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Accounting for Erroneous Payments
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Disbursing Clerk 1 & C - Military manual for administrative purposes
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Physical   Loss.—   For  relief  of  liability  of  an accountable  person  for  a  physical  loss  of  funds, vouchers,  or  records,  the  following  rules  apply: The  Secretary  of  Defense  must  determine  that the official was carrying out official duties when the loss occurred. The loss must not have been the result of an illegal, incorrect, or improper payment. The loss must not have been the result of fault or negligence  by  the  official. The finding of the Secretary of Defense is binding on the Comptroller General. In all cases of physical loss by disbursing officials, the Secretary of Defense is the relief authority, regardless of the amount of the loss, However,  the  Secretary  of  Defense  has  delegated  this authority  to  the  Director,  DFAS.  The  Director,  DFAS, acts for the Secretary of Defense to make the required determinations  and  grant  or  deny  relief  for  all  requests submitted  under  the  provisions  of  the  DODFMR, Volume 5. In turn, the Director, DFAS, has delegated this  authority  to  the  Director,  DFAS-CL,  for Department  of  the  Navy  personnel.  Therefore,  any accountable person associated with a physical loss in a Navy  DO’s  account  may  request  relief  from  the Director,  DFAS-CL.  To  qualify  for  relief,  however,  the accountable  person  must  not  have  been  faulty  or negligent in executing his or her duties. In addition, the loss must not have resulted in an illegal, improper, or incorrect  payment. Illegal, Incorrect, or Improper Payment.— In the case of a liability resulting from an illegal, incorrect, or improper  payment,  the  Comptroller  General  may  grant relief to a disbursing official. But first a determination must be made that the official did not act in bad faith or show lack of reasonable care in making the payment. However, if it is determined that the accountable official failed  to  pursue  diligent  collection  action  according  to prescribed procedures, relief may be denied. Except  in  certain  circumstances,  the  Comptroller General  is  the  relief  authority  for  cases  involving illegal,  improper,  or  incorrect  payments.  Although  the Comptroller General acts on his or her own initiative or upon a written recommendation of the Secretary of Defense,  he  or  she  still  independently  determines whether relief should be granted. In turn, the Secretary of Defense has delegated the authority to make the required  recommendations  on  all  requests  for  relief  of liability for illegal, improper, or incorrect payments to the  Director,  DFAS.  The  Director,  DFAS,  has  further delegated  this  authority  to  the  Director,  DFAS-CL,  to act for Department of the Navy personnel. When the illegal, improper, or incorrect payment is a result of a double payment or overpayment of $3,000 or less, the authority to grant relief has been delegated to  the  Secretary  of  Defense.  The  overpayments  covered by this provision must result from a mechanical or clerical  error  during  the  check-issue  process.  The double  payments  must  have  resulted  from  the  issuance of a second check (recertified payment) to a payee based on the payee’s statement that the original check had been  lost,  stolen,  or  not  received.  These  irregularities can  occur  when  the  original  check  (along  with  its replacement/recertified  check)  is  negotiated  by  the payee, or when checks are issued in incorrect amounts as  a  result  of  inadvertent  clerical  error.  The  final authority  to  grant  relief  in  these  cases  has  been delegated  down  to  the  level  of  Director,  DFAS-CL,  for Navy personnel. In any case, when relief of liability would not be appropriate,  when  doubt  exists  about  the  application  of statutory  relief  standards,  and  when  the  amount involved is over $3,000, the case will be referred to the Comptroller  General  for  resolution. PROCEDURES FOR REQUESTING RELIEF FROM  LIABILITY.—  Except for minor losses, as previously  discussed,  requests  for  relief  of  liability normally  will  be  made  by  the  accountable  individual. When the accountable individual is a deputy or cashier, he  or  she  should  submit  the  request  through  the accountable  DO. Generally, the request should be submitted within 30 days after the loss has occurred. If an investigating officer has been appointed, a copy of the investigation report will be included as an attachment to the request for relief. Letter.— A request for relief of liability should be in the form of a letter from the accountable individual. For physical losses, the letter requesting relief will be addressed to DFAS-CL through the accountable DO and the requestor’s chain of command. The letter and all  forwarding  endorsements  will  provide  a  complete report of the circumstances resulting in the deficiency and a reference to the findings of any fact-finding body, report  of  investigation,  or  other  proceedings.  For illegal,  incorrect,  or  improper  payments,  the  letter requesting relief will be addressed to the Office of the General Counsel, U.S. General Accounting Office, and routed through the requestor’s chain of command and DFAS-CL. 1-14

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