B-131617, JUN. 7, 1957

B-131617: Jun 7, 1957

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REQUESTS OUR DECISION AS TO WHETHER AGENT CASHIERS OPERATING WITHIN VETERANS ADMINISTRATION HOSPITALS AND FACILITIES ARE PERMITTED TO USE CASH MONEYS RECEIVED AS COLLECTIONS FOR THE PURPOSE OF CASHING TREASURY CHECKS OR NEGOTIABLE INSTRUMENTS FOR HOSPITALIZED OR DOMICILED VETERANS AS DISTINGUISHED FROM FUNDS ADVANCED BY THE TREASURY DEPARTMENT TO THE AGENT CASHIERS FOR DISBURSING PURPOSES. YOU REPORT THAT IF IT WERE PERMISSIBLE FOR AGENT CASHIERS TO USE COLLECTION MONEYS TO CASH TREASURY CHECKS AND OTHER NEGOTIABLE INSTRUMENTS. DISBURSING OFFICERS OF THE UNITED STATES ARE AUTHORIZED. WHEN SATISFACTORY BANKING FACILITIES ARE NOT AVAILABLE. DISBURSING OFFICERS OF THE UNITED STATES IN FOREIGN COUNTRIES ARE ALSO AUTHORIZED.

B-131617, JUN. 7, 1957

TO THE HONORABLE H. V. HIGLEY, ADMINISTRATOR, VETERANS ADMINISTRATION:

YOUR LETTER OF APRIL 22, 1957, REQUESTS OUR DECISION AS TO WHETHER AGENT CASHIERS OPERATING WITHIN VETERANS ADMINISTRATION HOSPITALS AND FACILITIES ARE PERMITTED TO USE CASH MONEYS RECEIVED AS COLLECTIONS FOR THE PURPOSE OF CASHING TREASURY CHECKS OR NEGOTIABLE INSTRUMENTS FOR HOSPITALIZED OR DOMICILED VETERANS AS DISTINGUISHED FROM FUNDS ADVANCED BY THE TREASURY DEPARTMENT TO THE AGENT CASHIERS FOR DISBURSING PURPOSES. YOU STATE THE COLLECTIONS ARISE FROM OVERPAYMENTS OF DISABILITY COMPENSATION AND PENSION, DEPOSIT OF PERSONAL FUNDS OF PATIENTS, LOAN GUARANTY REMITTANCES AND MISCELLANEOUS COLLECTIONS.

YOU REPORT THAT IF IT WERE PERMISSIBLE FOR AGENT CASHIERS TO USE COLLECTION MONEYS TO CASH TREASURY CHECKS AND OTHER NEGOTIABLE INSTRUMENTS, THERE WOULD BE SOME ADMINISTRATIVE SAVINGS AND ADVANTAGES THAT WOULD ACCRUE TO THE VETERANS ADMINISTRATION.

SECTION 1 OF THE ACT OF DECEMBER 23, 1944, 58 STAT. 921, AS AMENDED, AND MADE PERMANENT BY THE ACT OF JUNE 29, 1954, 68 STAT. 322, 31 U.S.C. 492 (A), PROVIDES AS FOLLOWS:

"SUBJECT TO REGULATIONS PROMULGATED PURSUANT TO SECTION 492A--- 492C OF THIS TITLE, DISBURSING OFFICERS OF THE UNITED STATES ARE AUTHORIZED, FOR OFFICIAL PURPOSES, OR FOR THE ACCOMMODATION OF MEMBERS OF THE ARMED FORCES AND CIVILIAN PERSONNEL OF THE UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT, VETERANS OF THE ARMED FORCES OF THE UNITED STATES HOSPITALIZED OR DOMICILED IN INSTITUTIONS OPERATED BY AGENCIES OF THE UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT, CONTRACTORS ENGAGED IN UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT PROJECTS AND THE PERSONNEL OF SUCH CONTRACTORS, AND PERSONNEL OF AUTHORIZED NONGOVERNMENTAL AGENCIES OPERATING WITH AGENCIES OF THE UNITED STATES, TO CASH AND NEGOTIATE CHECKS, DRAFTS, BILLS OF EXCHANGE, AND OTHER INSTRUMENTS PAYABLE IN UNITED STATES AND FOREIGN CURRENCIES, AND TO CONDUCT EXCHANGED TRANSACTIONS INVOLVING UNITED STATES AND FOREIGN CURRENCY AND COIN, CHECKS, DRAFTS, BILLS OF EXCHANGE, AND OTHER INSTRUMENTS; AND WHEN SATISFACTORY BANKING FACILITIES ARE NOT AVAILABLE, DISBURSING OFFICERS OF THE UNITED STATES IN FOREIGN COUNTRIES ARE ALSO AUTHORIZED, FOR THE ACCOMMODATION OF ANY PERSON WHO IS A UNITED STATES CITIZEN, TO CASH CHECKS DRAWN ON THE TREASURER OF THE UNITED STATES: PROVIDED, THAT SUCH CHECKS ARE PRESENTED BY THE PERSON TO WHOSE ORDER THEY ARE DRAWN. ANY OFFICIAL FUNDS WHICH ARE HELD BY DISBURSING OFFICERS OF THE UNITED STATES AND WHICH ARE AVAILABLE FOR EXPENDITURE MAY, WITH THE APPROVAL OF THE HEAD OF THE AGENCY HAVING JURISDICTION OVER SUCH FUNDS, BE UTILIZED FOR THESE PURPOSES.'

