B-221548, B-221575, B-221579, B-221574, JAN 31, 1986

B-221548,B-221579,B-221575,B-221574: Jan 31, 1986

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DIGEST: RELIEF IS GRANTED IN FOUR SEPARATE CASES TO ARMY DISBURSING OFFICIALS AND DEPUTIES UNDER 31 U.S.C. PROPER PROCEDURES WERE FOLLOWED IN THE ISSUANCE OF THE SUBSTITUTE CHECK. THERE WAS NO INDICATION OF BAD FAITH ON THE PART OF THE DISBURSING OFFICIALS OR THE DEPUTIES. SUBSEQUENT COLLECTION ATTEMPTS ARE BEING PURSUED. WE WILL DENY RELIEF IF ARMY DELAYS MORE THAN 3 MONTHS IN PROCESSING THE DEBIT VOUCHER. WE HAVE CONSOLIDATED THESE REQUEST BECAUSE THEY EACH INVOLVE A SUBSTANTIALLY IDENTICAL FACT SITUATION. A TREASURY CHECK WAS ISSUED TO AN ARMY MEMBER OR CIVILIAN EMPLOYEE. A STOP PAYMENT ORDER WAS THEN PLACED ON EACH CHECK AND A REPLACEMENT CHECK ISSUED TO THE PAYEE. BOTH THE ORIGINAL CHECK AND THE SUBSTITUTE CHECK WERE SUCCESSFULLY NEGOTIATED BY THE PAYEE AND PAID BY THE TREASURY.

B-221548, B-221575, B-221579, B-221574, JAN 31, 1986

DIGEST: RELIEF IS GRANTED IN FOUR SEPARATE CASES TO ARMY DISBURSING OFFICIALS AND DEPUTIES UNDER 31 U.S.C. SEC. 3527(C) FROM LIABILITY FOR IMPROPER PAYMENTS RESULTING FROM PAYEE'S NEGOTIATION OF BOTH ORIGINAL AND SUBSTITUTE MILITARY CHECKS. IN EACH INSTANCE, PROPER PROCEDURES WERE FOLLOWED IN THE ISSUANCE OF THE SUBSTITUTE CHECK, THERE WAS NO INDICATION OF BAD FAITH ON THE PART OF THE DISBURSING OFFICIALS OR THE DEPUTIES, AND SUBSEQUENT COLLECTION ATTEMPTS ARE BEING PURSUED. HOWEVER, IN THE FUTURE, WE WILL DENY RELIEF IF ARMY DELAYS MORE THAN 3 MONTHS IN PROCESSING THE DEBIT VOUCHER.

MR. CLYDE E. JEFFCOAT: ACTING ASSISTANT COMPTROLLER FOR FINANCE AND ACCOUNTING U.S. ARMY FINANCE AND ACCOUNTING CENTER DEPARTMENT OF THE ARMY INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA 46249

THIS RESPONDS TO FOUR SEPARATE REQUESTS THAT WE RELIEVE VARIOUS ARMY FINANCE AND ACCOUNTING OFFICERS UNDER 31 U.S.C. SEC. 3527(C) FROM LIABILITY FOR IMPROPER PAYMENTS MADE FROM THEIR ACCOUNTS. WE HAVE CONSOLIDATED THESE REQUEST BECAUSE THEY EACH INVOLVE A SUBSTANTIALLY IDENTICAL FACT SITUATION-- THE NEGOTIATION BY A PAYEE OF BOTH AN ORIGINAL CHECK AND A SUBSEQUENTLY ISSUED REPLACEMENT CHECK BY THE FINANCE OFFICER OR HIS DEPUTY. AS DISCUSSED BELOW, YOUR SUBMISSIONS PROVIDE THE NECESSARY ELEMENTS FOR RELIEF, AND WE GRANT RELIEF IN EACH CASE.

EACH OF THE IMPROPER PAYMENTS IN QUESTION AROSE IN A SUBSTANTIALLY SIMILAR FACT SITUATION. IN EACH CASE, A TREASURY CHECK WAS ISSUED TO AN ARMY MEMBER OR CIVILIAN EMPLOYEE. SHORTLY THEREAFTER, IN EACH CASE, THE PAYEE REPRESENTED TO ARMY DISBURSING OFFICIALS THAT THE CHECK HAD NOT BEEN RECEIVED. A STOP PAYMENT ORDER WAS THEN PLACED ON EACH CHECK AND A REPLACEMENT CHECK ISSUED TO THE PAYEE. IN ALL CASES, BOTH THE ORIGINAL CHECK AND THE SUBSTITUTE CHECK WERE SUCCESSFULLY NEGOTIATED BY THE PAYEE AND PAID BY THE TREASURY.

