B-127204, APR. 13, 1956

B-127204: Apr 13, 1956

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SECRETARY OF STATE: REFERENCE IS MADE TO LETTER DATED JANUARY 9. IT IS REPORTED THAT CERTAIN PAY ENVELOPES CONTAINING TREASURY CHECKS AGGREGATING $755.10. WERE FOUND MISSING ON JUNE 22. STOP PAYMENT ORDERS WERE PLACED AGAINST THE CHECKS AND THE DISBURSING OFFICER. 359 ($175.75) FROM HER PERSONAL FUNDS TO THE INDIVIDUALS WHOSE PAY ENVELOPES WERE MISSING TO MAKE UP THE LOSS OF THE LOCAL CURRENCY. IS REPORTED THAT TO DATE NONE OF THE MISSING CHECKS HAVE BEEN PRESENTED FOR PAYMENT. THAT THE DISBURSING OFFICE HAS BEEN MOVED TO A NEW LOCATION WHICH IS BETTER ADAPTED FOR THE PURPOSE. IT IS STATED THAT IT HAS BEEN DETERMINED ADMINISTRATIVELY THAT THE LOSS OCCURRED WITHOUT FAULT OR NEGLIGENCE ON THE PART OF THE DISBURSING OFFICER.

B-127204, APR. 13, 1956

TO THE HONORABLE, SECRETARY OF STATE:

REFERENCE IS MADE TO LETTER DATED JANUARY 9, 1956, FROM THE ASSISTANT SECRETARY-CONTROLLER, RECOMMENDING THAT THE DEPARTMENT BE AUTHORIZED TO MAKE RESTITUTION TO MISS MARY W. OLIVERSON, UNITED STATES DISBURSING OFFICER, UNDER THE PROVISIONS OF PUBLIC LAW 334, 84TH CONGRESS, 69 STAT. 626, OF PERSONAL FUNDS WHICH SHE PAID OR DEPOSITED ON ACCOUNT OF THE LOSS OF OFFICIAL FUNDS FROM HER CUSTODY.

IT IS REPORTED THAT CERTAIN PAY ENVELOPES CONTAINING TREASURY CHECKS AGGREGATING $755.10, ONE LOCAL CHECK IN THE AMOUNT OF RAILS 7,015, AND LOCAL CURRENCY IN THE AMOUNT OF RAILS 13,359, ALL REPRESENTING SALARY AND ALLOWANCES DUE EMPLOYEES OF THE EMBASSY AT TEHRAN, IRAN, WERE FOUND MISSING ON JUNE 22, 1955. STOP PAYMENT ORDERS WERE PLACED AGAINST THE CHECKS AND THE DISBURSING OFFICER, MISS OLIVERSON, PAID THE AMOUNT OF THE RAILS 13,359 ($175.75) FROM HER PERSONAL FUNDS TO THE INDIVIDUALS WHOSE PAY ENVELOPES WERE MISSING TO MAKE UP THE LOSS OF THE LOCAL CURRENCY. IS REPORTED THAT TO DATE NONE OF THE MISSING CHECKS HAVE BEEN PRESENTED FOR PAYMENT.

THE LETTER OF JANUARY 9, 1956, STATES THAT AS A RESULT OF INVESTIGATION IT HAS BEEN DETERMINED THAT THE LOSS OF FUNDS RESULTED FROM THEFT MADE POSSIBLE BY FAULTY FURNITURE AND FIXTURE ARRANGEMENT WITHIN THE DISBURSING OFFICE WHICH HAS SINCE BEEN CORRECTED, AND THAT THE DISBURSING OFFICE HAS BEEN MOVED TO A NEW LOCATION WHICH IS BETTER ADAPTED FOR THE PURPOSE. ALSO, IT IS STATED THAT IT HAS BEEN DETERMINED ADMINISTRATIVELY THAT THE LOSS OCCURRED WITHOUT FAULT OR NEGLIGENCE ON THE PART OF THE DISBURSING OFFICER.

THE REPORT OF INVESTIGATION REVEALS THAT, ON THE DATE OF THE LOSS, THE PAY ENVELOPES WERE LEFT ON TOP OF A DESK WHICH WAS LOCATED NEAR AN OPEN WINDOW IN THE DISBURSING OFFICE. IT APPEARS SUCH WINDOW OPENED ON A HALLWAY TO WHICH MANY PERSONS HAD ACCESS. THE LOSS PRESUMABLY OCCURRED BY THE THIEF REACHING IN THROUGH THE OPEN WINDOW AND EXTRACTING THE ENVELOPES, THE DISTANCE INVOLVED BEING ONLY APPROXIMATELY 19 INCHES.

A DISBURSING OFFICER IS LIABLE AS AN INSURER FOR THE SAFEGUARDING OF FUNDS ADVANCED TO HIM FOR DISBURSING PURPOSES. 18 COMP. GEN. 640 AND CASES THEREIN CITED. THE PLACING OF PAY ENVELOPES CLOSE TO AN OPEN WINDOW IN THE CASHIER'S CAGE, EVEN IF THE PRACTICE WAS OF LONG STANDING, DOES NOT APPEAR TO CONSTITUTE THE EXERCISE OF PROPER DILIGENCE REQUIRED OF DISBURSING OFFICERS OF THE UNITED STATES IN SAFEGUARDING OR OTHERWISE PROTECTING MONEYS OF THE UNITED STATES. FURTHERMORE, THERE IS NOTHING IN THE PRESENT RECORD TO SHOW THAT THE ARRANGEMENT OF THE FURNITURE IN THE DISBURSING OFFICE COULD NOT HAVE BEEN CORRECTED BY THE DISBURSING OFFICER OR THAT SHE IN ANY WAY PROTESTED THE ARRANGEMENT OF THE FURNITURE, IF THE SAME WAS NOT SUBJECT TO HER CONTROL. ALSO, NO REASON IS APPARENT FOR THE REMOVING FROM THE SAFE OF ALL OF THE PAY ENVELOPES ON A DAY PRIOR TO THE REGULAR PAYDAY BECAUSE A FEW EMPLOYEES WERE DEPARTING FROM THE POST ON THE DAY ON WHICH THE LOSS OCCURRED. WE THEREFORE ARE UNABLE TO CONCUR IN THE ADMINISTRATIVE DETERMINATION THAT THE LOSS OR DEFICIENCY OCCURRED WITHOUT FAULT OR NEGLIGENCE ON THE PART OF THE DISBURSING OFFICER.

ACCORDINGLY, THE PRESENT RECORD, THE RECOMMENDATION THAT THE DEPARTMENT OF STATE BE AUTHORIZED, UNDER THE PROVISIONS OF PUBLIC LAW 334, 84TH CONGRESS, 69 STAT. 626, TO REIMBURSE HER THE AMOUNT ..END :