B-23358, OCTOBER 2, 1942, 22 COMP. GEN. 304

B-23358: Oct 2, 1942

Additional Materials:

Contact:

Edda Emmanuelli Perez
(202) 512-2853
EmmanuelliPerezE@gao.gov

 

Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800
youngc1@gao.gov

THE CORRECT PROCEDURE IN SUCH A CASE BEING TO ALLOW THE STAMPS THE VALUE OF WHICH IS UNCLAIMED TO REMAIN WITH THE VOUCHER AND TO MAKE A PROPER NOTATION OF THE FACTS BOTH ON THE ORIGINAL VOUCHER AND ADMINISTRATIVE COPY. 1942: REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTER OF JULY 25. ALSO BECAUSE IT IS BELIEVED THAT FOOD STAMP VOUCHERS HAVE CHARACTERISTICS DIFFERENT FROM THE USUAL VOUCHERS. THE PROBLEM OF UNDER-CLAIMS WAS DISCUSSED BY REPRESENTATIVES OF THIS DEPARTMENT WITH THE CHIEF. AS A RESULT OF THIS DISCUSSION AN INFORMAL ARRANGEMENT WAS MADE WHEREBY AN UNDERCLAIM VOUCHER WOULD BE CORRECTED DURING THE ADMINISTRATIVE EXAMINATION AND THEN BE GIVEN PRECEDENCE IN AUDIT. THERE WAS FORWARDED TO YOUR OFFICE D.O.

B-23358, OCTOBER 2, 1942, 22 COMP. GEN. 304

VOUCHERS - CHANGE IN AMOUNT AFTER CERTIFICATION BY CLAIMANT IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE GENERAL RULE THAT THE AMOUNT OF A VOUCHER CERTIFIED AS CORRECT BY THE CLAIMANT SHOULD NOT BE INCREASED BY ADMINISTRATIVE OR ACCOUNTING OFFICERS, THE AMOUNT CLAIMED ON A VOUCHER, CERTIFIED CORRECT AND JUST BY THE CLAIMANT, FOR REDEMPTION OF FOOD STAMPS MAY NOT BE INCREASED BY THE ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE IN ORDER THAT THE VOUCHER REFLECT THE ACTUAL VALUE OF THE STAMPS SUBMITTED IN SUPPORT THEREOF, THE CORRECT PROCEDURE IN SUCH A CASE BEING TO ALLOW THE STAMPS THE VALUE OF WHICH IS UNCLAIMED TO REMAIN WITH THE VOUCHER AND TO MAKE A PROPER NOTATION OF THE FACTS BOTH ON THE ORIGINAL VOUCHER AND ADMINISTRATIVE COPY.

COMPTROLLER GENERAL WARREN TO THE SECRETARY OF AGRICULTURE, OCTOBER 2, 1942:

REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTER OF JULY 25, 1942, IN PERTINENT PART AS FOLLOWS:

IN THE ADMINISTRATIVE EXAMINATION AND CERTIFICATION OF VOUCHERS FOR REDEMPTION OF STAMPS, SUBMITTED BY OR FOR RETAILERS IN CONNECTION WITH THE FOOD STAMP PLAN, CONSIDERABLE DIFFICULTY HAS BEEN ENCOUNTERED BY THE AGRICULTURAL MARKETING ADMINISTRATION IN EXPEDITIOUSLY HANDLING THOSE VOUCHERS WHICH INVOLVE UNDER-CLAIMS.

BECAUSE OF THIS FACT, AND ALSO BECAUSE IT IS BELIEVED THAT FOOD STAMP VOUCHERS HAVE CHARACTERISTICS DIFFERENT FROM THE USUAL VOUCHERS, THE PROBLEM OF UNDER-CLAIMS WAS DISCUSSED BY REPRESENTATIVES OF THIS DEPARTMENT WITH THE CHIEF, AUDIT DIVISION, OF YOUR OFFICE. AS A RESULT OF THIS DISCUSSION AN INFORMAL ARRANGEMENT WAS MADE WHEREBY AN UNDERCLAIM VOUCHER WOULD BE CORRECTED DURING THE ADMINISTRATIVE EXAMINATION AND THEN BE GIVEN PRECEDENCE IN AUDIT, TO DETERMINE WHETHER THIS METHOD OF HANDLING WOULD BE ACCEPTABLE.

