A-5282, OCTOBER 22, 1924, 4 COMP. GEN. 394

A-5282: Oct 22, 1924

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ARE NOT CHARGEABLE TO THE VETERANS' BUREAU APPROPRIATIONS. THE INTERESTS OF THE UNITED STATES ARE SUCH AS NOT TO WARRANT THE INDISCRIMINATE ISSUANCE OF PHOTOSTAT COPIES OF CANCELED CHECKS. 1924: I HAVE YOUR LETTER OF SEPTEMBER 18. READING: THERE ARE TRANSMITTED HEREWITH FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION. THE VOUCHERS HAVE NOT BEEN CERTIFIED IN THE VETERANS' BUREAU FOR THE REASON THAT THIS BUREAU HAS NO KNOWLEDGE OF THE ACTUAL SERVICES RENDERED BY THE TREASURY DEPARTMENT. NO OBJECTION WILL BE INTERPOSED TO YOUR UTILIZING AN APPROPRIATION UNDER MY ADMINISTRATIVE CONTROL FOR THE SETTLEMENT OF THESE ACCOUNTS. THE DISABLED EX-SERVICE MEN HAVE REPEATEDLY EXPRESSED THE OPINION THAT THE ACTION OF THE BUREAU WAS MERELY AN ATTEMPT TO EVADE RESPONSIBILITY.

A-5282, OCTOBER 22, 1924, 4 COMP. GEN. 394

DEPARTMENTS, EXECUTIVE, SERVICES BETWEEN--- PHOTOSTAT COPIES OF RECORDS EXPENSES INCURRED BY THE TREASURY DEPARTMENT IN MAKING PHOTOSTAT COPIES OF CERTAIN RECORDS OF THE VETERANS' BUREAU, MADE NECESSARY IN CONNECTION WITH THE INVESTIGATION BY THE SECRET SERVICE DIVISION OF ALLEGED FORGED INDORSEMENTS ON CHECKS ISSUED BY THE VETERANS' BUREAU, ARE NOT CHARGEABLE TO THE VETERANS' BUREAU APPROPRIATIONS. THE INTERESTS OF THE UNITED STATES ARE SUCH AS NOT TO WARRANT THE INDISCRIMINATE ISSUANCE OF PHOTOSTAT COPIES OF CANCELED CHECKS, AND SUCH COPIES MAY BE FURNISHED ONLY ON A SATISFACTORY SHOWING OF THE PURPOSE AND NECESSITY THEREOF.

COMPTROLLER GENERAL MCCARL TO THE DIRECTOR UNITED STATES VETERANS' BUREAU, OCTOBER 22, 1924:

I HAVE YOUR LETTER OF SEPTEMBER 18, 1924, READING:

THERE ARE TRANSMITTED HEREWITH FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION, IN CONNECTION WITH MAKING DIRECT SETTLEMENT THROUGH THE GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE, FIVE VOUCHERS ($4.74, $3.46, $3.24, $11.99, AND $42.89) PRESENTED TO THIS BUREAU BY THE CHIEF CLERK OF THE TREASURY DEPARTMENT. CORRESPONDENCE, ATTACHED, HAD WITH THE CHIEF CLERK OF THE TREASURY DEPARTMENT DEVELOPED THE FACT THAT THE VOUCHERS COVER SUPPLIES USED FOR MAKING PHOTOSTATIC COPIES, UNDER ORDERS FROM YOUR OFFICE, OF CHECKS ISSUED BY THIS BUREAU.

THE VOUCHERS HAVE NOT BEEN CERTIFIED IN THE VETERANS' BUREAU FOR THE REASON THAT THIS BUREAU HAS NO KNOWLEDGE OF THE ACTUAL SERVICES RENDERED BY THE TREASURY DEPARTMENT. HOWEVER, NO OBJECTION WILL BE INTERPOSED TO YOUR UTILIZING AN APPROPRIATION UNDER MY ADMINISTRATIVE CONTROL FOR THE SETTLEMENT OF THESE ACCOUNTS.

I WOULD APPRECIATE YOUR GIVING CONSIDERATION AT THIS TIME TO THIS WHOLE QUESTION OF PHOTOSTATIC COPIES OF CANCELLED CHECKS TO THE END THAT COPIES OF CHECKS ISSUED BY DISBURSING AGENTS OF THE VETERANS' BUREAU MAY BE FURNISHED IN THE REGULAR COURSE OF BUSINESS UPON REQUISITIONS PLACED BY OFFICIALS OF THIS BUREAU. UNDER THE PRESENT ARRANGEMENT BUREAU BENEFICIARIES MUST BE REFERRED TO YOUR OFFICE FOR INFORMATION AS TO ENDORSEMENTS APPEARING ON CHECKS ISSUED IN THEIR FAVOR. WHEN THE BUREAU HAS ATTEMPTED TO REFER SUCH INQUIRIES TO YOU, THE DISABLED EX-SERVICE MEN HAVE REPEATEDLY EXPRESSED THE OPINION THAT THE ACTION OF THE BUREAU WAS MERELY AN ATTEMPT TO EVADE RESPONSIBILITY. THIS HAS PLACED THE BUREAU IN RATHER AN EMBARRASSING POSITION, BESIDES FURNISHING A CAUSE FOR RESENTMENT AND IRRITATION ON THE PART OF THE SICK AND DISABLED WITH WHOM THE BUREAU IS CONSTANTLY DEALING.

