B-73817, JUL 30, 1952

B-73817: Jul 30, 1952

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PRECIS-UNAVAILABLE THE SECRETARY OF THE ARMY: REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTER DATED APRIL 3. FOR PAY AND ALLOWANCES ON WHICH EXCEPTIONS WERE STATED AGAINST THE DISBURSING OFFICERS CONCERNED FOR THE REASON THAT THE PAYEE WAS NEVER A COMMISSIONED OFFICER IN THE ARMY OF THE UNITED STATES. THE VOUCHERS ARE AS FOLLOWS: VOUCHER NO. BY MEANS OF SUCH IMPERSONATION THE PAYMENTS SHOWN ABOVE WERE ERRONEOUSLY MADE TO HIM. IS REPORTED THAT THESE PAYMENTS WERE MADE AT OVERSEAS STATIONS DURING WORLD WAR II AND BEFORE MAKING PAYMENT TO OFFICERS IT WAS THE POLICY OF EACH DISBURSING OFFICER INVOLVED TO REQUIRE THE INDIVIDUAL TO ESTABLISH HIS IDENTITY BY MEANS OF AN IDENTIFICATION CARD AND/OR ORDERS. HOLMES HAVE BEEN UNSUCCESSFUL BUT THAT ADMINISTRATIVE PRECAUTIONS HAVE BEEN TAKEN SO AS TO ENABLE THE COLLECTION THEREOF IN THE EVENT THE DEBTOR RE-ENTERS THE SERVICE.

B-73817, JUL 30, 1952

PRECIS-UNAVAILABLE

THE SECRETARY OF THE ARMY:

REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTER DATED APRIL 3, 1952, WHICH FORWARDED CORRESPONDENCE RELATIVE TO CERTAIN VOUCHERS DRAWN IN FAVOR OF 1ST LIEUTENANT WARREN G. HOLMES, 0-2699221, FOR PAY AND ALLOWANCES ON WHICH EXCEPTIONS WERE STATED AGAINST THE DISBURSING OFFICERS CONCERNED FOR THE REASON THAT THE PAYEE WAS NEVER A COMMISSIONED OFFICER IN THE ARMY OF THE UNITED STATES. THE VOUCHERS ARE AS FOLLOWS:

VOUCHER NO. PERIOD AMOUNT DISBURSING OFFICER

869 JAN/1945 $206.77 MAJOR LLOYD BURTON, FC

3065-9 NOV/1944 50.00 MAJOR G. C. FOUTCH, FC

2408-6 DEC/1944 250.00 MAJOR H. B. WETHERBIE, FC

2509-17 DEC/1944 316.68 MAJOR H. B. WETHERBIE, FC

2960-22 JAN/1945 206.77 MAJOR H. B. WETHERBIE, FC

3176-2 JAN/1945 35.00 MAJOR H. B. WETHERBIE, FC

THE RECORD DISCLOSES THAT AN ENLISTED MAN NAMED WARREN G. HOLMES, ASN 32699221, IMPERSONATED AN OFFICER, USING THE RANK OF 1ST LIEUTENANT AND THE SERIAL NUMBER 0-2699221, A SERVICE NUMBER IDENTICAL WITH HIS OWN EXCEPT FOR THE ELIMINATION OF THE FIRST DIGIT, AND BY MEANS OF SUCH IMPERSONATION THE PAYMENTS SHOWN ABOVE WERE ERRONEOUSLY MADE TO HIM. IS REPORTED THAT THESE PAYMENTS WERE MADE AT OVERSEAS STATIONS DURING WORLD WAR II AND BEFORE MAKING PAYMENT TO OFFICERS IT WAS THE POLICY OF EACH DISBURSING OFFICER INVOLVED TO REQUIRE THE INDIVIDUAL TO ESTABLISH HIS IDENTITY BY MEANS OF AN IDENTIFICATION CARD AND/OR ORDERS. YOU REPORT THAT EFFORTS TO COLLECT THE AMOUNT FROM WARREN G. HOLMES HAVE BEEN UNSUCCESSFUL BUT THAT ADMINISTRATIVE PRECAUTIONS HAVE BEEN TAKEN SO AS TO ENABLE THE COLLECTION THEREOF IN THE EVENT THE DEBTOR RE-ENTERS THE SERVICE. ALSO, THE MATTER HAS BEEN REPORTED AS UNCOLLECTIBLE TO THE CLAIMS DIVISION OF THIS OFFICE.

