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APPROPRIATIONS/FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT - Accountable Officers - Cashiers - Relief - Physical losses - Theft DIGEST: Relief denied to accountable officer who failed to see that established office procedures for securing cash were carried out. Such negligence resulted in accountable officer's decision to store cash in a bar locking file cabinet which was not approved for such storage. From where cash was subsequently stolen. Gerald Murphy Fiscal Assistant Secretary Department of the Treasury: This is in response to your letter of March 7. Was responsible for the loss of $4. Drake was the full-time permanent teller assigned to the teller section of the Springfield Office. Two alternate tellers were also assigned to the teller section.

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B-192567, Jun 21, 1988, Office of General Counsel

APPROPRIATIONS/FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT - Accountable Officers - Cashiers - Relief - Physical losses - Theft DIGEST: Relief denied to accountable officer who failed to see that established office procedures for securing cash were carried out. Such negligence resulted in accountable officer's decision to store cash in a bar locking file cabinet which was not approved for such storage, from where cash was subsequently stolen.

Mr. Gerald Murphy

Fiscal Assistant Secretary

Department of the Treasury:

This is in response to your letter of March 7, 1988, requesting reconsideration of that part of our decision, B-192567, Aug. 4, 1983, where we noted that the apparent negligence of Ms. Pattie Rae Drake, teller, was responsible for the loss of $4,172.02 (revenue receipts) and $180.78 (funds for change making purposes), totaling $4,352.80, resulting from the disappearance of funds from the Springfield District Office of the Internal Revenue Service, Kansas City Center. For the reasons stated below, we affirm our decision B-192567, supra, and deny relief to Ms. Pattie Rae Drake.

Ms. Drake was the full-time permanent teller assigned to the teller section of the Springfield Office. Two alternate tellers were also assigned to the teller section, one fulltime and one part-time. According to your submission, because the alternate tellers had limited training and experience, Ms. Drake "was responsible for instructing the two alternates as to how to perform their rasks."

On the morning of December 30, 1980, the full-time alternate teller, Ms. White, received a large cash payment from a taxpayer, in the amount of $3,856. She was instructed by the permanent teller, Ms. Drake, to lock the money in Ms. White's cash box and to place the cash box in a bar- locking file cabinet.

Ms. Drake further advised Ms. White that in accordance with established procedures, the money would have to be removed before the day's end and placed in the 7th floor security safe located in the Security Branch, as the bar-locking cabinet would not provide adequate security for amounts over $1,000. Ms. Drake stated in a January 5, 1981 letter that she had instructed Ms. White "to remind me to send it upstairs." However, contrary to usual procedure, the District Cashier, Ms. Smithers, was not notified about the cash and no arrangements were made to remove the money to the 7th floor security safe. When Ms. White reminded Ms. Drake about the cash at the end of the day, Ms. Drake told her that it was too late to bring the money to the security safe. Ms. Drake advised Ms. White to lock her cash box and place it in the bar-locking cabinet. On the morning of December 31, 198O, it was discovered that the money was missing. Subsequent investigations revealed that the money had been stolen from the bar-locking cabinet. See B-192567, Aug. 4, 1983.

Ms. Drake was the only employee who knew the combination to the lock for the cabinet where she had instructed Ms. White to put the money. placing the money in the cabinet to which only Ms. Drake had access, Ms. White gave up an aspect of the control of the funds to Ms. Drake. such, Ms. Drake became responsible for and had custody of the government funds at that time, and thus became accountable for those funds. Comp.Gen. 113 (1979). As the accountable officer, Ms. Drake was automatically liable at the moment the loss of the funds occurred. Comp.Gen. 112 (1974).

This Office has authority to grant relief to accountable officers for the physical loss of funds when we agree with an agency determination that the loss occurred while the accountable officer was acting in the discharge of his or her duties and that the loss occurred without fault or negligence on the officer's part. 31 U.S.C. Sec. 3527(a). While you have made this determination, we do not concur. Given the entire circumstances of this case, we do not think there is sufficient evidence demonstrating that Ms. Drake was without fault or negligence in the loss.

Among the facts not already discussed in our previous decision, the record indicates that the room in which the bar-locking cabinet was located contained two heavy duty, three combination-type metal safes. Ms. Drake was the only person who had the combination to these safes. these safes were considered to provide adequate security for amounts up to $2,500, and the file cabinet was approved for amounts of up to $1,000, it is apparent that the safes were considered as providing greater security than the file cabinet. When asked why she did not place the funds in one of the safes, Ms. Drake simply stated that she had not thought about it. In sum, it was Ms. Drake's decision to leave the funds in the bar-locking cabinet.

We do not find in the record sufficient indication that Ms. Drake exercised due care in the handling of the teller section and her training of Ms. White. Her conduct accounts for the funds coming into her possession under irregular circumstances. We think that the funds remained, contrary to established procedure, in the bar-locking cabinet allowing them to be stolen due to Ms. Drake's actions.

Additionally, Ms. Drake did not place the funds in either of the two heavy duty safes, that were available and that would have afforded greater security than the cabinet. Accordingly, our decision in B-192567, Aug. 4, 1983 is affirmed, denying Ms. Drake relief.

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