A-19865, JANUARY 25, 1932, 11 COMP. GEN. 281

A-19865: Jan 25, 1932

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DISBURSING OFFICERS AND AGENTS - COLLECTIONS - ARMY ACCOUNT OF ADVANCES COLLECTIONS MADE BY DISBURSING OFFICERS AND AGENTS FOR THE USE OF THE UNITED STATES ARE REQUIRED BY SECTION 3617. THERE IS NO AUTHORITY FOR THE USE OF AN ACCOUNT SUCH AS THE ARMY ACCOUNT OF ADVANCES FOR THE CLEARING OF SUCH COLLECTIONS MADE BY DISBURSING OFFICERS OF THE ARMY. UNTIL THE COLLECTIONS HAVE BEEN CLEARED THROUGH THE TREASURY AND FUNDS REQUIRED FOR DISBURSEMENT PURPOSES REQUISITIONED AND OBTAINED IN THE USUAL MANNER ON ACCOUNTABLE WARRANTS. AS FOLLOWS: RECEIPT IS ACKNOWLEDGED OF YOUR LETTER OF JUNE 3. THESE PRACTICES ARE EPITOMIZED IN THE FIRST PART OF YOUR LETTER UNDER ACKNOWLEDGMENT. DID NOT SPECIFICALLY CALL FOR A RESPONSE AND BECAUSE THE VIEW IT TOOK OF THE PRACTICES IN QUESTION WAS DEEMED TO BE BUT A REITERATION OF THE POSITION TAKEN BY YOUR OFFICE IN PREVIOUS COMMUNICATIONS.

A-19865, JANUARY 25, 1932, 11 COMP. GEN. 281

DISBURSING OFFICERS AND AGENTS - COLLECTIONS - ARMY ACCOUNT OF ADVANCES COLLECTIONS MADE BY DISBURSING OFFICERS AND AGENTS FOR THE USE OF THE UNITED STATES ARE REQUIRED BY SECTION 3617, REVISED STATUTES, TO BE DEPOSITED AND COVERED INTO THE TREASURY OF THE UNITED STATES WITHIN THE TIME REQUIRED BY SECTION 3621, REVISED STATUES, AS AMENDED, EITHER AS MISCELLANEOUS RECEIPTS OR FOR THE CREDIT OF THE APPROPRIATION OR FUND ACCOUNTS IF THE COLLECTIONS REPRESENT REPAYMENTS THERETO, AND THERE IS NO AUTHORITY FOR THE USE OF AN ACCOUNT SUCH AS THE ARMY ACCOUNT OF ADVANCES FOR THE CLEARING OF SUCH COLLECTIONS MADE BY DISBURSING OFFICERS OF THE ARMY, OR FOR THE USE OF SUCH COLLECTIONS FOR EXPENDITURES, ADJUSTMENTS, OR OTHER PURPOSES, UNTIL THE COLLECTIONS HAVE BEEN CLEARED THROUGH THE TREASURY AND FUNDS REQUIRED FOR DISBURSEMENT PURPOSES REQUISITIONED AND OBTAINED IN THE USUAL MANNER ON ACCOUNTABLE WARRANTS.

COMPTROLLER GENERAL MCCARL TO THE SECRETARY OF WAR, JANUARY 25, 1932:

CONSIDERATION HAS BEEN GIVEN YOUR LETTER OF JULY 11, 1930, G-4/26639 1, AS FOLLOWS:

RECEIPT IS ACKNOWLEDGED OF YOUR LETTER OF JUNE 3, 1930, INVITING ATTENTION TO THE FACT THAT NO RESPONSE HAS BEEN RECEIVED TO YOUR LETTER OF NOVEMBER 30, 1929, RELATING TO CERTAIN ALLEGED ILLEGAL PRACTICES ON THE PART OF DISBURSING OFFICERS OF THE ARMY. THESE PRACTICES ARE EPITOMIZED IN THE FIRST PART OF YOUR LETTER UNDER ACKNOWLEDGMENT, AS FOLLOWS:

1. CARRYING CASH BALANCES WITHOUT SPECIFIC AUTHORITY FROM THE SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY CASH REQUIRED BY SECTION 3620, REVISED STATUTES.

