B-145059, MAY 9, 1961

B-145059: May 9, 1961

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BE REIMBURSED THE AMOUNT OF $150.79 WHICH SHE PAID TO THE UNITED STATES BECAUSE OF HER LIABILITY FOR FRAUDULENT PAYMENT OF GOVERNMENT FUNDS FOR WHICH SHE WAS RESPONSIBLE. A RECRUIT BEING DISCHARGED PRESENTED EITHER AN ARMED FORCES IDENTIFICATION CARD OR A MIMEOGRAPHED IDENTIFICATION CHIT WHICH HE HAD SIGNED AND WHICH WAS SIGNED BY THE PERSONNEL OFFICER. WHEN RECRUITS WERE TRANSFERRED TO THE SEPARATION ACTIVITY FOR DISCHARGE PROCESSING. THEIR ID CARDS WERE SUPPOSED TO BE CONFISCATED AND DESTROYED. THIS PROCEDURE APPARENTLY WAS NOT FOLLOWED CONSISTENTLY AND MANY SEPARATEES HAD THEIR ID CARD INSTEAD OF OR AS WELL AS THE MIMEOGRAPHED CHIT. WHILE MISS LEIS WAS PAYING SEPARATEES IN THE COURSE OF HER NORMAL DUTIES.

B-145059, MAY 9, 1961

TO THE SECRETARY OF THE NAVY:

BY LETTER OF JANUARY 11, 1961, THE ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF THE NAVY (PERSONNEL AND RESERVE FORCES) REQUESTED THAT LOUANNA L. LEIS, AGENT CASHIER AT THE UNITED STATES NAVY ACCOUNTS DISBURSING OFFICE, BUILDING 122, GREAT LAKES, ILLINOIS, BE REIMBURSED THE AMOUNT OF $150.79 WHICH SHE PAID TO THE UNITED STATES BECAUSE OF HER LIABILITY FOR FRAUDULENT PAYMENT OF GOVERNMENT FUNDS FOR WHICH SHE WAS RESPONSIBLE.

THE RECORD BEFORE OUR OFFICE INDICATES THAT MISS LEIS, AS PART OF HER REGULAR DUTIES AS AGENT CASHIER, PAID MEMBERS BEING SEPARATED FROM THE SERVICE. A RECRUIT BEING DISCHARGED PRESENTED EITHER AN ARMED FORCES IDENTIFICATION CARD OR A MIMEOGRAPHED IDENTIFICATION CHIT WHICH HE HAD SIGNED AND WHICH WAS SIGNED BY THE PERSONNEL OFFICER, SEPARATION OFFICE. WHEN RECRUITS WERE TRANSFERRED TO THE SEPARATION ACTIVITY FOR DISCHARGE PROCESSING, THEIR ID CARDS WERE SUPPOSED TO BE CONFISCATED AND DESTROYED, AND THE MIMEOGRAPHED IDENTIFICATION CHITS ISSUED, BUT THIS PROCEDURE APPARENTLY WAS NOT FOLLOWED CONSISTENTLY AND MANY SEPARATEES HAD THEIR ID CARD INSTEAD OF OR AS WELL AS THE MIMEOGRAPHED CHIT. ON FEBRUARY 11, 1960, WHILE MISS LEIS WAS PAYING SEPARATEES IN THE COURSE OF HER NORMAL DUTIES, A MAN PRESENTED AN ID CARD FOR GARY W. ANDERSON. MISS LEIS GAVE HIM GARY W. ANDERSON'S PAY RECEIPT TO SIGN; COMPARED THE SIGNATURE AND PHOTO ON THE ID CARD WITH THE SIGNATURE ON THE PAY RECEIPT AND THE APPEARANCE OF THE MEMBER, AND AS THE PAYMENT APPEARED TO BE IN ORDER, PAID HIM $150.79. SHORTLY THEREAFTER, ANOTHER MAN APPEARED AND PRESENTED A MIMEOGRAPHED IDENTIFICATION CHIT FOR GARY W. ANDERSON. INVESTIGATION DISCLOSED THAT THE FIRST PAYMENT WAS IMPROPER SINCE THE MAN WHO PRESENTED THE ID CARD FOR GARY W. ANDERSON WAS AN IMPOSTER. HOWEVER, HE WAS NEVER LOCATED AND THE PAYMENT CREATED A DEFICIENCY OF $150.79 IN THE ACCOUNT OF THE DISBURSING OFFICER LCDR. A. N. BEAUSOLEIL, SC USN. WHILE THE INVESTIGATION WAS BEING CONDUCTED, LCDR. BEAUSOLEIL WAS DETACHED AND SUBSEQUENTLY RETIRED. PRIOR TO HIS DETACHMENT HE REQUESTED THAT MISS LEIS REMIT THE $150.79 TO CLEAR THE DEFICIENCY FROM HIS ACCOUNT. SHE DID SO ON MAY 26, 1960, AND THE ACCOUNT WAS CLEARED. BY LETTER OF OCTOBER 5, 1960, TO THE SECRETARY OF THE NAVY, MISS LEIS REQUESTED THAT SHE BE RELIEVED OF LIABILITY FOR THE PAYMENT IN QUESTION AND THAT SHE BE REIMBURSED THE AMOUNT OF $150.79 PREVIOUSLY PAID BY HER.

