B-121557, NOV 5, 1954

B-121557: Nov 5, 1954

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HOUSING AND HOME FINANCE AGENCY: REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTER OF SEPTEMBER 22. WERE NOT APPLICABLE IN A CASE SIMILAR TO THAT NOW PRESENTED BY YOU. NOT ONLY AT THE TIME THE DECISION REFERRED TO ABOVE WAS RENDERED BUT ALSO IN A NUMBER OF SUBSEQUENT DECISIONS INVOLVING THE APPLICATION OF THAT ACT. WHEREIN THE ADMINISTRATOR OF VETERANS AFFAIRS WAS ADVISED THAT RELIEF COULD NOT BE GRANTED UNDER THE ACT TO AN ACCOUNTABLE OFFICER WHO HAD COVERED WITH PERSONAL FUNDS A DEFICIENCY IN HER ACCOUNT RESULTING FROM HER ACCEPTANCE OF A COUNTERFEIT $50 BILL. IT IS THE VIEW OF THIS OFFICE THAT THE ACT IS OPEN TO NO OTHER CONSTRUCTION AND THAT ANY INEQUITIES WHICH ARISE FROM SUCH CONSTRUCTION ARE FOR THE CONSIDERATION OF THE CONGRESS.

B-121557, NOV 5, 1954

PRECIS-UNAVAILABLE

HONORABLE ALBERT M. COLE, HOUSING AND HOME FINANCE AGENCY:

REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTER OF SEPTEMBER 22, 1954, REQUESTING TO BE ADVISED WHETHER THIS OFFICE WOULD CONSIDER GRANTING RELIEF UNDER THE ACT OF AUGUST 1, 1947, 67 STAT. 720, TO AN ACCOUNTABLE OFFICER IN YOUR AGENCY WHO COVERED WITH HIS PERSONAL FUNDS A DEFICIENCY IN HIS ACCOUNT RESULTING FROM HIS ACCEPTANCE OF A $10 COUNTERFEIT BILL.

YOUR LETTER RECOGNIZES THAT THIS OFFICE IN AN EARLIER DECISION, 27 COMP. GEN. 404, HELD THAT THE PROVISIONS OF THE ACT OF AUGUST 1, 1947, WERE NOT APPLICABLE IN A CASE SIMILAR TO THAT NOW PRESENTED BY YOU. HOWEVER, YOU SUGGEST THAT AN INTERPRETATION OF THE RELIEF STATUTE WHICH RENDERS IT INAPPLICABLE SOLELY BECAUSE THE ACCOUNTABLE OFFICER HAS MADE PAYMENT SEEMS TO DEFEAT THE PURPOSE OF THE ACT AND TENDS TO PENALIZE ACCOUNTABLE OFFICERS WHO MANIFEST GOOD FAITH BY PLACING THEIR ACCOUNTS IN BALANCE PENDING DETERMINATION OF THE QUESTION OF RELIEF.

THIS OFFICE HAS RECOGNIZED THAT INEQUITIES WOULD ARISE AS A RESULT OF SUCH INTERPRETATION OF THE RELIEF ACT INVOLVED AND THE MATTER HAS BEEN THOROUGHLY CONSIDERED, NOT ONLY AT THE TIME THE DECISION REFERRED TO ABOVE WAS RENDERED BUT ALSO IN A NUMBER OF SUBSEQUENT DECISIONS INVOLVING THE APPLICATION OF THAT ACT. SEE PARTICULARLY, B-101301, JULY 19, 1951 (COPY ENCLOSED), WHEREIN THE ADMINISTRATOR OF VETERANS AFFAIRS WAS ADVISED THAT RELIEF COULD NOT BE GRANTED UNDER THE ACT TO AN ACCOUNTABLE OFFICER WHO HAD COVERED WITH PERSONAL FUNDS A DEFICIENCY IN HER ACCOUNT RESULTING FROM HER ACCEPTANCE OF A COUNTERFEIT $50 BILL. FOR THE REASONS THEREIN STATED, IT IS THE VIEW OF THIS OFFICE THAT THE ACT IS OPEN TO NO OTHER CONSTRUCTION AND THAT ANY INEQUITIES WHICH ARISE FROM SUCH CONSTRUCTION ARE FOR THE CONSIDERATION OF THE CONGRESS. CONSEQUENTLY, THIS OFFICE HAS, IN PROPER CASES, FAVORABLY REPORTED ON SEVERAL PRIVATE RELIEF MEASURES AND THE ADMINISTRATOR OF VETERANS AFFAIRS WAS ADVISED THAT THIS OFFICE WOULD NOT OBJECT TO HIS SPONSORSHIP OF A RELIEF BILL ON BEHALF OF THE EMPLOYEES INVOLVED IN THAT DECISION AND ON BEHALF OF OTHER EMPLOYEES OF HIS ADMINISTRATION SIMILARLY SITUATED. APPARENTLY AS A RESULT THEREOF, BILLS PROVIDING FOR THE RELIEF OF SUCH EMPLOYEES WERE SUBMITTED TO THE CONGRESS. SEE H. R. 9638 AND S. 3645, 83D CONGRESS, 2D SESSION.

IN CITING THE DECISION 27 COMP. GEN. 404, YOUR LETTER STATES THAT "NO REFERENCE WAS MADE IN THIS DECISION TO THE LEGISLATIVE HISTORY OF THE STATUTE." HOWEVER, SUCH LEGISLATIVE HISTORY WAS EXAMINED AND FULLY CONSIDERED AT THE TIME THE MATTER WAS SUBMITTED HERE BY THE ADMINISTRATOR OF VETERANS AFFAIRS AND IT WAS CONCLUDED IN THE DECISION, B-101301:

"ACCORDINGLY, SINCE THE LEGISLATIVE HISTORY FAILS TO INDICATE THE CONGRESS INTENDED BY THE ACT OF AUGUST 1, 1947, TO AUTHORIZE REFUND OF AMOUNTS COLLECTED FROM EMPLOYEES IN RESTITUTION OF PHYSICAL LOSSES OF FUNDS IN THEIR CHARGE; SINCE THAT ACT CONTAINS NO SPECIFIC PROVISION AUTHORIZING SUCH REFUNDS TO BE MADE AND MAKES NO APPROPRIATION THEREFOR AND NO OTHER APPROPRIATION HAS BEEN FOUND AUTHORIZING SUCH REFUNDS, I AM CONSTRAINED TO THE VIEW THAT THERE IS NO AUTHORITY FOR GRANTING RELIEF UNDER THE ACT TO AN ACCOUNTABLE OFFICER WHERE SUCH OFFICER HAS MADE RESTITUTION THEREOF AND SUCH AMOUNT HAS BEEN DEPOSITED TO THE APPLICABLE ACCOUNT. ***"

I FIND NOTHING IN YOUR LETTER OF SEPTEMBER 22, 1954, WARRANTING A DIFFERENT CONCLUSION THAN THAT HEREINABOVE QUOTED.