B-217114.9, May 20, 1991

B-217114.9: May 20, 1991

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Is seeking information from an agency on a loss that occurred in his account so that he might be granted relief. The officer was previously denied relief and had also requested GAO to certify his liability to the Attorney General under 5 U.S.C. Our certification resolved all of the issues concerning the liability which were within our jurisdiction. We will not consider future relief requests. Kane is an accountable officer who is liable for erroneously paying a number of fraudulent travel expenses. The expenses were claimed by employees of the Buffalo District Office of the U.S. Kane was partially denied relief from his liability in our decision 65 Comp.Gen. 858 (1986). Kane's request for reconsideration of that decision was denied in B-217114.5.

B-217114.9, May 20, 1991

APPROPRIATIONS/FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT - Accoutable Officers - Disbursing officers - Relief - Illegal/improper payments - Fraud APPROPRIATIONS/FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT - Accountable Officers - Relief - Illegal/improper payments - GAO decisions - Reconsideration A congressional request asks GAO to address concerns raised by a constituent. The constituent, an accountable officer, is seeking information from an agency on a loss that occurred in his account so that he might be granted relief. The officer was previously denied relief and had also requested GAO to certify his liability to the Attorney General under 5 U.S.C. Sec. 5512. Our certification resolved all of the issues concerning the liability which were within our jurisdiction, and we will not consider future relief requests.

Daniel P. Moynihan

United States Senate:

This responds to your request, dated September 27, 1990, that we address certain concerns raised by your constituent, Mr. Paul F. Kane. Mr. Kane asked for your assistance in obtaining certain information from the U.S. Army.

As discussed in detail in prior decisions of this Office, Mr. Kane is an accountable officer who is liable for erroneously paying a number of fraudulent travel expenses. The expenses were claimed by employees of the Buffalo District Office of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Under 31 U.S.C. Sec. 3527, Mr. Kane was partially denied relief from his liability in our decision 65 Comp.Gen. 858 (1986). Mr. Kane's request for reconsideration of that decision was denied in B-217114.5, June 8, 1990. Mr. Kane has asked for your assistance in his further efforts to obtain information which he feels will result in his obtaining relief from his liability.

Prior to his request for assistance from your office, Mr. Kane asked GAO to take certain actions regarding this matter. First, Mr. Kane asked us to exclude from his liability amounts which we considered erroneously paid under our "tainted day" rule. The "tainted day" rule stated that non- fraudulent per diem travel expenses paid for the same days as a fraudulent per diem expense are erroneous payments for determining accountable officer liability. Non-fraudulent expenses included under our "tainted day" rule amounted to about 50 percent of Mr. Kane's liability for the erroneous payments.

Second, Mr. Kane asked us to certify the amount of his liability to the Attorney General under 5 U.S.C. Sec. 5512. Section 5512 provides that the Attorney General shall bring suit against a government employee within 60 days of receiving our certification of the amount owed by a government employee. This process allows a government employee whose pay has been withheld to satisfy a debt owed to the United States, like Mr. Kane, to have the issues related to their liability adjudicated by a U.S. District Court.

In response to Mr. Kane's requests, we recently issued a decision which limits an accountable officer's liability for erroneously paid fraudulent per diem expenses. Accountable officers will now be liable only for the actual fraudulent expenses, rather than all per diem expenses claimed for any day tainted by fraud. B-217114.7, May 6, 1991, 70 Comp.Gen. *** (copy enclosed). This decision reduced Mr. Kane's liability for the erroneous payments to $7,809.36. Because of collections from both Mr. Kane and the employees who received the fraudulent payments, Mr. Kane's current outstanding liability is $3,358.24. We have certified this amount as Mr. Kane's liability to the Attorney General under 5 U.S.C. Sec. 5512. B-217114.7, May 6, 1991 (copy enclosed).

In his letter to your office, Mr. Kane generally asks for assistance in obtaining information from Army officials. The importance of this information to the final resolution of Mr. Kane's liability is not clear. Regardless, we concluded addressing the issues concerning Mr. Kane's liability which were within our jurisdiction when we referred this matter to the Attorney General under section 5512. To the extent that Mr. Kane intends to again ask us to relieve him from his liability, we would decline to consider a further request for relief.