B-126852, APR. 20, 1956

B-126852: Apr 20, 1956

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DENNIS: FURTHER REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR RECENT LETTER. WHILE YOU WERE A CIVILIAN EMPLOYEE OF THE DEPARTMENT OF THE ARMY. YOU MADE APPLICATION FOR AND WERE GRANTED A LIVING QUARTERS ALLOWANCE AT THE RATE OF $1. YOUR ALLOWANCE WAS INCREASED TO $2. IT AGAIN WAS INCREASED TO $2. IS ADMINISTRATIVELY REPORTED THAT THE (WITH FAMILY) RATE ALLOWABLE FOR THE PERIOD DECEMBER 21. WAS $1. THAT BOTH INCREASES WERE INADVERTENTLY AUTHORIZED AND THAT COLLECTION OF THE SUM OF $513.73 WAS NECESSARY IN ORDER TO RECOVER ERRONEOUS PAYMENTS MADE IN CONTRAVENTION OF THE LAW AND APPLICABLE REGULATIONS. YOUR CLAIM WAS DISALLOWED BY THE ABOVE-MENTIONED SETTLEMENT BECAUSE OUR OFFICE MAY NOT AUTHORIZE PAYMENT OF ANY CLAIM IN EXCESS OF THE AMOUNT AUTHORIZED BY REGULATIONS PROMULGATED PURSUANT TO LAW.

B-126852, APR. 20, 1956

TO MR. LOUIS C. DENNIS:

FURTHER REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR RECENT LETTER, REQUESTING RECONSIDERATION OF OUR SETTLEMENT OF DECEMBER 15, 1955, WHICH DISALLOWED YOUR CLAIM FOR A REFUND $513.73, REPRESENTING THE SUM PAID AND SUBSEQUENTLY COLLECTED FROM YOU BECAUSE OF AN OVERPAYMENT OF YOUR LIVING QUARTERS ALLOWANCE COVERING A PERIOD PRIOR TO AUGUST 22, 1953, WHILE YOU WERE A CIVILIAN EMPLOYEE OF THE DEPARTMENT OF THE ARMY, FUCHU ORDNANCE DEPOT, FUCHU, JAPAN.

THE RECORD SHOWS THAT ON JANUARY 8, 1953, WHILE OCCUPYING A POSITION IN GRADE GS-11, $5,940 PER ANNUM, YOU MADE APPLICATION FOR AND WERE GRANTED A LIVING QUARTERS ALLOWANCE AT THE RATE OF $1,500 PER ANNUM, RETROACTIVELY EFFECTIVE TO DECEMBER 20, 1952. THEREAFTER, ON JANUARY 16, 1953, YOUR ALLOWANCE WAS INCREASED TO $2,000 PER ANNUM, AND ON JUNE 11, 1953, IT AGAIN WAS INCREASED TO $2,533.33 PER ANNUM, EFFECTIVE APRIL 25, 1953. IS ADMINISTRATIVELY REPORTED THAT THE (WITH FAMILY) RATE ALLOWABLE FOR THE PERIOD DECEMBER 21, 1952, THROUGH AUGUST 22, 1953, WAS $1,500 PER ANNUM; THAT BOTH INCREASES WERE INADVERTENTLY AUTHORIZED AND THAT COLLECTION OF THE SUM OF $513.73 WAS NECESSARY IN ORDER TO RECOVER ERRONEOUS PAYMENTS MADE IN CONTRAVENTION OF THE LAW AND APPLICABLE REGULATIONS.

YOUR CLAIM WAS DISALLOWED BY THE ABOVE-MENTIONED SETTLEMENT BECAUSE OUR OFFICE MAY NOT AUTHORIZE PAYMENT OF ANY CLAIM IN EXCESS OF THE AMOUNT AUTHORIZED BY REGULATIONS PROMULGATED PURSUANT TO LAW. IN YOUR RECENT LETTER YOU INDICATE THAT YOU RECEIVED THE ALLOWANCES PRESCRIBED BY THE REGULATIONS; HOWEVER, YOU EXPRESS THE VIEW THAT THE UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT SHOULD BE RESPONSIBLE FOR THE MISTAKES OF ITS EMPLOYEES IN MAKING ILLEGAL PAYMENTS.

IT IS WELL ESTABLISHED THAT PERSONS RECEIVING MONEY ERRONEOUSLY PAID BY A GOVERNMENT AGENCY OR OFFICIAL ACQUIRE NO LEGAL RIGHT THERETO AND THE COURTS CONSISTENTLY HAVE HELD THAT SUCH PERSONS ARE BOUND IN EQUITY AND GOOD CONSCIENCE TO MAKE RESTITUTION. SEE UNITED STATES V. BURCHARD, 125 U.S. 176; UNITED STATES V. WURTS, 303 U.S. 414; WISCONSIN CENTRAL RAILROAD V. UNITED STATES, 164 U.S. 190; UNITED STATES V. SUTTON CHEMICAL COMPANY, 11 F.2D 24, AND THE CASES CITED AND DISCUSSED IN 63 A.L.R. 1346.

MOREOVER, IT IS SETTLED THAT NO OFFICER OR AGENT OF THE UNITED STATES IS AUTHORIZED TO GIVE AWAY THE MONEY OR PROPERTY OF THE UNITED STATES, AND THAT THE GOVERNMENT CANNOT BE HELD RESPONSIBLE FOR THE UNAUTHORIZED AND UNLAWFUL ACTS OF ITS OFFICERS AND EMPLOYEES. ACCORDINGLY, UPON REVIEW, THE SETTLEMENT OF DECEMBER 15, 1955, IS FOUND CORRECT AND MUST BE SUSTAINED.

WE REGRET, IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, THAT WE ARE UNABLE TO AUTHORIZE PAYMENT OF YOUR CLAIM.