United States Code

USC most recently checked for updates: May 24, 2024

§ 1501.
System for accounting for missing persons
(a)
Responsibility for Missing Persons.—
(1)
(A)
The Secretary of Defense shall designate a single organization within the Department of Defense to have responsibility for Department matters relating to missing persons from past conflicts, including accounting for missing persons and persons whose remains have not been recovered from the conflict in which they were lost.
(B)
The organization designated under this paragraph shall be a Defense Agency or other entity of the Department of Defense outside the military departments and is referred to in this chapter as the “designated Defense Agency”.
(C)
The head of the organization designated under this paragraph is referred to in this chapter as the “designated Agency Director”.
(2)
Subject to the authority, direction, and control of the Secretary of Defense, the responsibilities of the designated Agency Director shall include the following:
(A)
Policy, control, and oversight of the program established under section 1509 of this title.
(B)
Responsibility for accounting for missing persons from past conflicts, including locating, recovering, and identifying missing persons from past conflicts or their remains after hostilities have ceased.
(C)
Coordination for the Department of Defense with other departments and agencies of the United States on all matters concerning missing persons from past conflicts.
(D)
Dissemination of appropriate information on the status of missing persons from past conflicts to authorized family members.
(E)
Establishment of a means for communication between officials of the designated Defense Agency and family members of missing persons from past conflicts, veterans service organizations, concerned citizens, and the public on the Department’s efforts to account for missing persons from past conflicts, including a readily available means for communication of their views and recommendations to the designated Agency Director.
(3)
In carrying out the responsibilities established under this subsection, the designated Agency Director shall be responsible for the coordination for such purposes within the Department of Defense among the military departments, the Joint Staff, and the commanders of the combatant commands.
(4)
The designated Agency Director shall establish policies, which shall apply uniformly throughout the Department of Defense, for personnel accounting (including locating, recovering, and identifying missing persons from past conflicts or their remains after hostilities have ceased).
(b)
Uniform DoD Procedures.—
(1)
The Secretary of Defense shall prescribe procedures, to apply uniformly throughout the Department of Defense, for—
(A)
the determination of the status of persons described in subsection (c); and
(B)
for the systematic, comprehensive, and timely collection, analysis, review, dissemination, and periodic update of information related to such persons.
(2)
Such procedures may provide for the delegation by the Secretary of Defense of any responsibility of the Secretary under this chapter to the Secretary of a military department.
(3)
Such procedures shall be prescribed in a single directive applicable to all elements of the Department of Defense.
(4)
As part of such procedures, the Secretary may provide for the extension, on a case-by-case basis, of any time limit specified in section 1502, 1503, or 1504 of this title. Any such extension may not be for a period in excess of the period with respect to which the extension is provided. Subsequent extensions may be provided on the same basis.
(c)
Covered Persons.—
(1)
Section 1502 of this title applies in the case of any member of the armed forces on active duty—
(A)
who becomes involuntarily absent as a result of a hostile action or under circumstances suggesting that the involuntary absence is a result of a hostile action; and
(B)
whose status is undetermined or who is unaccounted for.
(2)
Section 1502 of this title applies in the case of any other person who is a citizen of the United States and a civilian officer or employee of the Department of Defense or (subject to paragraph (3)) an employee of a contractor of the Department of Defense—
(A)
who serves in direct support of, or accompanies, the armed forces in the field under orders and becomes involuntarily absent as a result of a hostile action or under circumstances suggesting that the involuntary absence is a result of a hostile action; and
(B)
whose status is undetermined or who is unaccounted for.
(3)
The Secretary of Defense shall determine, with regard to a pending or ongoing military operation, the specific employees, or groups of employees, of contractors of the Department of Defense to be considered to be covered by this subsection.
(d)
Primary Next of Kin.—
The individual who is primary next of kin of any person described in subsection (c) may for purposes of this chapter designate another individual to act on behalf of that individual as primary next of kin. The Secretary concerned shall treat an individual so designated as if the individual designated were the primary next of kin for purposes of this chapter. A designation under this subsection may be revoked at any time by the person who made the designation.
(e)
Termination of Applicability of Procedures When Missing Person Is Accounted for.—
The provisions of this chapter relating to boards of inquiry and to the actions by the Secretary concerned on the reports of those boards shall cease to apply in the case of a missing person upon the person becoming accounted for or otherwise being determined to be in a status other than missing.
(f)
Secretary Concerned.—
In this chapter, the term “Secretary concerned” includes, in the case of a civilian officer or employee of the Department of Defense or an employee of a contractor of the Department of Defense, the Secretary of the military department or head of the element of the Department of Defense employing the officer or employee or contracting with the contractor, as the case may be.
(Added Pub. L. 104–106, div. A, title V, § 569(b)(1), Feb. 10, 1996, 110 Stat. 336; amended Pub. L. 104–201, div. A, title V, § 578(a)(1), Sept. 23, 1996, 110 Stat. 2536; Pub. L. 105–85, div. A, title V, § 599(a)(1), Nov. 18, 1997, 111 Stat. 1766; Pub. L. 106–65, div. A, title X, § 1066(a)(13), Oct. 5, 1999, 113 Stat. 771; Pub. L. 107–314, div. A, title V, § 551, Dec. 2, 2002, 116 Stat. 2551; Pub. L. 108–375, div. A, title V, § 582(a), Oct. 28, 2004, 118 Stat. 1928; Pub. L. 111–383, div. A, title IX, § 901(g), Jan. 7, 2011, 124 Stat. 4322; Pub. L. 113–66, div. A, title V, § 581(a), Dec. 26, 2013, 127 Stat. 773; Pub. L. 113–291, div. A, title IX, § 916(a), Dec. 19, 2014, 128 Stat. 3476; Pub. L. 114–328, div. A, title IX, § 953(a), Dec. 23, 2016, 130 Stat. 2376.)
cite as: 10 USC 1501