B-122550, JUL. 7, 1955

B-122550: Jul 7, 1955

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THE POSTMASTER GENERAL: REFERENCE IS MADE TO THE LETTER DATED APRIL 19. IT IS STATED THAT AN EXCESSIVE AMOUNT OF TIME IS SPENT IN PROCESSING SUCH RELIEF. THAT IT IS BELIEVED THE PROPOSED PROCEDURES WILL PRODUCE SUBSTANTIAL OPERATING ECONOMIES. RELIEF IS PRESENTLY GRANTED TO EMPLOYEES ONLY AFTER CONCURRENT FINDINGS BY THE POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT AND THE GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE THAT SUCH ACTION IS PROPER REGARDLESS OF THE AMOUNT INVOLVED. IN PART: "IT IS PROPOSED THAT REGIONAL CONTROLLERS OF THE POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT BE AUTHORIZED TO ADJUDICATE CLAIMS FOR LOSSES IN AMOUNTS NOT EXCEEDING $25. ANY CASE IN WHICH THE GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE DETERMINES THAT THE ACTION OF THE REGIONAL CONTROLLER WAS UNWARRANTED WOULD BE CHARGED BACK TO THE POSTMASTER OR OTHER EMPLOYEE INVOLVED AND CREDITED TO "ADJUSTED LOSSES AND CONTINGENCIES (UNAPPROPRIATED).'.

B-122550, JUL. 7, 1955

TO THE HONORABLE, THE POSTMASTER GENERAL:

REFERENCE IS MADE TO THE LETTER DATED APRIL 19, 1955, FROM THE ACTING POSTMASTER GENERAL, SUBMITTING FOR OUR CONSIDERATION PROPOSED PROCEDURES FOR PROCESSING RELIEF OF POSTAL EMPLOYEES FOR LOSSES DUE TO HONEST ERRORS WHERE THE AMOUNT INVOLVED DOES NOT EXCEED $25. IT IS STATED THAT AN EXCESSIVE AMOUNT OF TIME IS SPENT IN PROCESSING SUCH RELIEF, OR IN SETTING UP SAFEGUARDS WHICH OFTEN OUTWEIGH IN COST THE AMOUNT OF POTENTIAL LOSS INVOLVED, AND THAT IT IS BELIEVED THE PROPOSED PROCEDURES WILL PRODUCE SUBSTANTIAL OPERATING ECONOMIES.

THE RECOMMENDATIONS RELATE TO CLAIMS FOR LOSSES DUE TO ERRONEOUSLY PAID MONEY ORDERS, FORGED CHECKS, COUNTERFEIT CURRENCY, ETC., COGNIZABLE UNDER THE PROVISIONS OF 5 U.S.S. 383 AND 384, AND 31 U.S.C. 82A-1. RELIEF IS PRESENTLY GRANTED TO EMPLOYEES ONLY AFTER CONCURRENT FINDINGS BY THE POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT AND THE GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE THAT SUCH ACTION IS PROPER REGARDLESS OF THE AMOUNT INVOLVED.

THE LETTER OF THE ACTING POSTMASTER GENERAL STATES, IN PART:

"IT IS PROPOSED THAT REGIONAL CONTROLLERS OF THE POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT BE AUTHORIZED TO ADJUDICATE CLAIMS FOR LOSSES IN AMOUNTS NOT EXCEEDING $25. AMOUNTS SO ADJUDICATED WOULD BE RECORDED IN AN ACCOUNT CALLED "ADJUSTED LOSSES AND CONTINGENCIES (UNAPPROPRIATED)," AND SUPPORTED BY REPORTS AND APPROVALS OF THE POSTAL INSPECTION SERVICE OR OTHER PROPERLY AUTHORIZED OFFICIALS. THIS ACCOUNT WOULD BE REVIEWED BY THE GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE IN THE PROCESS OF ITS REGULAR AUDIT OF THE REGIONAL CONTROLLER'S OFFICE. ANY CASE IN WHICH THE GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE DETERMINES THAT THE ACTION OF THE REGIONAL CONTROLLER WAS UNWARRANTED WOULD BE CHARGED BACK TO THE POSTMASTER OR OTHER EMPLOYEE INVOLVED AND CREDITED TO "ADJUSTED LOSSES AND CONTINGENCIES (UNAPPROPRIATED).'

"THE REGIONAL CONTROLLER WOULD CONTINUE TO FORWARD TO THE DEPARTMENT IN WASHINGTON, D.C., FOR SUBMISSION TO THE GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE, ALL CLAIMS FOR LOSSES IN EXCESS OF $25. THESE CASES WOULD, UPON APPROVAL OF THE GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE, BE CHARGED TO AN ACCOUNT FOR "DEBTS COMPROMISED AND REMITTED.'

