B-141912, MAR. 7, 1961

B-141912: Mar 7, 1961

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FROM LIABILITY FOR A PAYMENT OF $101 MADE BY HIM ON THE BASIS OF A FORGED PAY RECEIPT WHILE HE WAS THE DISBURSING OFFICER ON THE U.S.S. WAS NOT ABOARD THE SHIP ON THAT PAY DAY. UPON INVESTIGATION IT WAS DETERMINED THAT. THE PAY RECEIPT SUPPORTING THAT CHARGE WAS A FORGERY. THE IDENTITY OF THE FORGER WAS NEVER DETERMINED. SINCE IT WAS CLEAR THAT DAVIS HAD NOT BEEN PAID THE $101 IN QUESTION. HIS PAY RECORD WAS CORRECTED AND PAYMENT WAS MADE TO HIM. THE FORGED PAY RECEIPT HERE INVOLVED IS OBVIOUSLY ALTERED. - WHICH IS NOT DAVIS' NUMBER . WAS STRICKEN OUT BY DRAWING LINES THROUGH IT AND DAVIS' CORRECT SERVICE NUMBER WAS WRITTEN IN ABOVE. THE RECORD IS NOT COMPLETELY CLEAR AS TO WHETHER THE ALTERATION WAS MADE BEFORE OR AFTER PAYMENT WAS MADE ON THE BASIS OF THE RECEIPT.

B-141912, MAR. 7, 1961

TO THE SECRETARY OF THE NAVY:

BY LETTER DATED JANUARY 9, 1961, THE THEN ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF THE NAVY (PERSONNEL AND RESERVE FORCES) REQUESTED RECONSIDERATION OF OUR PRIOR REFUSAL TO GRANT LIEUTENANT (JG) TRUMAN O. MITCHELL, SC, USNR, RELIEF UNDER THE PROVISIONS OF SECTION 1 OF THE ACT OF AUGUST 11, 1955, 31 U.S.C. 82A-2, FROM LIABILITY FOR A PAYMENT OF $101 MADE BY HIM ON THE BASIS OF A FORGED PAY RECEIPT WHILE HE WAS THE DISBURSING OFFICER ON THE U.S.S. HELENA.

THE RECORD BEFORE OUR OFFICE DISCLOSES THE FOLLOWING INFORMATION REGARDING THE PAYMENT IN QUESTION. ONE LARRY E. DAVIS, AN ENLISTED MAN ABOARD THE U.S.S. HELENA, REGISTERED A COMPLAINT AT THE DISBURSING OFFICE ON NOVEMBER 30, 1957, STATING THAT THE MONEY LIST POSTED FOR THE DECEMBER 2, 1957, PAY DAY DID NOT SHOW THE CORRECT AMOUNT DUE HIM AND THAT HE HAD NOT DRAWN PAY ON THE NOVEMBER 15, 1957, PAY DAY SINCE HE HAD COMMENCED 15 DAYS' AUTHORIZED LEAVE ON NOVEMBER 4, 1957, AND WAS NOT ABOARD THE SHIP ON THAT PAY DAY. UPON INVESTIGATION IT WAS DETERMINED THAT, WHILE THE PAYROLL OF NOVEMBER 15, 1957, BORE A $101 CHARGE AGAINST LARRY E. DAVIS, THE PAY RECEIPT SUPPORTING THAT CHARGE WAS A FORGERY. THE IDENTITY OF THE FORGER WAS NEVER DETERMINED, BUT SINCE IT WAS CLEAR THAT DAVIS HAD NOT BEEN PAID THE $101 IN QUESTION, HIS PAY RECORD WAS CORRECTED AND PAYMENT WAS MADE TO HIM.

THE FORGED PAY RECEIPT HERE INVOLVED IS OBVIOUSLY ALTERED, IN THAT THE SERVICE NUMBER ORIGINALLY PLACED THEREON--- WHICH IS NOT DAVIS' NUMBER -- WAS STRICKEN OUT BY DRAWING LINES THROUGH IT AND DAVIS' CORRECT SERVICE NUMBER WAS WRITTEN IN ABOVE. THE RECORD IS NOT COMPLETELY CLEAR AS TO WHETHER THE ALTERATION WAS MADE BEFORE OR AFTER PAYMENT WAS MADE ON THE BASIS OF THE RECEIPT. HOWEVER, PAYMENT ON THE BASIS OF THE RECEIPT WAS IMPROPER REGARDLESS OF WHEN THE ALTERATION WAS MADE. IF THE ALTERATION WAS MADE AFTER PAYMENT, THE PAYMENT WAS MADE ON THE BASIS OF A PAY RECEIPT CLEARLY NOT BEARING THE CORRECT SERVICE NUMBER OF THE PERSON IN WHOSE NAME IT WAS DRAWN. CONVERSELY, IF THE ALTERATION WAS MADE BEFORE PAYMENT, THE PAYMENT WAS MADE ON THE BASIS OF AN OBVIOUSLY ALTERED PAY RECEIPT. THUS, THE PAYMENT IS CLEARLY IMPROPER AND THE SOLE QUESTION IS WHO MUST BEAR THE RESPONSIBILITY THEREFOR.

THE RECORD SHOWS THAT THE PAY LINE ON THE PAY DAY OF NOVEMBER 15, 1957, WAS DIVIDED INTO TWO PARTS, WITH LIEUTENANT (JG) MITCHELL MAKING PAYMENT TO ALL MEMBERS WHOSE SURNAMES BEGAN WITH "A" THROUGH "K" WHILE RICHARD FERGUSON, DKC, AGENT CASHIER, PAID THE OTHERS. THE LETTER OF APRIL 25, 1960, FROM THE ASSISTANT COMPTROLLER, DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY, STATES THAT OTHER PERSONNEL WERE ASSIGNED THE DUTIES OF DETERMINING THAT EACH MEMBER POSSESSED AN IDENTIFICATION CARD AND A COMPLETED PAY RECEIPT; THAT THE PAY RECEIPT AND THE IDENTIFICATION CARD WERE THEN PRESENTED TO A DISBURSING CLERK WHO VERIFIED THE DATA ON THE PAY RECEIPT WITH PARALLEL INFORMATION ON THE MONEY LIST AND ALSO VERIFIED THESE DOCUMENTS AGAINST THE NAME AND SERVICE NUMBER APPEARING ON THE IDENTIFICATION CARD; AND THAT THE PAY RECEIPT WAS THEN PASSED TO THE DISBURSING OFFICER OR AGENT CASHIER FOR PAYMENT. OBVIOUSLY, THE ERROR WHICH RESULTED IN MAKING THE IMPROPER PAYMENT HERE INVOLVED ACTUALLY WAS MADE BY THE PERSON WHO PERFORMED THE VERIFICATION OF THE PAY RECEIPT WITH THE IDENTIFICATION CARD AND THE MONEY LIST.

WE RECOGNIZE THAT THE DUTIES OF A DISBURSING OFFICER MAY BECOME SO HEAVY THAT DELEGATIONS OF PORTIONS THEREOF MUST BE MADE. NEVERTHELESS, THE DISBURSING OFFICER STILL REMAINS THE PERSON PRIMARILY RESPONSIBLE FOR THE SAFEGUARDING AND THE PROPER EXPENDITURES OF GOVERNMENT FUNDS, AND WITH THESE DELEGATIONS OF DUTIES ADEQUATE POLICING CONTROLS SHOULD HAVE BEEN DEVELOPED AND APPLIED BY THE DISBURSING OFFICER. THERE IS NOTHING IN THE RECORD BEFORE US TO SHOW THE LIEUTENANT (JG) MITCHELL ESTABLISHED AND APPLIED ANY SUCH CONTROLS OR MADE ANY ATTEMPT WHATSOEVER TO ASSURE HIMSELF THAT THE PROCEDURE USED WAS EFFECTIVE. THE RECORD FAILS TO SHOW THAT LIEUTENANT (JG) MITCHELL EXERCISED ANY SUPERVISION AT ALL OVER THE DISBURSING CLERK WHO ESTABLISHED THE IDENTITIES OF MEMBERS TO BE PAID AND THUS ESTABLISHED THE PROPRIETY OF THE PAYMENTS. THESE FAILURES ON THE PART OF THE DISBURSING OFFICER AMOUNT TO A LACK OF DUE CARE IN THE PERFORMANCE OF HIS DUTIES.

THUS, ON THE BASIS OF THE PRESENT RECORD, WE CANNOT MAKE THE FINDING REQUIRED BY SECTION 1 OF THE ACT OF AUGUST 11, 1955, 32 U.S.C. 82A-2, THAT THE PAYMENT HERE IN QUESTION WAS NOT THE RESULT OF LACK OF DUE CARE ON THE PART OF THE DISBURSING OFFICER, AND RELIEF UNDER THE ACT CANNOT BE GRANTED.