Compensating Micronesian World War II Claims:

Controversial Awards of Claims and Difficulties Distributing Payments

ID-77-62: Published: Mar 7, 1978. Publicly Released: Mar 7, 1978.

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The people of Micronesia were awarded $67 million for losses incurred during World War II. The United States was responsible for half the war-related awards of $34 million and for all postwar damages valued at over $32 million. Originally, the United States contributed $25 million to pay these awards. In October 1977, Congress authorized an additional $24 million to pay the U.S. share in full.

Although the Micronesian Claims Commission attempted to adjudicate submitted claims in accordance with international and Trust Territory law, its awards have been criticized as both too lenient and too conservative. Criticism has centered around the Commission's decision to deny interest on war-related title I awards while allowing it on postwar title II awards. The Commission was criticized in the courts for ignoring available guidelines to measure death awards; had such guidelines been used, awards would probably have been lower. The Commission was not to decide how awards were to be split among the heirs of deceased claimants. However, it may not have considered all legitimate claims due to late filing by some claimants. Payments were made in accordance with the Micronesian Claims Act of 1971, but controls were not sufficient to assure that payments were actually received by designated payees.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Interior should: strengthen procedures of notification and delivery of checks to designated payees; make data on checks issued available to payees so they can determine for themselves if they have received payment; and verify, on a test basis, that payments were received by correct recipients and provide followup as necessary.

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