B-42271, JUNE 13, 1944, 23 COMP. GEN. 953

B-42271: Jun 13, 1944

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CONTEMPLATE THAT ONLY VOUCHERS UPON WHICH MONEYS ARE TO BE PAID OUT BY DISBURSING OFFICERS IN DISCHARGING A DEBT OR OBLIGATION OF THE GOVERNMENT BE CERTIFIED BY BONDED OFFICERS OR EMPLOYEES. IS NOT TO BE CONSIDERED AS A CERTIFYING OFFICER WITHIN THE MEANING OF THE ACT OF DECEMBER 29. 1944: I HAVE YOUR LETTER OF MAY 22. AS FOLLOWS: REFERENCE IS MADE TO GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE GENERAL REGULATIONS NO. 99. WHICH READS AS FOLLOWS: "IN THE SPACES PROVIDED ON THE ADJUSTMENT VOUCHER THERE WILL BE SHOWN THE NAME OF THE DEPARTMENT. SYMBOL OF THE ACCOUNTABLE OFFICER IN WHOSE ACCOUNTS THE ERROR IS REFLECTED. CERTAIN OF THE EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENTS AND ESTABLISHMENTS HAVE TAKEN THE POSITION THAT STANDARD FORM NO. 1097 REVISED MAY BE SIGNED BY AN OFFICIAL AUTHORIZED TO ACT.

B-42271, JUNE 13, 1944, 23 COMP. GEN. 953

APPLICABILITY OF CERTIFYING OFFICERS' STATUTE TO PERSONNEL CERTIFYING APPROPRIATION, ETC., ADJUSTMENT VOUCHERS. THE PROVISIONS OF THE ACT OF DECEMBER 29, 1941, AS AMENDED, FIXING THE RESPONSIBILITIES OF DISBURSING AND CERTIFYING OFFICERS OF THE GOVERNMENT IN THE MATTER OF DISBURSING PUBLIC FUNDS, CONTEMPLATE THAT ONLY VOUCHERS UPON WHICH MONEYS ARE TO BE PAID OUT BY DISBURSING OFFICERS IN DISCHARGING A DEBT OR OBLIGATION OF THE GOVERNMENT BE CERTIFIED BY BONDED OFFICERS OR EMPLOYEES. AN OFFICER OR EMPLOYEE WHO CERTIFIES TO THE CORRECTNESS OF AN ADJUSTMENT STATED ON STANDARD FORM NO. 1097--- REVISED--- ADJUSTMENT VOUCHER TO EFFECT CORRECTION OF ERRORS--- PRESCRIBED FOR USE IN CONNECTION WITH NECESSARY ADJUSTMENTS IN RESPECT OF APPROPRIATIONS, FUNDS, LIMITATIONS, AND OFFICIAL PROJECT ACCOUNTS NOT CONSTITUTING THE PAYING OUT OF ANY FUNDS FROM THE TREASURY, IS NOT TO BE CONSIDERED AS A CERTIFYING OFFICER WITHIN THE MEANING OF THE ACT OF DECEMBER 29, 1941, AS AMENDED, OR REQUIRED TO BE BONDED PURSUANT THERETO.

COMPTROLLER GENERAL WARREN TO THE SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY, JUNE 13, 1944:

I HAVE YOUR LETTER OF MAY 22, 1944, AS FOLLOWS:

REFERENCE IS MADE TO GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE GENERAL REGULATIONS NO. 99, DATED NOVEMBER 20, 1943, PARAGRAPH 4, IN REGARD TO THE PREPARATION OF STANDARD FORM NO. 1097--- REVISED, ADJUSTMENT VOUCHER TO EFFECT CORRECTIONS OF ERRORS ( APPROPRIATION, FUND LIMITATION, AND OFFICIAL PROJECT ACCOUNTS), WHICH READS AS FOLLOWS:

"IN THE SPACES PROVIDED ON THE ADJUSTMENT VOUCHER THERE WILL BE SHOWN THE NAME OF THE DEPARTMENT, ESTABLISHMENT, BUREAU OR OFFICE CONCERNED, AND THE CURRENT DATE; THE NAME, LOCATION, AND SYMBOL OF THE ACCOUNTABLE OFFICER IN WHOSE ACCOUNTS THE ERROR IS REFLECTED; REFERENCE TO THE NUMBER OF THE VOUCHER, CERTIFICATE OF DEPOSIT, OR SCHEDULE, ETC., ON WHICH THE ERROR APPEARS; PERIOD OF ACCOUNT; SYMBOLS (ONLY) OF THE APPROPRIATIONS, ETC., TO BE CHARGED AND CREDITED; AMOUNTS OF ADJUSTMENTS; A BRIEF STATEMENT EXPLAINING THE ERROR; AND THE SIGNATURE AND TITLE OF THE CERTIFYING OFFICER APPROVING THE ADJUSTMENT VOUCHER.'