"ALL NECESSARY PRECAUTIONS WILL BE TAKEN TO AVOID ABUSE OF THESE PROCEDURES. THE DEPARTMENT PLANS, IN REVISING THE POSTAL MANUAL, TO PROVIDE INSTRUCTIONS REGARDING EXERCISE OF REASONABLE PRECAUTIONS, AS INDICATED IN THE FOLLOWING EXCERPT FROM A PROPOSED DRAFT ON CASHING OF MONEY ORDERS:

" ".32 OBTAINING PROPER IDENTIFICATION

HAVE PERSON PRESENTING THE MONEY ORDER IDENTIFY HIMSELF BEFORE PAYING. DRIVERS PERMITS, MILITARY IDENTIFICATION CARDS, OR OTHER CREDENTIALS HAVING SIGNATURE OF BEARER ARE HELPFUL IN IDENTIFICATION. HAVE OWNER SIGN MONEY ORDER IN YOUR PRESENCE AND IF POSSIBLE COMPARE SIGNATURE WITH IDENTIFICATION. PUT THE EXACT IDENTIFICATION DATA REQUIRED ON THE BACK OF THE ORDER WITH YOUR INITIALS. THIS WILL AID IN APPREHENDING PERSONS ATTEMPTING FORGERY OR OTHER WRONG PAYMENT. IF YOU HAVE EXERCISED PROPER CARE UNDER THE CIRCUMSTANCES, THE DEPARTMENT WILL RECOMMEND THAT YOU BE RELIEVED OF FINANCIAL RESPONSIBILITY IN CASES OF WRONG PAYMENT. THIS PROCEDURE MUST BE CAREFULLY FOLLOWED IN THE CASE OF ENDORSED MONEY ORDERS AS THEY MIGHT BEAR A FORGED ENDORSEMENT AND BE IN THE HANDS OF THE WRONG PERSON.'"

WE ARE ALWAYS INTERESTED IN ANY STEPS WHICH PROPERLY CAN BE TAKEN, CONSISTENT WITH EXISTING LAW, TO REDUCE ADMINISTRATIVE COSTS IN CARRYING OUT NECESSARY GOVERNMENT FUNCTIONS. ACCORDINGLY, AND SINCE IT IS CONTEMPLATED THAT THE ACTION OF YOUR DEPARTMENT IN EACH CASE IS PROVISIONAL AND SUBJECT TO BE CHANGED IN THE EVENT THAT OUR OFFICE FAILS TO AGREE THAT THE STATUTORY STANDARDS FOR ALLOWING RELIEF HAVE BEEN SATISFIED, WE ARE IN AGREEMENT WITH YOUR PROPOSAL IN THOSE CASES WHICH COME WITHIN THE SCOPE OF 5 U.S.C. 383, 384 AND 31 U.S.C. 82A (1).

INASMUCH AS ADOPTION OF THE PROPOSED PROCEDURES WILL INVOLVE CHANGES IN THE AUDIT PROGRAM AND OTHER ARRANGEMENTS OF THE GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE, WE SHOULD BE ADVISED AS TO WHAT DETAILED PROCEDURES, DELEGATIONS OF AUTHORITY AND INSTRUCTIONS ARE DEVELOPED AND THE DATE IT IS PROPOSED TO MAKE THEM EFFECTIVE. IT IS SUGGESTED THAT THE DETAILED DEVELOPMENT OF SUCH PROCEDURES BE MADE IN COLLABORATION WITH OUR REPRESENTATIVES WHO ARE WORKING WITH YOUR DEPARTMENT IN A COOPERATIVE EFFORT TO IMPROVE ACCOUNTING.

AN ACCOUNT DESIGNATED "CLAIM AND ADJUSTED LOSSES" SUBACCOUNT "ADJUSTED LOSSES" IS PRESENTLY UTILIZED FOR CERTAIN OTHER TYPES OF LOSSES ADJUDICATED BY THE SOLICITOR OF YOUR DEPARTMENT UNDER 39 U.S.C. 49. ORDER TO AVOID THE POSSIBILITY OF CONFUSING THE ACCOUNTS, IT IS SUGGESTED THAT THE TITLE OF THE EXISTING ACCOUNT BE CHANGED TO "CLAIMS AND ADJUSTED LOSSES, ALLOWED BY SOLICITOR" AND THAT OF THE PROPOSED ACCOUNT TO "ADJUSTED LOSSES AND CONTINGENCIES (UNAPPROPRIATED), ALLOWED BY REGIONAL CONTROLLERS.'

SINCE THE SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY HAS PRIMARY RESPONSIBILITY FOR CONSIDERATION OF CLAIMS COGNIZABLE UNDER THE GOVERNMENT LOSSES IN SHIPMENT ACT (5 U.S.C. 134B), IT IS SUGGESTED THAT ANY PROPOSAL WITH REGARD TO LOSSES FALLING WITHIN THE SCOPE OF THAT ACT BE TAKEN UP IN THE FIRST INSTANCE WITH THAT OFFICIAL. IF HE CONCURS, WE WILL GIVE CONSIDERATION TO WHETHER WE FEEL THAT THE PROCEDURE MAY BE EXTENDED TO LOSSES UNDER THE ACT.