B-222266, MAR 26, 1986, OFFICE OF GENERAL COUNSEL

B-222266: Mar 26, 1986

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CERTIFYING OFFICERS - RELIEF - ERRONEOUS PAYMENTS - DUPLICATE PAYMENTS 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 GRIFFIN 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-222266, MAR 26, 1986, OFFICE OF GENERAL COUNSEL

CERTIFYING OFFICERS - RELIEF - ERRONEOUS PAYMENTS - DUPLICATE PAYMENTS DIGEST: RELIEF IS GRANTED ARMY FINANCE AND ACCOUNTING OFFICIAL UNDER 31 U.S.C. SEC. 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

DEPARTMENT OF THE ARMY

INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA 46249

THIS RESPONDS TO YOUR REQUEST OF MARCH 4, 1986, THAT WE RELIEVE LIEUTENANT COLONEL (LTC) R. L. GRIFFIN, III, FINANCE CORPS, FINANCE AND ACCOUNTING OFFICER, I CORPS AND FORT LEWIS, FORT LEWIS, WASHINGTON, UNDER 31 U.S.C. SEC. 3528 FOR AN IMPROPER PAYMENT OF A $206.67 CHECK PAYABLE TO MR. TIMOTHY W. BRADFORD. 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 GRIFFIN 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. SEC. 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. SEC. 3528(B)(1).

IT APPEARS IN THIS CASE THAT THESE CRITERIA HAVE BEEN MET. AS FAR AS THE ARMY CERTIFYING OFFICIAL IS CONCERNED, HE "DID NOT KNOW, AND BY REASONABLE DILIGENCE AND INQUIRY COULD NOT HAVE DISCOVERED, THE CORRECT INFORMATION" THAT IS, THAT THE PAYEE HAD ACTUALLY RECEIVED THE ORIGINAL CHECK AND HAD-- OR PLANNED TO-- CASH BOTH CHECKS. ACCORDINGLY, WE GRANT RELIEF TO LTC GRIFFIN.

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. IN THIS CASE, IT TOOK THE ARMY OVER NINE MONTHS TO REFER THE LOSS TO YOUR COLLECTION OFFICE ONCE NOTICE OF THE LOSS WAS RECEIVED FROM TREASURY. WE INDICATED IN OUR LETTER TO YOU, B-220836, NOVEMBER 29, 1985, WE THINK THAT DILIGENT COLLECTION PROCEDURES REQUIRE THAT THE ARMY NOTIFY ITS COLLECTION DIVISION OF A LOSS WITHIN 3 MONTHS OF ITS RECEIPT OF THE DEBIT VOUCHER.