B-79771, DECEMBER 7, 1948, 28 COMP. GEN. 347

B-79771: Dec 7, 1948

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PAY -SERVICE CREDITS - SERVICE IN LIGHTHOUSE SERVICE PERSONNEL OF THE LIGHTHOUSE SERVICE WHO WERE COMMISSIONED. ARE ENTITLED UNDER THE ACT OF JUNE 24. TO HAVE SERVICE IN THE LIGHTHOUSE SERVICE INCLUDED IN COMPUTING LENGTH OF SERVICE FOR PERIOD PAY PURPOSES AS WELL AS LONGEVITY PAY PURPOSES. 1949) AND THE DATE LIGHTHOUSE SERVICE PERSONNEL WERE APPOINTED. REQUESTING DECISION ON CERTAIN QUESTIONS WHICH HAVE ARISEN UNDER PUBLIC LAW 761. CONCERNING THE COMPUTATION OF THE MILITARY PAY OF FORMER EMPLOYEES OF THE LIGHTHOUSE SERVICE WHO WERE COMMISSIONED. THE QUESTIONS ARE AS FOLLOWS: (1) WHETHER SERVICE IN THE LIGHTHOUSE SERVICE MAY BE INCLUDED IN COMPUTING TOTAL LENGTH OF SERVICE FOR ALL MILITARY PAY PURPOSES.

B-79771, DECEMBER 7, 1948, 28 COMP. GEN. 347

PAY -SERVICE CREDITS - SERVICE IN LIGHTHOUSE SERVICE PERSONNEL OF THE LIGHTHOUSE SERVICE WHO WERE COMMISSIONED, APPOINTED, OR ENLISTED IN THE COAST GUARD PURSUANT TO THE ACT OF AUGUST 5, 1939, ARE ENTITLED UNDER THE ACT OF JUNE 24, 1948, AMENDING SECTION 6 OF THE 1939 ACT, TO HAVE SERVICE IN THE LIGHTHOUSE SERVICE INCLUDED IN COMPUTING LENGTH OF SERVICE FOR PERIOD PAY PURPOSES AS WELL AS LONGEVITY PAY PURPOSES. THE INTERIM PERIOD WHICH ELAPSED BETWEEN THE DATE OF THE TRANSFER OF THE LIGHTHOUSE SERVICE TO THE COAST GUARD ( JULY 1, 1949) AND THE DATE LIGHTHOUSE SERVICE PERSONNEL WERE APPOINTED, COMMISSIONED, OR ENLISTED IN THE COAST GUARD UNDER THE ACT OF AUGUST 5, 1939, MAY BE CONSIDERED AS PERIOD OF SERVICE IN COMPUTING "LONGEVITY" FOR PURPOSES OF PAY IN THE COAST GUARD PURSUANT TO SECTION 6 OF THE 1939 ACT AS AMENDED BY THE ACT OF JUNE 24, 1948.

ASSISTANT COMPTROLLER GENERAL YATES TO THE SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY, DECEMBER 7, 1948:

THERE HAS BEEN CONSIDERED YOUR LETTER OF AUGUST 24, 1948, REQUESTING DECISION ON CERTAIN QUESTIONS WHICH HAVE ARISEN UNDER PUBLIC LAW 761, APPROVED JUNE 24, 1948, CONCERNING THE COMPUTATION OF THE MILITARY PAY OF FORMER EMPLOYEES OF THE LIGHTHOUSE SERVICE WHO WERE COMMISSIONED, APPOINTED OR ENLISTED IN THE COAST GUARD PURSUANT TO THE PROVISIONS OF THE ACT OF AUGUST 5, 1939, 53 STAT. 1216. THE QUESTIONS ARE AS FOLLOWS:

(1) WHETHER SERVICE IN THE LIGHTHOUSE SERVICE MAY BE INCLUDED IN COMPUTING TOTAL LENGTH OF SERVICE FOR ALL MILITARY PAY PURPOSES, INCLUDING ADVANCEMENT IN PAY PERIOD AS WELL AS THE FIVE PERCENTUM INCREASE FOR EACH THREE YEARS OF SERVICE.

