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Proposed Rule

Settling Personnel and General Claims and Processing Advance Decision Requests

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Information about this document as published in the Federal Register.

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AGENCY:

Defense Office of Hearings and Appeals, Office of the General Counsel of the Department of Defense.

ACTION:

Proposed rule.

SUMMARY:

This rule proposes policy and assigns responsibilities for settling personnel and general claims and for processing requests for an advance decision. The Legislative Branch Appropriations Act of 1996 transferred to the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) the Comptroller General's Authority to settle claims. The OMB Director subsequently delegated some of these authorities to the Department of Defense. Later, the General Accounting Office Act of 1996 codified many of these delegations to the Secretary of Defense and others and transferred to the OMB Director the authority of the Comptroller General to waive uniformed service member and employee debts arising out of the erroneous payment of pay or allowances exceeding $1,500. The OMB Director subsequently delegated the authority to waive such debts of uniformed service members and DoD employees to the Secretary of Defense. The Secretary of Defense further delegated his claims settlement and waiver authorities to the General Counsel. This rule implements the reassignment of the Comptroller General's former duties within the Department of Defense with little impact on the public.

DATES:

Consideration will be given to all comments received on or before January 13, 2003.

ADDRESSES:

Send comments to the Defense Office of Hearings and Appeals, ATTN: Claims Division, P.O. Box 3656, Arlington, VA 22203-1995.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Michael Hipple, 703-696-8510.

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SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Executive Order 12866, “Regulatory Planning and Review”

The Director of the Defense Office of Hearings and Appeals has determined that this rule is not a significant rule because it does not (1) Have an annual effect on the economy of $100 million or more or adversely affect in a material way the economy; a sector of the economy; productivity; competition; jobs; the environment; public health or safety; or State, local, or tribal governments or communities; (2) Create a serious inconsistency or otherwise interfere with an action taken or planned by another Agency; (3) Materially alter the budgetary impact on entitlements, grants, user fees, or loan programs, or the rights and obligations of recipients thereof; or (4) Raise novel legal or policy issues arising out of legal mandates, the President's priorities, or the principles set forth in this Executive order.

Public Law 96-354, “Regulatory Flexibility Act”

The Director of the Defense Office of Hearings and Appeals has certified that this rule does not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities because this rule affects members of the Uniformed Services, Federal employees and transportation carriers and provides procedures by which their claims against the United States will be adjudicated. The same minimal requirements for submitting a claim are applicable to members and transportation carriers.

Public Law 96-511, “Paperwork Reducation Act”

The Director of the Defense Office of Hearings and Appeals has certified that this rule does not impose information collection requirements.

Section 202, Public Law 104-4, “Unfunded Mandates Reform Act”

The Director of the Defense Office of Hearings and Appeals has certified that this rule does not involve a Federal Mandate that may result in the expenditure by State, local and tribal governments, in the aggregate, or by the private sector, of $100 million or more and that such rulemaking will not significantly or uniquely affect small governments.

Executive Order 13132, “Federalism”

The Director of the Defense Office of Hearings and Appeals has certified that this rule does not have federalism implications. This rule does not have substantial direct affects on the States, on the relationship between the National Government and the States, or on the distribution of power and responsibilities among the various levels of government.

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List of Subjects in 32 CFR Part 281

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Accordingly, 32 CFR part 281 is proposed to be added to subchapter M to read as follows:

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PART 281—SETTLING PERSONNEL AND GENERAL CLAIMS AND PROCESSING ADVANCE DECISION REQUESTS

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Authority: 10 U.S.C. 2575, 2771, 4712, 9712; 24 U.S.C. 420; 31 U.S.C. 3529, 3702; 32 U.S.C. 714; 37 U.S.C. 554.

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Purpose.

This part implements policy and assigns responsibilities for settling personnel and general claims (under 31 U.S.C. 3702, 10 U.S.C. 2575, 10 U.S.C. 2771, 24 U.S.C. 420, 10 U.S.C. 4712, 10 U.S.C. 9712, 37 U.S.C. 554, and 32 U.S.C. 714) and for processing requests for an advance decision under 31 U.S.C. 3529.

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Applicability.

This part applies to:

(a) The Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Military Departments, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Combatant Commands, the Office of the Inspector General of the Department of Defense, the Defense Agencies, the DoD Field Activities, and all other organizational entities within the Department of Defense (hereafter referred to collectively as “the DoD Components”).

(b) The Coast Guard, when it is not operating as a Service in the Navy, and the Commissioned Corps of the Public Health Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, to the extent of the authority provided by law or delegated by the Director, Office of Management and Budget (hereafter referred to collectively as “the non-DoD Components”).

Definitions.

(a) Armed Forces. The Army, the Navy, the Air Force, the Marine Corps, and the Coast Guard.

(b) Claim. A demand for money or property under one of the following statutes: 31 U.S.C. 3702, 10 U.S.C. 2575, 10 U.S.C. 2771, 24 U.S.C. 420, 10 U.S.C. 4712, 10 U.S.C. 9712, 37 U.S.C. 554, or 32 U.S.C. 714.

