B-140832, DEC. 15, 1959

B-140832: Dec 15, 1959

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EXCEPTIONS WERE STATED BY OUR OFFICE AGAINST THE ABOVE DISBURSING OFFICERS FOR AN ERRONEOUS PAYMENT OF $200 MADE TO ALFRED C. THE EXCEPTIONS WERE ISSUED FOR THE REASON THAT THE ABOVE-NAMED PAYEES PREVIOUSLY HAD RECEIVED PAYMENTS IN THE ABOVE AMOUNTS UNDER THE PROVISIONS OF THAT ACT. NAVY COMPTROLLER MANUAL) REQUIRE FIELD DISBURSING OFFICERS TO DECLINE PAYMENT OF CLAIMS FOR MUSTERING-OUT PAY WHERE SERVICE RECORDS OR OTHER AVAILABLE INFORMATION INDICATE PRIOR SERVICE FROM WHICH MEMBERS COULD HAVE BEEN DISCHARGED ON OR AFTER JUNE 27. THE DOCUMENTS BEFORE THE DISBURSING OFFICER AT THE TIME THE ERRONEOUS PAYMENTS HERE INVOLVED WERE MADE INCLUDED RECORD OF DISCHARGE. THE SERVICE CREDITS WERE ALSO REFLECTED ON THE DD FORM 113 FOR BOTH HORN AND FAZIO.

B-140832, DEC. 15, 1959

TO THE SECRETARY OF THE NAVY:

BY LETTER OF AUGUST 4, 1959, THE ASSISTANT COMPTROLLER OF THE NAVY REQUESTED THAT RELIEF BE GRANTED TO DISBURSING OFFICERS H. V. PARSONS AND R. J. PUFFER, PURSUANT TO THE ACT OF AUGUST 11, 1955, 69 STAT. 687.

EXCEPTIONS WERE STATED BY OUR OFFICE AGAINST THE ABOVE DISBURSING OFFICERS FOR AN ERRONEOUS PAYMENT OF $200 MADE TO ALFRED C. HORN BY H. V. PARSONS ON VOUCHER 363 IN HIS SEPTEMBER 1956 ACCOUNT, AND FOR AN ERRONEOUS PAYMENT OF $300 MADE TO SAMUEL W. FAZIO BY R. J. PUFFER ON VOUCHER 109880 IN HIS DECEMBER 1956 ACCOUNT. THE AMOUNTS INVOLVED REPRESENTED MUSTERING- OUT PAY PURSUANT TO THE PROVISIONS OF THE VETERANS' READJUSTMENT ASSISTANCE ACT OF 1952, AS AMENDED, 66 STAT. 688. THE EXCEPTIONS WERE ISSUED FOR THE REASON THAT THE ABOVE-NAMED PAYEES PREVIOUSLY HAD RECEIVED PAYMENTS IN THE ABOVE AMOUNTS UNDER THE PROVISIONS OF THAT ACT.

REGULATIONS IN EFFECT SINCE MAY 7, 1956 (PARAGRAPH 044166-3, NAVY COMPTROLLER MANUAL) REQUIRE FIELD DISBURSING OFFICERS TO DECLINE PAYMENT OF CLAIMS FOR MUSTERING-OUT PAY WHERE SERVICE RECORDS OR OTHER AVAILABLE INFORMATION INDICATE PRIOR SERVICE FROM WHICH MEMBERS COULD HAVE BEEN DISCHARGED ON OR AFTER JUNE 27, 1950.

