B-199790(1),L/M, FEB 24, 1982, OFFICE OF GENERAL COUNSEL

B-199790(1),L/M: Feb 24, 1982

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WHICH HELD THAT YOU ARE LIABLE FOR THE PHYSICAL LOSS OF $501.05 OF GENERAL SERVICES ADMINISTRATION IMPREST FUNDS. NOTHING YOU HAVE PRESENTED WOULD SUPPORT OUR CONCLUDING THAT THIS WAS. ITEM NO. 5 PROVIDES: "CARELESSNESS AND NEGLIGENCE SUCH AS LEAVING CASH BOX OR SAFE DOORS OPEN IS A PERSONAL ACT OF IRRESPONSIBILITY FOR WHICH THE INDIVIDUAL WILL BE HELD PERSONALLY ACCOUNTABLE.". YOU ALLEGE THAT IN THIS CASE "THE CASH BOX WAS LOCKED AND THE SAFE DOOR WAS CLOSED.". IT SHOULD NOT BE INTERPRETED AS LIMITING LIABILITY FOR NEGLIGENCE BY CASHIERS TO SITUATIONS IN WHICH CASH BOXES OR SAFE DOORS ARE LEFT OPEN. WE HAVE CONSISTENTLY HELD THAT AN ACCOUNTABLE OFFICER WHO FAILS TO LOCK A SAFE CONTAINING PUBLIC FUNDS IN HIS CUSTODY IS NEGLIGENT AND LIABLE FOR ANY LOSSES.

B-199790(1),L/M, FEB 24, 1982, OFFICE OF GENERAL COUNSEL

PRECIS-UNAVAILABLE

MR. RICHARD E. HENSEL:

THIS RESPONDS TO YOUR REQUEST FOR RECONSIDERATION OF OUR DECISION B-199790, AUGUST 26, 1980, WHICH HELD THAT YOU ARE LIABLE FOR THE PHYSICAL LOSS OF $501.05 OF GENERAL SERVICES ADMINISTRATION IMPREST FUNDS, APPARENTLY STOLEN FROM AN UNLOCKED SAFE WHILE IN YOUR CUSTODY AS ALTERNATE IMPREST FUND CASHIER. WHILE YOU ALLEGE THAT THE LOSS OCCURRED WITHOUT FAULT OR NEGLIGENCE ON YOUR PART, NOTHING YOU HAVE PRESENTED WOULD SUPPORT OUR CONCLUDING THAT THIS WAS, IN FACT, THE CASE. THUS, WE CANNOT GRANT RELIEF TO YOU UNDER 31 U.S.C. SEC. 82A-1 (1976).

IN ESSENCE, YOU CONTEND THAT YOU CAN ONLY BE HELD RESPONSIBLE FOR THE LOSS IF IT RESULTED FROM YOUR CARELESSNESS OR NEGLIGENCE AS DISCUSSED IN ITEM NO. 5 OF A MEMORANDUM, DATED MARCH 28, 1975, FROM THE OFFICE MANGER TO YOU AND THE OTHER CASHIER. SPECIFICALLY, ITEM NO. 5 PROVIDES:

"CARELESSNESS AND NEGLIGENCE SUCH AS LEAVING CASH BOX OR SAFE DOORS OPEN IS A PERSONAL ACT OF IRRESPONSIBILITY FOR WHICH THE INDIVIDUAL WILL BE HELD PERSONALLY ACCOUNTABLE."

ALSO, YOU ALLEGE THAT IN THIS CASE "THE CASH BOX WAS LOCKED AND THE SAFE DOOR WAS CLOSED."

ALTHOUGH THE QUOTED LANGUAGE CALLS ATTENTION TO EXAMPLES OF CARELESSNESS AND NEGLIGENCE FOR WHICH A CASHIER COULD BE HELD LIABLE, IT SHOULD NOT BE INTERPRETED AS LIMITING LIABILITY FOR NEGLIGENCE BY CASHIERS TO SITUATIONS IN WHICH CASH BOXES OR SAFE DOORS ARE LEFT OPEN. AS STATED IN OUR DECISION B-199790, MARCH 26, 1981, WE HAVE CONSISTENTLY HELD THAT AN ACCOUNTABLE OFFICER WHO FAILS TO LOCK A SAFE CONTAINING PUBLIC FUNDS IN HIS CUSTODY IS NEGLIGENT AND LIABLE FOR ANY LOSSES. SEE, FOR EXAMPLE, B-188733, MARCH 29, 1979. FURTHERMORE, WE CONCLUDED IN OUR DECISION OF MARCH 26, 1981, THAT YOUR "FAILURE TO LOCK THE SAFE WAS THE PROXIMATE CAUSE OF THE LOSS."

YOU FURTHER ALLEGE THAT, "WHEN WE (CASHIERS) QUESTIONED THE SUPERVISOR ABOUT THE RESPONSIBILITY THE REPLY WAS 'DON'T WORRY.'" THIS STATEMENT, HOWEVER, CANNOT SERVE TO HAVE RELIEVED YOU OF YOUR RESPONSIBILITY FOR SAFEGUARDING FUNDS FOR WHICH YOU WERE ACCOUNTABLE.

THEREFORE, WE MUST REAFFIRM OUR DECISION THAT THE LOSS OF $501.05 IN YOUR CUSTODY AND CONTROL OCCURRED AS A RESULT OF YOUR NEGLIGENCE.