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Va Federal Tort Claim Delegation

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[Federal Register: December 18, 2009 (Volume 74, Number 242)]

[Rules and Regulations]

[Page 67075-67077]

From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]

[DOCID:fr18de09-5]

=======================================================================

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DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS

38 CFR Part 14

RIN 2900-AN44

Federal Tort Claim Delegation

AGENCY: Department of Veterans Affairs.

ACTION: Final rule.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

SUMMARY: This document amends the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)

regulations concerning delegation of authority to the Secretary of

Veterans Affairs to consider, ascertain, adjust, determine, compromise,

and settle claims under the Federal Tort Claims Act where the amount of

settlement does not exceed $300,000, and the Secretary's redelegation

of such authority to certain personnel within the Office of the General

Counsel. The amendments will facilitate the timely processing of claims

under the Federal Tort Claims Act by expanding VA's settlement

authority and clarifying the delegation of such authority within the

Department.

DATES: Effective Date: December 18, 2009.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: E. Douglas Bradshaw, Jr., Assistant

General Counsel (021), Department of Veterans Affairs, 810 Vermont

Avenue, NW., Washington, DC 20420, (202) 461-4900. (This is not a toll-

free number.)

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Section 203 of the Veterans Benefits and

Services Act of 1988 (Pub. L. 100-322) added former section 223 to

title 38, United States Code (recodified in 1991 as 38 U.S.C. 515),

permitting the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to settle tort claims not

exceeding an amount to be delegated by the Attorney General of the

United States (with the delegation not to exceed the maximum delegated

to the United States Attorneys). In 1988, the Attorney General

delegated $100,000 in settlement authority to the Secretary. 53 FR

37753, Sept. 28, 1988. In 1999, VA published a final rule reflecting

that the Attorney General increased the delegation to $200,000. 64 FR

47111, Aug. 30, 1999. In 2008, the Attorney General increased the

delegation of settlement authority to $300,000. 73 FR 70278, Nov. 20,

2008.

[[Page 67076]]

Current Sec. 14.600 does not reflect the Attorney General's 2008

delegation or VA's determination regarding the necessary redelegations

to Office of the General Counsel (OGC) personnel. The purpose of this

rulemaking is to update VA regulations in light of the Attorney

General's action increasing the amount of VA's settlement authority for

tort claims and also to allow for the further delegation of this

authority within OGC as necessary.

This amendment to 38 CFR 14.600©(2) delegates to the General

Counsel, Deputy General Counsel, Assistant General Counsel

(Professional Staff Group I), or those authorized to act for them,

authority to consider, ascertain, adjust, determine, compromise, and

settle a claim arising under the Federal Tort Claims Act; provided that

any award, compromise, or settlement in excess of $300,000 shall be

effected only with the prior written approval of the Attorney General

or his or her designee. The amendment also provides for the execution

of a memorandum explaining the basis for settlement of a claim in

excess of $100,000 to be sent to the Department of Justice (DOJ), as

required by the Attorney General's delegation to the Secretary.

Authority is also delegated to the Regional Counsels, or those

authorized to act for them, and to the Deputy Assistant General Counsel

(Professional Staff Group I) to consider, ascertain, adjust, determine,

compromise, and settle any claim under the Federal Tort Claims Act;

provided that any award, compromise, or settlement does not exceed

$150,000; and provided, further, that whenever a settlement is effected

in an amount in excess of $100,000, a memorandum fully explaining the

basis for the action taken shall be sent to the DOJ, as required by the

Attorney General's delegation to the Secretary.

This rule further amends Sec. 14.600 to incorporate notes (1),

(2), and (3) into the regulation text. We have determined that the

notes, which prescribe the requirement for notifying DOJ of the basis

for any settlement of a tort action under VA's delegated authority, are

more appropriate for regulation text. Accordingly, we have amended

Sec. 14.600© and (d) to incorporate the DOJ notification requirement

and delete the notes.

Administrative Procedure Act

This final rule concerns agency organization, management,

procedure, or practice, specifically delegation of authority to

employees of the Department to perform certain acts or render

decisions. Accordingly, because this amendment merely reflects a

delegation change and makes other non-substantive changes, this rule is

exempt from the prior notice-and-comment and delayed-effective-date

requirements of 5 U.S.C. 553.

Paperwork Reduction Act

This document contains no provisions constituting a collection of

information under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 3501-

3521).

Executive Order 12866

Because this document is limited to agency organization and

management, it is not within the definition of ``regulation'' in

section 3(d) of Executive Order 12866 and therefore not subject to that

Executive Order's requirements for regulatory actions.