THE DOCUMENTS BEFORE THE DISBURSING OFFICER AT THE TIME THE ERRONEOUS PAYMENTS HERE INVOLVED WERE MADE INCLUDED RECORD OF DISCHARGE, RELEASE FROM ACTIVE DUTY, OR DEATH (NAVSANDA 512) AND MILITARY PAY RECORDS (DD FORM 113). IN THE CASE OF HORN THE NAVSANDA 512 SHOWS THAT HE ENTERED INTO HIS THEN CURRENT ENLISTMENT ON SEPTEMBER 21, 1950 AND THAT HE HAD COMPLETED TWELVE YEARS SERVICE ON SEPTEMBER 20, 1954. IN THE CASE OF FAZIO THE NAVSANDA 512 SHOWS THAT HE ENTERED INTO HIS THEN CURRENT ENLISTMENT ON DECEMBER 19, 1950 AND THAT HE HAD COMPLETED EIGHT YEARS SERVICE ON APRIL 14, 1955. THE SERVICE CREDITS WERE ALSO REFLECTED ON THE DD FORM 113 FOR BOTH HORN AND FAZIO.

THE DOCUMENTS DESCRIBED ABOVE CLEARLY SHOW THAT BOTH PAYEES HAD PRIOR SERVICE FROM WHICH THEY COULD HAVE BEEN DISCHARGED ON OR AFTER JUNE 27, 1950. THE REGULATIONS IN EFFECT PRIOR TO MAY 7, 1956, PERMITTED FIELD DISBURSING OFFICERS TO MAKE PAYMENT UNDER THOSE CONDITIONS. HOWEVER THE NEW PROCEDURES CONTAINED IN CHANGE 55, NAVY COMPTROLLER MANUAL, WHICH WERE PRESCRIBED TO PREVENT DUPLICATE PAYMENTS SUCH AS HERE INVOLVED, REQUIRE SUCH CLAIMS TO BE FORWARDED UNPAID TO THE NAVY FINANCE CENTER.

IN URGING THAT THE PAYMENTS SHOULD NOT BE ATTRIBUTED TO A LACK OF DUE CARE, THE ASSISTANT COMPTROLLER STATES IN HIS LETTER THAT---

"CHANGE 55 OF 7 MAY 1956, TO THE NAVY COMPTROLLER MANUAL, REQUIRED THAT ALL MUSTERING-OUT PAY CLAIMS INVOLVING PRIOR SERVICE BY THE MEMBER BE FORWARDED TO THE NAVY FINANCE CENTER FOR PAYMENT. CHANGE 55 HOWEVER, WAS A COMPLETE REVISION OF CHAPTER 4, MILITARY PAY AND ACCOUNTS AND SPECIFIC ATTENTION WAS NOT FOCUSED ON MUSTERING-OUT PAY INSTRUCTIONS. IT APPEARS REASONABLE TO SUGGEST THAT ADMINISTRATIVE OVERSIGHT IN NOT PINPOINTING AND ADEQUATELY PUBLICIZING THE NEW REQUIREMENT, MAY HAVE CAUSED IT TO BE OVERLOOKED BY MANY DISBURSING OFFICERS, THUS RESULTING IN A SUBSTANTIAL NUMBER OF DUPLICATE PAYMENTS IN THIS AREA.