(2) WHETHER THE SERVICE OF FORMER EMPLOYEES OF THE LIGHTHOUSE SERVICE PERFORMED DURING THE INTERIM PERIOD BETWEEN THE DATE OF THE TRANSFER OF THE LIGHTHOUSE SERVICE TO THE COAST GUARD AND THE DATE WHEN SUCH PERSONNEL WERE COMMISSIONED, APPOINTED, OR ENLISTED IN THE COAST GUARD, MAY BE INCLUDED IN COMPUTING TOTAL LENGTH OF SERVICE FOR MILITARY PAY PURPOSES.

(3) WHETHER, UNDER THE LANGUAGE EMPLOYED IN THE STATUTE, THE EFFECTIVE DATE OF THE ACT OF JUNE 24, 1948, SUPRA, IS JULY 1, OR JULY 2, 1948.

THE ACT OF JUNE 24, 1948, 62 STAT. 644, READS AS FOLLOWS:

THAT SECTION 6 OF THE ACT ENTITLED "AN ACT TO PERFECT THE CONSOLIDATION OF THE LIGHTHOUSE SERVICE WITH THE COAST GUARD BY AUTHORIZING THE COMMISSIONING, APPOINTMENT, AND ENLISTMENT IN THE COAST GUARD, OF CERTAIN OFFICERS AND EMPLOYEES OF THE LIGHTHOUSE SERVICE, AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES," APPROVED AUGUST 5, 1949, IS AMENDED BY INSERTING BEFORE THE PERIOD AT THE END THEREOF THE FOLLOWING:

* * * AND, AFTER THE FIRST DAY OF THE MONTH FOLLOWING ENACTMENT HEREOF, IN COMPUTING LONGEVITY, FOR THE PURPOSE OF PAY IN THE COAST GUARD,OF ANY PERSON COMPUTING LONGEVITY FOR THE PURPOSE OF PAY IN THE COAST GUARD, OF ANY PERSON COMMISSIONED, APPOINTED, OR ENLISTED UNDER THE PROVISIONS OF THIS ACT, THERE SHALL BE INCLUDED ALL SERVICE OF SUCH PERSON IN THE LIGHTHOUSE SERVICE.'

SECTION 6 OF THE ACT OF AUGUST 5, 1939, 53 STAT. 1217, IS AS FOLLOWS:

IN COMPUTING LENGTH OF SERVICE, FOR THE PURPOSE OF RETIREMENT IN THE COAST GUARD, OF ANY PERSON COMMISSIONED, APPOINTED, OR ENLISTED UNDER THE PROVISIONS OF THIS ACT, THERE SHALL BE INCLUDED ALL SERVICE COMPUTABLE FOR RETIREMENT UNDER THE PROVISIONS OF SECTION 6 OF THE ACT OF JUNE 20, 1918, AS AMENDED AND SUPPLEMENTED.

THE ABOVE-QUOTED ACT OF JUNE 24, 1948, BROADLY PROVIDES FOR THE INCLUSION OF "ALL SERVICE * * * IN THE LIGHTHOUSE SERVICE" IN COMPUTING "LONGEVITY" FOR THE PURPOSE OF PAY IN THE COAST GUARD AND DOES NOT CONTAIN THE MORE RESTRICTIVE PHRASE "LONGEVITY PAY.' THE TERM "LONGEVITY PAY" GENERALLY REFERS TO THE PERCENTAGE INCREASES IN BASE PAY WHICH ARE PROVIDED BY STATUTE FOR EACH TERM OF SERVICE OF A SPECIFIED LENGTH, AND IT HAS NOT BEEN CONSIDERED AS REFERRING TO, OR AS CLUDING,"PERIOD PAY," WHICH IS BASE PAY AND WHICH, FOR OFFICERS OF CERTAIN GRADES, IS BASED ON GRADE AND LENGTH OF SERVICE. 27 COMP. GEN. 155, 159. HOWEVER, THE WORD "LONGEVITY" AS USED IN THE PHRASE "IN COMPUTING LONGEVITY, FOR THE PURPOSE OF PAY IN THE COAST GUARD," SEEMS BROADLY TO RELATE TO AN INDIVIDUAL'S LENGTH OF SERVICE FOR THE PURPOSE OF PAY IN THE COAST GUARD; AND THE LENGTH OF SERVICE OF AN OFFICER OF THE ARMED FORCES (GENERALLY) IS A BASIC FACTOR IN DETERMINING NOT ONLY HIS "LONGEVITY PAY" BUT ALSO HIS "PERIOD PAY.' FOR EXAMPLE, LIEUTENANTS OF THE NAVY ARE ENTITLED TO THE BASE PAY OF THE THIRD PERIOD OR THE FOURTH PERIOD, DEPENDING UPON THEIR LENGTH OF SERVICE; IF THEY HAVE COMPLETED 17 OR MORE YEARS' SERVICE, THEY ARE ENTITLED TO THE PAY OF THE FOURTH PERIOD; IF LESS THAN 17 YEARS' SERVICE, TO THE PAY OF THE THIRD PERIOD. IN ADDITION, THEY ARE ENTITLED TO LONGEVITY PAY, THAT IS, 5 PERCENTUM INCREASE OF THE BASE PAY OF THEIR PERIOD OF EACH THREE YEARS OF SERVICE UP TO 30 YEARS.

