B-36937, FEBRUARY 2, 1944, 23 COMP. GEN. 555

B-36937: Feb 2, 1944

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THERE IS NO AUTHORITY UNDER THE ACT OF MAY 26. AUTHORIZING THE WITHHOLDING OF THE COMPENSATION OF ANY PERSON WHO IS IN ARREARS TO THE UNITED STATES UNTIL HE HAS ACCOUNTED FOR ALL SUMS FOR WHICH HE MAY BE LIABLE. IS APPLICABLE ONLY TO ACCOUNTABLE (FISCAL) OFFICERS OF THE UNITED STATES. MAY NOT BE INVOKED IN THE CASE OF AN EMPLOYEE (NOT AN ACCOUNTABLE OFFICER) WHO IS INDEBTED TO THE UNITED STATES ON ACCOUNT OF AN ERRONEOUS SETTLEMENT OF THIS OFFICE ALLOWING A SPECIAL PER DIEM CONTRARY TO THE TERMS OF THE EMPLOYEE'S TRAVEL ORDER. AN EMPLOYEE WHO IS INDEBTED TO THE UNITED STATES BY REASON OF AN ERRONEOUS SETTLEMENT OF THIS OFFICE. THE AMOUNT TO HIS CREDIT IN THE RETIREMENT FUND IS NOT AVAILABLE FOR LIQUIDATION OF HIS INDEBTEDNESS.

B-36937, FEBRUARY 2, 1944, 23 COMP. GEN. 555

SET-OFF - CURRENT COMPENSATION AND RETIREMENT DEDUCTIONS - EMPLOYEE'S INDEBTEDNESS ARISING AS RESULT OF ERRONEOUS SETTLEMENT BY THIS OFFICE WHERE AN EMPLOYEE'S INDEBTEDNESS TO THE GOVERNMENT AROSE ON THE BASIS OF A CERTIFICATE OF SETTLEMENT BY THIS OFFICE ERRONEOUSLY ALLOWING THE EMPLOYEE A SPECIAL PER DIEM CONTRARY TO THE TERMS OF HIS TRAVEL ORDERS, RATHER THAN ON THE BASIS OF A DISALLOWANCE IN A DISBURSING OFFICER'S ACCOUNT, THERE IS NO AUTHORITY UNDER THE ACT OF MAY 26, 1936 AUTHORIZING THE WITHHOLDING OF AN EMPLOYEE'S COMPENSATION TO LIQUIDATE HIS INDEBTEDNESS ARISING OUT OF DISALLOWANCES BY THIS OFFICE IN A DISBURSING OFFICER'S ACCOUNT, TO APPLY THE EMPLOYEE'S CURRENT SALARY PAYMENTS TOWARD LIQUIDATION OF THE INDEBTEDNESS, OR TO CHARGE THE DISBURSING OFFICER'S ACCOUNT FOR THE UNLAWFUL PAYMENT. SECTION 1766, REVISED STATUTES, AUTHORIZING THE WITHHOLDING OF THE COMPENSATION OF ANY PERSON WHO IS IN ARREARS TO THE UNITED STATES UNTIL HE HAS ACCOUNTED FOR ALL SUMS FOR WHICH HE MAY BE LIABLE, IS APPLICABLE ONLY TO ACCOUNTABLE (FISCAL) OFFICERS OF THE UNITED STATES, AND, THEREFORE, MAY NOT BE INVOKED IN THE CASE OF AN EMPLOYEE (NOT AN ACCOUNTABLE OFFICER) WHO IS INDEBTED TO THE UNITED STATES ON ACCOUNT OF AN ERRONEOUS SETTLEMENT OF THIS OFFICE ALLOWING A SPECIAL PER DIEM CONTRARY TO THE TERMS OF THE EMPLOYEE'S TRAVEL ORDER. AN EMPLOYEE WHO IS INDEBTED TO THE UNITED STATES BY REASON OF AN ERRONEOUS SETTLEMENT OF THIS OFFICE, ALLOWING A SPECIAL PER DIEM CONTRARY TO THE TERMS OF THE EMPLOYEE'S TRAVEL ORDER, MAY AUTHORIZE DEDUCTIONS FROM HIS CURRENT SALARY PAYMENTS TO LIQUIDATE THE INDEBTEDNESS, BUT, WHILE HE REMAINS IN THE SERVICE, THE AMOUNT TO HIS CREDIT IN THE RETIREMENT FUND IS NOT AVAILABLE FOR LIQUIDATION OF HIS INDEBTEDNESS--- EITHER WITH OR WITHOUT HIS CONSENT--- REGARDLESS OF THE LENGTH OF HIS SERVICE. VOLUNTARY DEDUCTIONS FROM AN EMPLOYEE'S CURRENT SALARY PAYMENTS TO LIQUIDATE HIS INDEBTEDNESS TO THE UNITED STATES MAY BE MADE IN INSTALLMENTS BUT, ORDINARILY, THE PERIOD OF RECOUPMENT IN SUCH CASES SHOULD NOT EXTEND BEYOND ONE YEAR; AND CHECKS TO COVER SUCH DEDUCTIONS SHOULD BE DRAWN PAYABLE TO THE TREASURER OF THE UNITED STATES AND FORWARDED TO THE CLAIMS DIVISION OF THIS OFFICE FOR APPROPRIATE DISPOSITION, IDENTIFIED WITH THE CLAIM NUMBER.

