B-81630, JANUARY 24, 1949, 28 COMP. GEN. 425

B-81630: Jan 24, 1949

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CERTIFYING OFFICERS - LIABILITY - OFFICIAL RECORDS INDICATING INDEBTEDNESS WHERE THE OFFICIAL RECORDS BEFORE A CERTIFYING OFFICER INDICATE AN OUTSTANDING INDEBTEDNESS TO THE GOVERNMENT AGAINST WHICH MONEYS OTHERWISE DUE ON A VOUCHER PRESENTED FOR CERTIFICATION ARE AVAILABLE FOR SET-OFF. OR SUCH PART THEREOF AS WILL COVER THE INDICATED INDEBTEDNESS. UNTIL SUCH TIME AS THE ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICIALS HAVE ASCERTAINED THROUGH APPROPRIATE SOURCES AND CHANNELS WHETHER. 1949: REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTER OF NOVEMBER 17. TOMS WAS EMPLOYED AS LABORER. THAT HE WAS EMPLOYED DURING THAT SAME PERIOD AS CLEANER. THAT IT IS NOT KNOWN TO YOU WHETHER THERE IS ANY INDEBTEDNESS FOR DUAL SERVICE. " I AM WITHHOLDING $905.00 FROM THE ABOVE AMOUNT PENDING ADVICE AS TO WHETHER I WILL BE HELD RESPONSIBLE UNDER THE ACT OF DECEMBER 29.

B-81630, JANUARY 24, 1949, 28 COMP. GEN. 425

CERTIFYING OFFICERS - LIABILITY - OFFICIAL RECORDS INDICATING INDEBTEDNESS WHERE THE OFFICIAL RECORDS BEFORE A CERTIFYING OFFICER INDICATE AN OUTSTANDING INDEBTEDNESS TO THE GOVERNMENT AGAINST WHICH MONEYS OTHERWISE DUE ON A VOUCHER PRESENTED FOR CERTIFICATION ARE AVAILABLE FOR SET-OFF, THE CERTIFYING OFFICER, IN FURTHERANCE OF HIS DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES UNDER THE ACT OF DECEMBER 29, 1941, AS AMENDED, SHOULD WITHHOLD CERTIFICATION FOR PAYMENT OF THE FULL AMOUNT OF THE VOUCHER, OR SUCH PART THEREOF AS WILL COVER THE INDICATED INDEBTEDNESS, UNTIL SUCH TIME AS THE ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICIALS HAVE ASCERTAINED THROUGH APPROPRIATE SOURCES AND CHANNELS WHETHER, IN FACT, AN INDEBTEDNESS DOES EXIST.

ACTING COMPTROLLER GENERAL YATES TO ARNOLD M. BENEFIELD, UNITED STATES CIVIL SERVICE COMMISSION, JANUARY 24, 1949:

REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTER OF NOVEMBER 17, 1948, FILE NO. RET:F:CO:JDC, RELATIVE TO PAYMENT TO LENORA TOMS, AS BENEFICIARY OF JAMES E. TOMS, DECEASED, OF THE AMOUNT TO THE CREDIT OF MR. TOMS IN THE CIVIL SERVICE RETIREMENT AND DISABILITY FUND.

YOU STATE THAT DURING THE PERIOD NOVEMBER 26, 1945, TO JANUARY 24, 1948, JAMES E. TOMS WAS EMPLOYED AS LABORER, FEDERAL WORKS AGENCY, PUBLIC BUILDINGS ADMINISTRATION, AT RATES RANGING FROM $1,704 ANNUM TO $2,020 PER ANNUM; THAT HE WAS EMPLOYED DURING THAT SAME PERIOD AS CLEANER, POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT, WASHINGTON, D.C., AT RATES RANGING FROM $288 PER ANNUM TO $576 PER ANNUM; THAT DEMAND HAS BEEN MADE BY LENORA TOMS, BENEFICIARY OF THE DECEDENT, FOR PAYMENT TO HER OF THE AMOUNT TO HIS CREDIT IN THE CIVIL SERVICE RETIREMENT AND DISABILITY FUND, NAMELY, $1,548.28, INCLUDING INTEREST; THAT IT IS NOT KNOWN TO YOU WHETHER THERE IS ANY INDEBTEDNESS FOR DUAL SERVICE; AND THAT THE FACT THAT ANY INDEBTEDNESS MAY OR MAY NOT EXIST CAN BE DETERMINED ONLY BE DEVELOPMENT BY THE GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE. FURTHER, YOU STATE THAT," I AM WITHHOLDING $905.00 FROM THE ABOVE AMOUNT PENDING ADVICE AS TO WHETHER I WILL BE HELD RESPONSIBLE UNDER THE ACT OF DECEMBER 29, 1941, IF I CERTIFY FOR PAYMENT TO THE DESIGNATED BENEFICIARY THE AMOUNT TENTATIVELY WITHHELD, ASSUMING THAT AT TIME OF CERTIFICATION OF THE VOUCHER, THERE IS NO FORMAL CLAIM IN THIS FILE AGAINST THE DECEDENT.'