2. ADVANCING FUNDS FROM DISBURSING ACCOUNTS FOR USE IN MAKING CHANGE AT POST COMMISSARIES.

3. UTILIZING COLLECTIONS DERIVED FROM SALES OF COMMISSARIES AND OTHER SOURCES FOR DISBURSING PURPOSES.

INASMUCH AS YOUR LETTER OF NOVEMBER 30, 1929, DID NOT SPECIFICALLY CALL FOR A RESPONSE AND BECAUSE THE VIEW IT TOOK OF THE PRACTICES IN QUESTION WAS DEEMED TO BE BUT A REITERATION OF THE POSITION TAKEN BY YOUR OFFICE IN PREVIOUS COMMUNICATIONS, INCLUDED IN AN EXCHANGE OF CORRESPONDENCE OF THIS SUBJECT, IT WAS BELIEVED THAT NO ANSWER TO SUCH COMMUNICATION WAS REQUIRED.

THE VIEWS TAKEN BY YOUR OFFICE OF THE PRACTICES UNDER DISCUSSION FIRST BROUGHT TO THE ATTENTION OF THE WAR DEPARTMENT BY YOUR LETTER OF JULY 29, 1929, WERE FULLY ANSWERED IN DEPARTMENTAL LETTER OF SEPTEMBER 25, 1929, AT WHICH TIME THE VIEWS OF THE DEPARTMENT RELATIVE TO THE FORCE AND EFFECT OF THE APPLICABLE STATUES VIEWED IN THE LIGHT OF THE PRACTICAL NECESSITIES OF THE SITUATION WERE POINTED OUT. IT IS APPARENT, HOWEVER, THAT AN HONEST DIFFERENCE OF OPINION STILL EXISTS AS TO THE PROPER INTERPRETATION TO BE GIVEN THESE STATUTES. UPON THE RECEIPT OF YOUR COMMUNICATION OF JUNE 3, 1930, A CAREFUL RESTUDY WAS MADE OF THIS SITUATION, AND IT IS BELIEVED THAT UNDER A REASONABLE INTERPRETATION OF THESE LAWS THE PRACTICES REFERRED TO IN YOUR LETTERS OF JULY 29, 1929, AND NOVEMBER 30, 1929, RESPECTIVELY, ARE NOT IN CONTRAVENTION OF LAW.

FOR THE REASONS HERETOFORE ASSIGNED AND HAVING REGARD FOR THE NECESSITY OF EXPEDITIOUSLY AND EFFICIENTLY TRANSACTING THE PUBLIC BUSINESS OF THIS DEPARTMENT, IT IS NOT CONSIDERED NECESSARY TO ISSUE INSTRUCTIONS DISCONTINUING THE PRESENT MODE OF PROCEDURE IN THE PARTICULARS UNDER DISCUSSION, UNLESS MORE SPECIFIC PROVISIONS OF LAW REQUIRING ACCEPTANCE OF THE VIEWS OF YOUR OFFICE ARE FURNISHED.

THE MATTERS STATED IN 1 AND 2, SUPRA, HAVE BEEN CONSIDERED IN OFFICE LETTERS OF APRIL 2, 1931, WITH RESPECT TO THE ACCOUNTS OF MAJ. ROLIN W. SHAW, UNITED STATES PROPERTY AND DISBURSING OFFICER, PHOENIX, ARIZ., AND OF AUGUST 19, 1931, IN REPLY TO YOUR LETTER OF NOVEMBER 18, 1930, G- 4/26639-2.

YOUR WILL DOUBTLESS AGREE THAT COLLECTIONS TO BE CREDITED TO THE GENERAL FUND AS MISCELLANEOUS RECEIPTS OR REPAID TO APPROPRIATION ACCOUNTS ARE NOT AVAILABLE FOR DISBURSEMENT EXCEPT IN CONSEQUENCE OF AN APPROPRIATION MADE BY LAW AND/OR ADVANCED ON AN ACCOUNTABLE WARRANT, AND THE RETENTION OF SAME FOR DISBURSEMENT IS NOT AUTHORIZED. SEE ARTICLE 1, SECTION 9, PARAGRAPH 7 OF THE CONSTITUTION; SECTION 11 OF THE ACT OF JULY 31, 1894, 28 STAT. 309, AND SECTIONS 3617 AND 3621, REVISED STATUTES.

