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APPROPRIATIONS/FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT - ACCOUNTABLE OFFICERS - DISBURSING OFFICERS - RELIEF - ILLEGAL/IMPROPER PAYMENTS - SUBSTITUTE CHECKS DIGEST: RELIEF IS GRANTED ARMY FINANCE OFFICER UNDER 31 U.S.C. PROPER PROCEDURES WERE FOLLOWED IN THE ISSUANCE OF THE RECERTIFIED CHECK. THERE WAS NO INDICATION OF BAD FAITH ON THE PART OF THE DISBURSING OFFICIAL AND SUBSEQUENT COLLECTION ATTEMPTS ARE BEING PURSUED. WE WILL DENY RELIEF IF ARMY DELAYS MORE THAN 3 MONTHS IN FORWARDING THE DEBT TO ARMY'S COLLECTION DIVISION. RELIEF IS GRANTED. BOTH CHECKS WERE IN THE SAME AMOUNT. THE RECERTIFIED CHECK WAS ISSUED ON THE BASIS OF THE PAYEE'S ALLEGATION THAT THE ORIGINAL CHECK HAS NOT BEEN RECEIVED AND A REQUEST FOR STOP PAYMENT HAD BEEN MADE.

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B-227184, MAY 26, 1987, OFFICE OF GENERAL COUNSEL

APPROPRIATIONS/FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT - ACCOUNTABLE OFFICERS - DISBURSING OFFICERS - RELIEF - ILLEGAL/IMPROPER PAYMENTS - SUBSTITUTE CHECKS DIGEST: RELIEF IS GRANTED ARMY FINANCE OFFICER UNDER 31 U.S.C. SEC. 3527(C) FROM LIABILITY FOR IMPROPER PAYMENT RESULTING FROM PAYEE'S NEGOTIATION OF BOTH ORIGINAL AND RECERTIFIED CHECKS. PROPER PROCEDURES WERE FOLLOWED IN THE ISSUANCE OF THE RECERTIFIED CHECK, THERE WAS NO INDICATION OF BAD FAITH ON THE PART OF THE DISBURSING OFFICIAL AND SUBSEQUENT COLLECTION ATTEMPTS ARE BEING PURSUED. HOWEVER, FOR CASES INVOLVING NOTICES OF LOSSES RECEIVED AFTER JUNE 1, 1986, WE WILL DENY RELIEF IF ARMY DELAYS MORE THAN 3 MONTHS IN FORWARDING THE DEBT TO ARMY'S COLLECTION DIVISION.

BRIGADIER GENERAL B. W. HALL:

THIS RESPONDS TO YOUR REQUEST OF APRIL 28, 1987, THAT WE RELIEVE MR. L. W. MASCHINO, SPECIAL DISBURSING AGENT (SDA), DSSN 5521, FINANCE AND ACCOUNTING OFFICER, OMAHA DISTRICT, CORPS OF ENGINEERS, OMAHA, NEBRASKA, UNDER 31 U.S.C. SEC. 3527(C), FOR AN IMPROPER PAYMENT OF A $987.95 CHECK PAYABLE TO MR. CECIL M. HIGGERSON. FOR THE REASONS STATED BELOW, RELIEF IS GRANTED.

THIS LOSS RESULTED WHEN THE PAYEE NEGOTIATED BOTH THE ORIGINAL AND A RECERTIFIED CHECK. BOTH CHECKS WERE IN THE SAME AMOUNT. THE RECERTIFIED CHECK WAS ISSUED ON THE BASIS OF THE PAYEE'S ALLEGATION THAT THE ORIGINAL CHECK HAS NOT BEEN RECEIVED AND A REQUEST FOR STOP PAYMENT HAD BEEN MADE. BOTH CHECKS WERE ISSUED BY THE ARMY UNDER AUTHORITY DELEGATED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF THE TREASURY. 31 C.F.R. SEC. 245.8 AND TREASURY FISCAL REQUIREMENTS MANUAL FOR GUIDANCE OF DEPARTMENTS AND AGENCIES, BULLETIN NO. 83-28.

IT APPEARS THAT THE ISSUANCE OF A RECERTIFIED CHECK IN THIS CASE WAS WITHIN THE BOUNDS OF DUE CARE. ID. THERE WAS NO INDICATION OF BAD FAITH ON THE PART OF THE DISBURSING OFFICER AND ADEQUATE COLLECTION EFFORTS ARE BEING MADE. ACCORDINGLY, WE GRANT RELIEF.

ALTHOUGH WE HAVE GRANTED RELIEF TO THE FINANCE OFFICER IN THIS CASE, WE DO NOT BELIEVE THAT THE ARMY'S COLLECTION PROCEDURES, TAKEN TOGETHER, MEET THE DILIGENT CLAIMS COLLECTION REQUIREMENT OF 31 U.S.C. SEC. 3527(C). NOTE THAT MR. MASCHINO AND HIS SUCCESSOR, MR. WILLIAMSEN, PROMPTLY ATTEMPTED TO HAVE BOTH THE PAYEE'S FINAL PAY CHECK AND RETIREMENT PROCEEDS APPLIED AGAINST HIS INDEBTEDNESS.

HOWEVER, THESE RECOUPMENT EFFORTS WERE UNSUCCESSFUL BECAUSE OF A COURT ORDER FOR RECOUPMENT OF CHILD SUPPORT AND THE FACT THAT HIS RETIREMENT HAS ALREADY BEEN PAID. NEVERTHELESS, FROM THE DATE ON THE DAILY ADVICE OF STATUS (DAS), IT TOOK ARMY OVER 18 MONTHS TO REFER THE MATTER TO YOUR COLLECTION DIVISION. AS WE PREVIOUSLY INDICATED TO YOU, FOR CASES INVOLVING NOTICES OF LOSSES RECEIVED AFTER JUNE 1, 1986, WHERE THE PAYEE HAS LEFT THE ARMY OR ITS EMPLOY, WE WILL NO LONGER GRANT RELIEF IF ARMY DELAYS MORE THAN 3 MONTHS IN FORWARDING THE DEBT TO YOUR COLLECTION DIVISION. HOWEVER, SINCE THE DAS FROM TREASURY WAS RECEIVED PRIOR TO THAT DATE, WE WILL NOT DENY RELIEF HERE.

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