ACCORDINGLY, ON NOVEMBER 18, 1941, THERE WAS FORWARDED TO YOUR OFFICE D.O. VOUCHER NO. 807-13689, PAID NOVEMBER 14, 1941 IN THE ACCOUNTS OF G. F. ALLEN, CHIEF DISBURSING OFFICER, SYMBOL 890-907, WHICH HAD BEEN CORRECTED IN THE MANNER DESCRIBED ABOVE. AS A RESULT OF THE REQUEST FOR EXPEDITED AUDIT OF THE VOUCHER, THE FOLLOWING LETTER, DATED MARCH 19, 1942, ADDRESSED TO THE ADMINISTRATOR, SURPLUS MARKETING ADMINISTRATION, SIGNED BY THE CHIEF, AUDIT REVIEW SECTION, AUDIT DIVISION, FILE A-MFK-AR, HAS BEEN RECEIVED:

"UNDER DATE OF NOVEMBER 18, 1941, G. F. ALLEN, CHIEF DISBURSING OFFICER, DIVISION OF DISBURSEMENT, TREASURY DEPARTMENT, FORWARDED D.O. VOUCHER NO. 807-13689 PAID NOVEMBER 14, 1941, TO THE LASALLE NATIONAL BANK IN THE AMOUNT OF $90 TO THIS OFFICE WITH THE REQUEST THAT IT BE GIVEN PRECEDENCE IN THE AUDIT.

"THE VOUCHER COVERS REDEMPTION OF FOOD ORDER STAMPS IN THE ADMINISTRATIVE AUDIT, THE AMOUNT OF $10 WAS ADDED TO THE PAYEE'S CLAIM OF $80 DUE TO THE FACT THAT THE FOOD STAMPS ATTACHED TO STAMP CARD NO. 10619865 HAVE A VALUE OF $70 RATHER THAN $60 AS INDICATED ON THE VOUCHER.

"THERE IS NO AUTHORITY IN THE ADMINISTRATIVE NOR IN THE ACCOUNTING OFFICES TO INCREASE THE AMOUNT OF A VOUCHER REPRESENTING A CLAIM AGAINST THE GOVERNMENT WHICH HAS BEEN CERTIFIED AS CORRECT BY THE CLAIMANT. COMP. GEN. 251. SINCE THE AMOUNT PAID IS NO MORE THAN THE AMOUNT ACTUALLY DUE, IT WOULD SERVE NO USEFUL PURPOSE TO WITHHOLD CREDIT IN THE ACCOUNT OF THE DISBURSING OFFICER IN THIS CASE, HOWEVER, YOU ARE ADVISED THAT IN SIMILAR CASES ACTION SHOULD BE IN ACCORDANCE WITH DECISIONS OF THIS OFFICE.' ( ITALICS SUPPLIED.)

THIS DEPARTMENT IS COGNIZANT OF THE LIMITATIONS IMPOSED UPON ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICERS AS EXPRESSED BY 9 COMP. GEN. 251 AND OTHER DECISIONS, AND CONSISTENTLY OBSERVES SUCH LIMITATIONS. HOWEVER, THE BURDEN OF HANDLING STAMP UNDERCLAIMS IN ACCORDANCE THEREWITH IS SUCH THAT IT WAS BELIEVED THAT A FURTHER EFFORT SHOULD BE MADE TO OBTAIN RELIEF, THROUGH THE MEDIUM OF A FULL STATEMENT OF THE CONDITIONS SURROUNDING THE PROBLEM COUPLED WITH A REQUEST FOR RECONSIDERATION BY YOUR OFFICE.

AN ELEMENTARY BUT IMPORTANT FACT TO BE KEPT IN MIND IN CONNECTION WITH ANY DISCUSSION REGARDING FOOD STAMP VOUCHERS IS THAT EACH FOOD STAMP HAS A DEFINITE AND FIXED VALUE OF TWENTY-FIVE CENTS, WHICH VALUE IS IMPRINTED UPON EACH STAMP. WHEN AN ELIGIBLE FOOD RETAILER RECEIVES STAMPS IN EXCHANGE FOR FOOD, FROM PERSONS ENTITLED TO USE THEM, HE AFFIXES THEM TO SERIALLY NUMBERED FOOD STAMP CARDS AND CONTINUATION SHEETS, EACH PROVIDING SPACES FOR FORTY (40) STAMPS AGGREGATING $10.00 IN VALUE. IN ORDER TO REDEEM THESE STAMPS, THE RETAILER MUST SIGN A CERTIFICATE ON EACH FOOD STAMP CARD AND THEN EITHER PREPARE A PUBLIC VOUCHER FOR PAYMENT OF FOOD STAMPS, LISTING EACH FOOD STAMP CARD AND THE VALUE OF THE STAMPS AFFIXED THERETO, OR SUBMIT THE CARDS TO A BANK OR A WHOLESALER WHO, ACTING IN THE CAPACITY OF A "COLLECTION AGENT," PREPARES THE VOUCHER. THE VOUCHER AND SUPPORTING STAMP CARDS MUST THEN BE SUBMITTED TO THE AGRICULTURAL MARKETING ADMINISTRATION FOR CONSIDERATION. ONE SUCH VOUCHER SUBMITTED BY A COLLECTION AGENT MAY COVER STAMP CARDS CERTIFIED BY VARIOUS RETAILERS.

