B-232351, Aug 31, 1988, Office of General Counsel

B-232351: Aug 31, 1988

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APPROPRIATIONS/FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT - Accountable Officers - Disbursing officers - Relief - Illegal/improper payments - Overpayments DIGEST: A supervising disbursing officer is relieved of liability arising from a subordinate issuing a $500 travelers checks instead of a $100 checks. Upon showing that he maintained an adequate system of procedures and controls for the avoidance of errors and took steps to ensure that the system was functioning effectively. Relief is granted. Mason was entitled to a partial travel settlement of $102 but was inadvertently paid $502. Roche is personally liable for deficiencies in his account caused by improper payments made by his subordinates. Roche maintained adequate office procedures to safeguard the funds for which he was responsible.

B-232351, Aug 31, 1988, Office of General Counsel

APPROPRIATIONS/FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT - Accountable Officers - Disbursing officers - Relief - Illegal/improper payments - Overpayments DIGEST: A supervising disbursing officer is relieved of liability arising from a subordinate issuing a $500 travelers checks instead of a $100 checks, upon showing that he maintained an adequate system of procedures and controls for the avoidance of errors and took steps to ensure that the system was functioning effectively.

Colonel D. W. Mikkelson

Chief of Staff, Finance Corps

U. S. Army Finance and Accounting Center

Colonel Mikkelson:

This responds to your August 16, 1988, request that relief be granted under 31 U.S.C. Sec. 3527(c) for an improper payment of $400.00 chargeable to the account of Lt. Col. J. F. Roche, Finance Crops, DSSN 5486, 5th Infantry Division Mechanized and Fort Polk, Fort Polk, Louisiana. For the reasons stated below, relief is granted.

The improper payment occurred on October 28, 1987, when a cashier, Ms. Sharon I. Roberts, overpaid former soldier Marlon Mason on his separation travel payment. Mr. Mason was entitled to a partial travel settlement of $102 but was inadvertently paid $502. It appears that Ms. Roberts mistakenly issued Mr. Mason a $500 denomination travelers check book instead of a $100 denomination book, resulting in a $400 overpayment.

As the disbursing officer officially responsible for the account, Lt. Col. Roche is personally liable for deficiencies in his account caused by improper payments made by his subordinates. See 62 Comp.Gen. 476 (1983). In order for us to grant him relief, we must find that he properly supervised his subordinates by maintaining an adequate system of procedures and controls to safeguard the funds and took steps to ensure the system's implementation and effectiveness. Id. at 480.

The submission establishes that Lt. Col. Roche maintained adequate office procedures to safeguard the funds for which he was responsible. The loss occurred, however, as a direct result of an error by the cashier, Ms. Roberts, in executing these procedures. Accordingly, we concur that this improper payment was not the result of bad faith or the lack of reasonable care on the part of Lt. Col. Roche and grant relief as requested.