Regulatory Flexibility Act

The initial and final regulatory flexibility analysis requirements

of sections 603 and 604 of the Regulatory Flexibility Act, 5 U.S.C.

601-612, are not applicable to this rule because a notice of proposed

rulemaking is not required for this rule. Even so, the Secretary of

Veterans Affairs hereby certifies that this final rule will not have a

significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities

as they are defined in the Regulatory Flexibility Act. This final rule

will not affect any small entities. Only VA employees could be directly

affected. Therefore, pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 605(b), this final rule is

exempt from the initial and final regulatory flexibility analysis

requirements of sections 603 and 604.

Unfunded Mandates

The Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995, codified at 2 U.S.C.

1532, requires that agencies prepare an assessment of anticipated costs

and benefits before issuing any rule that may result in an expenditure

by State, local, and tribal governments, in the aggregate, or by the

private sector, of $100 million or more (adjusted annually for

inflation) in any year. This final rule would have no such effect on

State, local, and tribal governments, or on the private sector.

Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance

There is no Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance number for this

final rule.

List of Subjects in 38 CFR Part 14

Administrative practice and procedure, Claims, Courts, Foreign

relations, Government employees, Lawyers, Legal services, Organization

and functions (Government agencies), Reporting and recordkeeping

requirements, Surety bonds, Trusts and trustees, Veterans, and General

Counsel.

Approved: December 10, 2009.

John R. Gingrich,

Chief of Staff, Department of Veterans Affairs.

0

For the reasons stated in the preamble, the Department of Veterans

Affairs amends 38 CFR part 14 as follows:

PART 14--LEGAL SERVICES, GENERAL COUNSEL, AND MISCELLANEOUS CLAIMS

0

1. Revise the authority citation for part 14 to read as follows:

Authority: 5 U.S.C. 301; 28 U.S.C. 2671-2680; 38 U.S.C. 501(a),

512, 515, 5502, 5901-5905; 28 CFR part 14, appendix to part 14,

unless otherwise noted.

0

2. Amend Sec. 14.600 by:

0

a. Revising paragraphs ©(2), ©(3), and (d)(2);

0

b. Removing notes (1), (2), and (3).

The revision reads as follows:

Sec. 14.600 Federal Tort Claims Act--general.

* * * * *

© * * *

(2) To the General Counsel, Deputy General Counsel, and Assistant

General Counsel (Professional Staff Group I) or those authorized to act

for them with respect to any claim; provided that any award,

compromise, or settlement in excess of $300,000 shall be effected only

with the prior written approval of the Attorney General or his or her

designee; provided further that whenever a settlement is effected in an

amount in excess of $100,000, a memorandum fully explaining the basis

for the action taken shall be sent to the Department of Justice.

(3) To the Regional Counsels and the Deputy Assistant General

Counsel (Professional Staff Group I) or those authorized to act for

them with respect to any claim, provided that:

(i) Any award, compromise, or settlement in excess of $150,000 but

not more than $300,000 shall be effected only with the prior written

approval of the General Counsel, Deputy General Counsel, or Assistant

General Counsel (Professional Staff Group I); provided further that

whenever a settlement is effected in an amount in excess of $100,000, a

memorandum fully explaining the basis for the action taken shall be

sent to the Department of Justice; and

(ii) Any award where, for any reason, the compromise of a

particular claim, as a practical matter, will, or may control the

disposition of a related claim in which the amount to be paid may

exceed $150,000 shall be effected only with the prior written approval

of the

[[Page 67077]]

General Counsel, Deputy General Counsel, or Assistant General Counsel

(Professional Staff Group I); and

(iii) Any award, compromise, or settlement in excess of $300,000

shall be effected only with the prior written approval of the General

Counsel, Deputy General Counsel, or Assistant General Counsel

(Professional Staff Group I) and with the prior written approval of the

Attorney General or his or her designee.

(d) * * *

(2) To the General Counsel, Deputy General Counsel, and Assistant

General Counsel (Professional Staff Group I) with respect to any claim;

provided that any award, compromise, or settlement in excess of

$300,000 shall be effected only with the prior written approval of the

Attorney General or his or her designee; provided further that whenever

a settlement is effected in an amount in excess of $100,000, a

memorandum fully explaining the basis for the action taken shall be

sent to the Department of Justice.

(Authority: 28 U.S.C. 1291, 1346, 1402, 2401, 2402, 2411, 2412,

2671-80; 38 U.S.C. 512, 515; 28 CFR part 14, appendix to part 14)

[FR Doc. E9-30093 Filed 12-17-09; 8:45 am]

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