DURING THE ADMINISTRATIVE EXAMINATION, VERIFICATION OF THE VALUE OF THE STAMPS SUBMITTED AND OF THE AMOUNT STATED ON THE VOUCHER IS MADE.

THIS EXAMINATION HAS DISCLOSED A CONSIDERABLE NUMBER OF UNDERCLAIMS FALLING INTO ONE OR MORE OF THE FOLLOWING CASE GROUPS:

(A) A SERIALLY NUMBERED STAMP CARD ACCOMPANIES A CLAIM BUT IS NOT LISTED ON THE VOUCHER NOR IS THE VALUE THEREOF INCLUDED IN THE TOTAL AMOUNT CLAIMED.

(B) A SERIALLY NUMBERED STAMP CARD WITH ONE OR MORE CONTINUATION SHEETS IS LISTED ON THE VOUCHER IN AN AMOUNT OMITTING THE VALUE OF ONE OR MORE OF THE CONTINUATION SHEETS, AND THE TOTAL AMOUNT CLAIMED ON THE VOUCHER IS CORRESPONDINGLY UNDERSTATED.

(C) THE VALUE OF THE STAMPS AFFIXED TO AN INDIVIDUAL STAMP CARD OR CONTINUATION SHEET IS ONLY PARTIALLY CLAIMED ON THE VOUCHER.

(D) THE ITEMS ARE LISTED CORRECTLY ON THE VOUCHER BUT THE FOOTING IS UNDERSTATED. (THIS SITUATION, COMMON TO ALL TYPES OF VOUCHERS, AND MENTIONED HERE SOLELY FOR COMPLETENESS, PRESENTS NO PROBLEM OF HANDLING).

VARIOUS METHODS OF HANDLING SUCH UNDERCLAIMS SUGGEST THEMSELVES:

(1) THE UNCLAIMED STAMPS MAY BE ALLOWED TO REMAIN WITH THE VOUCHER, WHICH WOULD BE CERTIFIED ONLY IN THE AMOUNT CLAIMED. COMPLETE INFORMATION WOULD BE NOTED ON THE VOUCHER AND ADMINISTRATIVE COPY TO RECORD THE UNCLAIMED STAMPS.

(2) THE VOUCHER AND ALL RELATED STAMP CARDS MAY BE RETURNED TO THE CLAIMANT WITH ADVICE THAT THERE APPEARS TO BE A DISCREPANCY ON THE VOUCHER, OR BETWEEN THE VOUCHER AND SUPPORTING DOCUMENTS.

(3) IN CASE (A), THE VOUCHER MAY BE CERTIFIED IN THE AMOUNT CLAIMED AND THE UNCLAIMED STAMP CARD RETURNED TO THE CLAIMANT WITH ADVICE THAT THE STAMPS APPEAR TO HAVE BEEN INADVERTENTLY ATTACHED TO HIS CLAIM AND THAT THEY MAY BE RESUBMITTED WHEN ACCOMPANIED BY A PROPERLY PREPARED VOUCHER.

(4) IN CASES (B) AND (C), THE STAMP CARD AND RELATED CONTINUATION SHEETS, IF ANY, MAY BE SUSPENDED FROM THE VOUCHER AND RETURNED TO THE CLAIMANT FOR VERIFICATION WITH HIS RECORDS AS TO THE NUMBER OF STAMPS SUBMITTED.

