B-222671, APR 15, 1986

B-222671: Apr 15, 1986

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DISBURSING OFFICERS - RELIEF - ERRONEOUS PAYMENTS - NOT RESULT OF BAD FAITH OR NEGLIGENCE DIGEST: RELIEF IS GRANTED ARMY DISBURSING OFFICIAL AND HIS DEPUTY 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 AND SUBSEQUENT COLLECTION ATTEMPTS ARE BEING PURSUED. WE WILL DENY RELIEF IF ARMY DELAYS MORE THAN 3 MONTHS IN PROCESSING THE DEBIT VOUCHER. RELIEF IS GRANTED. BOTH CHECKS WERE IN THE SAME AMOUNT. THE SUBSTITUTE CHECK WAS ISSUED ON THE BASIS OF THE PAYEE'S ALLEGATION THAT THE ORIGINAL CHECK HAD NOT BEEN RECEIVED AND A REQUEST FOR STOP PAYMENT HAD BEEN MADE. BOTH CHECKS WERE ISSUED BY THE ARMY UNDER AUTHORITY DELEGATED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF THE TREASURY. 31 C.F.R.

B-222671, APR 15, 1986

DISBURSING OFFICERS - RELIEF - ERRONEOUS PAYMENTS - NOT RESULT OF BAD FAITH OR NEGLIGENCE DIGEST: RELIEF IS GRANTED ARMY DISBURSING OFFICIAL AND HIS DEPUTY UNDER 31 U.S.C. SEC. 3527(C) FROM LIABILITY FOR IMPROPER PAYMENT RESULTING FROM PAYEE'S NEGOTIATION OF BOTH ORIGINAL AND SUBSTITUTE MILITARY CHECKS. 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 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: PRINCIPAL DEPUTY COMMANDER U.S. ARMY FINANCE AND ACCOUNTING CENTER INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA 46249

THIS RESPONDS TO YOUR REQUEST OF MARCH 20, 1986, THAT WE RELIEVE MAJOR (MAJ) J.M. CATES, FINANCE CORPS, FINANCE AND ACCOUNTING OFFICER, U.S. ARMY SOLDIER SUPPORT CENTER, FORT BENJAMIN HARRISON, INDIANA, AND HIS DEPUTY, MS. SYLVIA DENIGRIS, UNDER 31 U.S.C. SEC. 3527(C) FOR AN IMPROPER PAYMENT OF A $468.87 CHECK PAYABLE TO MS. JOAN M. POPOVICS. A RECOVERY OF $84.42 HAS BEEN MADE LEAVING A DEBIT BALANCE OF $384.45 IN MAJ CATES' ACCOUNT. FOR THE REASONS STATED BELOW, RELIEF IS GRANTED.

THE LOSS RESULTED WHEN THE PAYEE NEGOTIATED BOTH THE ORIGINAL AND A SUBSTITUTE CHECK. BOTH CHECKS WERE IN THE SAME AMOUNT. THE SUBSTITUTE CHECK WAS ISSUED ON THE BASIS OF THE PAYEE'S ALLEGATION THAT THE ORIGINAL CHECK HAD NOT BEEN RECEIVED AND A REQUEST FOR STOP PAYMENT HAD BEEN MADE. BOTH CHECKS WERE ISSUED BY THE ARMY UNDER AUTHORITY DELEGATED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF THE TREASURY. 31 C.F.R. SEC. 245.8.

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 A DILIGENT EFFORT WAS MADE TO COLLECT THE OVERPAYMENT. 62 COMP.GEN. 91 (1982).

THE SUBSTITUTE CHECK HERE WAS SIGNED BY THE FINANCE AND ACCOUNTING OFFICER'S DEPUTY WHICH REQUIRES THAT WE RELIEVE THE FINANCE AND ACCOUNTING OFFICER IN HIS SUPERVISORY CAPACITY AS WELL AS THE DEPUTY DISBURSING OFFICER. 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.

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

ALTHOUGH WE HAVE GRANTED RELIEF TO THE DISBURSING OFFICER AND HIS DEPUTY IN THIS CASE, WE DO NOT BELIEVE THAT THE ARMY'S COLLECTION PROCEDURES TAKEN TOGETHER MEET THE DILIGENT CLAIMS COLLECTION REQUIREMENT OF 31 U.S.C. SEC. 3527(C). IT APPEARS THAT MS. POPOVICS WAS STILL A MEMBER OF THE NATIONAL GUARD WHEN THE DEBIT VOUCHER WAS RECEIVED FROM TREASURY. MAJ CATES ATTEMPTED TO USE SALARY OFFSET AGAINST MS. POPOVICS BUT THE NATIONAL GUARD UNIT LOST THE AUTHORIZATION FORM. THERE WAS AN 8 MONTH DELAY BEFORE A NEW FORM WAS PROVIDED AND 3 MORE MONTHS BEFORE THE NATIONAL GUARD UNIT PROCESSED THE AUTHORIZATION. BY THIS TIME MS. POPOVICS WAS NO LONGER A MEMBER OF THE NATIONAL GUARD. IT WAS DISCOVERED THAT MS. POPOVICS WAS ENTITLED TO $84.42 AND THIS AMOUNT WAS APPLIED TO THE DEBT. IN TOTAL, ONCE THE DEBIT VOUCHER WAS RECEIVED FROM TREASURY, IT TOOK ARMY ALMOST 2 YEARS TO REFER THE MATTER TO YOUR COLLECTION DIVISION. AS WE INDICATED IN OUR LETTER TO YOU, B-220836, NOVEMBER 29, 1985, 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 THIS CASE OCCURED PRIOR TO THE TIME SPECIFIED IN OUR NOTICE TO YOU, WE WILL NOT DENY RELIEF HERE.