THE ACT OF JUNE 5, 1920, 41 STAT. 975, PROVIDES:

THAT THE SECRETARY OF WAR BE, AND HE HEREBY IS, AUTHORIZED TO ISSUE HIS REQUISITIONS FOR ADVANCES TO DISBURSING OFFICERS AND AGENTS OF THE ARMY, UNDER AN "ARMY ACCOUNT OF ADVANCES," NOT TO EXCEED THE TOTAL APPROPRIATION FOR THE ARMY, THE AMOUNT SO ADVANCED TO BE EXCLUSIVELY USED TO PAY, UPON PROPER VOUCHERS, OBLIGATIONS LAWFULLY PAYABLE UNDER THE RESPECTIVE APPROPRIATIONS.

IN OFFICE DECISION OF FEBRUARY 21, 1931, 10 COMP. GEN. 382, IT WAS HELD (QUOTING THE SYLLABUS)

COLLECTIONS MADE BY DISBURSING OFFICERS AND AGENTS FOR THE USE OF THE UNITED STATES ARE REQUIRED BY SECTION 3617. REVISED STATUTES, TO BE DEPOSITED AND COVERED INTO THE TREASURY OF THE UNITED STATES WITHIN THE TIME REQUIRED BY SECTION 3621, REVISED STATUTES, AS AMENDED, EITHER AS MISCELLANEOUS RECEIPTS OR FOR THE CREDIT OF THE APPROPRIATION OR FUND ACCOUNTS IF THE COLLECTIONS REPRESENT REPAYMENTS THERETO, AND THERE IS NO AUTHORITY FOR THE USE OF AN ACCOUNT SUCH AS THE GENERAL ACCOUNT OF ADVANCES FOR THE CLEARING OF SUCH COLLECTIONS MADE BY DISBURSING OFFICERS OF THE NAVY, OR FOR THE USE OF SUCH COLLECTIONS FOR EXPENDITURES ADJUSTMENTS, OR OTHER PURPOSES, UNTIL THE COLLECTIONS HAVE BEEN CLEARED THROUGH THE TREASURY AND FUNDS REQUIRED FOR DISBURSEMENT PURPOSES REQUISITIONED AND OBTAINED IN THE USUAL MANNER ON ACCOUNTABLE WARRANTS.

THE ACT OF JUNE 5, 1920, SUPRA, AUTHORIZES ADVANCES OF PUBLIC MONEYS TO DISBURSING OFFICERS AND AGENTS OF THE ARMY FOR THE PAYMENT OF PUBLIC CREDITORS. SECTIONS 3617 AND 3618, REVISED STATUTES, SPECIFICALLY PROVIDE THAT ALL MONEYS OF THE UNITED STATES, WITH CERTAIN EXCEPTIONS NOT APPLICABLE HERE, SHALL BE PAID BY THE OFFICER OR AGENT RECEIVING SAME INTO THE TREASURY, AT AS EARLY A DAY AS PRACTICABLE, WITHOUT ANY ABATEMENT OR DEDUCTION ON ACCOUNT OF SALARY, FEES, COSTS, CHARGES, EXPENSES, OR CLAIMS OF ANY DESCRIPTION WHATEVER. AFTER MONEYS ADVANCED TO A DISBURSING OFFICER ON PROPERLY APPROVED REQUISITIONS ARE DISBURSED, RECOVERIES OR COLLECTIONS MADE ON ACCOUNT OF THE PAYMENTS ARE NOT AVAILABLE FOR DISBURSEMENT AND SHOULD BE DEPOSITED OR COVERED INTO THE TREASURY TO THE CREDIT OF THE PROPER ACCOUNT. COLLECTIONS CREDITABLE TO THE GENERAL FUND SHOULD BE DEPOSITED INTO THE TREASURY OF THE UNITED STATES AS MISCELLANEOUS RECEIPTS WITH PERSONAL CREDIT TO THE DISBURSING OFFICER AND BE TAKEN UP UNDER A SEPARATE HEADING IN THE OFFICER'S ACCOUNT CURRENT.

THE PROCEDURE HEREIN OUTLINED FOLLOWS THE INTENT OF SECTIONS 3617 AND 3618, REVISED STATUTES, AND THE ACT OF JUNE 5, 1920, SUPRA, WHICH, A CAREFUL STUDY WILL SHOW, ESTABLISHES A LOGICAL AND SOUND ACCOUNTING PROCEDURE FOR THE HANDLING OF PUBLIC MONEYS BY DISBURSING OFFICERS AND AGENTS.

