B-218679, MAY 22, 1985, OFFICE OF GENERAL COUNSEL

B-218679: May 22, 1985

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ACCOUNTABLE OFFICERS - RELIEF - DUPLICATE CHECKS ISSUED - IMPROPER PAYMENT DIGEST: RELIEF IS GRANTED ARMY FINANCE AND ACCOUNTING OFFICIAL UNDER 31 U.S.C. THE OFFICER DID NOT KNOW AND BY REASONABLE DILIGENCE AND INQUIRY COULD NOT HAVE DISCOVERED THAT THE PAYEE HAD ACTUALLY RECEIVED BOTH CHECKS AND INTENDED TO CASH BOTH PAYMENT INSTRUMENTS. PROPER PROCEDURES WERE FOLLOWED IN THE CERTIFICATION OF THE SUBSTITUTE CHECK. RELIEF IS GRANTED. THE ROLE OF LTC RICHEY IN ISSUING THE SECOND CHECK WAS THAT OF CERTIFYING OFFICIAL. "(1) THE CERTIFICATION WAS BASED ON OFFICIAL RECORDS AND THE OFFICIAL DID NOT KNOW. BY REASONABLE DILIGENCE AND INQUIRY COULD NOT HAVE DISCOVERED. IT APPEARS IN THIS CASE THAT THESE CRITERIA HAVE BEEN MET.

B-218679, MAY 22, 1985, OFFICE OF GENERAL COUNSEL

ACCOUNTABLE OFFICERS - RELIEF - DUPLICATE CHECKS ISSUED - IMPROPER PAYMENT DIGEST: RELIEF IS GRANTED ARMY FINANCE AND ACCOUNTING OFFICIAL UNDER 31 U.S.C. SECTION 3528 FROM LIABILITY FOR CERTIFICATION OF IMPROPER PAYMENT RESULTING FROM PAYEE'S NEGOTIATION OF BOTH ORIGINAL ISSUED ARMY INSTRUMENT AND SUBSTITUTE TREASURY CHECK. THE OFFICER DID NOT KNOW AND BY REASONABLE DILIGENCE AND INQUIRY COULD NOT HAVE DISCOVERED THAT THE PAYEE HAD ACTUALLY RECEIVED BOTH CHECKS AND INTENDED TO CASH BOTH PAYMENT INSTRUMENTS. PROPER PROCEDURES WERE FOLLOWED IN THE CERTIFICATION OF THE SUBSTITUTE CHECK.

MR. CLYDE E. JEFFCOAT: PRINCIPAL DEPUTY COMMANDER U.S. ARMY FINANCE AND ACCOUNTING CENTER INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA 46249

THIS RESPONDS TO YOUR REQUEST OF APRIL 15, 1985, THAT WE RELIEVE LIEUTENANT COLONEL (LTC) P. E. RICHEY, FINANCE CORPS, FINANCE AND ACCOUNTING OFFICER, FORT RICHARDSON, ALASKA, UNDER 31 U.S.C. SECTION 3528 FOR AN IMPROPER PAYMENT OF A $559.27 CHECK PAYABLE TO MR. DAVID C. DOMINICK. FOR THE REASONS STATED BELOW, RELIEF IS GRANTED.

THE LOSS RESULTED WHEN THE PAYEE NEGOTIATED BOTH AN ORIGINAL ARMY ISSUED CHECK AND A TREASURY-ISSUED REPLACEMENT INSTRUMENT. THE ROLE OF LTC RICHEY IN ISSUING THE SECOND CHECK WAS THAT OF CERTIFYING OFFICIAL. SEE AR-103, PARA. 4-143(B); SEE ALSO, B-215380, ET AL., JULY 23, 1984.

THIS OFFICE HAS AUTHORITY UNDER 31 U.S.C. SECTION 3528 TO RELIEVE A CERTIFYING OFFICER FROM LIABILITY AS FOLLOWS:

"(B) THE COMPTROLLER GENERAL MAY RELIEVE A CERTIFYING OFFICIAL FROM LIABILITY WHEN THE COMPTROLLER GENERAL DECIDES THAT--

"(1) THE CERTIFICATION WAS BASED ON OFFICIAL RECORDS AND THE OFFICIAL DID NOT KNOW, AND BY REASONABLE DILIGENCE AND INQUIRY COULD NOT HAVE DISCOVERED, THE CORRECT INFORMATION ***." 31 U.S.C. SECTION 3528(B)(1).

IT APPEARS IN THIS CASE THAT THESE CRITERIA HAVE BEEN MET. WHEN LTC RICHEY CERTIFIED THAT MR. DOMINICK HAD NOT RECEIVED HIS CHECK HE "DID NOT KNOW, AND BY REASONABLE DILIGENCE AND INQUIRY COULD NOT HAVE DISCOVERED, THE CORRECT INFORMATION" THAT IS, THAT THE PAYEE HAD OR WOULD ACTUALLY RECEIVE THE ORIGINAL CHECK WHICH HE HAD REPORTED STOLEN AND HAD-- OR PLANNED TO-- CASH BOTH CHECKS. IN FACT, AS SOON AS LTC RICHEY WAS INFORMED THAT MR. DOMINICK HAD RECEIVED HIS ORIGINAL CHECK HE SENT TREASURY A STOP PAYMENT REQUEST. ACCORDINGLY, WE GRANT RELIEF.

FINALLY, AS YOU ARE AWARE, THE SETTLEMENT OF A DISBURSING OFFICER'S ACCOUNT DOES NOT RELIEVE THE AGENCY OF ITS RESPONSIBILITY TO PURSUE COLLECTION ACTION ON THE DEBT CREATED BY THE IMPROPER PAYMENT. WE NOTE FROM YOUR SUBMISSION THAT AGGRESSIVE COLLECTION ATTEMPTS ARE BEING MADE TO COLLECT THIS DEBT IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE FEDERAL CLAIMS COLLECTION ACT. SEE, 62 COMP.GEN. 476 (1983).