B-134473, JAN. 16, 1958

B-134473: Jan 16, 1958

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WHICH WAS THE SUBJECT OF NOTICE OF EXCEPTION NO. 506817. THE NOTICE OF EXCEPTION WAS STATED AGAINST THE PAYMENT TO WILLIAM F. THE EXCEPTION WAS STATED AGAINST ALLOWANCE OF RETURN TRANSPORTATION EXPENSE. WHO WAS ASSIGNED TO TEMPORARY PATROL DUTY FROM HIS OFFICIAL STATION. AT NO EXTRA TRANSPORTATION EXPENSE TO THE GOVERNMENT) WAS NECESSARY BECAUSE OF HIS WIFE'S ILL HEALTH. IT WAS INDICATED BY THE REGIONAL ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICER. LAMERE'S DETAIL TO HIS TEMPORARY DUTY STATION WAS OFFICIALLY TERMINATED PRIOR TO THE PERFORMANCE OF TRAVEL. IT WAS FELT THAT ISSUANCE OF THE GOVERNMENT TRANSPORTATION REQUEST WAS IN ORDER. THE EXCEPTION WAS RESTATED MAY 5. SINCE THE RECORD SHOWED THE DETAIL WAS TERMINATED TO PERMIT THE EARLY RETURN TO OFFICIAL STATION FOR THE PERSONAL CONVENIENCE OF THE EMPLOYEE AND THE RESULTANT EXCESS COSTS DUE TO RETURN BY COMMON CARRIER WERE THEREFORE NOT ALLOWABLE.

B-134473, JAN. 16, 1958

TO MR. E. A. LONGBRAN:

THIS REFERS TO YOUR LETTERS OF NOVEMBER 30, 1956, FILE NO. 56363/414, AND SEPTEMBER 25, 1957, FILE NO. CO-767-C, REQUESTING THAT RELIEF FROM LIABILITY BE GRANTED THOMAS W. DODDS, AUTHORIZED CERTIFYING OFFICER, FOR THE AMOUNT OF $134.25, WHICH WAS THE SUBJECT OF NOTICE OF EXCEPTION NO. 506817, REVISED MAY 5, 1955, AND INCLUDED IN CERTIFICATE OF SETTLEMENT NO. CAAD-2404, DATED AUGUST 7, 1957. THE NOTICE OF EXCEPTION WAS STATED AGAINST THE PAYMENT TO WILLIAM F. LAMERE, IMMIGRATION PATROL INSPECTOR EVIDENCED BY D.O. VOUCHER NO. 4983 IN THE JULY 1954 ACCOUNT OF N. H. BARRACLOUGH.

THE EXCEPTION WAS STATED AGAINST ALLOWANCE OF RETURN TRANSPORTATION EXPENSE, CITING 14 COMP. GEN. 687, FOR THE REASON THAT MR. LAMERE, WHO WAS ASSIGNED TO TEMPORARY PATROL DUTY FROM HIS OFFICIAL STATION, OGDENSBURGH, NEW YORK, TO CHALA VISTA, CALIFORNIA, AND OTHER POINTS IN THE LOS ANGELES DISTRICT, THE PERIOD OF TRAVEL TO BE FROM JUNE 10, 1954, TO JULY 22, 1954, RETURNED TO HIS OFFICIAL STATION FOR PERSONAL REASONS PRIOR TO COMPLETION OF HIS TOUR OF TEMPORARY PATROL DUTY. A NOTATION ON VOUCHER NO. 4983, SIGNED BY THE EMPLOYEE, SHOWS THE RETURN TO OFFICIAL STATION BY COMMON CARRIER RATHER THAN BY GOVERNMENT-OWNED AUTOMOBILE (ACCOMPANIED BY TWO OTHER EMPLOYEES OF THE SERVICE, AT NO EXTRA TRANSPORTATION EXPENSE TO THE GOVERNMENT) WAS NECESSARY BECAUSE OF HIS WIFE'S ILL HEALTH. IN REPLY DATED APRIL 18, 1955, IT WAS INDICATED BY THE REGIONAL ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICER, IMMIGRATION AND NATURALIZATION SERVICE, BURLINGTON, VERMONT, THAT INASMUCH AS MR. LAMERE'S DETAIL TO HIS TEMPORARY DUTY STATION WAS OFFICIALLY TERMINATED PRIOR TO THE PERFORMANCE OF TRAVEL, IT WAS FELT THAT ISSUANCE OF THE GOVERNMENT TRANSPORTATION REQUEST WAS IN ORDER. THE EXCEPTION WAS RESTATED MAY 5, 1955, SINCE THE RECORD SHOWED THE DETAIL WAS TERMINATED TO PERMIT THE EARLY RETURN TO OFFICIAL STATION FOR THE PERSONAL CONVENIENCE OF THE EMPLOYEE AND THE RESULTANT EXCESS COSTS DUE TO RETURN BY COMMON CARRIER WERE THEREFORE NOT ALLOWABLE. THE ADMINISTRATIVE REPLY OF JULY 26, 1955, TO THIS EXCEPTION STATED THAT ACTION HAD BEEN TAKEN TO PLACE A CAVEAT AGAINST MR. LAMERE'S ACCOUNT IN THE CIVIL SERVICE RETIREMENT FUND. YOUR LETTER OF NOVEMBER 26, 1956, STATES THAT MR. LAMERE RESIGNED FROM THE SERVICE AND WITHDREW HIS RETIREMENT FUND BEFORE COLLECTION WAS MADE, AND SINCE ALL REASONABLE EFFORTS HAVE BEEN MADE TO COLLECT THIS DEBT, WITHOUT SUCCESS, IT HAS BEEN DETERMINED TO BE ADMINISTRATIVELY UNCOLLECTIBLE AND REMOVED FROM YOUR ACTIVE ACCOUNTS. RELIEF OF THE ACCOUNTABLE OFFICER OF RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE PAYMENT IS APPARENTLY REQUESTED UPON THIS BASIS.