THE CONGRESS IN THE ENACTMENT OF THESE AND OTHER LAWS APPLICABLE TO THE RECEIPT AND DISPOSITION OF PUBLIC MONEYS CLEARLY INDICATES AN INTENTION, AS A GENERAL PROPOSITION, TO CONFINE THE USE OF FUNDS BY OFFICERS OR AGENTS OF THE UNITED STATES FOR DISBURSING PURPOSES TO THOSE ADVANCED ON ACCOUNTABLE WARRANT PURSUANT TO THE VARIOUS APPROPRIATION ACTS. THE REQUIREMENT OF THE STATUTES IS NOTHING MORE THAN A FURTHERANCE OF THE PROVISION OF THE CONSTITUTION, ARTICLE I, SECTION 9, PARAGRAPH 7, THAT "NO MONEY SHALL BE DRAWN FROM THE TREASURY BUT IN CONSEQUENCE OF APPROPRIATIONS MADE BY LAW.' THUS THESE LAWS MEAN NOTHING LESS THAN THAT ALL PUBLIC MONEYS, EXCEPT AS OTHERWISE SPECIFICALLY AUTHORIZED BY LAW, SHALL GO INTO THE TREASURY; APPROPRIATIONS THEN FOLLOW.

THE METHOD PRESCRIBED BY LAW SEEMS BOTH PRACTICAL AND SAFE IN THAT ALL RECEIPTS AND COLLECTIONS ARE REQUIRED TO FLOW INTO THE CENTRAL DEPOSITARY AND THOSE FOR WARRANT ACCOUNTS BE THERE CLASSIFIED AND REPAID OR COVERED INTO THE PROPER ACCOUNT AVAILABLE FOR EXISTING OR NEW APPROPRIATIONS, BY VIRTUE OF WHICH THE MONEYS MAY FLOW OUT TO AGENTS ON WHOSE ACCOUNTS LAWFUL REQUISITIONS AND ACCOUNTABLE WARRANTS MAY ISSUE.

IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING THE MEANING OF THE STATEMENT MADE IN THE LAST PARAGRAPH OF YOUR LETTER THAT IT IS NOT CONSIDERED NECESSARY TO ISSUE INSTRUCTIONS DISCONTINUING THE PRESENT PROCEDURE UNLESS MORE SPECIFIC PROVISIONS OF LAW REQUIRING ACCEPTANCE OF THE VIEWS OF THIS OFFICE ARE FURNISHED IS NOT READILY APPARENT. YOU REFER TO NO AUTHORITY OF LAW PERMITTING DISBURSING OFFICERS UNDER THE JURISDICTION OF THE WAR DEPARTMENT TO DISREGARD THE PROVISIONS OF SECTIONS 3617 AND 3621, REVISED STATUTES, REQUIRING THE DEPOSIT AND COVERING INTO THE TREASURY OF ALL FUNDS RECEIVED FOR THE USE OF THE UNITED STATES WITHIN A CERTAIN TIME, AND THERE IS NO AUTHORITY FOR THE PRESENT PROCEDURE IN THE ACT OF JUNE 5, 1920, 41 STAT. 975, AUTHORIZING THE USE OF "ARMY ACCOUNT OF ADVANCES" FOR DISBURSING PURPOSES. WITH RESPECT TO THE CONSTRUCTION AND APPLICATION OF LAWS RELATING TO THE ACCOUNTABILITY FOR PUBLIC FUNDS OF THE UNITED STATES, YOUR ATTENTION IS INVITED TO PROVISIONS OF THE BUDGET AND ACCOUNTING ACT OF JUNE 10, 1921, 42 STAT. 23, 25, PARTICULARLY SECTION 309 AUTHORIZING THIS OFFICE TO PRESCRIBE THE PROCEDURE FOR ADMINISTRATIVE APPROPRIATION AND FUND ACCOUNTING, AND SECTION 304 PROVIDING THAT BALANCES CERTIFIED BY THIS OFFICE SHALL BE FINAL AND CONCLUSIVE ON THE EXECUTIVE BRANCH OF THE GOVERNMENT.

I HAVE, THEREFORE, TO REQUEST YOUR FURTHER CONSIDERATION OF THE MATTERS WITH A VIEW TO INAUGURATION OF THE PROCEDURE OUTLINED BEGINNING WITH THE ACCOUNTS FOR THE ENSUING QUARTER.