THE VOUCHERS SUBMITTED FOR DIRECT SETTLEMENT ARE STATED AS FOR "SENSITIZED PAPER USED IN MAKING PHOTOSTATIC COPIES DURING THE MONTH OF" FEBRUARY AND JANUARY, 1924; DECEMBER, NOVEMBER AND OCTOBER, 1923. IT IS NOT SHOWN WHAT PAPERS OR DOCUMENTS WERE PHOTOSTATED NOR FOR WHAT PURPOSE NOR AT WHOSE REQUEST; BUT IT MIGHT BE INFERRED FROM CORRESPONDENCE ACCOMPANYING YOUR SUBMISSION THAT THE PAPERS PHOTOSTATED WERE CHECKS, AFFIDAVITS, ETC., IN THE POSSESSION OF THE TREASURY DEPARTMENT, AND THAT THE COPIES WERE CONSIDERED NECESSARY IN CONNECTION WITH INVESTIGATIONS BY THE SECRET SERVICE DIVISION OF THE TREASURY OF ALLEGED FORGED INDORSEMENTS AND IN MAKING RECLAMATIONS FROM BANKS PAYING AND COLLECTING ON IMPROPER INDORSEMENTS. THE STATEMENT IN THE SUBMISSION THAT THE COPIES WERE MADE UNDER ORDERS FROM THIS OFFICE DOES NOT APPEAR TO BE CORRECT.

THE BILLS FOR THE PAPER USED IN MAKING THE COPIES ARE UNDERSTOOD TO HAVE BEEN RENDERED AGAINST THE VETERANS' BUREAU MERELY BECAUSE THE CHECKS NECESSITATING THE INVESTIGATIONS AND RECLAMATIONS WERE ISSUED BY THAT BUREAU. AS THE NEED FOR THE COPIES APPEARS TO HAVE ARISEN IN CONNECTION WITH THE REGULAR ACTIVITIES OF THE SECRET SERVICE DIVISION AND THE TREASURER'S OFFICE, IT WOULD APPEAR THAT THE EXPENSE OF MAKING THE COPIES IS AN EXPENSE OF THE TREASURY DEPARTMENT AND NOT OF THE VETERANS' BUREAU. THE FACT THAT THE COPYING MAY HAVE BEEN NECESSITATED BY THE IMPROPER ISSUING AND ADDRESSING OF CHECKS BY THE VETERANS' BUREAU DOES NOT WARRANT THE CHARGING OF VETERANS' BUREAU APPROPRIATIONS WITH THE EXPENSE THEREOF.

ON THE FACTS SUBMITTED, THE REQUEST FOR A TRANSFER SETTLEMENT CREDITING THE APPROPRIATION INDICATED BY THE CHIEF CLERK OF THE TREASURY DEPARTMENT AND CHARGING AN APPROPRIATION OF THE VETERANS' BUREAU MUST BE AND IS DENIED.

WITH REFERENCE TO THE THIRD PARAGRAPH OF YOUR LETTER, SUPRA, PARAGRAPH 3 OF "GENERAL REGULATIONS NO. 24, 1923," ISSUED BY THIS OFFICE UNDER DATE OF APRIL 11, 1923, PROVIDES:

COPIES OF RECORDS, ACCOUNTS, VOUCHERS, DOCUMENTS, OR OTHER PAPERS ON FILE IN THE GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE WILL BE FURNISHED ONLY UPON THE SUBMISSION OF A WRITTEN STATEMENT, ADDRESSED TO THE COMPTROLLER GENERAL, SATISFACTORILY SHOWING THE PURPOSE AND NECESSITY THEREOF; AND WHERE SUCH COPIES ARE DESIRED BY OR ON BEHALF OF PARTIES TO A SUIT, WHETHER IN A COURT OF THE UNITED STATES OR ANY OTHER COURT, SUCH COPIES SHALL BE FURNISHED TO THE COURT ONLY UPON A RULE ON THE COMPTROLLER GENERAL REQUESTING SUCH COPIES. EXCEPTIONS HERETO MAY BE MADE ONLY ON THE WRITTEN ORDER OF THE COMPTROLLER GENERAL.

YOUR DIFFICULTIES ARE APPRECIATED BUT EXPERIENCE HAS DEMONSTRATED THAT THE PUBLIC INTEREST REQUIRES UNUSUAL CARE IN THE MATTER OF FURNISHING COPIES OF PAID CHECKS, AND IN ORDER TO MINIMIZE THE IMPROPER OR UNNECESSARY ISSUANCE OF SUCH COPIES I FEEL I MUST ADHERE TO THE REQUIREMENTS OF GENERAL REGULATIONS NO. 24, 1923, ISSUED BY THIS OFFICE APRIL 11, 1923.