Civilian employees eligible for ‘hostile fire’ pay

Federal employees who were at the Pentagon and World Trade Center complex during the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks are eligible for a one-time payment of $150, under a provision approved by Congress last week. The provision, tucked into the 2002 Defense Authorization bill, would make the $150 "hostile fire pay" available any time that civilian employees come under terrorist attack or other hostile action. Hostile fire payments of $150 have long been available to military personnel. The Pentagon requested the new authority following the Sept. 11 attacks. Military personnel at the Pentagon and the World Trade Center at the time of the attacks were granted the $150 payments in September. Military emergency personnel who responded to the attacks also were granted the payments. Pentagon officials requested the same treatment for civilian personnel out of a sense of fairness. The Defense Department is drawing up plans for getting the payments out to civilian personnel. Other federal agencies also have the authority to offer the payments, but aren't required to make them available. A Treasury Department spokesperson said it would probably be up to officials at its bureaus, such as the Customs Service, Secret Service and Internal Revenue Service, to decide if employees will receive the payments.

About 2,800 federal employees worked in the World Trade Center complex. Two teams of IRS auditors were in the Twin Towers conducting audits when the hijacked planes hit the buildings on Sept. 11. Hostile fire payments are made on a monthly basis. If employees are subject to hostile fire twice in one month, they only receive one $150 payment. Civilian employees who were hospitalized past Sept. 30 because of the attacks are eligible for additional payments of $150 per month for up to three months. Hostile fire payments can also be made to the survivors of federal employees who were killed as a result of the Sept. 11 attacks. Federal employees who are stationed abroad and receive danger pay or post differentials are not eligible for hostile fire pay. Below is the text of Section 1111 of Title XI of the 2002 Defense Authorization Act, which provides for hostile fire pay for civilian employees. SEC. 1111. AUTHORITY TO PROVIDE HOSTILE FIRE PAY.

(a) IN GENERAL.--Subchapter IV of chapter 59 of title 5, United States Code, is amended by adding at the end the following new section:``§5949. Hostile fire pay
``(a) The head of an Executive agency may pay an employee hostile fire pay at the rate of $150 for any month in which the employee was--
``(1) subject to hostile fire or explosion of hostile mines;
``(2) on duty in an area in which the employee was in imminent danger of being exposed to hostile fire or explosion of hostile mines and in which, during the period on duty in that area, other employees were subject to hostile fire or explosion of hostile mines; or
``(3) killed, injured, or wounded by hostile fire, explosion of a hostile mine, or any other hostile action.
``(b) An employee covered by subsection (a)(3) who is hospitalized for the treatment of his or her injury or wound may be paid hostile fire pay under this section for not more than three additional months during which the employee is so hospitalized.
``(c) An employee may be paid hostile fire pay under this section in addition to other pay and allowances to which entitled, except that an employee may not be paid hostile fire pay under this section for periods of time during which the employee receives payment under section 5925 of this title because of exposure to political violence or payment under section 5928 of this title.''.
(b) TECHNICAL AMENDMENT.--The table of sections at the beginning of chapter 59 of such title is amended by inserting at the end the following new item:
``5949. Hostile fire pay.''.
(c) EFFECTIVE DATE.--This provision is effective as if enacted into law on September 11, 2001, and may be applied with respect to any hostile action that took place on or after that date.

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