B-124984, SEPTEMBER 14, 1955, 35 COMP. GEN. 146

B-124984: Sep 14, 1955

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FLIGHT PAY - NAVY ENLISTED MEN - RECOVERY OF ERRONEOUS PAYMENTS - DETERMINATION OF COMPLIANCE WITH STATUTES BLANKET AUTHORITY TO WAIVE RECOVERY OF ERRONEOUS PAYMENTS AND OVERPAYMENTS OF FLIGHT PAY TO NAVY ENLISTED MEN IN CASES WHERE IT IS ADMINISTRATIVELY DETERMINED THAT THE SPIRIT AND INTENT OF THE LAW AND REGULATIONS HAVE BEEN MET MAY NOT BE GRANTED. THE MATTER OF COMPLIANCE WITH THE LAW AND REGULATIONS IS FOR DETERMINATION BY THE COMPTROLLER GENERAL AND THE COURTS ON THE BASIS OF THE FACTS IN EACH PARTICULAR CASE. 1955: REFERENCE IS MADE TO LETTER OF MAY 19. WILL RESULT IN GREATLY IMPROVED ADMINISTRATION OF THE PROGRAM INVOLVED. WHICH WERE MADE PRIOR TO THE ADOPTION OF THE NEW PROCEDURES.

B-124984, SEPTEMBER 14, 1955, 35 COMP. GEN. 146

FLIGHT PAY - NAVY ENLISTED MEN - RECOVERY OF ERRONEOUS PAYMENTS - DETERMINATION OF COMPLIANCE WITH STATUTES BLANKET AUTHORITY TO WAIVE RECOVERY OF ERRONEOUS PAYMENTS AND OVERPAYMENTS OF FLIGHT PAY TO NAVY ENLISTED MEN IN CASES WHERE IT IS ADMINISTRATIVELY DETERMINED THAT THE SPIRIT AND INTENT OF THE LAW AND REGULATIONS HAVE BEEN MET MAY NOT BE GRANTED; THE MATTER OF COMPLIANCE WITH THE LAW AND REGULATIONS IS FOR DETERMINATION BY THE COMPTROLLER GENERAL AND THE COURTS ON THE BASIS OF THE FACTS IN EACH PARTICULAR CASE.

TO THE SECRETARY OF THE NAVY, SEPTEMBER 14, 1955:

REFERENCE IS MADE TO LETTER OF MAY 19, 1955, FROM THE ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF THE NAVY ( AIR), OUTLINING NEW PROCEDURES DESIGNED TO "PRECLUDE RECURRENCES OF DISCREPANCIES IN THE ADMINISTRATION OF FLIGHT PAY" FOR NAVY ENLISTED MEN WHO PERFORM AERIAL FLIGHTS UNDER "TEMPORARY FLIGHT ORDERS.' WE BELIEVE THAT SUCH PROCEDURES, IF STRICTLY OBSERVED AND FOLLOWED, WILL RESULT IN GREATLY IMPROVED ADMINISTRATION OF THE PROGRAM INVOLVED.

THE ASSISTANT SECRETARY'S LETTER ALSO REQUESTS OUR CONCURRENCE IN CERTAIN ACTION PROPOSED BY THE CHIEF, BUREAU OF SUPPLIES AND ACCOUNTS, RESPECTING RECOVERY OF ERRONEOUS PAYMENTS AND OVERPAYMENTS OF FLIGHT PAY, WHICH WERE MADE PRIOR TO THE ADOPTION OF THE NEW PROCEDURES. IT IS STATED THAT CHECK AGES OF PAY WILL BE DIRECTED IN THE FOLLOWING CASES:

(1) MINIMUM FLIGHT REQUIREMENTS WERE NOT MET DURING THE MONTH.

(2) FLIGHT RECORDS DO NOT INDICATE THAT ANY FLIGHTS WERE PERFORMED DURING THE MONTH.

(3) FLIGHT ORDERS WERE ISSUED AS "NONCREW MEMBER" AND MEMBER WAS CREDITED PAY AT THE RATE FOR A "CREW MEMBER"; CHECK AGE WILL BE ISSUED FOR DIFFERENCE BETWEEN PAY FOR "CREW MEMBER" AND ,NONCREW MEMBER.'

IT IS ALSO PROPOSED THAT--- " NO REQUESTS FOR CHECK AGES WILL BE ISSUED IN THOSE CASES WHERE THE SPIRIT AND INTENT OF THE LAW, EXECUTIVE ORDER, AND REGULATIONS GOVERNING FLIGHT PAY HAVE BEEN MET. EXAMPLES OF SUCH CASES ARE:

(1) TEMPORARY FLIGHT ORDERS WERE ISSUED SUBSEQUENT TO THE EFFECTIVE DATE STATED IN THE ORDERS.

