10 USC 1501 - System for accounting for missing persons

(a) Office for Missing Personnel.— 

(1) The Secretary of Defense shall establish within the Office of the Secretary of Defense an office to have responsibility for Department of Defense policy relating to missing persons. Such office shall be known as the Defense Prisoner of War/Missing Personnel Office. Subject to the authority, direction, and control of the Secretary of Defense, the responsibilities of the office shall include
(A) policy, control, and oversight within the Department of Defense of the entire process for investigation and recovery related to missing persons (including matters related to search, rescue, escape, and evasion); and
(B) coordination for the Department of Defense with other departments and agencies of the United States on all matters concerning missing persons.

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(2) In carrying out the responsibilities of the office established under this subsection, the head of the office 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.
(3) The office shall establish policies, which shall apply uniformly throughout the Department of Defense, for personnel recovery (including search, rescue, escape, and evasion).
(4) The office shall establish procedures to be followed by Department of Defense boards of inquiry, and by officials reviewing the reports of such boards, under this chapter.
(5) 
(A) The Secretary of Defense shall ensure that the office is provided sufficient military and civilian personnel, and sufficient funding, to enable the office to fully perform the complete range of missions of the office. The Secretary shall ensure that Department of Defense programming, planning, and budgeting procedures are structured so as to ensure compliance with the preceding sentence for each fiscal year.
(B) 
(i) For any fiscal year, the number of military and civilian personnel, whether temporary or permanent, assigned or detailed to the office may not be less than the number requested in the Presidents budget for fiscal year 2003, unless a level below such number is expressly required by law.
(ii) If for any reason the number of military and civilian personnel assigned or detailed to the office should fall below the required level under clause (i), the Secretary of Defense shall promptly notify the Committees on Armed Services of the Senate and House of Representatives of the number of personnel so assigned or detailed and of the Secretarys plan to restore the staffing level of the office to at least the required minimum number under clause (i). The Secretary shall publish such notice and plan in the Federal Register.
(C) For any fiscal year, the level of funding allocated to the office within the Department of Defense may not be below the level requested for such purposes in the Presidents budget for fiscal year 2003, unless such a level of funding is expressly required by law.
(b) Uniform DoD Procedures.— 


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(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.