(c) Secretary concerned. The Secretary of the Army, with respect to matters concerning the Army. The Secretary of the Navy, with respect to matters concerning the Navy, the Marine Corps, and the Coast Guard when it is operating as a Service in the Navy. The Secretary of the Air Force, with respect to matters concerning the Air Force. The Secretary of Transportation, with respect to matters concerning the Coast Guard when it is not operating as a Service in the Navy. The Secretary of Commerce, with respect to matters concerning the NOAA. The Secretary of Health and Human Services, with respect to matters concerning the PHS.

(d) Settlement. A claim and the amount due that is administratively determined to be valid.

(e) Uniformed Services. The Army, the Navy, the Air Force, the Marine Corps, the Coast Guard, and the Commissioned Corps of the PHS and the NOAA.

Policy.

It is DoD policy that:

(a) The claim settlement and advance decision authorities that, by statute or delegation, are vested in the Department of Defense or the Secretary of Defense shall be exercised by the officials designated in this part. Appendix A to this part describes the claims included under these functional authorities.

(b) Claims shall be settled and advance decisions shall be rendered in accordance with pertinent statutes and regulations, and after consideration of other relevant authorities.

Responsibilities and functions.

(a) The General Counsel of the Department of Defense shall:

(1) Settle claims that the Secretary of Defense is authorized to settle under 31 U.S.C. 3702 (including claims under 10 U.S.C. 2575, 10 U.S.C. 2771, 24 U.S.C. 420, 10 U.S.C. 4712, 10 U.S.C. 9712, 37 U.S.C. 554, and 32 U.S.C. 714).

(2) Consider, and grant or deny, a request by the Secretary concerned under 31 U.S.C. 3702 to waive the time limit for submitting certain claims.

(3) Render advance decisions under 31 U.S.C. 3529 that the Secretary of Defense is authorized to render, and oversee the submission of requests for an advance decision arising from the activity of a DoD Component that are addressed to officials outside the Department of Defense.

(4) Develop overall claim settlement and advance decision policies; and promulgate procedures for settling claims, processing requests for an advance decision (including overseeing the submission of requests for an advance decision arising from the activity of a DoD Component that are addressed to officials outside the Department of Defense), and rendering advance decisions. Procedures for settling claims shall include an initial determination process and a process to appeal an initial determination.

(b) The Heads of the DoD Components shall:

(1) Establish procedures within the Component for processing claims and for submitting requests for an advance decision arising from the Component's activity in accordance with this part and procedures promulgated under paragraph (a)(4) of this section.

(2) Pay claims under 10 U.S.C. 2771 and 32 U.S.C. 714, if applicable.

(3) Ensure compliance with this part and policies and procedures promulgated under paragraph (a)(4) of this section.

(c) The Heads of the Non-DoD Components, with respect to claims arising from that Component's activity under 31 U.S.C. 3702, 10 U.S.C. 2575, 10 U.S.C. 2771, or 37 U.S.C. 554, shall:

(1) Establish procedures within the Component for processing claims and for submitting requests for an advance decision in accordance with this part and procedures promulgated under paragraph (a)(4) of this section.

(2) Pay claims under 10 U.S.C. 2771, if applicable.

Appendix A to Part 281—Claims Description

The Secretary of Defense is authorized to perform the claim settlement and advance decision functions for claims under the following statutes:

(a) 31 U.S.C. 3702, concerning claims in general when there is no other settlement authority specifically provided for by law.[1]

(b) 10 U.S.C. 2575, concerning the disposition of unclaimed personal property on a military installation.

(c) 10 U.S.C. 2771, concerning the final settlement of accounts of deceased members of the armed forces (but not the National Guard).[2]

(d) 24 U.S.C. 420, 10 U.S.C. 4712, and 10 U.S.C. 9712 concerning the disposition of the effects of deceased residents of the Armed Forces Retirement Home.

(e) 37 U.S.C. 554, concerning the sale of personal property of members of the Uniformed Services who are in a missing status.

(f) 32 U.S.C. 714, concerning the final settlement of accounts of deceased members of the National Guard.[3]

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Dated: November 4, 2002.

Patricia L. Toppings,

Alternate OSD Federal Register Liaison Officer, Department of Defense.

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Footnotes

1.  This includes claims involving Uniformed Services members' pay, allowances, travel, transportation, payment for unused accrued leave, retired pay, and survivor benefits, and claims for refunds by carriers for amounts collected from them for loss or damage to property they transported at Government expense; also included are other claims arising from the activity of a DoD Component. However, the Director of the Office of Personnel Management performs these functions for claims involving civilian employees' compensation and leave; and the Administrator of General Services performs these functions for claims involving civilian employees' travel, transportation, and relocation expenses.

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2.  Claims under this statute are actually settled under the authority in 31 U.S.C. 3702, because there is no specific settlement authority in the statute.

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3.  Claims under this statute are actually settled under the authority in 31 U.S.C. 3702, because there is no specific settlement authority in the statute.

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[FR Doc. 02-28726 Filed 11-13-02; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 5001-08-M