B-221396, B-221198, B-221407, JAN 8, 1986, OFFICE OF GENERAL COUNSEL

B-221198,B-221396,B-221407: Jan 8, 1986

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DIGEST: RELIEF IS GRANTED ARMY FINANCE AND ACCOUNTING OFFICIALS UNDER 31 U.S.C. THE OFFICERS DID NOT KNOW AND BY REASONABLE DILIGENCE AND INQUIRY COULD NOT HAVE DISCOVERED THAT THE PAYEES HAD ACTUALLY RECEIVED BOTH CHECKS AND INTENDED TO CASH BOTH PAYMENT INSTRUMENTS. PROPER PROCEDURES WERE FOLLOWED IN THE CERTIFICATION OF THE SUBSTITUTE CHECK. WE HAVE CONSOLIDATED THESE REQUESTS BECAUSE THEY EACH INVOLVE A SUBSTANTIALLY IDENTICAL FACT SITUATION. RELIEF IS GRANTED IN EACH OF THE THREE CASES. THE ROLE OF THE ARMY FINANCE OFFICER IS THAT OF A CERTIFYING OFFICIAL. "(1) THE CERTIFICATION WAS BASED ON OFFICIAL RECORDS AND THE OFFICIAL DID NOT KNOW. BY REASONABLE DILIGENCE AND INQUIRY COULD NOT HAVE DISCOVERED.

B-221396, B-221198, B-221407, JAN 8, 1986, OFFICE OF GENERAL COUNSEL

DIGEST: RELIEF IS GRANTED ARMY FINANCE AND ACCOUNTING OFFICIALS UNDER 31 U.S.C. SEC. 3528 FROM LIABILITY FOR CERTIFICATION OF IMPROPER PAYMENT RESULTING FROM EACH PAYEE'S NEGOTIATION OF BOTH ORIGINAL ISSUED ARMY INSTRUMENT AND SUBSTITUTE TREASURY CHECK. THE OFFICERS DID NOT KNOW AND BY REASONABLE DILIGENCE AND INQUIRY COULD NOT HAVE DISCOVERED THAT THE PAYEES HAD ACTUALLY RECEIVED BOTH CHECKS AND INTENDED TO CASH BOTH PAYMENT INSTRUMENTS. PROPER PROCEDURES WERE FOLLOWED IN THE CERTIFICATION OF THE SUBSTITUTE CHECK.

MR. CLYDE E. JEFFCOAT:

ACTING ASSISTANT COMPTROLLER FOR FINANCE AND ACCOUNTING

U.S. ARMY FINANCE AND ACCOUNTING CENTER

DEPARTMENT OF THE ARMY

INDIANPOLIS, INDIANA 46249

THIS RESPONDS TO THREE SEPARATE REQUESTS THAT WE RELIEVE VARIOUS ARMY FINANCE AND ACCOUNTING OFFICERS UNDER 31 U.S.C. SEC. 3528 FROM LIABILITY FOR IMPROPER PAYMENTS CHARGEABLE TO THEIR ACCOUNTS. WE HAVE CONSOLIDATED THESE REQUESTS BECAUSE THEY EACH INVOLVE A SUBSTANTIALLY IDENTICAL FACT SITUATION-- THE NEGOTIATION BY A PAYEE OF AN ORIGINAL ARMY-ISSUED CHECK AND A TREASURY-ISSUED REPLACEMENT INSTRUMENT. AS DISCUSSED BELOW, RELIEF IS GRANTED IN EACH OF THE THREE CASES.

WHEN TREASURY ISSUES THE SECOND CHECK IN A DUPLICATE CHECK SITUATION, THE ROLE OF THE ARMY FINANCE OFFICER IS THAT OF A CERTIFYING OFFICIAL. SEE AR -103, PARA. 4-143(B); SEE ALSO, B-215380, ET AL., JULY 23, 1984. OUR RELIEF AUTHORITY UNDER 31 U.S.C. SEC. 3528 READS AS FOLLOWS:

"(B) THE COMPTROLLER GENERAL MAY RELIEVE A CERTIFYING OFFICIAL FROM LIABILITY WHEN THE COMPTROLLER GENERAL DECIDES THAT--

"(1) THE CERTIFICATION WAS BASED ON OFFICIAL RECORDS AND THE OFFICIAL DID NOT KNOW, AND BY REASONABLE DILIGENCE AND INQUIRY COULD NOT HAVE DISCOVERED, THE CORRECT INFORMATION ***." 31 U.S.C. SEC. 3528(B)(1).

WE FIND THAT BASED ON THE INFORMATION FURNISHED IN YOUR SUBMISSIONS, THESE CRITERIA HAVE BEEN MET IN EACH OF THE CASES AT HAND. IT APPEARS THAT AS FAR AS THE ARMY CERTIFYING OFFICIALS INVOLVED HERE WERE CONCERNED, THE "DID NOT KNOW, AND BY REASONABLE DILIGENCE AND INQUIRY COULD NOT HAVE DISCOVERED, THE CORRECT INFORMATION"; THAT IS, THAT IN EACH INSTANCE THE PAYEE HAD ACTUALLY RECEIVED THE CHECK WHICH HE OR SHE REPORTED MISSING AND HAD-OR PLANNED TO-CASH BOTH CHECKS. ACCORDINGLY RELIEF IS GRANTED AS REQUIRED IN THE FOLLOWING CASES:

AMOUNT OF

GAO # ACCOUNTABLE OFFICER DUPLICATE PAYEE LOSS B-221396 LTC I. R. GREENSPANE MS. RACHELLE Y. JONES $184.03 B-221198 MAJ T. WAGNER MS. BARBARA J. ROGERS $316.06 B-221407 MAJ T. WAGNER MR. KEVIN C. DROST $449.71

ALTHOUGH WE HAVE GRANTED RELIEF TO THE CERTIFYING OFFICERS, WE ARE CONCERNED WITH THE COLLECTION PROCEDURES ARMY HAS EMPLOYED IN EACH OF THESE INSTANCES. AS YOU ARE AWARE, THE SETTLEMENT OF THE OFFICER'S ACCOUNT DOES NOT RELIEVE THE AGENCY OF ITS RESPONSIBILITY TO PURSUE DILIGENT COLLECTION ACTIVITY. IN EACH OF THE CASES HERE, IT TOOK THE ARMY OVER A YEAR TO REFER THE LOSS TO YOUR COLLECTION DIVISION ONCE THE DEBIT VOUCHER WAS RECEIVED FROM TREASURY. AS WE INDICATED IN OUR LETTER TO YOU, B-220836, NOVEMBER 29, 1985, WE THINK THAT DILIGENT COLLECTION PROCEDURES REQUIRE THAT THE ARMY NOTIFY ITS COLLECTION DIVISION OF A LOSS WITHIN 3 MONTHS OF ITS RECEIPT OF THE DEBIT VOUCHER.