THE PURPOSE SOUGHT TO BE ACCOMPLISHED BY THE ACT OF JUNE 24, 1948, IS EXPLAINED IN SENATE REPORT NO. 1594 ON H.R. 239, WHICH BECAME THE SAID ACT OF JUNE 24, 1948. SUCH REPORTS IS, IN PERTINENT PART, AS FOLLOWS:

THE PURPOSE OF THE BILL IS TO PERMIT FORMER MEMBERS OF THE LIGHTHOUSE SERVICE, WHO WERE TAKEN INTO THE MILITARY ESTABLISHMENT OF THE COAST GUARD AT THE TIME OF THE CONSOLIDATION OF THE TWO SERVICES IN 1939 OR THEREAFTER, TO INCLUDE TIME SPENT IN THE LIGHTHOUSE SERVICE IN COMPUTING TOTAL LENGTH OF SERVICE FOR MILITARY PAY PURPOSES.

BY THE ACT OF AUGUST 5, 1939 ( PUBLIC LAW 291, 76TH CONG.), THE FORMER LIGHTHOUSE SERVICE WAS CONSOLIDATED WITH AND MADE A PART OF THE UNITED STATES COAST GUARD. MANY MEN WHO HAD SERVED IN THE LIGHTHOUSE SERVICE AS CIVILIANS WERE INDUCTED INTO A MILITARY STATUS IN THE COAST GUARD IN RANKS RANGING UP TO CAPTAIN. AT THE TIME OF TRANSFER, HOWEVER, NO PROVISION WAS MADE WHEREBY THESE MEN COULD RECEIVE CREDIT FOR LONGEVITY PURPOSES FOR THEIR FORMER YEARS OF DUTY IN THE LIGHTHOUSE SERVICE, ALTHOUGH THAT SERVICE WAS CREDITED TO THEM FOR RETIREMENT PURPOSES. A SUBSTANTIAL NUMBER OF THE PERSONNEL AFFECTED WERE MAKING A CAREER OF LIGHTHOUSE WORK AND HAD LONG PERIODS OF SERVICE, IN MANY CASES REACHING 30 YEARS OR MORE, AND WHICH, HAD IT BEEN COAST GUARD SERVICE, WOULD HAVE BEEN RECOGNIZED BY INCREMENTS OF 5 PERCENT OF BASE PAY FOR EACH 3-YEAR PERIOD OF SUCH SERVICE. THUS, UNDER THIS SYSTEM OF PAY SCALES, A MAN WHO HAD SERVED 18 YEARS IN THE COAST GUARD SERVICE WOULD RECEIVE THE BASE PAY FOR HIS RANK PLUS 30 PERCENT (5 PERCENT FOR EACH 3-YEAR PERIOD OF SERVICE) OF THAT PAY GIVEN FOR LONGEVITY. ON THE OTHER HAND, A FORMER EMPLOYEE OF THE LIGHTHOUSE SERVICE, WHO SIMILARLY HAD A TOTAL OF 18 YEARS OF SERVICE AND WHO NOW SERVES IN THE SAME RANK OR RATING WOULD BE CREDITED FOR LONGEVITY PURPOSES WITH HIS SERVICE SINCE 1939 WHEN HE WAS BROUGHT INTO THE COAST GUARD BUT WOULD RECEIVE NO CREDIT FOR TIME SPENT IN THE LIGHTHOUSE SERVICE PRIOR TO 1939. THE NET RESULT IS THAT TWO MEN SERVING IN THE SAME RANK OR RATING, PERHAPS PERFORMING THE SAME DUTIES, AND HAVING AN IDENTICAL NUMBER OF YEARS OF GOVERNMENT SERVICE, WOULD RECEIVE SUBSTANTIALLY DIFFERENT RATES OF PAY.

