A-21072, MAY 23, 1928, 7 COMP. GEN. 751

A-21072: May 23, 1928

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EXCEPT WHERE THE DISBURSING OF FUNDS AND ACCOUNTING THEREFOR HAVE BEEN OTHERWISE SPECIFICALLY PROVIDED BY LAW OR WHERE IN EXCEPTIONAL CASES THE REQUIREMENTS OF THE TREASURY DEPARTMENT CIRCULAR NO. 133 OF DECEMBER 15. HAVE BEEN HELD NOT APPLICABLE TO SOME PARTICULAR DISBURSING OFFICER. CLAIMS WHICH ARE SUBMITTED TO DISBURSING OFFICERS FOR PAYMENT UNDER PRIOR FISCAL-YEAR APPROPRIATIONS AFTER THE FUNDS UNDER SUCH APPROPRIATIONS HAVE BEEN DEPOSITED INTO THE TREASURY AND THE PAYMENT OF WHICH IS PROPER IN ALL RESPECTS MAY BE PAID BY THEM AFTER FUNDS FOR THE PURPOSE UNDER THE APPROPRIATION APPLICABLE HAVE BEEN REQUISITIONED IN THE USUAL MANNER. 1928: I HAVE YOUR LETTER OF APRIL 26. A LARGE PART OF THE FIELD EXPENDITURES ARE MADE PURSUANT TO AUTHORIZATIONS FROM CENTRAL OFFICE.

A-21072, MAY 23, 1928, 7 COMP. GEN. 751

DISBURSING OFFICERS - APPROPRIATION BALANCES - PAYMENT OF CLAIMS BALANCES IN ANNUAL APPROPRIATIONS IN THE HANDS OF DISBURSING OFFICERS AT THE END OF EACH FISCAL YEAR SHOULD BE DEPOSITED IN THE TREASURY TO THE CREDIT OF THE TREASURER OF THE UNITED STATES NOT LATER THAN SEPTEMBER 30, EXCEPT WHERE THE DISBURSING OF FUNDS AND ACCOUNTING THEREFOR HAVE BEEN OTHERWISE SPECIFICALLY PROVIDED BY LAW OR WHERE IN EXCEPTIONAL CASES THE REQUIREMENTS OF THE TREASURY DEPARTMENT CIRCULAR NO. 133 OF DECEMBER 15, 1903, HAVE BEEN HELD NOT APPLICABLE TO SOME PARTICULAR DISBURSING OFFICER. CLAIMS WHICH ARE SUBMITTED TO DISBURSING OFFICERS FOR PAYMENT UNDER PRIOR FISCAL-YEAR APPROPRIATIONS AFTER THE FUNDS UNDER SUCH APPROPRIATIONS HAVE BEEN DEPOSITED INTO THE TREASURY AND THE PAYMENT OF WHICH IS PROPER IN ALL RESPECTS MAY BE PAID BY THEM AFTER FUNDS FOR THE PURPOSE UNDER THE APPROPRIATION APPLICABLE HAVE BEEN REQUISITIONED IN THE USUAL MANNER.

COMPTROLLER GENERAL MCCARL TO THE DIRECTOR UNITED STATES VETERANS' BUREAU, MAY 23, 1928:

I HAVE YOUR LETTER OF APRIL 26, 1928, AS FOLLOWS:

CAREFUL CONSIDERATION HAS BEEN GIVEN TO YOUR LETTER OF APRIL 10, 1928, REQUESTING THAT SPECIAL DISBURSING AGENTS OF THIS BUREAU BE DIRECTED TO DEPOSIT TO THE CREDIT OF THE TREASURER OF THE UNITED STATES, NOT LATER THAN SEPTEMBER 30 OF EACH YEAR, ALL UNEXPENDED BALANCES OF ANNUAL APPROPRIATIONS OF PRIOR FISCAL YEARS.

THIS PROCEDURE WOULD ALLOW A PERIOD OF TIME INSUFFICIENT, IN MANY CASES, FOR THE FIELD OFFICES OF THIS BUREAU TO COMPLETE THE LIQUIDATION OF ACCOUNTS. SUCH DELAYS MAY BE ATTRIBUTED TO ERRORS ON THE PART OF BUREAU CREDITORS, LACK OF FAMILIARITY WITH GOVERNMENT REQUIREMENTS, AND DISAGREEMENTS BETWEEN THE ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICERS OF THE BUREAU AND THE CREDITORS AS TO THE CORRECTNESS OF THE ACCOUNTS, ETC.