THE CHIEF DISBURSING OFFICER, DIVISION OF DISBURSEMENT, TREASURY DEPARTMENT, HAS BEEN PROCEEDING ON THE BASIS THAT THE WORDS "CERTIFYING OFFICER," AS USED IN THE ABOVE QUOTATION THAT GENERAL REGULATIONS NO. 99, MEAN AN "AUTHORIZED CERTIFYING OFFICER," AND THAT, THEREFORE, AN ADJUSTMENT VOUCHER, FORM NO. 1097, SHOULD BE CERTIFIED IN THE SAME MANNER AS A REGULAR VOUCHER CERTIFIED FOR PAYMENT UNDER THE PROVISIONS OF THE ACT OF DECEMBER 29, 1941 (55 STAT. 875).

CERTAIN OF THE EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENTS AND ESTABLISHMENTS HAVE TAKEN THE POSITION THAT STANDARD FORM NO. 1097 REVISED MAY BE SIGNED BY AN OFFICIAL AUTHORIZED TO ACT, AND THAT IT IS NOT NECESSARY THAT SUCH VOUCHERS BE CERTIFIED BY A BONDED CERTIFYING OFFICER. SOME OF THEM HAVE STRESSED THE FACT THAT THESE ADJUSTMENTS MAY INVOLVE EITHER AN ERROR ON A VOUCHER OR AN ERROR MADE BY THE DISBURSING OFFICER IN POSTING A CORRECTLY CERTIFIED VOUCHER TO THE WRONG APPROPRIATION ACCOUNT. THEY OBJECT PARTICULARLY TO REQUIRING CERTIFICATION BY A BONDED CERTIFYING OFFICER WHEN THE ORIGINAL VOUCHER WAS DULY AND CORRECTLY CERTIFIED.

IN VIEW OF THE ABOVE OUR DECISION IS REQUESTED AS TO WHETHER THE TERM "CERTIFYING OFFICER," AS USED IN PARAGRAPH 4 OF GENERAL REGULATIONS NO. 99, MEANS A BONDED CERTIFYING OFFICER AUTHORIZED TO CERTIFY VOUCHERS UNDER THE ACT OF DECEMBER 29, 1941, OR WHETHER IT MEANS AN OFFICER, AUTHORIZED TO ACT IN THE CIRCUMSTANCES WHO MAY OR MAY NOT BE A BONDED CERTIFYING OFFICER.

THE ACT OF DECEMBER 29, 1941, 55 STAT. 875, AS AMENDED BY THE ACT OF APRIL 28, 1942, 56 STAT. 244, FIXES THE RESPONSIBILITIES OF DISBURSING AND CERTIFYING OFFICERS OF THE GOVERNMENT IN THE MATTER OF DISBURSING PUBLIC FUNDS, AND PROVIDES THAT THE DISBURSING OF SUCH FUNDS BY DISBURSING OFFICERS IS TO BE MADE ONLY UPON VOUCHERS CERTIFIED TO THEM BY THE HEAD OF THE DEPARTMENT, ESTABLISHMENT, OR AGENCY CONCERNED, OR BY DULY AUTHORIZED OFFICERS OR EMPLOYEES THEREOF. IN RESPECT OF CERTIFYING OFFICERS, SECTION 2 OF THE ACT, 55 STAT. 875, PROVIDES:

