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HAR U 1
1056 SUBCOMMITTEE NO. 1 CONSIDERATION OF H.R. 3322, H.R. 3320, AND
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
SUBCOMMITTEE No. 1, Washington, D.C., Wednesday, February 25, 1959. The subcommittee met at 10 a.m., Hon. Paul J. Kilday (chairman of the subcommittee) presiding:
Mr. KILDAY. The committee will be in order. We have a number of bills for consideration this morning. First, we will take H.R. 3322, a bill to amend title 10 of the United States Code, and certain other laws to authorize the payment of transportation and travel allowances to escorts of dependents of members of the uniformed services under certain conditions, and for other purposes. (H.R. 3322 follows:)
(H.R. 3322, 86th Cong., 1st sess.) A BILL To amend title 10, United States Code, and certain other laws to authorize the payment of transportation and travel allowances to escorts of dependents of members of the uniformed services under certain conditions, and for other purposes
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That chapter 53 of title 10, United States Code, is amended
(1) by adding the following new section after section 1035 : "§ 1036. Escorts for dependents of members : transportation and travel allow
"Under regulations to be prescribed by the Secretary concerned, round trip transportation and travel allowances may be paid to any person for travel performed or to be performed under competent orders as an escort for dependents of a member of the armed forces, if the travel is performed not later than one year after the member
“(3) is otherwise unable to accompany his dependents; and it has been determined that travel by the dependents is necessary and that they are incapable of traveling alone because of age, mental or physical incapacity, or other extraordinary circumstances,"; and
(2) by adding the following new item at the end of the analysis : “1036. Escorts for dependents of members : transportation and travel allowances."
SEC. 2. Section 3(a) of the Act of August 10, 1956, chapter 1041, as amended (33 U.S.C. 857a (a)), is amended
(1) by redesignating clauses (1), (2), (3), (4), (5), (6), and (7) as clauses “(2)", "(3)", “(4)”, “(5)", "(6)”, “(7)”, and “(8)”, respectively; and
(2) by inserting the following new clause at the beginning: "(1) Section 1036, Escorts for dependents of members : transportation and travel allowances.” SEC. 3. Section 221(a) of the Public Health Service Act, as amended (42 U.S.C. 213a (a)), is amended--
(1) by redesignating clauses (1), (2), (3), (4), (5), (6), and (7) as clauses “(2)", "(3)”, “(4)”, “(5)”, “(6)", "(7)", and "(8)”, respectively; and
(2) by inserting the following new clause at the beginning:
“(1) Section 1036, Escorts for dependents of members : transportation and travel allowances." 340664-59-No.11---1
Sec. 4. Travel and transportation allowances paid before the effective date of this Act to persons ordered by competent authority to escort dependents of members of the uniformed services are hereby validated, if they wold have been authorized under section 1 of this Act.
SEO. 5. Any person who was ordered by competent authority after January 1, 1950, and before the effective date of this Act to escort dependents of members of the uniformed services and who has not been paid travel and transportation allowances, or who has repaid the United States the amount so paid to him, is entitled to be paid the amount otherwise authorized by section 1 of this Act, if application for such payment is made not later than one year after the effective date of this Act.
SEC. 6. The Comptroller General of the United States, or his designee, shall relieve disbursing officers, including special disbursing agents, from accountability or responsibility for any payments described in section 4 of this Act, and shall allow credits in the settlement of the accounts of those disbursing officers or agents for payments which are found to be free from fraud or collusion.
Mr. KILDAY. I believe Colonel Gunderson of the Air Force-are you to handle this bill, Colonel ?
Colonel GUNDERSON. Yes, sir.
Colonel GUNDERSON. Mr. Chairman and member of the committee, I am Col. Robert S. Gunderson of the Personnel Services Division, Headquarters, U.S. Air Force, and I am appearing here as a witness for the Department of Defense in support of H.R. 3322 introduced by Congressman Kilday.
This is a bill to amend title 10, United States Code, and certain other laws, to authorize the payment of transportation and travel allowances to escorts of dependents of members of the uniformed services under certain conditions, and for other purposes.
