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CERTIFYING OFFICERS - RELIEF - ERRONEOUS PAYMENTS - DUPLICATE PAYMENTS DIGEST: ARMY ACCOUNTABLE OFFICER IS RELIEVED OF LIABILITY AS A CERTIFYING OFFICER UNDER 31 U.S.C. TREASURY IS DISBURSING AGENCY AND ARMY OFFICIAL CAN ONLY BE CERTIFYING OFFICER. RELIEF IS GRANTED TO COLONEL GASSIE UNDER 31 U.S.C. WE HAVE CONCLUDED THAT 31 U.S.C. SEC. 3527(C) IS NOT APPLICABLE TO CASES LIKE THIS ONE BECAUSE THE ROLE OF THE ARMY OFFICIAL IS THAT OF CERTIFYING OFFICER. IS ENCLOSED. THE ORIGINAL CHECK IN THIS CASE WAS ISSUED SHORTLY AFTER THE PAYEE WAS DISCHARGED. THE DUPLICATE CHECK WAS ISSUED IN CIRCUMSTANCES WHERE A LOSS IS MOST LIKELY TO OCCUR AND RECOVERY IS MOST DIFFICULT TO ACCOMPLISH.

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B-213675, SEP 6, 1984

CERTIFYING OFFICERS - RELIEF - ERRONEOUS PAYMENTS - DUPLICATE PAYMENTS DIGEST: ARMY ACCOUNTABLE OFFICER IS RELIEVED OF LIABILITY AS A CERTIFYING OFFICER UNDER 31 U.S.C. SEC. 3528, RATHER THAN 31 U.S.C. SEC. 3527(C), AS REQUESTED. WHERE DEPARTMENT OF TREASURY ISSUES DUPLICATE CHECK TO REPLACE ORIGINAL ARMY CHECK, TREASURY IS DISBURSING AGENCY AND ARMY OFFICIAL CAN ONLY BE CERTIFYING OFFICER, NOT DISBURSING OFFICIAL.

COLONEL J. R. BAIN CHIEF OF STAFF U. S. ARMY FINANCE AND ACCOUNTING CENTER INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA 46249

DEAR COLONEL BAIN:

THIS RESPONDS TO YOUR REQUEST, UNDER 31 U.S.C. SEC. 3527(C), THAT WE RELIEVE COLONEL H. H. GASSIE, ARMY FINANCE AND ACCOUNTING OFFICER, FROM LIABILITY FOR AN IMPROPER PAYMENT OF $705 TO DEBORAH SANTIAGO. THIS CASE INVOLVES A FACT SITUATION SUBSTANTIALLY IDENTICAL TO THAT RECENTLY CONSIDERED IN B-215380, ET. AL., JULY 23, 1984. THAT CASE CONCERNED THE NEGOTIATION BY PAYEES OF BOTH ORIGINAL ARMY-ISSUED CHECKS AND A TREASURY- ISSUED SUBSTITUTE OR REPLACEMENT CHECKS. FOR THE REASONS DISCUSSED IN B-215380, SUPRA, RELIEF IS GRANTED TO COLONEL GASSIE UNDER 31 U.S.C. SEC. 3528. WE HAVE CONCLUDED THAT 31 U.S.C. SEC. 3527(C) IS NOT APPLICABLE TO CASES LIKE THIS ONE BECAUSE THE ROLE OF THE ARMY OFFICIAL IS THAT OF CERTIFYING OFFICER, RATHER THAN DISBURSING OFFICER. A COPY OF OUR DECISION IN B-215380, SUPRA, IS ENCLOSED.

WE WOULD ADD THAT THIS CASE ILLUSTRATES AT LEAST TWO OF THE AREAS OF CONCERN THAT WE COMMENTED UPON IN B-215380, SUPRA. FIRST, THE ORIGINAL CHECK IN THIS CASE WAS ISSUED SHORTLY AFTER THE PAYEE WAS DISCHARGED. ACCORDINGLY, THE DUPLICATE CHECK WAS ISSUED IN CIRCUMSTANCES WHERE A LOSS IS MOST LIKELY TO OCCUR AND RECOVERY IS MOST DIFFICULT TO ACCOMPLISH. ADDITIONAL CONTROLS SHOULD BE DEVELOPED TO MINIMIZE THE RISKS INHERENT IN ISSUING DUPLICATE CHECKS UNDER THESE CIRCUMSTANCES. SECOND, YOUR REQUEST IN THIS CASE EXEMPLIFIES THE INCOMPLETE AND ILLEGIBLE DOCUMENTATION WHICH WE COMPLAINED OF IN THE ABOVE CITED DECISION. WE STRONGLY RECOMMEND THAT APPROPRIATE STEPS BE TAKEN TO IMPROVE THE DOCUMENTATION IN CASES OF THIS NATURE.

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