ACTING COMPTROLLER GENERAL YATES TO THE ADMINISTRATOR, WAR FOOD ADMINISTRATION, FEBRUARY 2, 944:

I HAVE YOUR LETTER OF JANUARY 7, 1944, AS FOLLOWS:

THE ACTING COMPTROLLER GENERAL'S LETTER OF OCTOBER 2, 1943, B 36937, REQUESTED THE SECRETARY TO SECURE A REFUND OF $75.00 FROM WEX A. JONES, AN EMPLOYEE OF THE AGRICULTURAL ADJUSTMENT AGENCY, REPRESENTING 15 DAYS SPECIAL PER DIEM ALLOWED IN CONNECTION WITH HIS DECENTRALIZATION TRANSFER FROM WASHINGTON D.C. TO COLUMBUS, OHIO. THERE IS ENCLOSED A COPY OF A MEMORANDUM DATED NOVEMBER 4, 1943, FROM THE CHIEF FISCAL OFFICER, AGRICULTURAL ADJUSTMENT AGENCY, TO MR. JONES MAKING DEMAND UPON HIM FOR THE REFUND TOGETHER WITH MR. JONES' REPLY, DATED NOVEMBER 6, 1943.

THE ACTION OF THE ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE IN DENYING THE ALLOWANCE OF A SPECIAL PER DIEM TO MR. JONES WAS BASED UPON THE DEPARTMENT'S INTERPRETATION OF THE INSTRUCTIONS OF THE BUREAU OF THE BUDGET WITH REFERENCE TO THE GRANTING OF SPECIAL PER DIEM ALLOWANCES, READING AS FOLLOWS:

"NO SPECIAL PER DIEM ALLOWANCE MAY BE PAID TO AN EMPLOYEE WHO, AS DETERMINED BY THE HEAD OF THE AGENCY, HAS TRANSFERRED THERETO AT HIS OWN REQUEST FOR THE PURPOSE OF ACCOMPANYING THE AGENCY TO ITS NEW LOCATION, PRIMARILY FOR HIS OWN CONVENIENCE AND BENEFIT.'

THE DEPARTMENT INTERPRETED THIS TO MEAN THAT THE GRANTING OF THE SPECIAL PER DIEM ALLOWANCE TO AN EMPLOYEE WOULD BE IN ACCORD WITH THE BUREAU'S INTENT ONLY IF (1) THE EMPLOYEE TRANSFERRED WITHOUT RECEIVING A PROMOTION IN GRADE, OR (2) THE EMPLOYEE DID NOT RETURN TO HIS HOME AREA. MR. JONES TRANSFERRED TO THE AGRICULTURAL ADJUSTMENT AGENCY FROM THE FEDERAL SECURITY AGENCY WITH A CHANGE IN GRADE AND SALARY FROM UNDER-CLERK, CAF-1, AT $1320 PER ANNUM TO JUNIOR CLERK, CAF-2, AT $1440 PER ANNUM. ALTHOUGH AS REPRESENTED BY MR. JONES, THE DEPARTMENT FURNISHED AN ADMINISTRATIVE REPORT TO YOUR OFFICE AS REQUESTED, SUCH REPORT WAS NOT CONSIDERED AS INDICATING UNQUALIFIED POST APPROVAL OF THE CLAIM. OUR ADMINISTRATIVE REPORT WAS TO THE EFFECT, THAT IF OUR INTERPRETATION OF THE PRESIDENTIAL AUTHORIZATION OF MARCH 17, 1942, WAS IN ERROR, THE CLAIM SHOULD BE ALLOWED.