THE NOTICES OF EXCEPTION WERE TAKEN BY THIS OFFICE UPON DISCOVERY OF THE IMPROPER PAYMENT AND THE DISBURSING OFFICERS WERE ADVISED THAT ON THE BASIS OF THE THEN CURRENT RECORD, THIS OFFICE COULD NOT PROPERLY FIND THAT THE PAYMENTS ON THE VOUCHERS WERE MADE IN GOOD FAITH SO AS TO ALLOW CREDIT IN THE DISBURSING OFFICERS' ACCOUNTS UNDER THE ACT OF JULY 26, 1947, 61 STAT. 493. YOU HAVE ENCLOSED ADDITIONAL DOCUMENTS CONTAINING FURTHER EVIDENCE AND INFORMATION WITH RESPECT TO THE CIRCUMSTANCES AND MANNER OF THE PAYMENTS OF THE VOUCHERS IN QUESTION AND REQUEST THAT THE ADDITIONAL EVIDENCE BE CONSIDERED WITH A VIEW TO PASSING THE VOUCHERS FOR CREDIT IN THE ACCOUNTS OF THE DISBURSING OFFICERS.

THE ACT OF JULY 26, 1947, SUPRA, VESTED CERTAIN DISCRETIONARY AUTHORITY IN THIS OFFICE TO GRANT RELIEF FOR WAR TIME LOSSES OF ARMY AND NAVY DISBURSING OFFICERS WHERE THE PAYMENTS WERE MADE ON PUBLIC ACCOUNT, FREE FROM FRAUD AND COLLUSION AND IN GOOD FAITH BY SUCH OFFICERS. HOWEVER, THE ACT AUTHORIZED THIS OFFICE TO GRANT SUCH RELIEF ONLY WITHIN TWO YEARS FROM THE PASSAGE OF THE ACT, AND SUCH PERIOD HAVING EXPIRED, NO AUTHORITY NOW EXISTS BY WHICH THIS OFFICE COULD RELIEVE THE DISBURSING OFFICERS CONCERNED UNDER THE ACT OF JULY 26, 1947. WHILE LEGISLATION TO EXTEND THE ACT FOR AN ADDITIONAL PERIOD AND TO REMOVE THE RESTRICTION AS TO THE PERIOD DURING WHICH THIS OFFICE MIGHT ACT WAS INTRODUCED INTO THE 82D CONGRESS, 2D SESSION, THAT BODY FAILED TO TAKE ACTION THEREON PRIOR TO ITS RECENT ADJOURNMENT.

A DISBURSING OFFICER OF THE ARMY IS RESPONSIBLE PERSONALLY AND UNDER HIS BOND TO ACCOUNT FAITHFULLY FOR ALL PUBLIC FUNDS ADVANCED TO HIM DURING HIS TENURE OF OFFICE, AND THE GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE, IN THE EXERCISE OF ITS DUTY IMPOSED BY LAW, MUST LOOK TO SUCH OFFICER AND HIS SURETY FOR ADJUSTMENT OF ALL IMPROPER EXPENDITURES IN HIS ACCOUNTS. SEE 8 COMP. GEN. 130; 18 ID. 639. IT HAS LONG BEEN THE RULE THAT NO GENERAL APPROPRIATION MAY BE CONSIDERED AVAILABLE FOR A PAYMENT BASED ON A FRAUDULENT TRANSACTION, AND, AS STATED IN 1 COMP. GEN. 739, "*** THIS OFFICE CAN NOT RELIEVE A DISBURSING OFFICER WHO HAS PAID A FRAUDULENT VOUCHER, ALTHOUGH INNOCENT OF PARTICIPATION IN OR KNOWLEDGE OF THE FRAUD." SEE, ALSO, 6 ID. 404. IT IS APPARENT THAT THE PAYMENTS IN QUESTION DO NOT REPRESENT LEGAL OBLIGATIONS OF THE GOVERNMENT. ACCORDINGLY, IN VIEW OF THE ABOVE, YOU ARE ADVISED THAT THIS OFFICE MAY NOT ALLOW CREDIT IN THE DISBURSING OFFICERS' ACCOUNTS FOR THE VOUCHERS CONCERNED.