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CERTIFYING OFFICERS - RELIEF - ERRONEOUS PAYMENTS - DUPLICATE PAYMENTS DIGEST: RELIEF IS GRANTED ARMY FINANCE AND ACCOUNTING OFFICIAL UNDER 31 U.S.C. THE OFFICER DID NOT KNOW AND BY REASONABLE DILIGENCE AND INQUIRY COULD NOT HAVE DISCOVERED THAT THE PAYEE HAD ACTUALLY RECEIVED BOTH CHECKS AND INTENDED TO CASH BOTH PAYMENT INSTRUMENTS. PROPER PROCEDURES WERE FOLLOWED IN THE CERTIFICATION OF THE SUBSTITUTE CHECK. RELIEF IS GRANTED. THE ROLE OF MAJ O'HALLORAN IN ISSUING THE SECOND CHECK WAS THAT OF CERTIFYING OFFICIAL. SEC. 3528 TO RELIEVE A CERTIFYING OFFICER FROM LIABILITY FOR A ERRONEOUS CERTIFICATION IF THE CERTIFICATION WAS BASED ON OFFICIAL RECORDS AND THE OFFICIAL DID NOT KNOW. BY REASONABLE DILIGENCE AND INQUIRY COULD NOT HAVE DISCOVERED.

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B-224715, SEP 29, 1986, OFFICE OF THE GENERAL COUNSEL

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

BRIGADIER GENERAL B. W. HALL:

DEPUTY COMMANDER FOR OPERATIONS

U.S. ARMY FINANCE AND

ACCOUNTING CENTER

DEPARTMENT OF THE ARMY

INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA 46249

THIS RESPONDS TO YOUR REQUEST OF SEPTEMBER 11, 1986, THAT WE RELIEVE MAJOR (MAJ) R. P. O'HALLORAN, FINANCE CORPS, DSSN 5073, FINANCE AND ACCOUNTING OFFICER, FORT MCPHERSON, GEORGIA, UNDER 31 U.S.C. SEC. 3528 FOR AN IMPROPER PAYMENT OF A $873.05 CHECK PAYABLE TO MS. JANICE K. WYATT. FIFTY DOLLARS OF THIS DEBT HAS BEEN RECOVERED, LEAVING AN UNPAID BALANCE OF $823.05. FOR THE REASONS STATED BELOW, RELIEF IS GRANTED.

THE LOSS RESULTED WHEN THE PAYEE NEGOTIATED BOTH AN ORIGINAL ARMY ISSUED CHECK AND A TREASURY-ISSUED REPLACEMENT INSTRUMENT. THE ROLE OF MAJ O'HALLORAN IN ISSUING THE SECOND CHECK WAS THAT OF CERTIFYING OFFICIAL. SEE AR-103, PARA. 4-143(B); SEE ALSO, B-215380, ET AL., JULY 23, 1984.

THIS OFFICE HAS AUTHORITY UNDER 31 U.S.C. SEC. 3528 TO RELIEVE A CERTIFYING OFFICER FROM LIABILITY FOR A ERRONEOUS CERTIFICATION IF 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.

IT APPEARS IN THIS CASE THAT THESE CRITERIA HAVE BEEN MET. AS FAR AS THE ARMY CERTIFYING OFFICIAL IS CONCERNED, HE "DID NOT KNOW, AND BY REASONABLE DILIGENCE AND INQUIRY COULD NOT HAVE DISCOVERED, THE CORRECT INFORMATION" THAT IS, THAT THE PAYEE HAD ACTUALLY RECEIVED THE ORIGINAL CHECK AND HAD-- OR PLANNED TO-- CASH BOTH CHECKS. ACCORDINGLY, WE GRANT RELIEF.

WE NOTE THAT ALTHOUGH LIEUTENANT COLONEL CUPP, THE SUCCESSOR TO MAJ O'HALLORAN'S ACCOUNT, DELAYED FOR SEVERAL MONTHS INITIATING COLLECTION ACTIVITY, HE WAS ABLE TO CONTACT THE PAYEE AND ESTABLISH A PAYBACK SCHEDULE. HOWEVER, ONLY ONE $50 PAYMENT WAS MADE. AFTER THE PAYEE STOPPED MAKING PAYMENTS AND REFUSED TO SIGN FOR A CERTIFIED LETTER, THERE WAS ANOTHER DELAY OF OVER 4 MONTHS BEFORE THE MATTER WAS REFERRED TO YOUR COLLECTION DIVISION. IN ALL, IT TOOK THE ARMY OVER 22 MONTHS TO REFER THE LOSS TO YOUR COLLECTION OFFICE ONCE NOTICE OF THE LOSS 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 WITH 3 MONTHS OF ITS RECEIPT OF THE DEBIT VOUCHER.

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