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Relief is granted to Ms. Although accountable officers are presumed to have been negligent when a physical loss of funds for which they are responsible occurs. Relief is granted because the loss was directly attributable to the seizure by inmates of the detention facility. Perrelli: This is in response to your letter of March 16. Davis is an Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) impress fund cashier for the Oakdale. Where certain Cubans and Haitians are detained. Relief is granted. The inmates used an acetylene torch to open the door of the combination safe in which the impress funds were being stored. The supporting records were destroyed during a fire set by the inmates. The amount of the impress fund loss was determined through a reconstructive summary prepared by regional personnel.

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B-230796 April 8, 1988

Relief is granted to Ms. Sandra J. Davis, Imprest Fund Cashier for the Oakdale, Louisiana, Detention Facility, for a $3,670.28 impress fund loss under 31 U.S.C. Sec. 3527(a). Although accountable officers are presumed to have been negligent when a physical loss of funds for which they are responsible occurs, relief is granted because the loss was directly attributable to the seizure by inmates of the detention facility.

Mr. Thomas N. Perrelli Comptroller Immigration and Naturalization Service Department of Justice

Dear Mr. Perrelli:

This is in response to your letter of March 16, 1988, requesting relief of cashier Sandra J. Davis from liability for the loss of impress funds in the amount of $3,670.28. Ms. Davis is an Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) impress fund cashier for the Oakdale, Louisiana, Detention Facility, where certain Cubans and Haitians are detained. For the following reasons, relief is granted.

The record indicates that in late November 1987, inmates took control of the Oakdale detention facility. The inmates used an acetylene torch to open the door of the combination safe in which the impress funds were being stored, and they removed the cash. The supporting records were destroyed during a fire set by the inmates, which burned down the Administration Building. The amount of the impress fund loss was determined through a reconstructive summary prepared by regional personnel.

On November 26, 1987, regional personnel observed through binoculars that the Administration Building was destroyed and that the door to the safe was open. On November 29, 1987, David Johnston, the Officer-In-Charge, entered the Oakdale facility and confirmed the loss.

We have authority under 31 U.S.C. Sec. 3527(a) to grant relief to accountable officers for the physical loss of funds upon our concurrence with the agency head or his delegate that:

"(A) the official or agent was carrying out official duties when the loss or deficiency occurred. . .; and (B) the loss or deficiency was not the result of fault or negligence by the official or agent..

In the instant case, although INS did not make the requisite determination that the loss occurred while Ms. Davis was acting in the discharge of her official duties, the recital of the facts makes it clear that this was its conclusion. See, e.g., B-203726, July 10, 1981; B-195435, September 12, 1979. INS has determined that the loss was directly attributable to the inmates taking control of the facility, and therefore there was no fault or negligence on the part of Ms. Davis.

The presumption that accountable officers have been negligent when a physical loss of funds for which they are responsible occurs can be rebutted by evidence to the contrary. 54 Comp.Gen. 112, 115 (1974). We have previously granted relief to accountable officers when the evidence is clear that a theft took place and an investigation has revealed no connection between the accountable officer and the theft. See, e.g., B-210245, February 10, 1983 (safe forced open by burglars at the Forest Service office located in Chugach National Forest, Anchorage, Alaska, at a time when the office was closed); B-195435, September 12, 1979 (armed soldiers seized control of the International Communication Agency Regional Service Center compound in Beirut, Lebanon, and used a blow torch to open a safe containing impress funds).

In this case, it is clear that the robbery occurred without fault or negligence by Ms. Davis. We therefore concur in the administrative determination that Ms. Davis should be relieved of liability in this case. The loss may be charged to the proper appropriation in accordance with 31 U.S.C. 3527(a).

Sincerely yours,

(Mrs.) Rollee H. Efros Associate General Counsel

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