IN THE EVENT IT IS DETERMINED THAT THE EXPLANATION FURNISHED DOES NOT JUSTIFY REMOVAL OF THE DEBT CHARGE THIS OFFICE WILL, OF COURSE, OFFER COMPLETE COOPERATION IN EFFECTING RECOVERY WITHIN THE LIMITS PRESCRIBED BY LAW AS REFLECTED BY THE DECISIONS OF YOUR OFFICE. IT IS THEREFORE REQUESTED THAT YOU ADVISE ME AS TO THE CONDITIONS UNDER WHICH RECOVERY MAY BE INITIATED. SPECIFICALLY, I WOULD APPRECIATE INFORMATION AS TO:

(1) WHETHER THERE IS ANY AUTHORITY AT LAW EXCEPT AS PROVIDED IN THE ACT OF MAY 26, 1936, 49 STAT. 1374, TO REQUIRE THE APPLICATION OF CURRENT SALARY PAYMENTS OF THE EMPLOYEE TOWARD LIQUIDATION OF THE DEBT.

(2) WHETHER, IN THE EVENT THE PAYMENT IS DISALLOWED IN THE ACCOUNTS OF THE DISBURSING OFFICER, CURRENT SALARY PAYMENTS MAY BE WITHHELD UPON RECEIPT OF THE NOTICE OF EXCEPTION OR WHETHER PAYMENTS MAY NOT BE WITHHELD UNTIL YOUR OFFICE HAS RENDERED A STATEMENT OF THE ACCOUNT OF THE DISBURSING OFFICER (SEE THE ACT OF MAY 26, 1936, 49 STAT. 1374).

(3) WHETHER THE PROVISIONS OF SECTION 1766, OF THE REVISED STATUTES MAY PROPERLY BE APPLIED IN THIS CASE.

(4) WHETHER ANY AMOUNTS TO THE CREDIT OF THE EMPLOYEE IN THE CIVIL SERVICE RETIREMENT FUND MAY BE APPLIED IN LIQUIDATION OF THE DEBT. IF SO, TO WHAT EXTENT AND UNDER WHAT CIRCUMSTANCES MAY SUCH CREDITS BE APPLIED.

(5) WHETHER, IF THE EMPLOYEE VOLUNTARILY SO REQUESTS, CURRENT SALARY PAYMENTS, OR RETIREMENT FUND CREDITS, MAY BE APPLIED TOWARD LIQUIDATION OF THE DEBT NOTWITHSTANDING THE RULES WHICH MAY BE LAID DOWN IN THE ABSENCE OF SUCH REQUEST UNDER YOUR ANSWERS TO THE QUESTIONS ABOVE.

BECAUSE OF THE FACT THAT THE EMPLOYEE IN THIS CASE HAS ACTED IN GOOD FAITH AND IN CONSIDERATION OF THE FACT THAT AS REPORTED BY HIM HIS FINANCIAL POSITION IS SUCH THAT, IF YOU DETERMINE THAT COLLECTION OF THE OVERPAYMENTS SHOULD BE MADE FROM CURRENT SALARY PAYMENTS, COLLECTION OF THE ENTIRE AMOUNT AT ONCE WOULD WORK AN UNDUE HARDSHIP, YOUR ADVICE IS REQUESTED AS TO WHETHER THE DEDUCTIONS MAY BE MADE IN INSTALLMENTS. WHICH EVENT WE WOULD DESIRE THAT COLLECTION BE EFFECTED BY MEANS OF VOUCHER DEDUCTIONS ON STANDARD FORM NO. 1096, OR BY MEANS OF CHECKS DRAWN PAYABLE TO THE TREASURER OF THE UNITED STATES AND FORWARDED TO YOUR OFFICE FOR APPROPRIATE DISPOSITION. TO BE REQUIRED TO FORWARD PAYROLL VOUCHERS TO YOUR OFFICE FOR DIRECT SETTLEMENT WOULD UNNECESSARILY DELAY PAYMENTS TO MR. JONES AND WOULD ACHIEVE NO DIFFERENT RESULT. THIS IS SO WHEN IT IS CONSIDERED THAT THE AMOUNT OF THE DEBT IS A SUM CERTAIN, THE CIRCUMSTANCES ARE A MATTER OF RECORD, THE AMOUNT TO WHICH RECOVERIES WOULD BE CREDITED ARE KNOWN, AND COMPLETE REFERENCE CITATIONS FOR SUCH CREDITS ARE AVAILABLE IN THE ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE.