(5) THE VOUCHER MAY BE CORRECTED TO REFLECT THE ACTUAL VALUE OF THE SUPPORTING STAMPS, A DIFFERENCE STATEMENT BEING ATTACHED FOR THE PURPOSE OF CLEARLY SETTING FORTH THE NATURE OF THE CORRECTION, AND A COPY THEREOF FURNISHED TO THE PAYEE. (THIS IS THE METHOD EMPLOYED IN CORRECTING D.O. VOUCHER NO. 807-13689.)

IN VIEW OF THE CONDITIONS HEREIN DESCRIBED, IT IS RESPECTFULLY REQUESTED THAT YOU RECONSIDER THE STAND TAKEN BY YOUR OFFICE IN THE ABOVE-QUOTED LETTER OF THE CHIEF, AUDIT REVIEW SECTION, AND ADVISE WHETHER OR NOT YOU WOULD BE REQUIRED TO OBJECT TO USE BY THE AGRICULTURAL MARKETING ADMINISTRATION OF METHOD NUMBERED (5), AS STATED ABOVE, IN THE CASES TO WHICH IT IS APPLICABLE.

IT IS RECOGNIZED THAT THE BASIS FOR REDEMPTION OF FOOD STAMPS IS THE PHYSICAL PRESENCE OF THE STAMPS, AND THAT IN THE ABSENCE OF THE STAMPS, NO PAYMENT COULD BE MADE. ON THE OTHER HAND SURRENDERING THE STAMPS IS NOT THE ONLY REQUIREMENT FOR THEIR REDEMPTION AND PAYMENT OF THE AMOUNT THE STAMPS REPRESENT. ESTABLISHED PROCEDURE REQUIRES SUBMISSION OF A VOUCHER UPON WHICH ARE LISTED THE FOOD STAMP CARD NUMBERS, THE AMOUNT OF STAMPS ATTACHED TO EACH CARD, AND THE TOTAL AMOUNT CLAIMED. FURTHERMORE THE PAYEE OF THE VOUCHER IS REQUIRED TO CERTIFY THE VOUCHER IN FORM AS FOLLOWS:

I CERTIFY THAT THE ABOVE AMOUNT CLAIMED IS CORRECT AND JUST AND THAT PAYMENT THEREFOR HAS NOT BEEN RECEIVED. PAYMENT FOR THE FOOD AND SURPLUS FOOD DELIVERED FOR THE FOOD ORDER STAMPS AFFIXED TO THE FOOD STAMP CARDS ATTACHED IS HEREBY REQUESTED BY THE PAYEE AS RETAILER, OR AS AGENT FOR THE RETAILERS, OR AS THE CENTRAL OFFICE OF THE BRANCHES OF CHAIN STORES, INDICATED ON SUCH FOOD STAMP CARDS.

IF THIS CERTIFICATION IS TO BE IGNORED, THE VERY PURPOSE OF THE VOUCHER IS DEFEATED AND NO USEFUL PURPOSE IS SERVED BY REQUIRING A VOUCHER. CLEARLY, INCREASING THE AMOUNT CLAIMED ON A VOUCHER SO CERTIFIED IS NOT A PROPER SAFEGUARD OF THE INTERESTS OF THE UNITED STATES, AND MAY NOT BE SANCTIONED. 9 COMP. GEN. 251. IN SUCH CASES WHERE AN UNDERPAYMENT HAS BEEN MADE THE PAYEE ALWAYS HAS A REMEDY TO CLAIM THE BALANCE DUE.

OF THE FIVE METHODS SUGGESTED FOR HANDLING SUCH UNDERCLAIMS, METHOD NUMBERED (1) IS THE CORRECT PROCEDURE. IF PROPER NOTATIONS ARE MADE BOTH ON THE ORIGINAL VOUCHER AND THE ADMINISTRATIVE COPY, NO REASON IS APPARENT WHY AN ADEQUATE ADMINISTRATIVE REPORT MAY NOT BE MADE ON A SUPPLEMENTARY CLAIM TO BE SUBMITTED TO THIS OFFICE FOR DIRECT SETTLEMENT AFTER PROPER VERIFICATION OF THE ORIGINAL RECORD.

THE SUGGESTED PROCEDURE NUMBERED (5) WOULD NOT ONLY BE AT VARIANCE WITH UNIFORM PROCEDURE ESTABLISHED FOR GENERAL APPLICATION BUT WOULD NOT PROPERLY PROTECT THE INTERESTS OF THE GOVERNMENT. HENCE IT MAY NOT BE SANCTIONED BY THIS OFFICE.