B-248715, January 13, 1993

B-248715: Jan 13, 1993

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A prisoner is required to deposit any money he has with him at that time into the Safekeeping Fund. A record is maintained of all deposits and withdrawals. A serviceman is responsible for the operation of the Fund. A serviceman previously in charge of the Fund was convicted by court martial on February 19. He is currently incarcerated at another facility. The Command considers the loss uncollectible from the serviceman and states that the Fund's records are not sufficiently accurate to identify those prisoners who were either over or underpaid. There is currently enough money to pay prisoners as they are released. Although the amount in the Fund is less than the total amount of money deposited by the prisoners.

B-248715, January 13, 1993

APPROPRIATIONS/FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT Appropriation Availability Amount availability Imprest funds Adjustments GAO authority APPROPRIATIONS/FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT Appropriation Availability Purpose availability Necessary expenses rule Operating losses United States Marine Corps may restore deficiency in Brig Officers Safekeeping Fund from the appropriation account supporting the administration of the Fund. 31 U.S.C. Sec. 3530.

Colonel K. R. Burns Director, Comptroller Division Marine Corps Combat Development Command United States Marine Corps Quantico, Virginia 22134- 5001

Dear Colonel Burns:

Your office has asked whether it may restore a $1,935.49 loss in the Brig Officer's Safekeeping Fund with appropriated funds. We conclude that the Command may restore the loss in the account under the authority contained in 31 U.S.C. Sec. 3530.

The Command maintains a Brig Officer's Safekeeping Fund at the Marine Corps Base, Quantico, Virginia. Upon being confined, a prisoner is required to deposit any money he has with him at that time into the Safekeeping Fund. On release or transfer to another facility, the prisoner may withdraw the money he has deposited. A record is maintained of all deposits and withdrawals, and a serviceman is responsible for the operation of the Fund.

A serviceman previously in charge of the Fund was convicted by court martial on February 19, 1991 for various crimes, including theft from the Safekeeping Fund. He is currently incarcerated at another facility.

After the court martial, the Command audited the Fund and found a shortage of $1,935.49 due to theft and overpayments and underpayments to former prisoners. The Command considers the loss uncollectible from the serviceman and states that the Fund's records are not sufficiently accurate to identify those prisoners who were either over or underpaid.

According to the Command, because of the revolving nature of the Fund, there is currently enough money to pay prisoners as they are released, although the amount in the Fund is less than the total amount of money deposited by the prisoners.

Our Office considers private funds held by the United States to be funds for which the United States is accountable. B-239955, June 18, 1991. Even though the United States has no beneficial interest in such funds, the United States, by accepting custody of them, assumes a trust responsibility for their care and safekeeping. If a trustee commits a breach of trust, the trustee is chargeable with any loss resulting from that breach. See generally United States v. Mitchell, 463 U.S. 206, 226 (1983).

31 U.S.C. Sec. 3530 authorizes you to charge appropriations currently available to support the administration of the Safekeeping Fund with an amount necessary to restore the deficiency in the account resulting from the fault or negligence of an accountable official or agent, when the head of your agency or his or her designee decides the loss is uncollectible. See B-235405, Mar. 19, 1990. If the appropriate person has made this determination, you may adjust your account accordingly.