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APPROPRIATIONS/FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT - Accountable Officers - Disbursing officers - Relief - Illegal/improper payments - Substitute checks DIGEST: Relief is granted Army disbursing official under 31 U.S.C. 3527(c) from liability for an improper payment resulting from payee's negotiation of both original and recertified military checks. Proper procedures were followed in the issuance of the part of the disbursing official and subsequent collection attempts are being pursued. We will no longer grant relief if finance officer delays more than 3 months in forwarding the debt to your 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 had not been received and a request for stop payment had been made.

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B-227632, Aug 5, 1987, Office of General Counsel

APPROPRIATIONS/FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT - Accountable Officers - Disbursing officers - Relief - Illegal/improper payments - Substitute checks DIGEST: Relief is granted Army disbursing official under 31 U.S.C. 3527(c) from liability for an improper payment resulting from payee's negotiation of both original and recertified military checks. Proper procedures were followed in the issuance of the part of the disbursing official and subsequent collection attempts are being pursued. However, for cases involving notices of loss received after June 1, 1986, where the payee has left the Army or its employ, we will no longer grant relief if finance officer delays more than 3 months in forwarding the debt to your Collection Division.

Brigadier General B. W. Hall:

This responds to your request of June 29, 1987, that we relieve Mr. L. C. Williamsen, 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 $374.03 check, payable to Ms. Andrea A. Golden. 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 had 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).

From the date on the Daily Advice of Status (DAS), it took Army over 13 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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