SEC. 2. THE OFFICER OR EMPLOYEE CERTIFYING A VOUCHER SHALL (1) BE HELD RESPONSIBLE FOR THE EXISTENCE AND CORRECTNESS OF THE FACTS RECITEDIN THE CERTIFICATE OR OTHERWISE STATED ON THE VOUCHER OR ITS SUPPORTING PAPERS AND FOR THE LEGALITY OF THE PROPOSED PAYMENT UNDER THE APPROPRIATION OR FUND INVOLVED; (2) BE REQUIRED TO GIVE BOND TO THE UNITED STATES, WITH GOOD AND SUFFICIENT SURETY APPROVED BY THE SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY, IN SUCH AMOUNT AS MAY BE DETERMINED BY THE HEAD OF THE DEPARTMENT, AGENCY, OR ESTABLISHMENT CONCERNED, PURSUANT TO STANDARDS PRESCRIBED BY THE SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY, AND UNDER SUCH CONDITIONS AS MAY BE PRESCRIBED BY THE SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY; AND (3) BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE FOR AND REQUIRED TO MAKE GOOD TO THE UNITED STATES THE AMOUNT OF ANY ILLEGAL, IMPROPER, OR INCORRECT PAYMENT RESULTING FROM ANY FALSE, INACCURATE, OR MISLEADING CERTIFICATE MADE BY HIM, AS WELL AS FOR ANY PAYMENT PROHIBITED BY LAW OR WHICH DID NOT REPRESENT A LEGAL OBLIGATION UNDER THE APPROPRIATION OR FUND INVOLVED; PROVIDED, THAT THE COMPTROLLER GENERAL MAY, IN HIS DISCRETION, RELIEVE SUCH CERTIFYING OFFICER OR EMPLOYEE OF LIABILITY FOR ANY PAYMENT OTHERWISE PROPER WHENEVER HE FINDS (1) THAT THE CERTIFICATION WAS BASED ON OFFICIAL RECORDS AND THAT SUCH CERTIFYING OFFICER OR EMPLOYEE DID NOT KNOW, AND BY REASONABLE DILIGENCE AND INQUIRY COULD NOT HAVE ASCERTAINED, THE ACTUAL FACTS, OR (2) THAT THE OBLIGATION WAS INCURRED IN GOOD FAITH, THAT THE PAYMENT WAS NOT CONTRARY TO ANY STATUTORY PROVISION SPECIFICALLY PROHIBITING PAYMENTS OF THE CHARACTER INVOLVED, AND THAT THE UNITED STATES HAS RECEIVED VALUE FOR SUCH PAYMENT * * *. (ITALICS SUPPLIED).

THE WORD,"PAYMENT," AS DEFINED IN BOUVIER'S LAW DICTIONARY AS THE "DISCHARGE IN MONEY OF A SUM DUE," AND AS IMPLYING "THE EXISTENCE OF A DEBT, OF A PARTY TO WHOM IT IS OWED, AND OF A SATISFACTION OF THE DEBT TO THAT PARTY. THUS, THE VOUCHERS CONTEMPLATED BY THE ACT, SUPRA, AND FOR THE CERTIFICATION OF WHICH THE OFFICER OR EMPLOYEE IS REQUIRED TO BE BONDED, ARE THOSE UPON WHICH MONEYS ARE TO BE PAID OUT BY DISBURSING OFFICERS IN DISCHARGING A DEBT OR OBLIGATION OF THE GOVERNMENT.

STANDARD FORM NO. 1097--- REVISED--- ADJUSTMENT VOUCHER TO EFFECT CORRECTION OF ERRORS--- THE SUBJECT OF YOUR LETTER--- IS JUST WHAT ITS TITLE SIGNIFIES, NAMELY, A DOCUMENT PRESCRIBED FOR USE IN CONNECTION WITH NECESSARY ADJUSTMENTS IN RESPECT OF APPROPRIATIONS, FUNDS, LIMITATIONS, AND OFFICIAL PROJECT ACCOUNTS. WHILE THE PROCESSING OF SUCH ADJUSTMENTS, IN SOME INSTANCES, MAY REQUIRE THE DRAWING OF A CHECK BY THE DISBURSING OFFICER, SUCH A CHECK WOULD NOT BE FOR THE PURPOSE OF PAYING OUT MONEYS IN THE DISCHARGE OF A GOVERNMENT OBLIGATION. IT WOULD BE ISSUED IN RESPECT OF AN OBLIGATION ALREADY PAID OR LIQUIDATED AND IN NOWISE WOULD THE DRAWING OF SUCH A CHECK RESULT IN, OR CONSTITUTE, THE PAYING OUT OF MONEYS FROM THE UNITED STATES TREASURY. NEITHER WOULD ANY OTHER ADJUSTMENT PROVIDED BY THE VOUCHER FORM CONSTITUTE THE PAYING OUT OF ANY FUNDS FROM THE TREASURY. HENCE, SUCH VOUCHERS ARE NOT OF THE TYPE OR CLASS COMING WITHIN THE PURVIEW OF THE ACT OF DECEMBER 29, 1941, AS AMENDED.

UNDER THE CIRCUMSTANCES, THE OFFICERS OR EMPLOYEES CERTIFYING THE CORRECTNESS OF THE ADJUSTMENT STATED ON STANDARD FORM NO. 1097--- REVISED, ARE NOT TO BE CONSIDERED AS CERTIFYING OFFICERS, WITHIN THE MEANING OF THE ACT OF DECEMBER 29, 1941, SUPRA, OR REQUIRED TO BE BONDED PURSUANT THERETO. COMPARE DECISION B-24233, DATED MARCH 5, 1942, 21 COMP. GEN. 841, TO THE ADMINISTRATOR OF VETERANS' AFFAIRS.