A CERTIFYING OFFICER'S REQUEST FOR AN ADVANCE DECISION ORDINARILY IS NOT FOR CONSIDERATION BY THIS OFFICE UNLESS ACCOMPANIED BY THE VOUCHER PRESENTED TO HIM FOR CERTIFICATION. NO VOUCHER HAS BEEN FORWARDED HERE WITH YOUR REQUEST FOR DECISION, BUT IN VIEW OF THE FACT THAT YOUR LETTER INDICATES A VOUCHER IS NOW BEFORE YOU FOR CERTIFICATION COVERING THE SUM CLAIMED BY THE BENEFICIARY OF THE DECEDENT, NO OBJECTION WILL BE RAISED IN THAT RESPECT IN THIS PARTICULAR INSTANCE.

THE PRIMARY PURPOSE OF THE ACT OF DECEMBER 29, 1941, 55 STAT. 875, AS AMENDED BY THE ACT OF APRIL 28, 1942, 56 STAT. 226, 244, WAS TO FIX DEFINITELY THE RESPECTIVE RESPONSIBILITIES OF DISBURSING AND CERTIFYING OFFICERS OF THE GOVERNMENT. SECTION 2 OF THAT ACT, 55 STAT. 875, PROVIDES, INTER ALIA, THAT OFFICERS OR EMPLOYEES CERTIFYING VOUCHERS SHALL "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.' UNDER THAT PROVISION OF SAID ACT AN OFFICER OR EMPLOYEE WHO CERTIFIES A VOUCHER FOR PAYMENT IN THE FULL AMOUNT CLAIMED THEREON, IN DISREGARD OF THE FACT THAT THE OFFICIAL RECORDS BEFORE HIM INDICATE A POSSIBLE INDEBTEDNESS TO THE GOVERNMENT AGAINST WHICH THE SUM CLAIMED IS AVAILABLE FOR OFFSET, MAY BE GUILTY OF MAKING AN INACCURATE OR MISLEADING CERTIFICATE AND HELD ACCOUNTABLE FOR THE RESULTING OVERPAYMENT, IF ANY.

ASIDE FROM THAT, IT IS AXIOMATIC THAT IN PERFORMING HIS OFFICIAL DUTIES AS A CERTIFYING OFFICER AN EMPLOYEE IS DUTY-BOUND TO ACT IN SUCH A MANNER AND TO TAKE ALL NECESSARY STEPS TO INSURE ADEQUATE PROTECTION OF THE INTERESTS OF THE UNITED STATES. THAT DUTY IS AN INHERENT AND INTEGRAL PART OF THE POSITION OF CERTIFYING OFFICER, AND IN FUNCTIONING AS SUCH AN OFFICER OR EMPLOYEE ALWAYS SHOULD BE MINDFUL OF THAT RESPONSIBILITY. FOLLOWS THAT WHERE THE OFFICIAL RECORDS BEFORE A CERTIFYING OFFICER INDICATE AN OUTSTANDING INDEBTEDNESS TO THE GOVERNMENT, AGAINST WHICH MONEYS OTHERWISE DUE ON THE VOUCHER PRESENTED TO HIM FOR CERTIFICATION ARE AVAILABLE FOR SET-OFF, HE SHOULD INFORM THE PROPER ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICERS OF THAT FACT. HE SHOULD WITHHOLD CERTIFICATION FOR PAYMENT OF THE FULL AMOUNT OF THE VOUCHER, OR SUCH PART THEREOF AS WILL COVER THE INDICATED INDEBTEDNESS, UNTIL SUCH TIME AS THE ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICIALS HAVE ASCERTAINED THROUGH APPROPRIATE SOURCES AND CHANNELS WHETHER, IN FACT, AN INDEBTEDNESS DOES EXIST. ALSO, SEE GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE GENERAL REGULATIONS NO. 50, 5 COMP. GEN. 1058, WITH RESPECT TO SUBMITTING VOUCHERS INVOLVING DOUBTFUL QUESTIONS OF FACT AND LAW TO THE GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE FOR DIRECT SETTLEMENT.

IN THE CASE NOW BEFORE YOU, THE PROPER ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICIALS SHOULD REPORT TO THE CLAIMS DIVISION, GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE, FOR CONSIDERATION AND REVIEW, ALL OF THE FACTS AND EVIDENCE OF RECORD IN THE CIVIL SERVICE COMMISSION, PERTAINING TO THE INDICATED INDEBTEDNESS. THAT CONNECTION, YOUR ATTENTION IS INVITED TO DECISION OF DECEMBER 6, 1946, B-50943, TO THE PRESIDENT, UNITED STATES CIVIL SERVICE COMMISSION, WHEREIN THE VIEW WAS EXPRESSED THAT ALL MATTERS INVOLVING A DETERMINATION AS TO WHETHER THE FEDERAL DUAL EMPLOYMENT AND DOUBLE COMPENSATION STATUTES HAVE BEEN VIOLATED "SHOULD CONTINUE TO BE REFERRED TO THE GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE FOR DECISION BEFORE ANY ACTION RESPECTING THE COLLECTION OF THE REPORTED INDEBTEDNESS IS TAKEN BY THE COMMISSION.' PENDING DETERMINATION OF THE EXISTENCE OR NONEXISTENCE OF AN INDEBTEDNESS, NO ACTION SHOULD BE TAKEN BY YOU AS CERTIFYING OFFICER TO RELEASE FOR PAYMENT THE VOUCHER COVERING THE AMOUNT NOW BEING TENTATIVELY WITHHELD FROM PAYMENT TO THE BENEFICIARY, IT BEING IMMATERIAL THAT NO FORMAL CLAIM IS ON FILE IN THE CIVIL SERVICE COMMISSION AGAINST THE DECEDENT.