THE TRANSACTION HERE INVOLVED CONSTITUTES AN "ILLEGAL, IMPROPER, OR INCORRECT PAYMENT" WITHIN THE MEANING OF THOSE TERMS AS USED IN SECTION 1 OF THE ACT OF AUGUST 11, 1955, PUBLIC LAW 365, 84TH CONGRESS, 69 STAT. 687, 31 U.S.C. 82A-2, AND THE REQUEST FOR RELIEF AND REIMBURSEMENT MUST BE CONSIDERED UNDER THE PROVISIONS THEREOF. THE CITED STATUTE AUTHORIZES THE COMPTROLLER GENERAL, UNDER STATED CONDITIONS, TO GRANT RELIEF "WHENEVER ANY DEFICIENCY EXISTS OR OCCURS" IN THE ACCOUNT OF A DISBURSING OFFICER OR FORMER DISBURSING OFFICER. SINCE MISS LEIS REMITTED THE AMOUNT OF THE DEFICIENCY AND THE ACCOUNT IS NOW IN BALANCE, IT IS APPARENT THAT THERE IS NO PRESENT DEFICIENCY IN THE ACCOUNT FOR THE RELIEF OF WHICH CONSIDERATION MIGHT BE GIVEN UNDER THAT STATUTE. WE HAVE REPEATEDLY HELD, IN CONNECTION WITH SIMILAR RELIEF ACTS, THAT SUCH ACTS HAVE NO APPLICATION IN A CASE WHERE THE DEFICIENCY HAS BEEN EXTINGUISHED BY EITHER COLLECTION FROM THE RECIPIENT OF THE IMPROPER PAYMENT OR PAYMENT BY THE ACCOUNTABLE OFFICER OR HIS SURETY.

MOREOVER, WHILE WE COULD HAVE RELIEVED MISS LEIS UNDER 31 U.S.C. 82A 2 HAD A TIMELY REQUEST FOR RELIEF BEEN SUBMITTED HERE PRIOR TO THE EXTINGUISHMENT OF HER LIABILITY TO THE UNITED STATES, OUR RELIEF AUTHORITY UNDER THAT STATUTE DOES NOT EXTEND TO THE REFUNDING OF AMOUNTS PAID IN BY AN ACCOUNTABLE OFFICER AS REIMBURSEMENT OF AN ERRONEOUS PAYMENT. WHILE SECTION 2 OF PUBLIC LAW 365, 31 U.S.C. 95A, SPECIFICALLY AUTHORIZES "REIMBURSEMENT * * * OF AMOUNTS PAID BY OR ON BEHALF OF SUCH OFFICER IN RESTITUTION OF SUCH LOSS OR DEFICIENCY" IN THE CASE OF PHYSICAL LOSSES OF FUNDS, ETC., SECTION 1 THEREOF, 31 U.S.C. 82A-2, DOES NOT CONTAIN SUCH AUTHORITY. THE LEGISLATIVE HISTORY OF THE ACT, AS SHOWN IN SENATE REPORT NO. 1185, 84TH CONGRESS, AND HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES REPORT NO. 996, 84TH CONGRESS, CLEARLY SHOWS THAT REIMBURSEMENT AUTHORITY WAS INTENDED TO APPLY TO PHYSICAL LOSSES ONLY. WE HAVE CONSISTENTLY HELD THAT, IN THE ABSENCE OF A SPECIFIC PROVISION IN THE RELIEF ACT AUTHORIZING SUCH REFUNDS TO BE MADE, OR OTHER STATUTE OR APPROPRIATION SO AUTHORIZING, THERE IS NO AUTHORITY FOR GRANTING RELIEF OR REIMBURSEMENT TO AN ACCOUNTABLE OFFICER WHO HAS MADE RESTITUTION OF THE AMOUNT OF THE DEFICIENCY IN HIS ACCOUNT AND SUCH AMOUNT HAS BEEN DEPOSITED THERETO.

HENCE, WE HAVE NO AUTHORITY UNDER THE PROVISIONS OF 31 U.S.C. 82A-2 TO EITHER RELIEVE MISS LEIS FROM LIABILITY FOR THE PAYMENT IN QUESTION OR REIMBURSE HER THE AMOUNT PAID BY HER TO THE UNITED STATES ON ACCOUNT THEREOF. SEE 27 COMP. GEN. 404; B-128557, SEPTEMBER 21, 1956; B 101301, JULY 19, 1951; B-96701, OCTOBER 6, 1950; B-79858, NOVEMBER 5, 1948.