YOUR CONSIDERATION AND REPLY IN THE LIGHT OF THE FOREGOING WOULD BE APPRECIATED.

THE LETTER FROM WEX A. JONES TO AN OFFICIAL OF THE AGRICULTURAL ADJUSTMENT AGENCY, DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE, REQUESTING RECONSIDERATION OF THE MATTER OF HIS INDEBTEDNESS, IS DATED NOVEMBER 6, 1943, AND READS AS FOLLOWS:

YOUR MEMORANDUM DATED NOVEMBER 4, 1943, STATED THAT THE ACTING COMPTROLLER GENERAL HAD REQUESTED REFUND OF $75.00 PAID ME BY DIRECT SETTLEMENT SINCE SPECIAL PER DIEM WAS NOT AUTHORIZED IN MY TRAVEL AUTHORIZATION.

WHILE IT IS TRUE THAT MY LETTER OF AUTHORIZATION DID NOT AUTHORIZE PAYMENT OF SPECIAL PER DIEM, MY CLAIM TO THE GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE WAS BASED ON THE PROVISIONS CONTAINED IN THE PRESIDENTIAL AUTHORIZATION OF FUNDS FOR DECENTRALIZATION PURPOSES WHICH DID NOT CONTAIN ANY SUCH RESTRICTIONS, BUT DID SPECIFY PAYMENT OF SPECIAL PER DIEM TO ALL EMPLOYEES AFFECTED BY THE DECENTRALIZATION OF THE VARIOUS GOVERNMENT OFFICES.

IT IS MY UNDERSTANDING THAT MY CLAIM TO THE GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE WAS RETURNED TO THE DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE FOR ADMINISTRATIVE RECOMMENDATION AND IT IS ALSO MY UNDERSTANDING THAT THE AGRICULTURAL ADJUSTMENT AGENCY AND THE SECRETARY OF AGRICULTURE RECOMMENDED PAYMENT OF THE CLAIM IF NOT PRECLUDED BY THE PRESIDENT'S AUTHORIZATION. ALTHOUGH PROVISION FOR THE PAYMENT OF SPECIAL PER DIEM WAS NOT ORIGINALLY INCLUDED IN MY LETTER OF AUTHORIZATION, I FEEL THAT MORE CONSIDERATION SHOULD BE GIVEN TO THE SECRETARY'S RECOMMENDATION AS INDICATING POST APPROVAL OF THIS PER DIEM ALLOWANCE.

SINCE THE NOTICE OF SETTLEMENT, NO. 10734726, FROM THE GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE INDICATED THAT THE COMPTROLLER GENERAL HAD SUSTAINED MY CONTENTION THAT I WAS ENTITLED TO SPECIAL PER DIEM, NO EFFORT WAS MADE ON MY PART TO DELAY USE OF THE FUNDS AFTER RECEIPT OF THE CHECK. SINCE I AM EMPLOYED AT $1620.00 PER ANNUM, I AM NOT IN A FINANCIAL POSITION TO REPAY $75.00 AT THIS TIME. IF THE COMPTROLLER GENERAL IS STILL OF THE OPINION THAT THE PAYMENT WAS NOT PROPER AND IF A DISALLOWANCE IS ULTIMATELY MADE, THEN APPARENTLY I WOULD BE UNABLE TO PREVENT ACTION BEING TAKEN TO WITHHOLD THIS AMOUNT FROM THEN CURRENT SALARY PAYMENTS IN THE EVENT I WAS STILL UNABLE AT THAT TIME TO MAKE PAYMENT.