THE AUTHORITY FOR THE GRANTING OF RELIEF TO CERTIFYING OFFICERS IS CONTAINED IN THE ACT OF DECEMBER 29, 1941, 55 STAT. 875, 31 U.S.C. 82C, WHICH PROVIDES IN PERTINENT PART AS FOLLOWS:

"* * * THAT THE COMPTROLLER GENERAL MAY, IN HIS DISCRETION, RELIEVE SUCH CERTIFYING OFFICER OR EMPLOYEE OF LIABILITY FOR ANY PAYMENT OTHERWISE PROPER WHENEVER HE FINDS (1) THAT THE CERTIFICATION WAS BASED ON OFFICIAL RECORDS AND THAT SUCH CERTIFYING OFFICER OR EMPLOYEE DID NOT KNOW, AND BY REASONABLE DILIGENCE AND INQUIRY COULD NOT HAVE ASCERTAINED, THE ACTUAL FACTS, OR (2) THAT THE OBLIGATION WAS INCURRED IN GOOD FAITH, THAT THE PAYMENT WAS NOT CONTRARY TO ANY STATUTORY PROVISION SPECIFICALLY PROHIBITING PAYMENTS OF THE CHARACTER INVOLVED, AND THAT THE UNITED STATES HAS RECEIVED VALUE FOR SUCH PAYMENT.'

OUR OFFICE HAS NO AUTHORITY TO GRANT RELIEF IN CASES SUCH AS THIS OTHER THAN ON THE BASIS PROVIDED IN THE ABOVE STATUTE. SUCH RELIEF SHOULD BE SOUGHT ONLY IN MERITORIOUS CASES, AND AS THE REASONS FOR CONSIDERING IT MERITORIOUS MAY NOT BE DETERMINABLE BY OUR OFFICE FROM A MERE EXAMINATION OF THE VOUCHER, THE GROUNDS RELIED ON FOR RELIEF, OR THE AMELIORATING CIRCUMSTANCES UPON WHICH THE CONGRESS WOULD BE URGED TO GRANT RELIEF SHOULD BE SHOWN IN THE REQUEST FOR RELIEF BY OUR OFFICE. 30 COMP. GEN. 298. SINCE NO EVIDENCE HAS BEEN FURNISHED WHICH WOULD APPEAR TO BRING THIS CASE WITHIN OUR AUTHORITY TO GRANT RELIEF, WE HAVE NO ALTERNATIVE ON THE PRESENT RECORD BUT TO DENY YOUR REQUEST FOR RELIEF. IT APPEARS, HOWEVER, THAT THE EXCEPTION OF $134.25 HAS BEEN OVERSTATED SO FAR AS THE LIABILITY OF THE AUTHORIZED CERTIFYING OFFICER IS CONCERNED INASMUCH AS HIS CERTIFICATE AUTHORIZED PAYMENT OF ONLY $112.75 TO WILLIAM F. LAMERE AND THAT WAS THE AMOUNT PAID ON SUCH CERTIFICATION. WHILE MR. LAMERE WAS OVERPAID $134.25, SINCE THERE WAS PAID ON THE CERTIFICATE OF MR. DODD ONLY $112.75, IT DOES NOT APPEAR THAT HE IS LIABLE FOR ANY SUM IN EXCESS OF THAT AMOUNT. THE EXCEPTION AND CERTIFICATE OF SETTLEMENT WILL BE REVISED ACCORDINGLY SO AS TO CHARGE MR. DODD WITH ONLY $112.75 RATHER THAN THE FULL AMOUNT OVERPAID MR. LAMERE.

COLLECTION ACTION AGAINST THE FORMER EMPLOYEE IS BEING CONTINUED BY OUR CLAIMS DIVISION, AND BY LETTER DATED OCTOBER 3, 1957, MR. LAMERE, WHO ALLEGES HE IS IN EXTREMELY STRAIGHTENED FINANCIAL CIRCUMSTANCES, REMITTED $1 AND STATED THAT HE WILL PAY AS MUCH AS HE CAN EVERY OTHER WEEK. ADDITIONAL $2 WAS RECEIVED NOVEMBER 18, 1957. UNTIL AND UNLESS THE PAYMENTS RECEIVED FROM MR. LAMERE REDUCE THE AMOUNT OVERPAID HIM BELOW $112.75, THEY WILL NOT AFFECT OR LESSEN MR. DODD'S ..END :