B-128994, SEP. 17, 1956

B-128994: Sep 17, 1956

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TO THE SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR: REFERENCE IS MADE TO LETTER DATED AUGUST 14. OUR DECISION IS REQUESTED AS TO WHETHER. ANY PART OF THE EMPLOYEE'S FUNDS WHICH ARE NOW HELD BY THE BUREAU OF INDIAN AFFAIRS MAY BE PAID TO THE TEXAS COMPANY TO COVER TRANSACTIONS OF BARRONS WHICH WERE BILLED TO THE BUREAU BUT DISALLOWED BECAUSE OF THE IRREGULARITIES. WERE FIRST NOTED ON DECEMBER 16. THIS PAYMENT WAS TURNED IN TO THE AREA OFFICE. THE VENDOR VOUCHERS COVERING THESE PURCHASES WERE DISALLOWED BY THE BUREAU BECAUSE OF THE IRREGULARITIES. PAYMENT THEREFOR WAS NOT MADE BY THE BUREAU. BARRONE WAS ADVISED BY WATSON S. THAT ADDITIONAL INVOICES BEARING HIS NAME HAD BEEN DISCOVERED AND HE WAS REQUESTED TO ENDORSE HIS SALARY CHECK OVER TO THE BUREAU TO PAY FOR THESE ADDITIONAL PURCHASES.

B-128994, SEP. 17, 1956

TO THE SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR:

REFERENCE IS MADE TO LETTER DATED AUGUST 14, 1946, FROM THE ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR, TRANSMITTING A COPY OF A REPORT ON AN INVESTIGATION CONDUCTED BY YOUR DEPARTMENT OF GASOLINE AND OIL PURCHASES ON AN EXPIRED GOVERNMENT CREDIT CARD BY, AND FOR THE PERSONAL USE OF, RAYMOND BARRONE, A WAE EMPLOYEE OF THE BUREAU OF INDIAN AFFAIR, ANADARKO, OKLAHOMA. OUR DECISION IS REQUESTED AS TO WHETHER, IN THE LIGHT OF THE FACTS HEREINAFTER STATED, ANY PART OF THE EMPLOYEE'S FUNDS WHICH ARE NOW HELD BY THE BUREAU OF INDIAN AFFAIRS MAY BE PAID TO THE TEXAS COMPANY TO COVER TRANSACTIONS OF BARRONS WHICH WERE BILLED TO THE BUREAU BUT DISALLOWED BECAUSE OF THE IRREGULARITIES.

IT APPEARS FROM THE RECORD THAT THE REPORTED IRREGULAR PURCHASES OCCURRED DURING THE PERIOD JULY 1 THROUGH DECEMBER 11, 1955, AND WERE FIRST NOTED ON DECEMBER 16, 1955, BY THE AREA ROAD ENGINEER, LAWRENCE C. BERNARD, WHEN HE EXAMINED THE TEXAS COMPANY INVOICES FOR THE MONTH ENDING DECEMBER 1. MR. BARRONE, UPON BEING CONFRONTED WITH THE INVOICES WHICH INCLUDED 11 IRREGULAR PURCHASES TOTALLING $28.35, PAID THAT AMOUNT IN CASH TO THE AREA ROAD ENGINEER. THIS PAYMENT WAS TURNED IN TO THE AREA OFFICE. THE VENDOR VOUCHERS COVERING THESE PURCHASES WERE DISALLOWED BY THE BUREAU BECAUSE OF THE IRREGULARITIES. DISCOVERY OF THESE UNAUTHORIZED PURCHASES LED TO AN AUDIT OF THE VOUCHERS PAID TO THE TEXAS COMPANY SINCE JULY 1, 1955, WHICH REVEALED THAT $115.97 HAD BEEN PAID BY THE BUREAU TO THE TEXAS COMPANY FOR IRREGULAR PURCHASES OF GASOLINE AND OIL BY BARRONE. THE TEXAS COMPANY STATEMENT FOR THE MONTH ENDING JANUARY 4, 1956, INCLUDED THREE INVOICES FOR UNAUTHORIZED PURCHASES BY BARRONE AMOUNTING TO $9.43, AND PAYMENT THEREFOR WAS NOT MADE BY THE BUREAU. ON FEBRUARY 1, 1956, BARRONE WAS ADVISED BY WATSON S. GARDNER, HIGHWAY CONSTRUCTION AND MAINTENANCE ENGINEER, THAT ADDITIONAL INVOICES BEARING HIS NAME HAD BEEN DISCOVERED AND HE WAS REQUESTED TO ENDORSE HIS SALARY CHECK OVER TO THE BUREAU TO PAY FOR THESE ADDITIONAL PURCHASES. BARRONE ENDORSED THE SALARY CHECK IN THE AMOUNT OF $109.37, AS REQUESTED IN ADDITION TO THE CASH REMITTANCE ($28.35) AND ENDORSED CHECK ($109.37), UNPAID SALARY IN THE AMOUNT OF $27.28 HAS BEEN IMPOUNDED FOR THE PROTECTION OF THE GOVERNMENT, MAKING A TOTAL OF $165.

IT IS STATED IN THE ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANT SECRETARY'S LETTER THAT IT HAS BEEN DETERMINED THAT THE BUREAU IS ENTITLED TO REIMBURSEMENT FROM THE IMPOUNDED FUNDS FOR UNAUTHORIZED PURCHASES PAID BY IT TO THE VENDOR TO THE EXTENT OF $115.97. IN REGARD TO THE BALANCE OF IMPOUNDED FUNDS, IT IS STATED THAT IT HAS BEEN RECOMMENDED THAT A PAYMENT OF $37.78 SHOULD BE MADE TO THE TEXAS COMPANY TO COVER THESE TRANSACTIONS OF BARRONE WHICH WERE DISALLOWED BEFORE PAYMENT BY THE BUREAU. IT IS FURTHER STATED THAT YOUR DEPARTMENT IS RELUCTANT TO ACT AFFIRMATIVELY UPON THIS PROPOSAL BECAUSE SUCH A PAYMENT WOULD REQUIRE DIVERSION OF A PART, AT LEAST, OF WITHHELD SALARY. DOUBT IS ALSO EXPRESSED CONCERNING THE USE OF THE CASH WHICH BARRONE PAID TO THE BUREAU.

WHILE ORDINARILY THE UNITED STATES WILL NOT ACT AS AN AGENT OR TRUSTEE FOR THE COLLECTION OF PRIVATE DEBTS, THE CIRCUMSTANCES UNDER WHICH THE PAYMENT BY ENDORSED CHECK AND CASH REMITTANCE WERE MADE APPEAR TO CONSTITUTE SUFFICIENT JUSTIFICATION FOR PAYMENT TO THE TEXAS COMPANY OF THE AMOUNT DISALLOWED BY THE BUREAU. HERE, THE EMPLOYEE VOLUNTARILY SUBMITTED A CASH REMITTANCE AND ENDORSED HIS SALARY CHECK TO BE APPLIED TOWARD PURCHASES OF GASOLINE AND OIL EVIDENCED BY INVOICES, SOME OF WHICH HAD BEEN PAID BY THE BUREAU TO THE VENDOR AND OTHERS WHICH HAD BEEN DISALLOWED. UNDER THESE CIRCUMSTANCES, THERE WOULD NOT APPEAR TO BE INVOLVED A DIVERSION OF SALARY WITHIN THE MEANING OF SECTION 3477, REVISED STATUTES, 31 U.S.C. 203, WHICH PROHIBITS THE ASSIGNMENT OF ANY CLAIMS AGAINST THE UNITED STATES, OR SECTION 3620, REVISED STATUTES, 31 U.S.C. 492, WHICH REQUIRES DISBURSING OFFICERS OF THE GOVERNMENT TO PAY PUBLIC MONEYS ONLY IN FAVOR OF THE PERSON TO WHOM PAYMENT IS DUE. ACCORDINGLY, AND SINCE THERE IS NO QUESTION AS TO THE AUTHORITY OF THE BUREAU TO WITHHOLD FROM THE UNPAID SALARY AN AMOUNT SUFFICIENT WHEN ADDED TO THE BALANCE OF THE PAYMENT BY CHECK ENDORSEMENT TO MEET BARRONE'S INDEBTEDNESS TO THE BUREAU, NO OBJECTION WILL BE INTERPOSED BY OUR OFFICE TO A PAYMENT OF $37.78 TO THE TEXAS COMPANY.