THE LETTER OF THE BUREAU OF THE BUDGET DATED JANUARY 26, 1942, CONTAINING THE BASIS UPON WHICH THE SPECIAL PER DIEM ALLOWANCE WOULD BE PAYABLE AT THE NEW OFFICIAL STATION OF AN EMPLOYEE WHO WAS TRANSFERRED FROM WASHINGTON, D.C., AS A RESULT OF DECENTRALIZATION--- THE PERTINENT PROVISION OF WHICH IS QUOTED IN YOUR LETTER--- SPECIFICALLY VESTED IN THE HEAD OF THE AGENCY THE RESPONSIBILITY OF DETERMINING WHETHER AN EMPLOYEE HAD TRANSFERRED TO THE DECENTRALIZED AGENCY FROM ANOTHER AGENCY ,PRIMARILY FOR HIS OWN CONVENIENCE AND BENEFIT.' IN THE INSTANT CASE THAT DETERMINATION WAS MADE AND IT WAS CONCLUDED ADMINISTRATIVELY, PURSUANT TO A GENERAL ORDER ISSUED MARCH 24, 1942, BY THE SECRETARY OF AGRICULTURE, THAT MR. JONES HAD TRANSFERRED TO THE AGRICULTURAL ADJUSTMENT AGENCY PRIMARILY FOR HIS OWN CONVENIENCE AND BENEFIT, HIS TRAVEL ORDER NO. DFM-D- 3 DATED MARCH 26, 1942, SPECIFICALLY PROVIDING THAT HE WAS TO RECEIVE NO SPECIAL PER DIEM. IT IS NOT THE DUTY AND RESPONSIBILITY OF THIS OFFICE TO REVIEW OR REVISE THE ADMINISTRATIVE ACTION TAKEN IN THE MATTER. IN VIEW OF THE ADMINISTRATIVE DETERMINATION THUS MADE, THE SETTLEMENT OF THIS OFFICE OF JUNE 26, 1943, ALLOWING MR. JONES $75 SPECIAL PER DIEM CONTRARY TO THE PLAIN TERMS OF HIS TRAVEL ORDERS, CLEARLY WAS ERRONEOUS. HENCE, IT MUST BE CONCLUDED THAT MR. JONES IS INDEBTED TO THE UNITED STATES IN THE AMOUNT OF $75 PAID TO HIM ON THE BASIS OF THE ERRONEOUS SETTLEMENT BY THIS OFFICE.

THE ACT OF MAY 26, 1936, 49 STAT. 1374 PROVIDES:

THAT, HEREAFTER, WHENEVER UPON THE STATEMENT OF THE ACCOUNT OF ANY DISBURSING OFFICER OF THE UNITED STATES IN THE GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE CREDIT SHALL HAVE BEEN DISALLOWED FOR ANY PAYMENT TO ANY PERSON IN THE EXECUTIVE BRANCH OF THE GOVERNMENT, OTHERWISE ENTITLED TO COMPENSATION FROM THE UNITED STATES OR FROM ANY AGENCY OR INSTRUMENTALITY THEREOF, SUCH COMPENSATION OF THE PAYEE MAY BE WITHHELD UNTIL FULL REIMBURSEMENT HAS BEEN ACCOMPLISHED UNDER SUCH REGULATIONS AS MAY BE PRESCRIBED BY THE HEAD OF THE DEPARTMENT, BRANCH, OR INDEPENDENT ESTABLISHMENT (INCLUDING CORPORATIONS) UNDER WHICH SUCH PAYEE IS ENTITLED TO RECEIVE COMPENSATION: PROVIDED, THAT NOTHING CONTAINED IN THIS ACT SHALL BE CONSTRUED TO REPEAL OR IN ANY WAY MODIFY EXISTING LAWS RELATING TO THE COLLECTION OF THE INDEBTEDNESS OF ACCOUNTABLE OR DISBURSING OFFICERS.