"ADMINISTRATIVE ACTION AT THE DEPARTMENTAL LEVEL MAY HAVE FURTHER CONTRIBUTED TO THE COMPLEXITY OF THIS SITUATION BY THE ISSUANCE OF SUCCESSIVE INSTRUCTIONS REDESIGNATING THE ACTIVITIES TO WHICH CLAIMS WERE TO BE FORWARDED FOR SETTLEMENT. THE ACT OF 16 JUNE 1952, AUTHORIZED MUSTERING-OUT PAYMENTS TO ALL MEMBERS DISCHARGED SUBSEQUENT TO 26 JUNE 1950, WHO WERE NOT ENTITLED TO OR DID NOT ELECT PAYMENT UNDER THE ACT OF 1944. MEMBERS DISCHARGED ON OR AFTER 27 JUNE 1950, AND PRIOR TO RECEIPT OF INSTRUCTIONS CONTAINED IN ALNAV 33-52 OF 19 JULY 1952, WHO HAD NOT REENLISTED, WERE REQUIRED TO SUBMIT CLAIMS TO THE NAVY FINANCE CENTER FOR PAYMENT. ALNAV 33-52 AND CHANGE 22, SUPPLEMENT 1, OF NOVEMBER 1952 TO THE BUREAU OF SUPPLIES AND ACCOUNTS MANUAL, PARAGRAPHS 54165 THROUGH 54167, PROVIDED FOR: 1. AUTHORITY FOR DISBURSING OFFICERS TO SETTLE MUSTERING- OUT PAY CLAIMS TO MEMBERS DISCHARGED PRIOR TO 16 JULY 1952 (OR RECEIPT OF ALNAV 33-52) WHO HAD REENLISTED OR REENTERED ON ACTIVE DUTY, IF THE DISCHARGE WAS FROM A PERIOD OF ACTIVE DUTY ENTERED INTO SUBSEQUENT TO 30 JUNE 1947. MEMBERS WERE REQUIRED TO PRESENT THE ORIGINAL ARMED FORCES OF THE U.S. REPORT OF TRANSFER OR DISCHARGE (DD FORM 214) FOR ENDORSEMENT AS TO THE MUSTERING-OUT PAYMENT, OTHERWISE THE CLAIM WAS TO BE SUBMITTED TO THE NAVY FINANCE CENTER; AND 2. AUTHORITY FOR DISBURSING OFFICERS TO SETTLE ALL MUSTERING-OUT PAY CLAIMS FOR MEMBERS DISCHARGED SUBSEQUENT TO 16 JULY 1952. CASES INVOLVING DOUBTFUL ENTITLEMENT COULD BE SUBMITTED TO THE NAVY FINANCE CENTER, UNLESS THE MEMBER REENLISTED, IN WHICH EVENT, CERTIFICATION WAS REQUESTED FROM THE NAVY FINANCE CENTER AND IF APPROPRIATE, THE CLAIMS WERE RETURNED FOR LOCAL PAYMENT. CHANGE 55 TO THE NAVY COMPTROLLER MANUAL, WAS THEN ISSUED AS MENTIONED ABOVE.'

THE PROPOSED BASIS FOR RELIEF APPEARS TO HAVE BEEN PUT FORWARD AS A BASIS FOR THE RELIEF OF ALL DISBURSING OFFICERS WHO MAY HAVE MADE SIMILAR ERRONEOUS MUSTERING-OUT PAYMENTS. IN THE PARTICULAR CASES HERE CONSIDERED THE PAYMENTS WERE MADE 4 AND 6 MONTHS AFTER CHANGE 55 WAS ISSUED AND IT IS NOT SHOWN THAT THE DISBURSING OFFICERS WERE NOT AWARE OF THE CHANGED PROCEDURES AT THE TIME THE PAYMENTS WERE MADE. THE MERE ADMINISTRATIVE DETERMINATION THAT THE ERRONEOUS PAYMENTS MAY HAVE BEEN CAUSED BY THE FAILURE TO PINPOINT THE CHANGE IN THE REGULATIONS DOES NOT ESTABLISH THAT "DUE CARE" WAS EXERCISED BY THE DISBURSING OFFICERS. ACCORDINGLY, WE DO NOT FEEL THAT ON THE BASIS OF THE ASSISTANT COMPTROLLER'S LETTER WE WOULD BE JUSTIFIED IN GRANTING RELIEF TO THE DISBURSING OFFICERS NOW CONCERNED.

IT MAY BE STATED, HOWEVER, THAT ONE OF THE PAYEES, SAMUEL PAZIO, HAS REPAID HIS INDEBTEDNESS IN FULL AND THAT ALFRED HORN IS MAKING PERIODIC REPAYMENTS AND HAS REDUCED HIS INDEBTEDNESS TO $135. THE EXCEPTION, THEREFORE, WILL BE REMOVED AS TO DISBURSING OFFICER PUFFER AND WHEN AND IF ALFRED HORN REPAYS HIS INDEBTEDNESS IN FULL, THE EXCEPTION STATED AGAINST DISBURSING OFFICER PARSONS WILL, OF COURSE, ALSO BE REMOVED.