A LARGE PART OF THE FIELD EXPENDITURES ARE MADE PURSUANT TO AUTHORIZATIONS FROM CENTRAL OFFICE, UNDER A BUDGET SYSTEM, AND IT IS NECESSARY FOR THE FIELD ACCOUNTING OFFICERS TO MAINTAIN COMPLETE BUDGET RECORDS REGARDLESS OF THE METHOD OF PAYMENT. TO FOLLOW THE PROCEDURE REQUESTED IN YOUR LETTER WOULD RESULT IN THE REFERENCE OF MANY CASES TO CENTRAL OFFICE FOR HANDLING, WHICH WOULD BE A PARTIAL DUPLICATION OF THE WORK OF THE FIELD OFFICES. IN SUCH CASES IT WOULD BE NECESSARY FOR CENTRAL OFFICE TO NOTIFY FIELD OFFICES WHEN PAYMENT WAS EFFECTED IN ORDER THAT THEIR RECORDS MIGHT BE COMPLETE, RESULTING IN AN INCREASE, TO A CONSIDERABLE EXTENT, OF THE CORRESPONDENCE OF THE BUREAU. FURTHERMORE, THE TIME CONSUMED IN THE TRANSMISSION OF ACCOUNTS TO CENTRAL OFFICE, HANDLING BY CENTRAL OFFICE, AND ACTION BY THE GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE WOULD CONSIDERABLY DELAY PAYMENT TO PUBLIC CREDITORS, AND WOULD MAKE IT NECESSARY FOR THE FIELD OFFICES TO DEFER THE CLOSING OF ACCOUNTS FOR LONGER PERIODS THAN ARE NOW REQUIRED.

IT IS THE PURPOSE OF THIS BUREAU TO KEEP IN CLOSE TOUCH WITH THE ACTUAL NEEDS OF THE FIELD OFFICES AND TO SEE THAT NO UNUSUALLY LARGE BALANCES OF INACTIVE APPROPRIATIONS ARE MAINTAINED.

IN VIEW OF THE FACTS HERETOFORE SET FORTH, IT IS REQUESTED THAT YOUR LETTER ABOVE MENTIONED BE RECONSIDERED AND THE MATTER OF AUTHORIZING DISBURSEMENTS FROM PREVIOUS FISCAL YEAR APPROPRIATIONS BE CONSIDERED AS A MATTER WITHIN THE DISCRETION OF ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICERS OF THIS BUREAU.

THE REQUIREMENT OF TREASURY DEPARTMENT CIRCULAR NO. 133 OF DECEMBER 15, 1903, THAT UNEXPENDED BALANCES IN ANNUAL APPROPRIATIONS TO THE CREDIT OF GOVERNMENT DISBURSING OFFICERS BE DEPOSITED TO THE CREDIT OF THE TREASURER OF THE UNITED STATES NOT LATER THAN SEPTEMBER 30 OF EACH YEAR DOES NOT AFFECT THE DISBURSING OF FUNDS FROM PREVIOUS FISCAL YEAR APPROPRIATIONS. THE PURPOSE OF THE REQUIREMENT IS TO RELIEVE DISBURSING OFFICERS FROM CARRYING IN THEIR ACCOUNTS MONEYS WHICH ARE NO LONGER AVAILABLE FOR THE INCURRING OF OBLIGATIONS. AS SUCH, THE REQUIREMENT IS PROPER AND SHOULD BE COMPLIED WITH. IF AFTER SUCH FUNDS HAVE BEEN TURNED INTO THE TREASURY AS REQUIRED BY THE REGULATIONS, THE DISBURSING OFFICER IS CALLED UPON TO MAKE A PAYMENT FROM A PRIOR YEAR APPROPRIATION, AND PAYMENT OF THE CLAIM IS PROPER IN ALL RESPECTS, THERE IS NO OBJECTION TO HIS REQUISITIONING FUNDS FROM THE PRIOR YEAR APPROPRIATION FOR THE PURPOSE. IN SUCH CASES THERE SHOULD BE CONSIDERED THE QUESTION AS TO WHETHER THE CLAIM IS ONE INVOLVING THE PAYMENT OF A CURRENT ACCOUNT UNDER GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE GENERAL REGULATION NO. 50, 5 COMP. GEN. 1058, PROPERLY PAYABLE BY THE DISBURSING OFFICER OR WHETHER IT IS A STALE CLAIM UNDER DECISION OF THIS OFFICE, 4 COMP. GEN. 56, IN WHICH CASE THE MATTER PROPERLY IS FOR CONSIDERATION BY THIS OFFICE BEFORE PAYMENT IS MADE.