THE PURPOSE OF THIS BILL IS TO EQUALIZE THE RATES OF PAY OF THESE FORMER LIGHTHOUSE SERVICE MEMBERS WITH THE RATES OF PAY OF THEIR FELLOW MEMBERS OF THE COAST GUARD. THE PERSONNEL OF THE LIGHTHOUSE SERVICE HAVE A LONG RECORD OF VALIANT AND HEROIC SERVICE. THE HAZARDS, EXPOSURE, AND DISCIPLINE INVOLVED IN THEIR CIVILIAN SERVICE APPROXIMATED SERVICE IN A MILITARY ORGANIZATION. AND SUCH PERSONNEL WERE ALWAYS SUBJECT TO TRANSFER OR SERVICE WITH THE WAR OR NAVY DEPARTMENT IN TIMES OF NATIONAL EMERGENCY.

YOUR COMMITTEE FEELS THAT THIS APPARENT INEQUITY SHOULD BE CORRECTED AND DISPARITY IN PAY STATUS ELIMINATED, AND THAT THESE EMPLOYEES, MANY OF WHOM SERVED WITH HONOR AND DISTINCTION DURING THE WAR, SHOULD RECEIVE LONGEVITY PAY ON THE SAME BASIS AS FELLOW EMPLOYEES OF THE COAST GUARD HAVING SIMILAR TOTAL YEARS OF SERVICE. ( ITALICS SUPPLIED.)

IT SEEMS REASONABLY CLEAR FROM THE COMMITTEE'S REPORT IN THE MATTER THAT THE PURPOSE OF THE SAID ACT WAS TO PERMIT PERSONNEL COMMISSIONED, APPOINTED, OR ENLISTED IN THE COAST GUARD PURSUANT TO THE ACT OF AUGUST 5, 1939, TO INCLUDE SERVICE IN THE LIGHTHOUSE SERVICE "IN COMPUTING LENGTH OF SERVICE FOR MILITARY PAY PURPOSES; " "TO EQUALIZE THE RATES OF PAY OF THESE FORMER LIGHTHOUSE SERVICE MEMBERS WITH THE RATES OF THEIR FELLOW MEMBERS OF THE COAST GUARD," AND TO ELIMINATE THE APPARENT DISPARITY IN PAY STATUS BETWEEN PERSONNEL TAKEN INTO THE COAST GUARD FROM THE LIGHTHOUSE SERVICE AND OTHER PERSONNEL OF THE COAST GUARD. IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, IT IS CONCLUDED THAT SERVICE IN THE LIGHTHOUSE SERVICE MAY BE INCLUDED BY PERSONNEL COMMISSIONED, APPOINTED, OR ENLISTED IN THE COAST GUARD PURSUANT TO THE ACT OF AUGUST 5, 1939, IN COMPUTING LENGTH OF SERVICE FOR PERIOD PAY PURPOSES AS WELL AS LONGEVITY PAY PURPOSES. ACCORDINGLY, QUESTION (1) IS ANSWERED IN THE

AFFIRMATIVE.

