B-156705, JUN. 22, 1965, 44 COMP. GEN. 818

B-156705: Jun 22, 1965

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THE UNITED STATES DISBURSING AND CERTIFYING OFFICERS OF THE DEPARTMENT OF STATE WILL BE ENTITLED TO THE BENEFITS AND PROTECTION OF THE ACT FOR DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE DISBURSEMENTS. 1965: REFERENCE IS MADE TO LETTER OF MAY 4. STUDIES WERE UNDERTAKEN OF DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE REPRESENTATION OVERSEAS AND RELATIONSHIPS WITH AMBASSADORS. THE OBJECTIVE OF THE STUDIES WAS TO EFFECT ECONOMIES THROUGH IMPROVED ORGANIZATION. IT IS STATED THAT OF THE WIDE RANGE OF ADMINISTRATIVE SERVICES CONTEMPLATED TO BE PERFORMED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF STATE. IS THAT OF COMPLETE FISCAL SERVICES INCLUDING THE CERTIFICATION AND DISBURSEMENT OF MILITARY FUNDS. IT IS SAID. THE DEPARTMENT OF STATE DESIRES TO COOPERATE WITH THE DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE TO THE MAXIMUM EXTENT POSSIBLE TO EFFECT THESE AND OTHER ECONOMIES PROVIDED THE PROCEDURES FOLLOWED WILL AFFORD ADEQUATE PROTECTION.

B-156705, JUN. 22, 1965, 44 COMP. GEN. 818

ACCOUNTABLE OFFICERS - INTERAGENCY DISBURSEMENTS - LIABILITY WHEN EMPLOYEES OF THE DEPARTMENT OF STATE IN OVERSEAS AREAS AS PART OF THEIR REGULAR DUTIES PERFORM CERTIFYING AND DISBURSING FUNCTIONS FOR THE DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE, AND CHARGE THE DISBURSEMENTS DIRECTLY TO MILITARY APPROPRIATIONS, ACCOUNT SEPARATELY FOR THE TRANSACTIONS, AND FORWARD THE ACCOUNTS, INCLUDING ORIGINAL VOUCHERS AND SUPPORTING PAPERS, TO THE DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE FOR AUDIT AND SETTLEMENT BY THE GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE, THE FUNCTIONS DO NOT COME UNDER THE JURISDICTION OF THE DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE WITHIN THE MEANING OF SECTION 4 OF THE ACT OF DECEMBER 29, 1941 (31 U.S.C. 82E), WHICH EXCLUDES THE DISBURSING FUNCTIONS UNDER THE JURISDICTION OF THE WAR DEPARTMENT FROM THE PROTECTION OF THE DISBURSING AND CERTIFYING OFFICERS ACT, AND UPON DESIGNATION OF BONDED CERTIFYING OFFICERS OF THE DEPARTMENT OF STATE TO CERTIFY PAYMENTS CHARGEABLE TO MILITARY APPROPRIATIONS, THE UNITED STATES DISBURSING AND CERTIFYING OFFICERS OF THE DEPARTMENT OF STATE WILL BE ENTITLED TO THE BENEFITS AND PROTECTION OF THE ACT FOR DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE DISBURSEMENTS.

TO THE SECRETARY OF STATE, JUNE 22, 1965:

REFERENCE IS MADE TO LETTER OF MAY 4, 1965, FROM THE DEPUTY UNDER SECRETARY OF STATE FOR ADMINISTRATION, CONCERNING THE PROPOSED PERFORMANCE OF DISBURSING FUNCTIONS OF THE DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE IN CERTAIN OVERSEAS AREAS BY THE DEPARTMENT OF STATE.

IT APPEARS THAT UNDER THE DIRECTION OF A JOINT COMMITTEE OF THE DEPARTMENT OF STATE, THE DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE AND THE BUREAU OF THE BUDGET, STUDIES WERE UNDERTAKEN OF DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE REPRESENTATION OVERSEAS AND RELATIONSHIPS WITH AMBASSADORS. RECOGNIZING DUPLICATION OF ADMINISTRATION AND SUPPORT FUNCTIONS AS A GLOBAL PROBLEM, THE OBJECTIVE OF THE STUDIES WAS TO EFFECT ECONOMIES THROUGH IMPROVED ORGANIZATION, SIMPLIFICATION AND CONSOLIDATION OF SUCH FUNCTIONS UNDER THE DEPARTMENT OF STATE WHEREVER POSSIBLE.

