B-226148, FEB 19, 1987, OFFICE OF GENERAL COUNSEL

B-226148: Feb 19, 1987

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APPROPRIATIONS/FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT - ACCOUNTABLE OFFICERS - DISBURSING OFFICERS - RELIEF - ILLEGAL/IMPROPER PAYMENTS - SUBSTITUTE CHECKS DIGEST: RELIEF IS GRANTED ARMY DISBURSING OFFICIAL UNDER 31 U.S.C. PROPER PROCEDURES WERE FOLLOWED IN THE ISSUANCE OF THE RECERTIFIED CHECK. THERE WAS NO INDICATION OF BAD FAITH ON THE PART OF THE DISBURSING OFFICIAL AND SUBSEQUENT COLLECTION ATTEMPTS ARE BEING PURSUED. WE WILL DENY RELIEF IF THE FINANCE OFFICER DELAYS IN MORE THAN 3 MONTHS IN FORWARDING THE DEBT TO YOUR COLLECTION DIVISION. TWENTY DOLLARS HAVE BEEN REPAID LEAVING A DEBT OF $280.75. RELIEF IS GRANTED. BOTH CHECKS WERE IN THE SAME AMOUNT. THE RECERTIFIED 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-226148, FEB 19, 1987, OFFICE OF GENERAL COUNSEL

APPROPRIATIONS/FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT - ACCOUNTABLE OFFICERS - DISBURSING OFFICERS - RELIEF - ILLEGAL/IMPROPER PAYMENTS - SUBSTITUTE CHECKS DIGEST: RELIEF IS GRANTED ARMY DISBURSING OFFICIAL UNDER 31 U.S.C. SEC. 3527(C) FROM LIABILITY FOR IMPROPER PAYMENT RESULTING FROM PAYEE'S NEGOTIATION OF BOTH ORIGINAL AND A RECERTIFIED MILITARY CHECK. PROPER PROCEDURES WERE FOLLOWED IN THE ISSUANCE OF THE RECERTIFIED CHECK, THERE WAS NO INDICATION OF BAD FAITH ON THE PART OF THE DISBURSING OFFICIAL AND SUBSEQUENT COLLECTION ATTEMPTS ARE BEING PURSUED. HOWEVER, FOR CASES INVOLVING NOTICES OF LOSSES RECEIVED AFTER JUNE 1, 1986, WHERE THE PAYEE HAS LEFT THE ARMY OR ITS EMPLOY, WE WILL DENY RELIEF IF THE FINANCE OFFICER DELAYS IN MORE THAN 3 MONTHS IN FORWARDING THE DEBT TO YOUR COLLECTION DIVISION.

BRIGADIER GENERAL B. W. HALL:

THIS RESPONDS TO YOUR REQUEST OF JANUARY 20, 1987, THAT WE RELIEVE MAJOR (MAJ) G. W. BEECH, FINANCE CORPS, DSSN 6406, FINANCE AND ACCOUNTING OFFICER, 172D INFANTRY BRIGADE, FORT RICHARDSON, ALASKA, UNDER 31 U.S.C. SEC. 3527(C) FOR AN IMPROPER PAYMENT OF A $300.75 CHECK PAYABLE TO MS. PATRICIA B. JOHNSON. TWENTY DOLLARS HAVE BEEN REPAID LEAVING A DEBT OF $280.75. FOR THE REASONS STATED BELOW, RELIEF IS GRANTED.

THE LOSS RESULTED WHEN THE PAYEE NEGOTIATED BOTH THE ORIGINAL AND A RECERTIFIED CHECK. BOTH CHECKS WERE IN THE SAME AMOUNT. THE RECERTIFIED 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 AND TREASURY FISCAL REQUIREMENTS MANUAL FOR GUIDANCE OF DEPARTMENTS AND AGENCIES, BULLETIN NO. 83-28.

IT APPEARS THAT THE ISSUANCE OF A RECERTIFIED CHECK IN THIS CASE WAS WITHIN THE BOUNDS OF DUE CARE. ID. THERE WAS NO INDICATION OF BAD FAITH ON THE PART OF THE DISBURSING OFFICER AND ADEQUATE COLLECTION EFFORTS ARE NOW BEING MADE. ACCORDINGLY, WE GRANT RELIEF.

ALTHOUGH WE HAVE GRANTED RELIEF TO THE DISBURSING OFFICER 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 DAILY ADVICE OF STATUS (DAS) WAS RECEIVED BY THE FINANCE OFFICE, IT TOOK THE ARMY ALMOST 26 MONTHS TO REFER THE MATTER TO YOUR COLLECTION DIVISION. AS WE PREVIOUSLY INDICATED TO YOU, FOR CASES INVOLVING 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 THE DAS FROM TREASURY WAS RECEIVED PRIOR TO THAT DATE, WE WILL NOT DENY RELIEF HERE.