THIS OFFICE HAS AUTHORITY UNDER 31 U.S.C. SEC. 3527(C) TO RELIEVE A DISBURSING OFFICER FROM LIABILITY WHEN THE RECORD INDICATES THAT THE DISBURSING OFFICER ACTED WITHIN THE BOUNDS OF DUE CARE AS ESTABLISHED BY APPLICABLE REGULATIONS, THAT THERE IS NO EVIDENCE OF BAD FAITH ON THE PART OF THE DISBURSING OFFICER AND THAT AN EFFORT WAS MADE TO COLLECT THE OVERPAYMENT. 62 COMP.GEN. 91 (1982).

TWO OF THE SUBSTITUTE CHECKS HERE WERE SIGNED BY A FINANCE AND ACCOUNTING OFFICER'S DEPUTIES WHICH REQUIRES THAT WE RELIEVE THE FINANCE AND ACCOUNTING OFFICER IN HIS SUPERVISORY CAPACITY AS WELL AS THE DEPUTY DISBURSING OFFICERS. WE HAVE CONCLUDED THAT WHERE A SUBSTITUTE CHECK IS PROPERLY ISSUED THE SUPERVISOR IS NO MORE NEGLIGENT THAN THE DEPUTY WHO ACTUALLY SIGNED THE CHECK, B-212576, ET AL., DECEMBER 2, 1983.

WE FIND THAT IN EACH OF THE CASES AT HAND THE REQUIREMENTS FOR RELIEF HAVE BEEN MET.

IT APPEARS THAT THE REQUEST FOR STOP PAYMENT AND THE ISSUANCE OF A SUBSTITUTE CHECK IN THESE CASES WERE WITHIN THE BOUNDS OF DUE CARE AS ESTABLISHED BY ARMY REGULATIONS. SEE AR 37-103, PARAS. 4-161, 4-162 AND 4 -164. THERE WAS NO INDICATION OF BAD FAITH ON THE PARTS OF THE DISBURSING OFFICERS AND IT APPEARS THAT ADEQUATE COLLECTION EFFORTS ARE NOW BEING MADE. ACCORDINGLY, WE GRANT RELIEF IN THE FOLLOWING CASES.

AMOUNT

GAO # ACCOUNTABLE OFFICER DUP. PAYEE OF LOSS B-221548 MAJ. P. T. SHINE MS. CHERYL L. JENKINS $682.79 B-221575 CAP. W. P. RUGGIA MR. WILLIAM L. SNYDER $365.72 B-221579 MAJ. B. H. FITE MS. CLEOTHA E. FIELDS $364.39 B-0221574 LT. COL. W. A. MULLEN, JR. MS. HOLLY FAUBEL $688.82

MS. J. A. WOODARD (DEPUTY)

LT. COL. W. A. MULLEN, JR. MS. HOLLY FAUBEL $712.70

MR. C. A. DENT (DEPUTY)

ALTHOUGH WE HAVE GRANTED RELIEF TO THE DISBURSING OFFICERS IN THESE CASES, WE DO NOT THINK THAT THE ARMY'S COLLECTION PROCEDURES TAKEN TOGETHER MEET THE DILIGENT CLAIMS COLLECTION REQUIREMENT OF 31 U.S.C. SEC. 3527(C). IN EACH INSTANCE IT TOOK ARMY OVER 10 MONTHS TO REFER THE MATTER TO YOUR COLLECTION DIVISION. AS WE HAVE INDICATED, WE WILL NO LONGER GRANT RELIEF IF ARMY DELAYS MORE THAN 3 MONTHS IN PROCESSING THE DEBIT VOUCHER FOR COLLECTION TO YOUR COLLECTION DIVISION. HOWEVER, SINCE WE AGREED NOT TO INSTITUTE THIS POLICY FOR DEBIT VOUCHERS DATED PRIOR TO APRIL 15, 1986, WE WILL NOT DENY RELIEF HERE.