IT IS STATED THAT OF THE WIDE RANGE OF ADMINISTRATIVE SERVICES CONTEMPLATED TO BE PERFORMED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF STATE, ONE OF THE MORE PROMISING, FROM AN ECONOMY STANDPOINT, IS THAT OF COMPLETE FISCAL SERVICES INCLUDING THE CERTIFICATION AND DISBURSEMENT OF MILITARY FUNDS. THE CERTIFYING AND DISBURSEMENT FUNCTION ABOVE, IT IS SAID, COULD RESULT IN THE REDUCTION OF AT LEAST ONE EMPLOYEE IN EVERY POST WHERE THE MILITARY NOW PERFORMS THIS FUNCTION.

THE DEPARTMENT OF STATE DESIRES TO COOPERATE WITH THE DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE TO THE MAXIMUM EXTENT POSSIBLE TO EFFECT THESE AND OTHER ECONOMIES PROVIDED THE PROCEDURES FOLLOWED WILL AFFORD ADEQUATE PROTECTION, UNDER THE DISBURSING AND CERTIFYING OFFICERS ACT OF DECEMBER 29, 1941, 55 STAT. 875, 31 U.S.C. 82B, TO OFFICERS OF THE FOREIGN SERVICE WHO WOULD BE ENGAGED IN THE CERTIFYING AND DISBURSING FUNCTIONS. UNDER THIS ARRANGEMENT THE PAYMENTS WOULD BE CHARGED DIRECTLY TO THE APPROPRIATIONS MADE TO THE MILITARY DEPARTMENTS. DOUBT IN THE MATTER IS SAID TO ARISE BY REASON OF SECTION 4 OF THE ACT WHICH PROVIDES THAT THE PROVISIONS OF THE ACT SHALL NOT APPLY TO THE DISBURSING FUNCTIONS UNDER THE JURISDICTION OF THE WAR DEPARTMENT. BASED ON THE FOREGOING FACTS, THE DEPARTMENT PRESENTS THE FOLLOWING QUESTIONS:

"1. WILL THE DISBURSING FUNCTIONS OF DEPARTMENT DISBURSING OFFICERS UNDER THE PROJECTED PLAN OF COOPERATION WITH DOD BE CONSIDERED TO BE ...'UNDER THE JURISDICTION OF THE DEFENSE DEPARTMENT ...' WITHIN THE MEANING OF SECTION 4 AND DOES IT DEPRIVE THOSE OFFICERS OF THE PROTECTION OF THE ACT OF DECEMBER 29, 1941?

"2. IF SO, WHAT PROTECTION, IF ANY, WILL THE DEPARTMENT'S DISBURSING AND CERTIFYING OFFICERS HAVE?

"3. IF THESE DISBURSING FUNCTIONS ARE CONSIDERED TO BE UNDER THE JURISDICTION OF THE STATE DEPARTMENT PURSUANT TO THE AGREEMENT, WHAT PROTECTION WOULD THE DEPARTMENT'S DISBURSING AND CERTIFYING OFFICERS HAVE?

SECTION 1 OF THE ACT OF DECEMBER 29, 1941, 55 STAT. 875, 31 U.S.C. 82B, WHICH ACT ESTABLISHED THE RESPONSIBILITIES OF CERTIFYING OFFICERS AND DISBURSING OFFICERS, PROVIDES:

"* * * DISBURSING OFFICERS UNDER THE EXECUTIVE BRANCH OF THE GOVERNMENT SHALL (1) DISBURSE MONEYS ONLY UPON, AND IN STRICT ACCORDANCE WITH VOUCHERS DULY CERTIFIED BY THE HEAD OF THE DEPARTMENT, ESTABLISHMENT, OR AGENCY CONCERNED, OR BY AN OFFICER OR EMPLOYEE THEREOF DULY AUTHORIZED IN WRITING BY SUCH HEAD TO CERTIFY SUCH VOUCHERS; (2) MAKE SUCH EXAMINATION OF VOUCHERS AS MAY BE NECESSARY TO ASCERTAIN WHETHER THEY ARE IN PROPER FORM, DULY CERTIFIED AND APPROVED, AND CORRECTLY COMPUTED ON THE BASIS OF THE FACTS CERTIFIED; AND (3) BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE ACCORDINGLY.'

