B-127942, AUG. 31, 1956

B-127942: Aug 31, 1956

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THE ACTING SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY SUBMITTED FOR OUR CONSIDERATION A PROPOSAL TO REDUCE OPERATING COSTS OF THE INTERNAL REVENUE SERVICE BY ESTABLISHING A CONVENIENT METHOD TO RELIEVE DISTRICT DIRECTORS OF INTERNAL REVENUE AND OTHER EMPLOYEES FROM SMALL LOSSES WHICH ARE NOT THE RESULT OF NEGLIGENCE. THAT THERE WAS NO FAULT OR NEGLIGENCE ON THE PART OF THE DISTRICT DIRECTOR'S OFFICE. "THIS PROPOSAL IS MADE AS A CONVENIENT METHOD OF PROVIDING RELIEF AS AUTHORIZED BY PUBLIC LAW 321. IN PART: "THE GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE IS AUTHORIZED. TO RELIEVE ANY DISBURSING OR OTHER ACCOUNTABLE OFFICER OR AGENT IT IS APPARENT THAT RELIEF FOR DISBURSING AND OTHER ACCOUNTABLE OFFICERS UNDER THIS STATUTE IS THE RESULT OF A BIPARTITE OPERATION WITH THE HEAD OF THE DEPARTMENT OR INDEPENDENT ESTABLISHMENT CONCERNED MAKING A DETERMINATION AND RECOMMENDATION WHILE THE GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE.

B-127942, AUG. 31, 1956

TO THE SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY:

BY A LETTER DATED MAY 15, 1956, THE ACTING SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY SUBMITTED FOR OUR CONSIDERATION A PROPOSAL TO REDUCE OPERATING COSTS OF THE INTERNAL REVENUE SERVICE BY ESTABLISHING A CONVENIENT METHOD TO RELIEVE DISTRICT DIRECTORS OF INTERNAL REVENUE AND OTHER EMPLOYEES FROM SMALL LOSSES WHICH ARE NOT THE RESULT OF NEGLIGENCE.

IN HIS LETTER THE ACTING SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY STATES, IN PART:

"WE PROPOSED THAT THE REGIONAL COMMISSIONERS OF INTERNAL REVENUE BE AUTHORIZED TO ADJUDICATE CLAIMS FOR LOSSES IN AMOUNTS NOT TO EXCEED $25.00 IN ANY ONE CASE. WHEN A LOSS OCCURS IN THE OFFICE OF A DISTRICT DIRECTOR, A COMPLETE REPORT WOULD BE MADE TO THE REGIONAL COMMISSIONER. IF THE REGIONAL COMMISSIONER FOUND THE AMOUNT OF LOSS TO BE NOT MORE THAN $25.00, THAT IT OCCURRED IN THE PERFORMANCE OF OFFICIAL DUTY, AND THAT THERE WAS NO FAULT OR NEGLIGENCE ON THE PART OF THE DISTRICT DIRECTOR'S OFFICE, RELIEF WOULD BE GRANTED BY THE REGIONAL COMMISSIONER.

"THIS PROPOSAL IS MADE AS A CONVENIENT METHOD OF PROVIDING RELIEF AS AUTHORIZED BY PUBLIC LAW 321, APPROVED AUGUST 1, 1947, AMENDED BY PUBLIC LAW 334, APPROVED AUGUST 9, 1955. (31 U.S.C. 82A-1.) * * *"

THE STATUTE REFERRED TO ABOVE, 31 U.S.C. 82A-1, PROVIDES, IN PART:

"THE GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE IS AUTHORIZED, AFTER CONSIDERATION OF THE PERTINENT FINDINGS AND IF IN CONCURRENCE WITH THE DETERMINATIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS OF THE HEAD OF THE DEPARTMENT OR INDEPENDENT ESTABLISHMENT CONCERNED, TO RELIEVE ANY DISBURSING OR OTHER ACCOUNTABLE OFFICER OR AGENT

IT IS APPARENT THAT RELIEF FOR DISBURSING AND OTHER ACCOUNTABLE OFFICERS UNDER THIS STATUTE IS THE RESULT OF A BIPARTITE OPERATION WITH THE HEAD OF THE DEPARTMENT OR INDEPENDENT ESTABLISHMENT CONCERNED MAKING A DETERMINATION AND RECOMMENDATION WHILE THE GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE, IF IN CONCURRENCE THEREWITH, GRANTS THE RELIEF. THE DISCRETIONARY POWER LODGED BY STATUTE WITH THE HEAD OF A DEPARTMENT OR INDEPENDENT AGENCY MAY NOT BE DELEGATED TO OTHER THAN OFFICIALS AUTHORIZED BY LAW TO ACT IN PLACE OF THE AGENCY HEAD, UNLESS, OF COURSE, THERE IS STATUTORY AUTHORITY TO THE CONTRARY. 14 COMP. GEN. 698; 20 ID. 27; ID. 779; 21 ID. 921; 22 ID. 1083; AND 26 ID. 249. THE SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY APPARENTLY IS AUTHORIZED UNDER SECTION 2 OF REORGANIZATION PLAN NO. 26 OF 1950, 64 STAT. 1280, AS AMENDED, 5 U.S.C. 241, NOTE, TO DELEGATE HIS POWER REGARDING DETERMINATIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS. CONSEQUENTLY, WE PERCEIVE NO OBJECTION TO A DELEGATION TO THE REGIONAL COMMISSIONERS OF INTERNAL REVENUE OF THIS FUNCTION. INSOFAR AS THE RELIEF ACTION BY THE GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE UNDER 31 U.S.C. 82A-1, IS CONCERNED, LIMITED AUTHORITY HAS BEEN VESTED IN VARIOUS OFFICERS AND EMPLOYEES OF THE ACCOUNTING AND AUDITING DIVISIONS TO GRANT SUCH RELIEF. THIS ACTION WAS TAKEN PURSUANT TO SECTION 311 (E) OF THE BUDGET AND ACCOUNTING ACT, AS AMENDED, 42 STAT. 25, 31 U.S.C. 52 (E), WHICH PROVIDES:

"ALL OFFICIAL ACTS PERFORMED BY SUCH OFFICERS OR EMPLOYEES (OF THE GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE) SPECIALLY DESIGNATED THEREFOR BY THE COMPTROLLER GENERAL SHALL HAVE THE SAME FORCE AND EFFECT AS THOUGH PERFORMED BY THE COMPTROLLER GENERAL IN PERSON.'

SINCE NEITHER PUBLIC LAW 321 AS AMENDED, 31 U.S.C. 82A-1, NOR 31 U.S.C. 52 (E) AUTHORIZE THE COMPTROLLER GENERAL TO DELEGATE HIS AUTHORITY IN THIS REGARD TO OTHER THAN GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE PERSONNEL, NO METHOD FOR GRANTING RELIEF TO ACCOUNTABLE OFFICERS CAN BE EMPLOYED IN WHICH THE PERSON AUTHORIZED TO GRANT RELIEF IS NOT A PROPERLY DESIGNATED OFFICER OR EMPLOYEE OF THIS OFFICE. THEREFORE, THE REGIONAL COMMISSIONERS OF INTERNAL REVENUE MAY NOT BE AUTHORIZED TO GRANT RELIEF AS CONTEMPLATED IN THE ACTING SECRETARY'S LETTER.

HOWEVER, IT MAY BE THAT A CONVENIENT METHOD CAN BE ESTABLISHED TO EXPEDITE THE GRANTING OF RELIEF AS TO LOSSES NOT EXCEEDING $25 WITH WORTHWHILE SAVINGS IN OPERATING COSTS WHILE STILL RETAINING THE DISTINCTION BETWEEN THE STATUTORY DUTIES OF THE SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY AND THE GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE. THUS, IF, FOR INSTANCE, THE REGIONAL DIRECTORS WERE AUTHORIZED TO LIST ITEMS RECOMMENDED FOR RELIEF, MAKING THE NECESSARY STATUTORY FINDINGS AND SUBMIT, FROM TIME TO TIME, THE SCHEDULES WITH SUPPORTING DOCUMENTATION, TO OUR AUDITING PERSONNEL, THE STATUTORY REQUIREMENTS WOULD APPEAR TO BE SATISFIED WHILE POSSIBLY EFFECTING SOME ECONOMIES IN BOTH OF OUR AGENCIES. IT IS SUGGESTED THAT THE PROCEDURES WHICH COULD BE EMPLOYED TO BRING ABOUT SUCH RESULT BE EXPLORED BY REPRESENTATIVES OF YOUR DEPARTMENT IN COLLABORATION WITH REPRESENTATIVES OF OUR CIVIL ACCOUNTING AND AUDITING DIVISION AND OUR ACCOUNTING AND AUDITING POLICY STAFF. SEE IN THIS CONNECTION, B-122550, JULY 7, 1955, TO THE POSTMASTER GENERAL. IF MUTUALLY SATISFACTORY ARRANGEMENTS ARE MADE, IT IS REQUESTED THAT WE BE ADVISED AS TO THE PROCEDURES AND DELEGATIONS OF AUTHORITY DEVELOPED AS WELL AS THE DATE PROPOSED FOR MAKING THE PLAN EFFECTIVE SO THAT ARRANGEMENTS MAY BE MADE FOR ANY NECESSARY CHANGES REQUIRED HERE. BE ASSURED OF OUR CONTINUED INTEREST IN ANY STEPS WHICH PROPERLY CAN BE TAKEN, CONSISTENT WITH LAW, TO REDUCE ADMINISTRATIVE COSTS IN CARRYING OUT NECESSARY GOVERNMENT FUNCTIONS.

IT HAS BEEN INFORMALLY ASCERTAINED THAT OUR DECISION OF JULY 7, 1955, B- 122550, MENTIONED ABOVE, RESPECTING THE AUTHORITY OF REGIONAL CONTROLLERS OF THE POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT TO RELIEVE CERTAIN ACCOUNTABLE OFFICERS OF THAT DEPARTMENT UNDER THE PROVISIONS OF 31 U.S.C. 82A-1, WAS UTILIZED IN THE PREPARATION OF THE ACTING SECRETARY'S SUBMISSION. IT WAS SAID IN THAT DECISION THAT:

"* * * 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 * * *"

THE STATEMENT WAS THAT THE "ACTION" OF THE DEPARTMENT WOULD BE PROVISIONAL AND SUCH STATEMENT SHOULD NOT BE READ AS INDICATING THAT THE DEPARTMENT COULD GRANT PROVISIONAL RELIEF. ONLY THIS OFFICE CAN GRANT THE RELIEF, PROVISIONAL OR OTHERWISE. THE DEPARTMENT'S PRELIMINARY ACTION IS PROVISIONAL AND IS TANTAMOUNT ONLY TO A RECOMMENDATION, SUBJECT TO APPROVAL BY THIS OFFICE IN EACH CASE, AND NO RELIEF IS OR CAN BE GRANTED IN ANY SUCH CASE UNTIL THIS OFFICE HAS CONSIDERED AND APPROVED THE ADMINISTRATIVE RECOMMENDATION IN THAT PARTICULAR CASE.