B-133466, OCT. 8, 1957

B-133466: Oct 8, 1957

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IT IS STATED IN THE LETTER THAT THE STORE AND WAREHOUSE. ARE FINANCED FROM TRIBAL APPROPRIATED FUNDS AND ARE OPERATED AS ADJUNCTS OF THE MENOMINEE MILL FOR THE PURPOSE OF CONTRIBUTING TO AND EXERTING A STABILIZING INFLUENCE ON THE ECONOMY OF THE RESERVATION. PRINCIPALLY AMONG THE PATRONS OF THESE FACILITIES ARE MILL EMPLOYEES (INDIANS) WHO ARE PAID WEEKLY BY TREASURY CHECKS DRAWN BY AN ASSISTANT DISBURSING OFFICER AT NEOPIT. IT IS REPORTED THAT THERE ARE NO CHECK-CASHING FACILITIES AT NEOPIT AND THE NECESSITY OF PATRONS TO TRAVEL 18 MILES TO THE NEAREST TOWN OFF THE RESERVATION FOR THIS PURPOSE CONTRIBUTES TOWARD LAXITY IN PAYMENT OF BILLS. FOR WHICH TREASURY CHECKS ARE TENDERED IN PAYMENT.

B-133466, OCT. 8, 1957

TO THE SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR:

BY LETTER DATED AUGUST 15, 1957, THE ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANT SECRETARY REQUESTS OUR APPROVAL OF A BUREAU OF INDIAN AFFAIRS PROPOSAL IN THE OPERATION OF A STORE AND WAREHOUSE ON THE MENOMINEE RESERVATION, NEOPIT, WISCONSIN, TO WITHHOLD CURRENCY RECEIPTS FROM DEPOSIT FOR CHANGE-MAKING PURPOSES.

IT IS STATED IN THE LETTER THAT THE STORE AND WAREHOUSE, LOCATED IN THE VILLAGE OF NEOPIT, ARE FINANCED FROM TRIBAL APPROPRIATED FUNDS AND ARE OPERATED AS ADJUNCTS OF THE MENOMINEE MILL FOR THE PURPOSE OF CONTRIBUTING TO AND EXERTING A STABILIZING INFLUENCE ON THE ECONOMY OF THE RESERVATION. PRINCIPALLY AMONG THE PATRONS OF THESE FACILITIES ARE MILL EMPLOYEES (INDIANS) WHO ARE PAID WEEKLY BY TREASURY CHECKS DRAWN BY AN ASSISTANT DISBURSING OFFICER AT NEOPIT. IT IS REPORTED THAT THERE ARE NO CHECK-CASHING FACILITIES AT NEOPIT AND THE NECESSITY OF PATRONS TO TRAVEL 18 MILES TO THE NEAREST TOWN OFF THE RESERVATION FOR THIS PURPOSE CONTRIBUTES TOWARD LAXITY IN PAYMENT OF BILLS, AND LESS OF BUSINESS THROUGH INABILITY TO CASH CHECKS IN A NORMAL BUSINESS MANNER. ONLY IN UNUSUAL INSTANCES DO EMPLOYEES' PURCHASES OR THEIR DEBTS, FOR WHICH TREASURY CHECKS ARE TENDERED IN PAYMENT, EQUAL THE AMOUNT OF THE CHECK, AND DIFFICULTY THEREBY ARISES IN MAINTAINING A SUFFICIENT BALANCE OF CURRENCY TO ACCOMMODATE THOSE TENDERING CHECKS. THE ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANT SECRETARY ADVISES THAT THE USE OF AGENT CASHIERS HAS BEEN SUGGESTED, BUT IT IS STATED THAT BOTH THE SLOWNESS OF THE REPLENISHMENT CYCLE, TOGETHER WITH LACK OF CONVENIENT FACILITIES FOR CONVERTING A REPLENISHMENT CHECK TO CURRENCY, TEND TO RENDER SUCH A SCHEME CUMBERSOME AND IMPRACTICAL. OUR APPROVAL IS THEREFORE REQUESTED OF THE FOLLOWING PROCEDURES, IT BEING THE VIEW OF YOUR DEPARTMENT THAT IN THE OPERATION OF THE MENOMINEE TRIBAL SAWMILL AND ITS RELATED ACTIVITIES THE BEST INTERESTS OF THE UNITED STATES AS TRUSTEE FOR THE TRIBE WOULD BE SERVED THEREBY:

"1. WITHHOLD FROM DAILY DEPOSIT RECEIPTS (CURRENCY ONLY) OF THE STORE AND WAREHOUSE OPERATIONS TO EACH PAYROLL CHECKS DRAWN ON THE TREASURER OF THE UNITED STATES RECEIVED IN THE NORMAL COURSE OF BUSINESS OPERATIONS;

"2. THE AMOUNTS WITHHELD SHALL BE KEPT TO A MINIMUM AND SHALL NOT EXCEED $3,500 FOR THE STORE AND $3,500 FOR THE WAREHOUSE;

"3. SUCH RECORDS SHALL BE MAINTAINED AS ARE NECESSARY TO PROPERLY VERIFY AND ACCOUNT FOR ALL RECEIPTS AND DEPOSITS, WHICH SHALL BE SUBJECT TO VERIFICATION BY PERSONS OTHER THAN THOSE HANDLING THE RECEIPTS AND DEPOSITS;

"4. PERSONNEL HANDLING FUNDS SHALL BE BONDED TO THE UNITED STATES AS COLLECTION OFFICERS.'

THE IMPROPRIETY OF THE WITHHOLDING OF STORE RECEIPTS AT THE MENOMINEE INDIAN AGENCY AND MILLS FOR USE AS A CHECK CASHING FUND WAS ONE OF THE MATTERS BROUGHT TO THE ATTENTION OF THE THEN SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR IN OUR LETTER OF MARCH 8, 1948, B-48120, IT BEING POINTED OUT THEREIN THAT WITHHOLDING OF RECEIPTS FROM DEPOSIT WAS NOT IN COMPLIANCE WITH THE PROVISIONS OF SECTION 3617, REVISED STATUTES, 31 U.S.C. 484. IN VIEW OF THIS STATUTORY REQUIREMENT THAT RECEIPTS BE DEPOSITED AT AS EARLY A DATE AS PRACTICABLE, AND CONSISTENT WITH THE REGULATIONS OF OUR OFFICE AS SET FORTH IN 7 GAO 3030.10, APPROVAL OF THE PROPOSED PROCEDURE MAY NOT BE GRANTED.

WE RECOGNIZE THE PROBLEM EXISTING AT THE MENOMINEE RESERVATION AND IT IS THEREFORE SUGGESTED THAT IN ADDITION TO GIVING FURTHER CONSIDERATION TO AN AGENT-CASHIER FUND, THAT THE BUREAU OF INDIAN AFFAIRS EXPLORE THE FEASIBILITY OF (1) DISBURSING THE MILL PAYROLL IN CURRENCY INSTEAD OF CHECKS, (2) ESTABLISHING TWO CHECK-CASHING FUNDS IN THE AMOUNT OF $3,500 EACH BY APPROPRIATION OF TRIBAL FUNDS, OR (3) REQUESTING THE ASSISTANT DISBURSING OFFICER TO UTILIZE A CASH FUND OF $5,000, WHICH WE UNDERSTAND IS NOW IN EXISTENCE, AND WHICH HE IS CURRENTLY AUTHORIZED TO USE FOR CHECK -CASHING PURPOSES.