B-171400, August 4, 1971

B-171400: Aug 4, 1971

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Which was stolen from your post office on May 20. Requests for relief for losses of Treasury paper are properly considered by the Secretary of the Treasury. Insofar as the other items are concerned. The relief statute applicable in your case is contained in 31 U.S.C. 82a-1. In pertinent part that: "The General Accounting Office is authorized. Or papers in his charge *** if the head of the department or independent establishment determines (1) that such loss or deficiency occurred while such officer or agent was acting in the discharge of his official duties. A copy of which was enclosed in your letter to us. States that you were negligent in using a burglar- resistant chest for time cards instead of main stock stamps and makes no recommendation that you be relieved of the $14.

B-171400, August 4, 1971

Mr. Vincent J. Sindone Postmaster River Edge, New Jersey 07661

Dear Mr. Sindone:

Your letter of June 22, 1971, asks that we reconsider our prior determination holding you liable for $14,000 out of a total of $34,879.07, in main stock postage, fixed credit postage and Bird Stamps, which was stolen from your post office on May 20, 1967. You also request relief in the amount of $2,259.21, representing the amount of United States Savings Stamps and Documentary Internal Revenue Stamps, stolen in the burglary. Requests for relief for losses of Treasury paper are properly considered by the Secretary of the Treasury. See 40 U.S.C. 721-725.

Insofar as the other items are concerned, the relief statute applicable in your case is contained in 31 U.S.C. 82a-1. That statute provides, in pertinent part that:

"The General Accounting Office is authorized, after consideration of the pertinent findings and if in concurrence with the determinations and recommendations of the head of the department or independent establishment concerned, to relieve any disbursing or other accountable office or agent or former disbursing or other accountable officer or agent of any such department or independent establishment of the Government charged with responsibility on account of physical loss or deficiency of Government funds, vouchers, records, checks, securities, or papers in his charge *** if the head of the department or independent establishment determines (1) that such loss or deficiency occurred while such officer or agent was acting in the discharge of his official duties, or that such loss or deficiency occurred by reason of the act or omission of a subordinate of such officer or agent; and (2) that such loss or deficiency occurred without fault or negligence on the part of such officer or agent. ***" (Underscoring supplied.)

Under the quoted statute this Office can grant relief only if it concurs with the determinations and recommendations of the head of the accountable officer's department that the losses occurred without fault or negligence on the part of the accountable officer and that relief should be granted.

In his letter to us of April 3, 1970, requesting relief in your behalf in the amount of $20,879.07, a copy of which was enclosed in your letter to us, the Special Assistant for Accounting Services Financial Systems Management Division, states that you were negligent in using a burglar- resistant chest for time cards instead of main stock stamps and makes no recommendation that you be relieved of the $14,000 loss which the postal inspector determined could have been prevented had the burglar-resistant chest been properly utilized for stamps.

In the absence of a Post Office Department determination that the loss occurred without fault or negligence on your part a recommendation that you be relieved of liability, this Office, under 31 U.S.C. 82a-1, quoted above, had no legal authority to grant you relief from liability.

Accordingly, we must deny your request for relief.

Sincerely yours,

R. F. Keller Deputy Comptroller General of the United States