Auditing and Financial Management:
Request for Relief
B-194287, Feb 26, 1980
A Treasury Department official requested that relief be granted to a Commissioner and accountable officer of the Bureau of Government Financial Operations (BGFO) for a deficiency involving Government funds. The Bureau felt that the negative balance deficiency was the result of two or more data processing errors occurring over a period of several years. Under legislative provisions, the Treasurer of the United States became the special agent for the payment of interest and redemption of principal on securities issued by Farm Credit Administration (FCA) institutions. When FCA accounts were discontinued, BGFO was directed to transfer the cash balances maintained for the Farm Credit Banks to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York (FRBNY) in payment of the obligations of the FCA. The amount transferred to FRBNY was determined by means of an analysis of obligation and cash balances. Subsequent to the final transfer, it was discovered that the amount being transferred to the FRBNY for the Federal Land Banks exceeded the pretransfer balance. Although the Government-wide General Ledger balance was reduced to zero, the deficiency remained in the undisbursed appropriation trial balance as a negative undisbursed balance for the fund symbol of the Federal Land Banks Fund, and the account of the accountable officer was therefore deficient. Attempts to reconcile the ledgers and the undisbursed appropriation account trial balance to determine the cause of the deficiency indicated that discrepancies of varying amounts had existed between the two records since July 1973. It was also determined that regulatory requirements were not followed in the analyses prior to the transfer. GAO has held that in order to deny relief to an accountable officer, negligence on the part of the officer must be the proximate cause of the loss. Nothing in the record indicated that the deficiency was caused by the accountable officer's failure to employ the required reconcilliation procedures, or that he was directly responsible for superintending such procedures. GAO concurred with the Treasury determination that the deficiency occurred without fault or negligence on the accountable officer's part, and that relief should be granted.