I am accompanied by Col. N. B. Hill, Office of the Chief of Finance, Department of the Army, and Mr. M. G. Horn, Bureau of Naval Personnel, Department of the Navy.
This proposal is a part of the Department of Defense legislative program for 1959 approved by the President. The Department of Defense recommends its enactment by the Congress for the primary purpose of establishing the authority of the respective Secretaries to authorize the travel of persons designated to act as escorts for those dependents of personnel who are authorized travel at Government expense, and who would otherwise be required to travel unaccompanied under unusual and extraordinary circumstances. The effect of enactment of this bill would be to
(a) Authorize the payment of travel and transportation allowances to any person designated by proper authority to act as an escort in connection with the travel of dependents of a member of the uniformed services under circumstances where the serviceman is dead, missing, or otherwise unable to accompany his dependents, and where it is determined that the deepndent(s) – because of age, infirmities, or other unusual or extraordinary circumstances-is incapable of performing such authorized travel alone.
(6) Authorize payment to those individuals who have acted as escorts and performed the necessary travel but who have not, by reason of Comptroller General Decision B-127028, dated October 1, 1956, been able to receive compensation therefor, or who may have received compensation but have been required to repay such amounts to the Government as a result of this Comptroller General decision.
(c) Validate any such payments heretofore made where travel was directed and performed for such escort purposes.
(d) Relieve disbursing officers from responsibility for such payments already made and otherwise proper. A typical situation developed this last year when an Air Force sergeant and his wife were killed in an automobile accident near his duty station in Turkey. In this catastrophe, two children, one 6 years old and the other 6 months old, were injured. One of the children sustained a broken leg and required extensive hospitalization. The other child was less seriously injured and, after a short period of hospitalization, was placed in the care of friends of the deceased parents.
In addition to the problems involved in locating someone to be responsible to receive the remains of the sergeant and his wife and to defray the cost of interring the wife's remains, the Air Force was confronted with the problem of seeing that the children were returned to the United States and delivered into the custody of members of the family who could and would be responsible for them.
Other incidents of this nature have come to the attention of Members of Congress resulting in the introduction, in at least one case, of a private bill to authorize payment of a travel allowance.
As early as 1951, the General Accounting Office noticed, but did not take exception to, occasional vouchers representing reimbursement for travel on the part of persons acting in an escort capacity.
In 1953, the Judge Advocate General of one of the military departments, after extensive study and research, expressed the opinion that authority existed for the travel of escorts under such unusual circumstances. This opinion was concurred in by his counterparts in the other two military departments.
The services did believe that authority to arrange for such escort travel existed, and moreover, that it was a responsibility of the military departments, owed both to the member and to the public, to care for dependents in those extreme, and fortunately very few,
As a basic philosophy, the services feel a high moral obligation to assist in the relocation of such dependents.
The Comptroller General of the United States, even though agreeing with the worthy humanitarian reasons for providing escorts for such dependents, rendered his opinion in 1956 that, in the absence of specific statutory authority, the payment of travel and transportation allowances in such circumstances could not be allowed.
If this bill is enacted, it is the view of the respective military departments that the authority therein conferred would be exercised only in cases arising out of unusual and uniquely difficult circumstances. Inasmuch as the escort would, in effect, be performing travel that the military member himself would normally have performed had he been alive and able, and in view of the low incidence of such cases, this legislation is not expected to result in any increase in the obligation of funds nor in expenses which cannot be met from normal appropriations.
I shall be happy to answer any questions that you may have.
Mr. Kilday. Colonel, you referred to one private bill that has been offered. Do you know the number and style of the bill!
Colonel GUNDERSON. Sir, that is H.R. 4315.
Mr. Kulday. I don't believe Captain Shotwell is even my constituent. He was stationed in Texas and brought this to my attention.
Just on the face of it, I felt that it was so obviously unjust to charge this back to him that I offered the bill.
That bill is, of course, pending before the Committee on the Judiciary, and I wanted to make sure that this bill would cover the case involved in the Shotwell bill so there would be no necessity for two legislative actions on it. It will be covered by this bill. Colonel GUNDERSON. This bill very definitely would cover it. Mr. KILDAY. Are there any questions? Mr. Bates.
