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SINCE EVIDENCE WAS CLEAR THAT BURGLARY HAD OCCURRED. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE THIS IS IN REPLY TO YOUR LETTER DATED APRIL 29. ROBERTS IS THE PRINCIPAL CASHIER TOOK PLACE ON SEPTEMBER 23. WERE FORCIBLY OPENED. THE DISTRICT RANGER'S DESK CONTAINED SEALED ENVELOPES IN WHICH WERE RECORDED THE COMBINATIONS TO SEVERAL SAFES. ALL THE SAFES WERE OPENED AND ALL FUNDS. WERE TAKEN. THE PROPER AUTHORITIES WERE NOTIFIED AND THEY INVESTIGATED THE MATTER. AN ACCOUNTABLE OFFICER INSURES THE PUBLIC FUNDS IN HIS CUSTODY AND IS EXCUSABLE ONLY FOR LOSS DUE TO ACTS OF GOD OR THE PUBLIC ENEMY. SEC. 3527(A) THIS OFFICE MAY RELIEVE ACCOUNTABLE OFFICERS FROM LIABILITY IF IT CONCURS IN THE DETERMINATIONS BY THE HEAD OF THE AGENCY CONCERNED THAT THE ACCOUNTABLE OFFICER WAS CARRYING OUT HIS OFFICIAL DUTIES WHEN THE LOSS OCCURRED.

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B-222996, OCT 1, 1986, OFFICE OF THE GENERAL COUNSEL

APPROPRIATIONS/FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT - ACCOUNTABLE OFFICERS - CASHIERS - RELIEF - PHYSICAL LOSSES - THEFT DIGEST: DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE, FOREST SERVICE, PRINCIPAL IMPREST FUND CASHIER GRANTED RELIEF FROM LIABILITY FOR SHORTAGE OF FUNDS CAUSED BY BURGLARY OF LOCKED SAFE AT NIGHT. THIEF OBTAINED COMBINATION FROM LOCKED DESK OF DISTRICT RANGER. SINCE EVIDENCE WAS CLEAR THAT BURGLARY HAD OCCURRED, AND NO FAULT OR NEGLIGENCE COULD BE ATTRIBUTED TO ACCOUNTABLE OFFICER, GAO CONCURS IN AGENCY'S DETERMINATION THAT RELIEF BE GRANTED UNDER 31 U.S.C. SEC. 3527(A).

MR. LARRY WILSON:

ACTING DIRECTOR

OFFICE OF FINANCE AND MANAGEMENT

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

THIS IS IN REPLY TO YOUR LETTER DATED APRIL 29, 1986, REQUESTING THAT MS. MARTHA M. ROBERTS, A FOREST SERVICE PRINCIPAL IMPREST FUND CASHIER AT THE PRESCOTT NATIONAL FOREST, BRADSHAW RANGER DISTRICT, PRESCOTT, ARIZONA, BE RELIEVED OF LIABILITY FOR A SHORTAGE OF $841.25 IN HER IMPREST FUND ACCOUNT. A BURGLARY WHICH TOOK PLACE ON SEPTEMBER 23, 1983, CAUSED THE SHORTAGE. FOR THE REASONS SET FORTH BELOW, WE GRANT RELIEF.

THE RECORD INDICATES THAT A BURGLARY OF THE IMPREST FUND OF WHICH MS. ROBERTS IS THE PRINCIPAL CASHIER TOOK PLACE ON SEPTEMBER 23, 1983, AT THE BRADSHAW RANGER DISTRICT OFFICE, IN PRESCOTT, ARIZONA. THE INVESTIGATIVE REPORT INDICATES THAT ONE OR MORE INDIVIDUALS APPARENTLY GAINED ENTRANCE TO THE BUILDING BY FORCING THE LOCK OPEN ON THE MAIN DOUBLE DOOR ENTRANCE. ALL LOCKED CABINETS AND DESK DRAWERS, INCLUDING THOSE OF THE DISTRICT RANGER, WERE FORCIBLY OPENED. THE DISTRICT RANGER'S DESK CONTAINED SEALED ENVELOPES IN WHICH WERE RECORDED THE COMBINATIONS TO SEVERAL SAFES. ALL THE SAFES WERE OPENED AND ALL FUNDS, INCLUDING THE IMPREST FUNDS, WERE TAKEN. THE PROPER AUTHORITIES WERE NOTIFIED AND THEY INVESTIGATED THE MATTER. NEVERTHELESS, TO DATE, THE BURGLAR OR BURGLARS REMAIN AT LARGE AND THE STOLEN CASH HAS NOT BEEN RECOVERED.

AN ACCOUNTABLE OFFICER INSURES THE PUBLIC FUNDS IN HIS CUSTODY AND IS EXCUSABLE ONLY FOR LOSS DUE TO ACTS OF GOD OR THE PUBLIC ENEMY. UNITED STATES V. THOMAS, 82 U.S. (15 WALL.) 337 (1872). UNDER 31 U.S.C. SEC. 3527(A) THIS OFFICE MAY RELIEVE ACCOUNTABLE OFFICERS FROM LIABILITY IF IT CONCURS IN THE DETERMINATIONS BY THE HEAD OF THE AGENCY CONCERNED THAT THE ACCOUNTABLE OFFICER WAS CARRYING OUT HIS OFFICIAL DUTIES WHEN THE LOSS OCCURRED, AND THAT THE LOSS WAS NOT THE RESULT OF FAULT OR NEGLIGENCE BY THE OFFICER.

YOU STATE IN YOUR LETTER THAT YOU HAVE DETERMINED THAT "MS. ROBERTS WAS ACTING IN THE DISCHARGE OF HER OFFICIAL DUTIES. THE LOSS OCCURRED WITHOUT FAULT OR NEGLIGENCE ON HER PART." WE CONCUR IN THAT DETERMINATION. NOTHING IN THE RECORD SUGGESTS EITHER THAT THE BURGLARY DID NOT OCCUR AS REPORTED OR THAT MS. ROBERTS IS IMPLICATED IN THE BURGLARY IN ANY WAY. MS. ROBERTS HAD DELIVERED SEALED ENVELOPES CONTAINING THE COMBINATIONS TO SEVERAL SAFES TO THE DISTRICT RANGER IN ACCORD WITH AGENCY POLICY. SINCE THE TIME OF THE BURGLARY THE ENVELOPES CONTAINING THE SAFE COMBINATIONS HAVE BEEN AND WILL CONTINUE TO BE SECURED IN A SAFE OFF PREMISES AT THE SUPERVISOR'S OFFICE. GIVEN THE NATURE OF THE BURGLARY, WHICH APPARENTLY WAS PLANNED CAREFULLY AND TOOK PLACE WHEN NO ONE WAS PRESENT IN THE BUILDING, NOTHING INDICATES THAT ANY NEGLIGENCE ON HER PART CONTRIBUTED TO THE LOSS. THIS OFFICE HAS GRANTED RELIEF IN SEVERAL SUBSTANTIALLY SIMILAR CASES IN THE PAST. SEE, E.G., B-205428, DEC. 31, 1981.

ACCORDINGLY, WE CONCUR IN YOUR DETERMINATIONS AND GRANT RELIEF TO MS. ROBERTS IN THE AMOUNT OF $841.25.

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