IN A NUMBER OF COURT DECISIONS, INCLUDING THE DECISION BY THE SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES IN THE CASE OF SMITH V. JACKSON, 246 U.S. 388, RENDERED PRIOR TO THE DATE OF THAT STATUTE, IT WAS HELD THAT CURRENT SALARY PAYMENTS OF A FEDERAL OFFICER OR EMPLOYEE COULD NOT BE WITHHELD WITHOUT THE CONSENT OF THE OFFICER OR EMPLOYEE CONCERNED TOWARD LIQUIDATION OF HIS INDEBTEDNESS TO THE UNITED STATES EXCEPT AS PROVIDED FOR UNDER SECTION 1766, REVISED STATUTES. IN DECISION OF DECEMBER 3, 1936, 16 COMP. GEN. 547, 548, WHEREIN OTHER COURT DECISIONS ARE CITED, IT WAS STATED:

THE RULE STATED IN ALL OF THE CITED COURT DECISIONS THAT CURRENT PAYMENTS OF SALARY OF OFFICERS OF THE GOVERNMENT MAY NOT BE WITHHELD TO LIQUIDATE AN INDEBTEDNESS OF THE OFFICERS TO THE GOVERNMENT WAS DIRECTED TO THE ACCOUNTING OFFICERS OF THE GOVERNMENT IN CASES IN WHICH THERE HAD BEEN A DISALLOWANCE UPON THE STATEMENT OF A DISBURSING OFFICER'S ACCOUNTS. THE ACT OF MAY 26, 1936, SUPRA, WAS DIRECTED TO AND MODIFIES THE RULE STATED BY THE COURTS WITH RESPECT TO THE WITHHOLDING OF CURRENT SALARY OF AN OFFICER OR EMPLOYEE WHILE IN THE SERVICE. * * *

IN DECISION OF JULY 9, 1937, 17 COMP. GEN. 12, IT WAS HELD (QUOTING FROM THE SYLLABUS):

THERE IS NO AUTHORITY OF LAW, EXCEPT AS PROVIDED IN THE ACT OF MAY 26, 1936, 49 STAT. 1374 FOR THE APPLICATION OF CURRENT SALARY PAYMENTS OF FEDERAL EMPLOYEES, AS DISTINGUISHED FROM FINAL SALARY PAYMENTS UPON SEPARATION FROM THE SERVICE, TOWARD LIQUIDATION OF A GOVERNMENT INDEBTEDNESS, SUCH AS AN UNPAID FEDERAL HOUSING ADMINISTRATION INSURED LOAN, WITHOUT THE CONSENT OF THE EMPLOYEE CONCERNED, AND WHERE SAID CONSENT IS WITHHELD BY THE EMPLOYEE AFTER THE MATTER IS REFERRED TO THE EMPLOYING AGENCY, THE FEDERAL HOUSING ADMINISTRATION SHOULD BE SO ADVISED THAT THERE MIGHT BE TAKEN BY THAT AGENCY SUCH STEPS TO EFFECT COLLECTION AS ARE AUTHORIZED BY SECTION 2, TITLE I, OF THE NATIONAL HOUSING ACT, AS AMENDED, 49 STAT. 1188, 16 COMP. GEN. 956, AMPLIFIED. SEE, ALSO, 16 COMP. GEN. 161, 826.

ON THE BASIS OF THE PLAIN TERMS OF THE 1936 STATUTE AND THE RULES STATED IN THE CITED DECISION, QUESTION (1) IS ANSWERED IN THE NEGATIVE INSOFAR AS CASES SIMILAR TO THE ONE HERE INVOLVED ARE CONCERNED.

REFERRING TO QUESTION (2), AS THE PAYMENT HERE WAS MADE ON THE BASIS OF A CERTIFICATE OF SETTLEMENT BY THIS OFFICE, THE DISBURSING OFFICER PROPERLY MAY NOT BE HELD LIABLE FOR THE UNLAWFUL PAYMENT; ACCORDINGLY, NO DISALLOWANCE OF THE ITEM WILL BE REFLECTED IN HIS ACCOUNTS AND, THEREFORE, THERE IS NO PROPER BASIS IN THE INSTANT CASE FOR PROCEEDING UNDER THE 1936 STATUTE OR OTHERWISE FOR WITHHOLDING CURRENT SALARY PAYMENTS OF MR. JONES WITHOUT HIS CONSENT.

