B-228712, Aug 25, 1987, Office of General Counsel

B-228712: Aug 25, 1987

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APPROPRIATIONS/FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT - Accountable Officers - Disbursing officers - Relief - Illegal/improper payments - Substitute checks DIGEST: Relief is granted Army disbursing official and his deputy under 31 U.S.C. Proper procedures were followed in the issuance of the recertified check. There was no indication of bad faith on the part of the disbursing official and his deputy. Subsequent collection attempts are being pursued. We will deny relief if Army delays more than 3 months in forwarding the debt to its Collection Division. Relief is granted. Both checks were in the same amount. The recertified 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.

B-228712, Aug 25, 1987, Office of General Counsel

APPROPRIATIONS/FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT - Accountable Officers - Disbursing officers - Relief - Illegal/improper payments - Substitute checks DIGEST: Relief is granted Army disbursing official and his deputy under 31 U.S.C. Sec. 3527(c) from liability for improper payment resulting from payee's negotiation of both original and recertified checks. Proper procedures were followed in the issuance of the recertified check, there was no indication of bad faith on the part of the disbursing official and his deputy, and subsequent collection attempts are being pursued. However, for cases involving notices of loss received after June 1, 1986, where the payee has left the Army or its employ, we will deny relief if Army delays more than 3 months in forwarding the debt to its Collection Division.

Brigadier General B. W. Hall:

This responds to your request of August 3, 1987, that we relieve Lieutenant Colonel (Lt. Col.) F. E. McCormick, Finance Corps, DSSN 6339, Finance and Accounting Officer, U.S. Army Center and Fort Knox, Fort Knox, Kentucky, and his deputy, 1st Lt. Raymond Yocum under 31 U.S.C. Sec. 3527(c), for an improper payment of $980.12 payable to Ms. Jill Langley. For the reasons stated below, relief is granted.

This loss resulted when the payee negotiated both the original and a recertified check. Both checks were in the same amount. The recertified 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 and Treasury Fiscal Requirements Manual for Guidance of Departments and Agencies, Bulletin No. 83-28.

It appears that the issuance of a recertified check in this case was within the bounds of due care. See 62 Comp.Gen. 476 (1983). There was no indication of bad faith on the part of the disbursing officer or his deputy, and adequate collection efforts are being made. Accordingly, we grant relief.

While we have granted relief to the finance officer and his deputy in this case, we note that this loss was not referred to your Collections Division in a timely manner.

As we previously indicated to you, for cases involving notices of loss received after June 1, 1986, where the payee has left the Army or its employ, we will no longer grant relief if Army delays more than 3 months in forwarding the debt to your Collections Division. However, since the chargeback from Treasury was received prior to that date, we will not deny relief here.

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