UNDER THE NEW PROCEDURE WHICH HAS RECENTLY BEEN ESTABLISHED IN CONNECTION WITH THE PAYING OF ALL CLAIMS AGAINST THE UNITED STATES INCURRED BY THE VETERANS' BUREAU UPON CERTIFICATES OF THIS OFFICE BY DISBURSING OFFICERS' CHECKS RATHER THAN BY CHECKS OF THE TREASURER OF THE UNITED STATES, WITH THE EXCEPTION OF CLAIMS PAYABLE FROM LAPSED APPROPRIATIONS WHICH ARE FOR CERTIFICATION TO THE CONGRESS, IT IS REASONABLE TO SUPPOSE THAT THE DISBURSING OFFICER OF YOUR BUREAU IN WASHINGTON FREQUENTLY WILL BE CALLED UPON TO MAKE PAYMENTS INVOLVING PRIOR FISCAL YEAR APPROPRIATIONS. THAT, HOWEVER, SHOULD NOT BE TAKEN AS AUTHORITY FOR HIM TO CARRY UNEXPENDED BALANCES OF PRIOR FISCAL YEAR APPROPRIATIONS IN HIS ACCOUNT. THE PROCEDURE SHOULD BE AS HEREINBEFORE MENTIONED, TO DEPOSIT UNEXPENDED BALANCES IN PRIOR YEAR APPROPRIATIONS IN HIS ACCOUNT TO THE CREDIT OF THE TREASURER OF THE UNITED STATES WITHIN THE TIME REQUIRED BY THE REGULATIONS, SUCH FUNDS TO BE REQUISITIONED THEREAFTER IN THE USUAL MANNER UNDER SUCH APPROPRIATIONS AS THEY MAY BE NEEDED FOR THE PAYMENT OF PROPER OBLIGATIONS.

IT MAY BE STATED THE PROCEDURE AS HEREIN OUTLINED IS THAT WHICH GENERALLY SHOULD BE FOLLOWED BY ALL DISBURSING OFFICERS OF THE GOVERNMENT AND THE REQUIREMENT OF THE PRESENT REGULATIONS SHOULD BE COMPLIED WITH IN ALL CASES EXCEPT WHERE THE DISBURSING OF FUNDS AND ACCOUNTING THEREFOR HAVE BEEN OTHERWISE SPECIFICALLY PROVIDED BY LAW OR WHERE IN EXCEPTIONAL CASES THE REQUIREMENTS OF SUCH REGULATIONS HAVE BEEN HELD NOT APPLICABLE TO SOME PARTICULAR DISBURSING OFFICER.

ACCORDINGLY, I HAVE TO ADVISE THAT UPON RECONSIDERATION OF THE MATTER I AM UNABLE TO ACCEDE TO YOUR REQUEST THAT THE DISPOSITION OF BALANCES OF PRIOR FISCAL YEAR APPROPRIATIONS IN THE ACCOUNTS OF DISBURSING OFFICERS OF YOUR BUREAU BE LEFT TO THE DISCRETION OF THE ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICERS OF YOUR BUREAU, AND IT IS AGAIN REQUESTED THAT PROPER ADMINISTRATIVE ACTION BE TAKEN TO ACQUAINT THE DISBURSING AGENTS OF YOUR BUREAU WITH THE REQUIREMENTS OF EXISTING REGULATIONS AS TO THE DISPOSITION OF FUNDS IN THEIR ACCOUNTS AT THE CLOSE OF THE FISCAL YEAR FOR WHICH THE APPROPRIATION WAS MADE.