SECTION 1766, REVISED STATUTES, PROVIDES:

NO MONEY SHALL BE PAID TO ANY PERSON FOR HIS COMPENSATION WHO IS IN ARREARS TO THE UNITED STATES, UNTIL HE HAS ACCOUNTED FOR AND PAID INTO THE TREASURY ALL SUMS FOR WHICH HE MAY BE LIABLE. IN ALL CASES WHERE THE PAY OR SALARY OF ANY PERSON IS WITHHELD IN PURSUANCE OF THIS SECTION, THE ACCOUNTING OFFICERS OF THE TREASURY, IF REQUIRED TO DO SO BY THE PARTY, HIS AGENT OR ATTORNEY, SHALL REPORT FORTHWITH TO THE SOLICITOR OF THE TREASURY THE BALANCE DUE; AND THE SOLICITOR SHALL, WITHIN SIXTY DAYS THEREAFTER, ORDER SUIT TO BE COMMENCED AGAINST SUCH DELINQUENT AND HIS SURETIES.

THAT STATUTE IS APPLICABLE ONLY TO ACCOUNTABLE (FISCAL) OFFICERS OF THE UNITED STATES. 26 OP. ATTY. GEN. 77; 9 COMP. GEN. 272; 14 ID. 166; 17 ID. 128; 19 ID. 312. SEE, ALSO, THE PROVISO TO THE 1936 STATUTE ABOVE QUOTED. IF, AS IS UNDERSTOOD, MR. JONES IS NOT AN ACCOUNTABLE OFFICER OF THE UNITED STATES, SECTION 1766, REVISED STATUTES, MAY NOT BE INVOKED IN THIS CASE, AND UPON THAT BASIS, QUESTION (3) IS FOR ANSWERING IN THE NEGATIVE. THE RULES FOR APPLYING AN AMOUNT TO THE CREDIT OF AN EMPLOYEE IN THE RETIREMENT FUND TOWARD LIQUIDATION OF AN INDEBTEDNESS TO THE UNITED STATES ARE STATED IN DECISION OF MAY 8, 1942, 21 COMP. GEN. 1000. MR. JONES NOW IS IN THE SERVICE, THE AMOUNT TO HIS CREDIT IN THE RETIREMENT FUND IS NOT AVAILABLE FOR LIQUIDATION OF THE INDEBTEDNESS--- EITHER WITH OR WITHOUT HIS CONSENT--- REGARDLESS OF THE LENGTH OF HIS SERVICE. QUESTION (4) IS ANSWERED IN THE NEGATIVE. QUESTION (5), IN RESPECT OF CURRENT SALARY PAYMENTS, IS ANSWERED IN THE AFFIRMATIVE. WITH RESPECT TO THE APPLICATION OF RETIREMENT FUND CREDITS TOWARDS LIQUIDATION OF THE INDEBTEDNESS, SEE ANSWER TO QUESTION (4). THAT IS TO SAY, AN EMPLOYEE MAY AUTHORIZE DEDUCTIONS FROM HIS CURRENT SALARY PAYMENTS TO LIQUIDATE HIS INDEBTEDNESS TO THE UNITED STATES, BUT HE MAY NOT, FOR SUCH PURPOSE, AUTHORIZE DEDUCTIONS FROM THE AMOUNT TO HIS CREDIT IN THE RETIREMENT FUND WHILE HE REMAINS IN THE SERVICE.

REFERRING TO THE PENULTIMATE PARAGRAPH OF YOUR LETTER, YOU ARE ADVISED THAT VOLUNTARY DEDUCTIONS FROM THE EMPLOYEE'S CURRENT SALARY PAYMENTS MAY BE MADE IN INSTALLMENTS BUT, ORDINARILY, THE PERIOD OF RECOUPMENT IN SUCH CASES SHOULD NOT EXTEND BEYOND ONE YEAR. CHECKS TO COVER DEDUCTIONS SO MADE SHOULD BE DRAWN PAYABLE TO THE TREASURER OF THE UNITED STATES AND FORWARDED TO THE CLAIMS DIVISION OF THIS OFFICE FOR APPROPRIATE DISPOSITION, IDENTIFIED WITH CLAIM NO. MISC. 1114248. THE PAY ROLL VOUCHER IN EACH INSTANCE SHOULD CONTAIN AN APPROPRIATE NOTATION AS TO THE PURPOSE OF THE DEDUCTIONS SO MADE.