Mr. BATES. Is there any information at all today in travel instructions pertaining to cases of this nature?
Colonel GUNDERSON. No, sir; not clearly.
Mr. BATES. It has never been covered in the military travel instructions to disbursing officers!
Colonel GUNDERSON. Only in the Air Force, Mr. Bates. The Air Force thought it had authority to authorize such travel and in fact issued a regulation, which it later withdrew in the face of this Comptroller General decision.
Mr. BATES. Were those payments made at that time under those instructions at a local level, or were they paid at the central disbursing office?
Colonel GUNDERSON. They were made at local levels, sir.
Colonel GUNDERSON. Sir, the best estimate we could offer on the basis of known pending claims appears to involve only about $1,600.
Mr. Bates. Now, who are the escorts! Are they military personnel!
Colonel GUNDERSON. They may be anyone, sir. They may be either military or they may be civilians. For example, the wife of another military member who is willing to assume this escort duty.
Mr. Bates. Well, now, could you issue orders to military personnel to travel to a certain place to perform certain duties! Would that be questioned by the Comptroller General?
Colonel GUNDERSON. We believe it would, so long as it was clear that they were performing escort duty.
Nr. BATES. So you don't believe you could give a regular set of officers for duty as assigned !
Colonel GUNDERSON. No, sir. In fact, I would like to mention there are certain instances where infants would be involved. Obviously, it would be better if we were able to use a dependent wife of another family who is willing to look after them, who might be able to take better care of them.
Mr. BATEs. How do you usually make arrangements under such circumstances? Do you contact folks being transferred stateside and ask them to do it!
Colonel GUNDERSON. Yes, sir; that is correct, and we usually have very good fortune in getting someone who will volunteer to stay with them as far as the port of debarkation in the United States.
I would like to mention that we have as many or more situations where we require an escort arising here in the States as we do between the oversea point and the States.
In other words, if a dependent family is headed for a destination in the States off the beaten airline and rail routes, there are instances when we cannot provide for them as well as we feel we should and where their family, living relatives, cannot seem to take care of them.
Mr. BATEs. In a good many cases there won't be any cost involved because the military personnel or their wives will be traveling back to the States anyway; is that correct?
Colonel GUNDERSON. Oh, yes, sir; very definitely.
Mr. BATEs. Is this going to be a complete delegation of authority by the Secretary-I presume it would have to be to certain field commands; wouldn't it?
Colonel GUNDERSON. We do not intend at the moment to delegate it all the way down to the local level, but we intend to seek this as a permissive type of legislation which would authorize our major commanders in appropriate cases where the urgency exists to permit the appointment of such an escort.
Mr. Bates. So your area commander would have authority?
Mr. Bates. Do you have authority today to designate military escorts for the remains of deceased service personnel ?
Colonel GUNDERSON. Yes, sir; and we have no problem in that area.
Mr. Bates. Is that specific authority that has been granted, or do you do it merely because it hasn't been questioned by the Comptroller General ?
Colonel GUNDERSON. No, sir; I understand that is very specific authority. Mr. BATES. I have nothing further. Mr. KILDAY. Mr. Huddleston ? Mr. HUDDLESTON. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Colonel, as I understand this legislation, it would authorize the payment of travel and transportation allowances for escorts to accompany the dependents of servicemen, providing one of three conditions exist: Either the serviceman is dead, he is missing, or otherwise unable to accompany his dependents.
Now, just what kind of situation would arise where the serviceman would be otherwise unable to accompany his dependents?
Colonel GUNDERSON. A typical example would be if he was a terminal case of cancer, or something, at a military hospital. Or if he had been so severely injured in an accident that he would have to be transferred to another hospital for long-term care.
Mr. HUDDLESTON. Would the legislation cover a situation where a service member is ordered by his service to a particular station and he wants to send his family back to the United States—say, he is ordered to a station where dependents are not permitted and he wants to send his family back to the United States, would you authorize an escort for his dependents in that kind of a case?
Colonel GUNDERSON. I would say no, sir.
Mr. HUDDLESTON. Is there anything in the bill that would eliminate that kind of a situation?
Colonel GUNDERSON. Yes, sir.