B-227757, B-227759, Aug 25, 1987, Office of General Counsel

B-227757,B-227759: Aug 25, 1987

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APPROPRIATIONS/FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT - Accountable Officers - Disbursing officers - Relief - Illegal/improper payments - Substitute checks DIGEST: Relief is granted Army disbursing officials and a deputy under 31 U.S.C. Proper procedures were followed in the issuance of the recertified checks. There was no indication of bad faith on the part of the disbursing officials and their deputies. Collection is being pursued. We will deny relief if Army delays more than 3 months in forwarding the debt to its collection division. We have consolidated these requests 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 recertified check was issued to the payee.

B-227757, B-227759, Aug 25, 1987, Office of General Counsel

APPROPRIATIONS/FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT - Accountable Officers - Disbursing officers - Relief - Illegal/improper payments - Substitute checks DIGEST: Relief is granted Army disbursing officials and a deputy under 31 U.S.C. Sec. 3527(c) from liability for improper payment resulting from payee's negotiation of both original and recertified checks. Proper procedures were followed in the issuance of the recertified checks, there was no indication of bad faith on the part of the disbursing officials and their deputies, and collection is being pursued. However, for cases involving notices of loss 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 its collection division.

Brigadier General B. W. Hall:

This responds to two separate requests dated July 10, 1987, that we relieve two Army Finance and Accounting Officers and a deputy under 31 U.S.C. Sec. 3527(c) from liability for improper payments made from their accounts. We have consolidated these requests because they each involve a substantially identical fact situation. As discussed below, your submissions provide the necessary elements for relief, and we grant relief in each case.

In both cases, 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 recertified check was issued to the payee. In each instance, both the original check and the recertified check were successfully negotiated by the payee and paid by the Treasury.

It appears that the requests for stop payment and the issuance of a recertified check in these cases were within the bounds of due care as established by Army Regulations. See, 31 C.F.R. Sec. 245.8 and Treasury Fiscal Requirement Manual for Guidance Office Departments and Agencies, Bulletin No. 83-28. 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.

ACCOUNTABLE AMOUNT OF

GAO NO. OFFICER DUP. PAYEE LOSS

B-227757 Lt. Col. I. R. Jesus H. Torres $169.57

Greenspane

(DSSN 5086)

Ms. A. Ruiz

(Deputy)

B-227759 Maj. G. O. Smith William R. Davis 605.80

DSSN 6552)

Although we have granted relief to the disbursing officers in these cases, we note that neither of these losses were referred to your Collections Division in a timely manner. As we previously indicated to you, for cases involving notices of loss 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 Collections Division. However, since these cases occurred prior to that date, we will not deny relief here.