SECTION 2 OF THE ACT PROVIDES, IN PERTINENT PART, AS FOLLOWS:

"THE OFFICER OR EMPLOYEE CERTIFYING A VOUCHER SHALL (1) BE HELD RESPONSIBLE FOR THE EXISTENCE AND CORRECTNESS OF THE FACTS RECITED IN THE CERTIFICATE OR OTHERWISE STATED ON THE VOUCHER OR ITS SUPPORTING PAPERS AND FOR THE LEGALITY OF THE PROPOSED PAYMENT UNDER THE APPROPRIATION OR FUND INVOLVED; (2) BE REQUIRED TO GIVE BOND TO THE UNITED STATES, WITH GOOD AND SUFFICIENT SURETY APPROVED BY THE SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY, IN SUCH AMOUNT AS MAY BE DETERMINED BY THE HEAD OF THE DEPARTMENT, AGENCY, OR ESTABLISHMENT CONCERNED, PURSUANT TO STANDARDS PRESCRIBED BY THE SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY, AND UNDER SUCH CONDITIONS AS MAY BE PRESCRIBED BY THE SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY * * *.'

AND SECTION 4 OF THE ACT PROVIDES THAT:

"NOTHING CONTAINED HEREIN SHALL APPLY TO THE DISBURSING FUNCTIONS UNDER THE JURISDICTION OF THE WAR DEPARTMENT, THE NAVY DEPARTMENT (INCLUDING THE MARINE CORPS), AND THE PANAMA CANAL, EXCEPT THOSE PERTAINING TO DEPARTMENTAL SALARIES AND EXPENSES IN THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA.' (AS MODIFIED BY 31 U.S.C. 82E).

IN A DECISION TO THE SECRETARY OF STATE REPORTED AT 22 COMP. GEN. 48, INVOLVING THE DISBURSING OF FUNDS BY FOREIGN SERVICE OFFICERS ON BEHALF OF THE WAR DEPARTMENT ON A REIMBURSABLE BASIS, IT WAS STATED THAT SINCE NEITHER THE ACT OF DECEMBER 29, 1941, NOR ANY OTHER LAW, PROHIBITS OFFICERS OF THE FOREIGN SERVICE ACTING AS DISBURSING OFFICERS FOR THE WAR DEPARTMENT, NO REASON IS APPARENT WHY SOME PROCEDURE MAY NOT BE ADOPTED TO HAVE OFFICERS OF THE FOREIGN SERVICE HANDLE SUCH DISBURSEMENTS AS MAY BE DEEMED DESIRABLE AND AS MAY BE AGREED UPON BY THE DEPARTMENT OF STATE AND THE WAR DEPARTMENT.

IT WAS POINTED OUT, HOWEVER, THAT SECTION 4 OF THE ACT EXPRESSLY DECLARES THAT THE PROVISIONS THEREOF SHALL NOT APPLY TO THE "DISBURSING FUNCTIONS UNDER THE JURISDICTION OF THE WAR PARTMENT.' THUS, IT WAS HELD TO THE EFFECT THAT WHERE THE WAR DEPARTMENT RETAINS JURISDICTION OF THE DISBURSING FUNCTIONS PERFORMED ON ITS BEHALF BY FOREIGN SERVICE OFFICERS WHO ACT MERELY AS AGENTS FOR SAID DEPARTMENT, THE DISBURSEMENTS MAY BE TREATED AS NOT COVERED BY THE ACT OF DECEMBER 29, 1941; BUT WHERE THE WAR DEPARTMENT RELINQUISHES JURISDICTION OF THE DISBURSING FUNCTIONS PERFORMED IN ITS BEHALF BY FOREIGN SERVICE OFFICERS WHO ARE TO TREAT THE DISBURSEMENTS AS REGULAR TRANSACTIONS IN THEIR ACCOUNTS AS DISBURSING OFFICERS UNDER THE ACT OF DECEMBER 29, 1941, THE DISBURSEMENTS SHOULD BE MADE ONLY ON VOUCHERS DULY CERTIFIED BY AN OFFICER OR EMPLOYEE BONDED TO THE UNITED STATES, AND SUCH DISBURSEMENTS MAY BE TREATED AS COVERED BY THE ACT.