THE REGULATIONS OF THE TREASURY DEPARTMENT ISSUED PURSUANT TO THE FIRST PHRASE IN THE ABOVE-QUOTED SECTION OF LAW, TREASURY DEPARTMENT CIRCULAR 830 AS REVISED, MADE APPLICABLE TO AGENT CASHIERS BY SECTION 10 OF THE MANUAL OF PROCEDURES AND INSTRUCTIONS FOR AGENT CASHIERS, REGULATE THE CONDITONS UNDER WHICH CHECKS MAY BE CASHED FOR THE ACCOMMODATION OF HOSPITALIZED OR DOMICILED VETERANS BUT OF COURSE DO NOT PURPORT TO REGULATE THE FUNDS WHICH MAY BE CASHED FOR THE ACCOMMODATION OF HOSPITALIZED OR DOMICILED VETERANS BUT OF COURSE DO NOT PURPORT TO REGULATE THE FUNDS WHICH MAY BE USED FOR SUCH PURPOSE. IN THIS RESPECT THE PROVISIONS OF LAW QUOTED CLEARLY DENOMINATE THE OFFICIAL FUNDS "WHICH ARE AVAILABLE FOR EXPENDITURE" AS THE FUNDS TO BE UTILIZED FOR THE CHECK CASHING AND OTHER OPERATIONS AUTHORIZED IN THE ACT.

SECTION 3639 OF THE REVISED STATUTES, 31 U.S.C. 521, PROVIDES, IN PART, AS FOLLOWS:

"* * * ALL PUBLIC OFFICERS OF WHATSOEVER CHARACTER, ARE REQUIRED TO KEEP SAFELY, WITHOUT LOANING, USING, DEPOSITING IN BANKS, OR EXCHANGING FOR OTHER FUNDS THAN AS SPECIALLY ALLOWED BY LAW, ALL THE PUBLIC MONEY COLLECTED BY THEM, OR OTHERWISE AT ANY TIME PLACED IN THEIR POSSESSION AND CUSTODY, TILL THE SAME IS ORDERED, BY THE PROPER DEPARTMENT OR OFFICER OF THE GOVERNMENT, TO BE TRANSFERRED OR PAID OUT * * *.'

ALSO, SEE 31 U.S.C. 543.

IN THE LIGHT OF THE LAST QUOTED STATUTORY PROVISION, OUR OPINION IS THAT THERE HAS BEEN AUTHORIZED BY LAWS CHECK CASHING OPERATIONS FOR THE ACCOMMODATION OF HOSPITALIZED OR DOMICILED VETERANS FROM PUBLIC FUNDS WHICH ARE AVAILABLE FOR EXPENDITURE ONLY AND THAT THE USE FOR SUCH PURPOSE OF OTHER PUBLIC FUNDS WHICH COME INTO THE POSSESSION OR CUSTODY OF A PUBLIC OFFICER IS PROHIBITED. ACCORDINGLY, YOU ARE ADVISED THAT AGENT CASHIERS OF YOUR ADMINISTRATION WOULD NOT BE AUTHORIZED TO USE COLLECTIONS, WHICH ARE MONEYS NOT AVAILABLE FOR EXPENDITURES OF THE GOVERNMENT, FOR THE INVOLVED CHECK CASHING ACTIVITIES.