(2) TEMPORARY FLIGHT ORDERS WERE SIGNED BY AN OFFICER OTHER THAN THE COMMANDING OFFICER OR THE ACTING COMMANDING OFFICER.

(3) WRITTEN TEMPORARY FLIGHT ORDERS WERE NOT ISSUED BUT THE MEMBER MET MINIMUM FLIGHT REQUIREMENTS FOR THE PERIOD COVERED BY THE FLIGHT CERTIFICATE.

(4) FLIGHT PAY CREDITED ON BASIS OF FLIGHT CERTIFICATES SUBMITTED FOR FLIGHTS PERFORMED WITHIN THE SAME MONTH, BUT NOT WITHIN PERIOD DURING WHICH FLIGHT ORDERS FOR A PART OF THE MONTH WERE IN EFFECT.'

CLEARLY, CHECK AGES WOULD BE PROPER IN THE CATEGORIES OF CASES LISTED AS REQUIRING THAT ACTION. HOWEVER, WITH RESPECT TO THE EXAMPLES OF CASES IN WHICH IT IS PROPOSED TO MAKE NO CHECK AGE, WE WOULD NOT BE WARRANTED IN GIVING A GENERAL AND UNQUALIFIED CONCURRENCE ON THE BASIS OF THE FACTS STATED. IN OTHER WORDS, THE INFORMATION GIVEN IS AN INSUFFICIENT BASIS FOR A CONCLUSION THAT THE INDIVIDUALS CONCERNED SHOULD BE ALLOWED TO RETAIN FLIGHT PAY WHICH, APPARENTLY, WAS CREDITED TO THEM CONTRARY TO THE LETTER OF THE LAW AND REGULATIONS. IT IS OUR RESPONSIBILITY TO AUDIT DISBURSEMENTS OF PUBLIC FUNDS AND TO REQUIRE THAT SUCH DISBURSEMENTS BE SUPPORTED BY A CLEAR SHOWING AS TO HOW AND WHY THE FUNDS WERE SPENT. OUR RESPONSIBILITY CANNOT BE MET WITHOUT EVIDENCE OF ALL THE FACTS NECESSARY TO A PROPER DETERMINATION IN EACH CASE.

IN VIEW OF THE PROPOSAL TO THE EFFECT THAT NO REQUEST FOR CHECK AGE WILL BE ISSUED IN THOSE CASES WHERE THE "SPIRIT AND INTENT" OF THE LAW AND REGULATIONS GOVERNING FLIGHT PAY HAVE BEEN MET, IT SEEMS APPROPRIATE TO POINT OUT THAT IN ANY CASE WHERE A PAYMENT HAS BEEN MADE FROM APPROPRIATED FUNDS WHICH IS NOT IN ACCORD WITH THE LETTER OF THE PERTINENT STATUTES AND REGULATIONS, IT IS FOR THE COMPTROLLER GENERAL AND THE COURTS TO DETERMINE WHETHER THERE HAS BEEN A COMPLIANCE WITH THE SPIRIT AND INTENT OF SUCH STATUTES AND REGULATIONS.

OUR FILE PERTAINING TO THIS MATTER DISCLOSES CORRESPONDENCE BETWEEN THE CHIEF, BUREAU OF SUPPLIES AND ACCOUNTS, AND OUR NAVY AUDIT BRANCH IN REGARD TO THE RECREDITING OF FLIGHT PAY HERETOFORE CHECKED AS A RESULT OF AUDIT ACTION. IF THE ORIGINAL CREDITING OF FLIGHT PAY WAS NOT IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE LAW AND REGULATIONS, CHECK AGE WAS PROPER AND WE MAY NOT GIVE BLANKET ENDORSEMENT TO THE RECREDITING OF PAY SO CHECKED, NOTWITHSTANDING THE SUGGESTION THAT SUCH CHECK AGE HAD OR WILL HAVE AN ADVERSE EFFECT UPON MORALE AND THAT THE PERSONNEL CONCERNED RECEIVED THE PAYMENTS IN GOOD FAITH. AS INDIVIDUAL CASES ARE BROUGHT TO THE ATTENTION OF OUR NAVY AUDIT BRANCH, DUE CONSIDERATION WILL BE GIVEN TO THE QUESTION WHETHER OR NOT THE PAYMENTS INVOLVED WERE MADE IN CONFORMITY WITH THE SPIRIT AND INTENT OF THE PERTINENT PROVISIONS OF LAW AND REGULATION.