IN A DECISION TO THE DIRECTOR, SELECTIVE SERVICE SYSTEM, DATED MARCH 18, 1942, B-24356, THERE WAS CONSIDERED THE MEANING OF THE PHRASE "DISBURSING FUNCTIONS UNDER THE JURISDICTION OF THE WAR DEPARTMENT" CONTAINED IN SECTION 4 OF THE ACT OF DECEMBER 29, 1941, QUOTED ABOVE. IT WAS STATED THAT "* * * HAVING REGARD FOR THE LEGISLATIVE BACKGROUND OF THE SAID SECTION 4, INCLUDING THE PURPOSES THEREOF AND EXECUTIVE ORDER NO. 6166, JUNE 10, 1933, IT WOULD APPEAR THAT THE EXPRESSION "DISBURSING FUNCTIONS UNDER THE JURISDICTION OF THE WAR DEPARTMENT," WAS INTENDED TO RELATE TO THE FUNCTIONS OF ACTUALLY DISBURSING FUNDS-- TO THE PAYING OF VOUCHERS, ETC.'

THE PROPOSAL OUTLINED HEREIN FOR THE PERFORMANCE OF DISBURSING FUNCTIONS OF THE MILITARY DEPARTMENTS IN CERTAIN OVERSEAS AREAS BY THE DEPARTMENT OF STATE CONTEMPLATES THAT OFFICERS OR EMPLOYEES OF THE DEPARTMENT OF STATE WOULD PERFORM THE CERTIFYING AND DISBURSING FUNCTIONS AS A PART OF THEIR REGULAR DUTIES; THAT SUCH DISBURSEMENTS WOULD BE CHARGED DIRECTLY TO THE APPROPRIATIONS MADE TO THE MILITARY DEPARTMENTS; THAT THE TRANSACTIONS WOULD BE ACCOUNTED FOR SEPARATELY BY THE UNITED STATES DISBURSING OFFICERS; AND THAT THE ACCOUNTS INCLUDING THE ORIGINAL VOUCHERS AND SUPPORTING PAPERS WILL BE FORWARDED TO THE DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE AND BE AVAILABLE FOR AUDIT AND SETTLEMENT BY THE GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE.

IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING AND IN ANSWER TO THE FIRST QUESTION, IT MAY BE SAID THAT THE DISBURSING FUNCTIONS PROPOSED TO BE PERFORMED BY UNITED STATES DISBURSING OFFICERS OF THE DEPARTMENT OF STATE, INVOLVING THE DISBURSEMENT OF FUNDS FOR THE DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE IN CERTAIN AREAS ABROAD UNDER THE CIRCUMSTANCES DESCRIBED ABOVE, MAY BE CONSIDERED AS DISBURSING FUNCTIONS NOT UNDER THE JURISDICTION OF THE DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE WITHIN THE MEANING OF THAT PHRASE AS USED IN SECTION 4 OF THE ACT OF DECEMBER 29, 1941; AND THAT THE DESIGNATION OF PROPERLY BONDED CERTIFYING OFFICERS OF THE DEPARTMENT OF STATE TO CERTIFY PAYMENTS CHARGEABLE AGAINST THE DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE APPROPRIATIONS WILL ENTITLE THE UNITED STATES DISBURSING OFFICERS AND CERTIFYING OFFICERS OF THE DEPARTMENT OF STATE TO THE BENEFITS AND PROTECTION OF THE ACT WITH REGARD TO THE DISBURSING FUNCTIONS PERFORMED BY THEM FOR THE DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE. THIS APPEARS TO ANSWER QUESTION 3 ALSO. IN VIEW OF THE ANSWER TO QUESTION 1, ANSWER TO QUESTION 2 APPEARS UNNECESSARY.

A COPY OF THIS DECISION IS BEING FURNISHED TO THE SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY.