B-221488, JAN 6, 1986, OFFICE OF GENERAL COUNSEL

B-221488: Jan 6, 1986

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DIGEST: RELIEF IS GRANTED ARMY DISBURSING OFFICIAL UNDER 31 U.S.C. PROPER PROCEDURES WERE FOLLOWED IN THE ISSUANCE OF THE SUBSTITUTE CHECK. THERE WAS NO INDICATION OF BAD FAITH ON THE PART OF THE DISBURSING OFFICIAL AND SUBSEQUENT COLLECTION ATTEMPTS ARE BEING PURSUED. WE WILL DENY RELIEF IF ARMY DELAYS MORE THAN 3 MONTHS IN PROCESSING THE DEBIT VOUCHER WITHOUT SUFFICIENT JUSTIFICATION. RELIEF IS GRANTED. BOTH CHECKS WERE IN THE SAME AMOUNT. THE SUBSTITUTE CHECK WAS ISSUED ON THE BASIS OF THE PAYEE'S ALLEGATION THAT THE ORIGINAL CHECK HAD NOT BEEN RECEIVED AND A REQUEST FOR STOP PAYMENT HAD BEEN MADE. BOTH CHECKS WERE ISSUED BY THE ARMY UNDER AUTHORITY DELEGATED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF THE TREASURY. 31 C.F.R.

B-221488, JAN 6, 1986, OFFICE OF GENERAL COUNSEL

DIGEST: RELIEF IS GRANTED ARMY DISBURSING OFFICIAL UNDER 31 U.S.C. SEC. 3527(C) FROM LIABILITY FOR IMPROPER PAYMENT RESULTING FROM PAYEE'S NEGOTIATION OF BOTH ORIGINAL AND SUBSTITUTE MILITARY CHECKS. PROPER PROCEDURES WERE FOLLOWED IN THE ISSUANCE OF THE SUBSTITUTE CHECK, THERE WAS NO INDICATION OF BAD FAITH ON THE PART OF THE DISBURSING OFFICIAL AND SUBSEQUENT COLLECTION ATTEMPTS ARE BEING PURSUED. HOWEVER, IN THE FUTURE, WE WILL DENY RELIEF IF ARMY DELAYS MORE THAN 3 MONTHS IN PROCESSING THE DEBIT VOUCHER WITHOUT SUFFICIENT JUSTIFICATION.

MR. CLYDE E. JEFFCOAT:

ACTING ASSISTANT COMPTROLLER FOR

FINANCE AND ACCOUNTING

U.S. ARMY FINANCE AND

ACCOUNTING CENTER

INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA 46249

THIS RESPONDS TO YOUR REQUEST OF DECEMBER 9, 1985, THAT WE RELIEVE LIEUTENANT COLONEL (LTC) K. G. KINCAID, FINANCE CORPS, FINANCE AND ACCOUNTING OFFICER, U.S. ARMY ARMOR CENTER AND FORT KNOX, FORT KNOX, KENTUCKY, UNDER 31 U.S.C. SEC. 3527(C) FOR AN IMPROPER PAYMENT OF A $238.42 CHECK PAYABLE TO MS. ELAINE I. JENKINS. FOR THE REASONS STATED BELOW, RELIEF IS GRANTED.

THE LOSS RESULTED WHEN THE PAYEE NEGOTIATED BOTH THE ORIGINAL AND A SUBSTITUTE CHECK. BOTH CHECKS WERE IN THE SAME AMOUNT. THE SUBSTITUTE CHECK WAS ISSUED ON THE BASIS OF THE PAYEE'S ALLEGATION THAT THE ORIGINAL CHECK HAD NOT BEEN RECEIVED AND A REQUEST FOR STOP PAYMENT HAD BEEN MADE. BOTH CHECKS WERE ISSUED BY THE ARMY UNDER AUTHORITY DELEGATED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF THE TREASURY. 31 C.F.R. SEC. 245.8.

THIS OFFICE HAS AUTHORITY UNDER 31 U.S.C. SEC. 3527(C) TO RELIEVE A DISBURSING OFFICER FROM LIABILITY WHEN THE RECORD INDICATES THAT THE DISBURSING OFFICER ACTED WITHIN THE BOUNDS OF DUE CARE AS ESTABLISHED BY APPLICABLE REGULATIONS, THAT THERE IS NO EVIDENCE OF BAD FAITH ON THE PART OF THE DISBURSING OFFICER AND THAT A DILIGENT EFFORT WAS MADE TO COLLECT THE OVERPAYMENT. 62 COMP.GEN. 91 (1982).

IT APPEARS THAT THE REQUEST FOR STOP PAYMENT AND THE ISSUANCE OF A SUBSTITUTE CHECK IN THIS CASE WERE WITHIN THE BOUNDS OF DUE CARE AS ESTABLISHED BY ARMY REGULATIONS. SEE AR 37-103, PARAS. 4-161, 4-162 AND 4 -164. THERE WAS NO INDICATION OF BAD FAITH ON THE PART OF THE DISBURSING OFFICER AND IT APPEARS THAT ADEQUATE COLLECTION EFFORTS ARE NOW BEING MADE. ACCORDINGLY, WE GRANT RELIEF.

ALTHOUGH WE HAVE GRANTED RELIEF TO THE DISBURSING OFFICER IN THIS CASE, THE ARMY'S COLLECTION PROCEDURES TAKEN TOGETHER DO NOT APPEAR TO MEET THE DILIGENT CLAIMS COLLECTION REQUIREMENT OF 31 U.S.C. SEC. 3527(C). ALTHOUGH THE DEBIT VOUCHER WAS SENT TO THE WRONG OFFICE, IT STILL TOOK ARMY ALMOST A YEAR TO REFER THIS MATTER TO YOUR COLLECTION DIVISION ONCE THE LOSS WAS REFLECTED ON THE FINANCE OFFICER'S STATEMENT OF ACCOUNTABILITY. AS WE HAVE INDICATED, WE WILL NO LONGER GRANT RELIEF IF ARMY DELAYS MORE THAN 3 MONTHS IN PROCESSINGS THE DEBIT VOUCHER FOR COLLECTION BY THE ARMY'S COLLECTION DIVISION WITHOUT SUFFICIENT JUSTIFICATION. HOWEVER, SINCE WE HAVE AGREED NOT TO INSTITUTE THIS POLICY FOR DEBIT VOUCHERS DATED PRIOR TO APRIL 15, 1986, WE WILL NOT DENY RELIEF HERE.

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