEY--- AT ANY HEARING BEFORE THE COMMISSION OR BEFORE THE COURT---.'

IT WOULD THEREFORE APPEAR THAT THE COMMISSION ON MENTAL HEALTH FUNCTIONS THE SAME AS A MASTER IN CHANCERY WHOSE REPORTS AND RECOMMENDATIONS MAY BE ADOPTED BY THE COURT AS ITS OWN IN THE ABSENCE OF EXCEPTION OR OBJECTION, AND IS THEREFORE A BRANCH OF THE DISTRICT COURT OF THE UNITED STATES FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA.

IN VIEW OF THE PROVISIONS OF PUBLIC LAW 582, 75TH CONGRESS, APPROVED JUNE 8, 1938, 52 STAT. 625, AND PUBLIC LAW 359, 76TH CONGRESS, APPROVED AUGUST 9, 1939, 53 STAT. 1298, 1299, REFERRED TO IN YOUR LETTER, FROM WHICH IT APPEARS THAT THE FUNCTIONS OF THE COMMISSION ON MENTAL HEALTH ARE PERFORMED EXCLUSIVELY IN CONNECTION WITH THE BUSINESS OF THE DISTRICT COURT OF THE UNITED STATES FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, IT IS REASONABLE TO CONCLUDE THAT, WHILE THE COMMISSION IS NOT A PART OF THE COURT PROPER, ITS FUNCTIONS BY LAW ARE REQUIRED TO BE PERFORMED SOLELY AS AN ADJUNCT OF THE COURT, AND, FOR THAT REASON, IT IS "IN OR UNDER" THE JUDICIAL BRANCH OF THE GOVERNMENT (CF. 22 COMP. GEN. 685; B-78512, AUGUST 11, 1948, 28 COMP. GEN. 93), AND IS NOT AN AGENCY "IN OR UNDER THE MUNICIPAL GOVERNMENT OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA" WITHIN THE MEANING OF THAT TERM APPEARING IN SECTION 304 OF THE POSTAL RATE REVISION AND FEDERAL EMPLOYEES SALARY ACT OF 1948, PUBLIC LAW 900, 62 STAT. 1268.

ACCORDINGLY, I HAVE TO ADVISE THAT, NOTWITHSTANDING THAT EMPLOYEES OF THE COMMISSION ON MENTAL HEALTH ARE PAID FROM FUNDS APPROPRIATED BY THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA APPROPRIATION ACT, 1949, 62 STAT. 545, THEY ARE NOT SUBJECT TO THE PROVISIONS OF SAID SECTION 304 OF PUBLIC LAW 900 WHICH, SO FAR AS EMPLOYEES IN OR UNDER THE MUNICIPAL GOVERNMENT OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA ARE CONCERNED, POSTPONES THE DATE OF GRANTING THE INCREASE OF COMPENSATION PROVIDED BY THAT ACT UNTIL SUCH TIME AS LEGISLATION PROVIDING ADEQUATE REVENUES TO MEET THE OBLIGATION IN THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA IS ENACTED BY THE CONGRESS AND BECOMES EFFECTIVE.