BY REORGANIZATION PLAN NO. II, 53 STAT. 1431, 1432, EFFECTIVE JULY 1, 1939, THE BUREAU OF LIGHTHOUSES IN THE DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE AND ITS FUNCTIONS WERE TRANSFERRED TO, CONSOLIDATED WITH, AND AUTHORIZED TO BE ADMINISTERED AS A PART OF THE COAST GUARD IN THE DEPARTMENT OF THE TREASURY. THE ACT OF AUGUST 5, 1939, SUPRA, PROVIDED FOR THE PERFECTION OF THE CONSOLIDATION OF THE LIGHTHOUSE SERVICE WITH THE COAST GUARD BY AUTHORIZING THE APPOINTMENT, COMMISSIONING, OR ENLISTING IN THE COAST GUARD OF CERTAIN PERSONNEL WHO WERE IN THE LIGHTHOUSE SERVICE ON JUNE 30, 1939. WHILE A SHORT PERIOD ELAPSED BETWEEN THE DATE OF TRANSFER OF THE LIGHTHOUSE SERVICE TO THE COAST GUARD AND THE DATE SUCH PERSONNEL WERE APPOINTED, COMMISSIONED, OR ENLISTED IN THE COAST GUARD UNDER THE ACT OF AUGUST 5, 1939, IT HAS BEEN CONSIDERED THAT SUCH INTERVENING PERIOD CONSTITUTED "SERVICE" WITHIN THE MEANING OF THE PAY PROVISIONS OF SECTION 12 OF THE SELECTIVE TRAINING AND SERVICE ACT OF 1940, 54 STAT. 895, AS SUCH PERSONNEL MUST HAVE BEEN IN THE LIGHTHOUSE SERVICE ON JUNE 30, 1939, AND REMAINED CONTINUOUSLY IN THAT SERVICE TO THE DATE OF APPOINTMENT, COMMISSIONING OR ENLISTMENT IN THE COAST GUARD UNDER THE ACT OF AUGUST 5, 1939. B-13249, NOVEMBER 19, 1940. THERE APPEARS TO BE NOTHING IN THE ACT OF AUGUST 5, 1939, OR ELSEWHERE IN THE STATUTES, TO INDICATE THAT THE SHORT PERIOD INTERVENING BETWEEN JULY 1, 1939, AND THE DATE OF ENLISTMENT, ETC., IN THE COAST GUARD WAS NOT INTENDED TO BE CREDITED AS A PERIOD OF SERVICE IN THE LIGHTHOUSE SERVICE IN COMPUTING ,LONGEVITY" FOR PURPOSES OF PAY IN THE COAST GUARD. ACCORDINGLY, QUESTION (2) IS ANSWERED IN THE AFFIRMATIVE.

WITH RESPECT TO QUESTION (3), THE ACT OF JUNE 24, 1948, PROVIDES THAT IT SHALL BE EFFECTIVE ,AFTER THE FIRST DAY OF THE MONTH FOLLOWING ENACTMENT HEREOF," AND, AS POINTED OUT IN YOUR LETTER, A LITERAL INTERPRETATION OF THE LANGUAGE EMPLOYED WOULD MEAN THAT THE PROVISIONS OF THE STATUTE WOULD BE EFFECTIVE JULY 2, 1948, THAT BEING THE DAY AFTER THE FIRST DAY OF THE MONTH FOLLOWING THE DATE OF SUCH ENACTMENT. HOWEVER, IT IS A SETTLED RULE OF STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION THAT LAWS ARE TO BE GIVEN A SENSIBLE CONSTRUCTION AND THAT A LITERAL APPLICATION OF A STATUTE WHICH WOULD LEAD TO ABSURD CONSEQUENCES SHOULD BE AVOIDED WHENEVER A REASONABLE APPLICATION CAN BE GIVEN IT CONSISTENT WITH ITS LEGISLATIVE PURPOSE. IT SEEMS REASONABLE TO ASSUME THAT THE SOLE PURPOSE OF MAKING THE STATUTE EFFECTIVE AFTER THE FIRST DAY OF THE MONTH FOLLOWING ENACTMENT, RATHER THAN THE DATE OF ENACTMENT, WAS DUE TO THE FACT THAT THE PAY OF MILITARY PERSONNEL GENERALLY IS COMPUTED ON A MONTHLY BASIS AND IT WAS REALIZED THAT, IF THE STATUTE SHOULD BE MADE EFFECTIVE ON A DATE OTHER THAN THE FIRST DAY OF THE MONTH, IT WOULD NECESSITATE TWO SEPARATE COMPUTATIONS IN THAT MONTH OF THE PAY OF PERSONNEL AFFECTED BY THE STATUTE. THE LEGISLATIVE HISTORY OF THE ACT CERTAINLY DISCLOSES NO INTENT TO REQUIRE THE PAY OF THE PERSONNEL AFFECTED TO BE COMPUTED FOR THE MONTH OF JULY, 1948, ON THE BASIS OF TWO SEPARATE RATES OF PAY FOR THAT MONTH. ACCORDINGLY, IN THE AUDIT OF DISBURSING OFFICERS' ACCOUNTS, THIS OFFICE WILL NOT BE REQUIRED TO OBJECT TO OTHERWISE PROPER PAYMENTS OF PAY TO SUCH PERSONNEL COMPUTED ON THE BASIS THAT THE SAID ACT IS EFFECTIVE ON AND AFTER JULY 1, 1948. YOUR THIRD QUESTION IS ANSWERED ACCORDINGLY.