Skip to Highlights
Highlights

APPROPRIATIONS/FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT - Accountable Officers - Disbursing Officers - Relief - Illegal/Improper Payments - Substitute Checks Army finance officer is relieved of responsibility under 31 U.S.C. Sec. 3527(c) for the loss of $53 that resulted when a pay check was cashed with a forged signature. The finance officer supervised an adequate system of procedures and controls to safeguard government funds and is found to have exercised due care and have acted in good faith. General Hall: This is in response to your letter requesting relief under 31 U.S.C. Your request is granted. Was cashed by an unidentified person on July 20. The loss of funds was incurred during Captain Wansbury's tenure as Finance Officer of DSSN 5881.

View Decision

B-227623, Oct 13, 1987, Office of General Counsel

APPROPRIATIONS/FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT - Accountable Officers - Disbursing Officers - Relief - Illegal/Improper Payments - Substitute Checks Army finance officer is relieved of responsibility under 31 U.S.C. Sec. 3527(c) for the loss of $53 that resulted when a pay check was cashed with a forged signature. The finance officer supervised an adequate system of procedures and controls to safeguard government funds and is found to have exercised due care and have acted in good faith.

General Hall:

This is in response to your letter requesting relief under 31 U.S.C. Sec. 3527(c) for an improper payment in the amount of $53.00 charged to Capt. T. G. Wansbury, Finance Corps, Disbursing Station Symbol Number (DSSN) 5881, Seventh Army Training Command (ATC), APO New York 09114. For the reasons stated below, your request is granted.

The record before this Office indicates that a fraudulently endorsed check, representing the July 1983 mid-month pay of S. Sgt. Terrance L. Mason in the amount of $53.00, was cashed by an unidentified person on July 20, 1983; the loss of funds was incurred during Captain Wansbury's tenure as Finance Officer of DSSN 5881. According to lst Lt. David Lowe, successor Finance Officer to Captain Wansbury, it is no longer possible to identify the cashier who cashed this check.

On October 26, 1984, Staff Sergeant Mason filed a claim against the U.S. Government for the amount of the check alleging non-receipt and non- negotiation of the original check. The Finance Officer subsequently received a Debit Voucher from the American Express International Banking Corporation. He thereafter declared a loss of funds and initiated an investigation.

Under 31 U.S.C. Sec. 3527(c), this Office has the authority to relieve a disbursing official from liability for an improper payment when the payment was not the result of bad faith or lack of reasonable care by the official. The good faith and reasonable care of a supervisory disbursing official is shown by evidence that the supervisor maintained adequate procedures and control to avoid errors and that the supervisor took steps to implement those controls. 62 Comp.Gen. at 480 (1983).

Although you were unable to provide a copy of the check cashing procedures in effect at the time the forged check was cashed, Lieutenant Lowe has provided a statement attesting to the fact that the procedures in effect at the time of the improper payment were the same as those currently in effect. These procedures include comparing the customer's identification card with the check to ensure that the names, social security numbers, and signatures match. We accept this as evidence that Captain Wansbury maintained adequate procedures and controls to safeguard the funds for which he was accountable. We find nothing in the record to indicate that the improper payment was the result of bad faith or lack of reasonable care on the part of Captain Wansbury. Accordingly, relief is granted, as requested.

GAO Contacts