B-239113, Jun 13, 1990

B-239113: Jun 13, 1990

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APPROPRIATIONS/FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT - Accountable Officers - Cashiers - Relief - Physical losses - Theft DIGEST: Cashier is relieved of liability for loss by theft of funds in the amount of $1. Presumption of negligence on the part of the accountable officer is rebutted since the evidence shows that a theft took place and an investigation reveals no connection between the accountable officer and the theft. Davis: Reference No: F50 (309) This is in response to your letter of March 27. 044.85 in imprest funds for which she was accountable. Peebles is employed. Was burglarized. Federal Bureau of Investigation and the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation were immediately notified of the burglary.

B-239113, Jun 13, 1990

APPROPRIATIONS/FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT - Accountable Officers - Cashiers - Relief - Physical losses - Theft DIGEST: Cashier is relieved of liability for loss by theft of funds in the amount of $1,044.85. Presumption of negligence on the part of the accountable officer is rebutted since the evidence shows that a theft took place and an investigation reveals no connection between the accountable officer and the theft.

Edward L. Davis:

Reference No: F50 (309)

This is in response to your letter of March 27, 1990, requesting that Nila C. Peebles imprest fund cashier for the National Park Service in Asheville, North Carolina, be relieved of liability for a loss by theft of $1,044.85 in imprest funds for which she was accountable. For the following reasons, we grant relief.

The record reflects that on the night of January 17-18, 1990, the Balsam Gap District Office, where Ms. Peebles is employed, was burglarized. The Secret Service, Federal Bureau of Investigation and the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation were immediately notified of the burglary. The investigative report indicates that an unknown persons forced open the locked door to the supply room in which the safe was located. The safe was rolled out into the center of the room and pried open. The metal box inside the safe that contained the imprest funds was forced open and the cash was removed.

Under 31 U.S.C. Sec. 3527, our Office is authorized to relieve accountable officers of responsibility for a physical loss of government funds if we concur in the determination by the head of an agency that: (a) the loss occurred while the officer or agent was acting in the discharge of his or her official duties and (b) that there was no fault or negligence on the part of the cashier which contributed to the loss. B-230796, Apr. 8, 1988. Anytime a physical loss of funds occurs there arises a rebuttable presumption of negligence on the part of an accountable officer. 54 Comp.Gen. 112, 115 (1974). However, when the evidence shows that a theft took place and an investigation reveals no connection between the accountable officer and the theft, the presumption of negligence is rebutted and we have granted relief to the accountable officer. See, e.g., B-235180, May 11, 1989; B-232252, Jan. 5, 1989; B-213176, Sept. 17, 1984.

You have administratively determined that the cashier was without fault in the loss. Although you have not formally made the requisite determination that the cashier, Ms. Peebles, was acting in the discharge of her official duties, recital of the facts makes it clear this was your conclusion. See, e.g., B-232252, Jan. 5, 1989. Since there is evidence of forcible entry into the office and the safe, and there is no evidence in the record to implicate Ms. Peebles, we agree with the administrative finding that the loss was not a result of fault or negligence on the part of Ms. Peebles.

We therefore grant relief to Ms. Peebles. The loss may be charged to the proper appropriation in accordance with 31 U.S.C. Sec. 3527.