B-212061, JUL 7, 1983, OFFICE OF GENERAL COUNSEL

B-212061: Jul 7, 1983

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BUDGET AND ADMINISTRATION OFFICE OF THE SECRETARY DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR: THIS IS IN RESPONSE TO YOUR REQUEST THAT MR. THE BURGLARY WAS DISCOVERED AT 7:15 AM ON SUNDAY WHEN MR. POLICE WERE IMMEDIATELY CALLED TO THE BUILDING. THE IMPREST FUNDS WERE HELD IN A LOCKED FIREPROOF SAFE STORED IN A WALK- IN VAULT. THE VAULT'S DEADBOLT WAS NOT LOCKED. THE VAULT ALSO HAD A COMBINATION LOCK WHICH WAS LOCKED. NONE OF THE FUNDS HAVE BEEN RECOVERED. OUR OFFICE IS AUTHORIZED TO RELIEVE AN ACCOUNTABLE OFFICER FROM LIABILITY FOR THE PHYSICAL LOSS OF FUNDS WHEN WE AGREE WITH THE AGENCY'S DETERMINATION THAT THE LOSS OCCURRED WHILE THE OFFICER WAS DISCHARGING HIS OFFICIAL DUTIES AND WAS NOT THE RESULT OF NEGLIGENCE OR FAULT ON THE PART OF THE OFFICER.

B-212061, JUL 7, 1983, OFFICE OF GENERAL COUNSEL

PRECIS-UNAVAILABLE

MR. JOSEPH E. DODDRIDGE, ACTING DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY POLICY, BUDGET AND ADMINISTRATION OFFICE OF THE SECRETARY DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR:

THIS IS IN RESPONSE TO YOUR REQUEST THAT MR. GILBERT C. CONNERS, PRINCIPAL IMPREST CASHIER AT THE BUREAU OF INDIAN AFFAIRS (BIA) WARM SPRINGS AGENCY IN WARM SPRINGS, OREGON, BE RELIEVED OF LIABILITY FOR A SHORTAGE IN IMPREST FUNDS OF $552.41. FOR THE REASONS STATED BELOW, WE GRANT RELIEF FROM LIABILITY.

THE RECORD INDICATES THAT A BURGLARY TOOK PLACE AT THE TRIBAL ADMINISTRATION BUILDING EITHER ON SATURDAY, JUNE 28, 1980, OR IN THE EARLY HOURS ON SUNDAY, JUNE 29, 1980. THE BURGLARY WAS DISCOVERED AT 7:15 AM ON SUNDAY WHEN MR. CONNERS STOPPED BY HIS OFFICE TO GET SOME PAPERS AND FOUND HIS DESK RANSACKED. POLICE WERE IMMEDIATELY CALLED TO THE BUILDING. THEY CONDUCTED A THOROUGH SEARCH OF THE PREMISES, DISCOVERING PRY MARKS ON AN OUTER DOOR WHICH EVIDENTLY HAD BEEN FORCED OPEN BY THE BURGLARS. DESKS AND FILE CABINETS IN SEVERAL OFFICES HAD BEEN RANSACKED. FURTHER INVESTIGATION DISCLOSED THAT OVER $918 HAD BEEN TAKEN FROM OFFICES, INCLUDING $552.41 OF BIA IMPREST FUNDS.

THE IMPREST FUNDS WERE HELD IN A LOCKED FIREPROOF SAFE STORED IN A WALK- IN VAULT. AT THE TIME OF THE BURGLARY, THE VAULT'S DEADBOLT WAS NOT LOCKED; HOWEVER, THE VAULT ALSO HAD A COMBINATION LOCK WHICH WAS LOCKED. BURGLARS FORCED OPEN THE COMBINATION LOCK OF THE VAULT AND BROKE INTO THE FIREPROOF SAFE, TAKING THE IMPREST FUNDS. AN INVESTIGATION CONDUCTED BY THE FBI HAS NOT IDENTIFIED THE BURGLARS AND AS OF THIS DATE, NONE OF THE FUNDS HAVE BEEN RECOVERED.

UNDER 31 U.S.C. SEC. 3527(A), OUR OFFICE IS AUTHORIZED TO RELIEVE AN ACCOUNTABLE OFFICER FROM LIABILITY FOR THE PHYSICAL LOSS OF FUNDS WHEN WE AGREE WITH THE AGENCY'S DETERMINATION THAT THE LOSS OCCURRED WHILE THE OFFICER WAS DISCHARGING HIS OFFICIAL DUTIES AND WAS NOT THE RESULT OF NEGLIGENCE OR FAULT ON THE PART OF THE OFFICER.

IT HAS BEEN ADMINISTRATIVELY DETERMINED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR THAT THE LOSS OCCURRED WHILE MR. CONNERS WAS ACTING IN THE DISCHARGE OF HIS OFFICIAL DUTIES AND WITHOUT FAULT OR NEGLIGENCE ON HIS PART. THE RECORD CLEARLY SHOWS THAT THE LOSS RESULTED FROM FORCEABLE ENTRY INTO THE BUILDING, THE VAULT AND THE SAFE CONTAINING THE IMPREST FUND. ALTHOUGH LOCKING THE VAULT'S DEADBOLT MIGHT HAVE PROVIDED ADDITIONAL SECURITY, THE IMPREST FUNDS WERE LOCKED IN A FIREPROOF SAFE LOCATED INSIDE THE VAULT WHICH WAS ALSO LOCKED WITH A COMBINATION LOCK AT THE TIME OF THE BURGLARY. IN OUR OPINION, MR. CONNERS TOOK ADEQUATE PRECAUTION TO SECURE THE FUNDS IN HIS CARE. THEREFORE WE CONCUR IN THE DEPARTMENT'S DETERMINATIONS.

ACCORDINGLY, UNDER THE PROVISIONS OF 31 U.S.C. SEC. 3527, WE GRANT RELIEF TO MR. CONNERS IN THE AMOUNT OF $552.41. THE IMPREST FUND MAY BE REPLENISHED FROM THE APPROPRIATE ACCOUNT.