B-155096, OCT. 21, 1964

B-155096: Oct 21, 1964

Additional Materials:

Contact:

Edda Emmanuelli Perez
(202) 512-2853
EmmanuelliPerezE@gao.gov

 

Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800
youngc1@gao.gov

THE DEPUTY ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANT SECRETARY SUBMITTED FOR OUR REVIEW AND CONSIDERATION THE QUESTION AS TO WHETHER COLLECTION ACTION MAY BE ABANDONED AGAINST INDIVIDUAL INDIANS WHO HAVE RECEIVED ERRONEOUS PAYMENTS WHERE REPAYMENT IS IN SUCH SMALL YEARLY AMOUNTS THAT RECOVERY WILL NOT BE EFFECTED FOR MANY YEARS AT UNREASONABLE EXPENSE TO THE GOVERNMENT AND POSSIBLE UNDUE HARDSHIP TO THE AFFECTED INDIVIDUALS. TWO CASES ARE CITED INVOLVING PAYMENTS ERRONEOUSLY MADE BECAUSE OF THE SIMILARITY IN NAMES OF THE RIGHTFUL AND ERRONEOUS PAYEES. IN ONE CASE A REMAINING OVERDRAFT BALANCE OF $217.03 IS BEING LIQUIDATED AT THE RATE OF $11.17 PER YEAR FROM TRUST INCOME OTHERWISE DUE THE ERRONEOUS PAYEE. A REMAINING INDEBTEDNESS OF $585.76 IS BEING SIMILARLY LIQUIDATED AT THE RATE OF $20 PER YEAR.

B-155096, OCT. 21, 1964

TO THE HONORABLE SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR:

BY LETTER OF SEPTEMBER 1, 1964, THE DEPUTY ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANT SECRETARY SUBMITTED FOR OUR REVIEW AND CONSIDERATION THE QUESTION AS TO WHETHER COLLECTION ACTION MAY BE ABANDONED AGAINST INDIVIDUAL INDIANS WHO HAVE RECEIVED ERRONEOUS PAYMENTS WHERE REPAYMENT IS IN SUCH SMALL YEARLY AMOUNTS THAT RECOVERY WILL NOT BE EFFECTED FOR MANY YEARS AT UNREASONABLE EXPENSE TO THE GOVERNMENT AND POSSIBLE UNDUE HARDSHIP TO THE AFFECTED INDIVIDUALS.

AS EXAMPLES, TWO CASES ARE CITED INVOLVING PAYMENTS ERRONEOUSLY MADE BECAUSE OF THE SIMILARITY IN NAMES OF THE RIGHTFUL AND ERRONEOUS PAYEES. IN ONE CASE A REMAINING OVERDRAFT BALANCE OF $217.03 IS BEING LIQUIDATED AT THE RATE OF $11.17 PER YEAR FROM TRUST INCOME OTHERWISE DUE THE ERRONEOUS PAYEE. IN THE OTHER CASE, A REMAINING INDEBTEDNESS OF $585.76 IS BEING SIMILARLY LIQUIDATED AT THE RATE OF $20 PER YEAR.

SECTION 4560 OF TITLE 3, GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE MANUAL FOR GUIDANCE OF FEDERAL AGENCIES COVERS THE AUTHORITY OF THIS OFFICE TO RELIEVE ACCOUNTABLE OFFICERS OF RESPONSIBILITY FOR ILLEGAL, IMPROPER, OR INCORRECT PAYMENTS. SUBSECTION 10 THEREOF STATES THE GENERAL RULE THAT COMPLIANCE WITH REQUIRED COLLECTION PROCEDURES CONSTITUTES A CONDITION PRECEDENT TO RELIEF. THE DEPUTY ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANT SECRETARY STATES THAT IF THE COLLECTION REQUIREMENTS ARE HELD TO HAVE BEEN MET IN THE CITED CASES AND OTHERS OF LIKE NATURE, THEY WILL BE SUBMITTED TO OUR CIVIL ACCOUNTING AND AUDITING DIVISION FOR RELIEF UNDER SECTION 4560. HE FURTHER STATES THAT IN THE FUTURE, VOLUNTARY REFUNDS OR ANY INCOME IN THE HANDS OF THE BUREAU OF INDIAN AFFAIRS ACCRUING TO DEBTORS WILL BE NOTED AND, WHERE PROPER, APPLIED TO THE INDEBTEDNESS AND COVERED INTO THE TREASURY AS MISCELLANEOUS RECEIPTS.

ON THE BASIS OF THE INFORMATION FURNISHED AND WITHOUT A DETAILED REVIEW OF THE BUREAU'S PAYMENT AND COLLECTION PROCEDURES, WE CANNOT AGREE THAT COLLECTION OF THE INDEBTEDNESSES INVOLVED BY WAY OF SETOFF MAY BE ABANDONED. MOREOVER, IT IS DIFFICULT TO IMAGINE A SITUATION WHICH WOULD JUSTIFY PAYMENT OF MONEYS IN THE BUREAU'S HANDS TO ONE WHO IS INDEBTED TO THE BUREAU BY REASON OF A PREVIOUS OVERPAYMENT UNDER THE CIRCUMSTANCES HERE INVOLVED.

HOWEVER, NOTWITHSTANDING THAT SETOFF ACTION SHOULD BE CONTINUED AGAINST THE DEBTORS IN THESE CASES, WE DO NOT PERCEIVE ANY REASON FOR DELAYING CONSIDERATION OF THE QUESTION AS TO WHETHER THE ACCOUNTABLE OFFICERS INVOLVED SHOULD BE GRANTED RELIEF. ACCORDINGLY, FOR THE SOLE PURPOSE OF DETERMINING WHETHER THESE ACCOUNTABLE OFFICERS SHOULD BE RELIEVED OF THE CHARGES IN THEIR ACCOUNTS FOR ERRONEOUS PAYMENTS UNDER SUCH CIRCUMSTANCES AS ARE OUTLINED ABOVE, YOU ARE ADVISED THAT THE COLLECTION REQUIREMENTS OF SUBSECTION 4560.10 WILL BE CONSIDERED AS HAVING BEEN MET AND THAT THE CASES MAY BE SUBMITTED TO OUR CIVIL ACCOUNTING AND AUDITING DIVISION FOR DETERMINATION.