B-225309, DEC 18, 1986, OFFICE OF GENERAL COUNSEL

B-225309: Dec 18, 1986

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APPROPRIATIONS/FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT - ACCOUNTABLE OFFICERS - DISBURSING OFFICERS - RELIEF - ILLEGAL/IMPROPER PAYMENTS - SUBSTITUTE CHECKS 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 OFFICIAL AND HIS DEPUTY. SUBSEQUENT COLLECTION ATTEMPTS ARE BEING PURSUED. WE WILL DENY RELIEF IF ARMY DELAYS MORE THAN 3 MONTHS IN FORWARDING THE DEBT TO ARMY'S COLLECTION DIVISION. 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.

B-225309, DEC 18, 1986, OFFICE OF GENERAL COUNSEL

APPROPRIATIONS/FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT - ACCOUNTABLE OFFICERS - DISBURSING OFFICERS - RELIEF - ILLEGAL/IMPROPER PAYMENTS - SUBSTITUTE CHECKS 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 OFFICIAL AND HIS DEPUTY, AND SUBSEQUENT COLLECTION ATTEMPTS ARE BEING PURSUED. HOWEVER, FOR LOSSES RECEIVED AFTER JUNE 1, 1986, WHERE THE PAYEE HAS LEFT THE ARMY OR ITS EMPLOY, WE WILL DENY RELIEF IF ARMY DELAYS MORE THAN 3 MONTHS IN FORWARDING THE DEBT TO ARMY'S COLLECTION DIVISION.

BRIGADIER GENERAL B. W. HALL:

THIS RESPONDS TO YOUR REQUEST OF NOVEMBER 17, 1986, THAT WE RELIEVE MAJOR (MAJ) T. WAGNER, FINANCE CORPS, DSSN 5577, FINANCE AND ACCOUNTING OFFICER, U.S. ARMY FINANCE AND ACCOUNTING CENTER, EUROPE, AND HIS DEPUTY, SERGEANT FIRST CLASS (SFC) S. M. EITUTIS, UNDER 31 U.S.C. SEC. 3527(C) FOR AN IMPROPER PAYMENT OF A $323.21 CHECK PAYABLE TO MS. JACKIELEEN LOPEZ. 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.

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, PARAS. 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 OFFICERS 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). ONCE THE DEBIT VOUCHER WAS RECEIVED BY THE FINANCE OFFICE, IT TOOK ARMY OVER 16 MONTHS TO REFER THE MATTER TO YOUR COLLECTION DIVISION. AS WE PREVIOUSLY INDICATED TO YOU, FOR NOTICES OF LOSSES RECEIVED AFTER JUNE 1, 1986, WHERE THE PAYEE HAS LEFT THE ARMY OR ITS EMPLOY, WE WILL NO LONGER GRANT RELIEF IF ARMY DELAYS MORE THAN 3 MONTHS IN FORWARDING THE DEBT TO YOUR COLLECTION DIVISION. HOWEVER, SINCE THIS CASE OCCURRED PRIOR TO THAT DATE, WE WILL NOT DENY RELIEF HERE.