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U.S. Geological Survey Manual

U.S. Geological Survey Manual

335.1 - Accountable Officers

8/21/13 

OPR:  Office of Administration and Enterprise Information/Office of Accounting and Financial Management

Instruction:  Replaces SM 335.1 dated 1/31/91.

1.  Purpose. This chapter establishes policies and responsibilities for the designation of accountable officers; i.e., certifying officers and collection officers.

2.  Authority.

A.   Debt Collection Improvement Act of 1996, Chapter 10.

B.   31 U.S.C., 3701, 3322, 3716, et seq.

C.  Treasury Financial Manual (TFM), Volume 1, Parts 5 and 6.

D.   330 DM 1, Financial Management – Issuance of Instructions.

E.  SM 205.10, Financial Administration Delegations.

3.  Resources

A.  DOI Cash Management Handbook, Chapter 4, Collections and Deposits.

B.  U.S. Department of the Treasury Financial Management Service’s Now That You’re a Certifying Officer

4.  Policy.

A.  All vouchers and schedules of payment must be signed by a responsible certifying officer.

B.  No employee shall be assigned to the positions of certifying officer or collection officer without completing prior appropriate training.  This includes orientation on all regulations which govern duties and responsibilities of the position.  Certification of completion of training in the duties and responsibilities of an accountable officer must accompany all requests for accountable officer positions.

5.  Definitions.

A.  Accountable Officer.  This term includes all persons officially designated as responsible for the protection, custody, or use of public funds.  As used in this chapter, the term includes the following:

(1)  Certifying Officer.  A Certifying Officer is a designated Federal employee (SM 335.1.7A) responsible for certifying a voucher for payment.  Certifying officers are held responsible for the existence and correctness of the facts recited in the certificate or otherwise stated on the voucher or its supporting papers and for the legality of the proposed payment under the appropriation or fund involved.  They are also held accountable for and required to make good to the United States the amount of any illegal, improper, or incorrect payment resulting from any false, inaccurate, or misleading certificate made, as well as for any payment prohibited by law or one which does not represent a legal obligation under an appropriation or fund.  

(2)  Collection Officer.  A Collection Officer (SM 338.1 and SM 335.1.7C) is a designated Federal employee responsible for the collection of public funds and for depositing them in the U.S. Treasury on behalf of the agency by which they are employed.

6.  Eligibility.  Non-Federal employees are not eligible to fill accountable officer positions.

A.  Accountable officer positions shall be filled only by employees who have received adequate training and preferably have at least 1year of Federal service.

B.  Certifying officer positions shall be filled only by individuals possessing the knowledge, experience, and judgment to verify accuracy and legality of proposed payments.

7.  Surety Bonds.  31 U.S.C. § 9302 expressly prohibits the Federal Government from requiring or obtaining surety bonds for its civilian employees or military personnel in connection with the performance of their duties.  The Government assumes the risk for fidelity losses.  The elimination of surety bonding in no way affects the personal liability of Federal employees.  If an employee desires, a personal bond for faithful performance may be secured through any bonding company.  However, the premium cost must be paid by the employee.

 8.  Designation.  Each employee designated as an accountable officer, as defined in SM 335.1.4, will receive written notice from the Chief, Office of Accounting and Financial Management, containing a description of the function designated and certification that the employee has received proper training, is fully advised of the duties and responsibilities of the position, and has received adequate safeguarding facilities.  

A.  Certifying Officer.  Certifying Officers are designated by the Chief, Office of Accounting and Financial Management.

B.   Collection Officer.  Collection officers are designated by the Chief, Office of Accounting and Financial Management.

9.  Responsibilities.

A.  Certifying Officers.

(1)  Correctness of Facts.  Documents presented for payment are checked against supporting documents and other information available.

(2)  Legality of Payment.  Proposed payments must be within the limitations of the appropriation and consistent with its objectives.  To verify the legality of any payment presented, the certifying officer may directly request a decision from the Comptroller General.

B.  Collection Officers.

(1)  Accountability.

(a)  Functions of the designee are restricted to those described in the notice of designation.

(b)  Only persons officially designated may be delegated to perform functions of collection officers.

(c)  Funds will not be collected or maintained by anyone other than the authorized designee.

(d)  Collections will be fully documented and accounted for by designee from time of receipt and held in secure facilities until deposited.  Supporting records should always be maintained in a manner acceptable for audit.

(e)  Under no circumstances will Federal funds be commingled with other funds.

(f)  Collections shall, to the extent possible, be deposited within 24 hours or the next workday. When deposits are made by mail, cash shall be first converted into a money order.

(2)  Safeguarding Funds.

(a)  A safe or safe-type cabinet with key locks, or a similar secure storage container, will be provided for safeguarding funds.  If the funds are likely to exceed $500 before deposit, use of a separate locked room or secure area should be considered.

(b)  Funds will not be left unattended unless secured.

(c)  Only the collection officer shall have access to the funds storage area and container.

(d)  Where combination-lock safes are used, the combination will be changed whenever there is a change in a collection officer or after an “other than duly-designated employee” has had access to the storage facility.

10.  Irregularities, Shortages, and Theft.

A. All losses and shortages regardless of amount shall be promptly brought to the attention of the Chief, Office of Accounting and Financial Management. In the event of a robbery, the local police, the Federal Protective Service, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation shall be advised by the head of the office where the robbery occurred.

B. Discovery of erroneous payments made by certifying officers will be promptly brought to the attention of the Chief, Office of Accounting and Financial Management. A review will be made as to the circumstances and conditions causing the erroneous payment and, if warranted, immediate steps will be taken by the Office of Accounting and Financial Management to recover the amount of overpayment or to seek relief for the certifying officer under existing law.

/s/ Diane K. Wade                                                                                     August 21, 2013
_______________________________________________              ____________________
Diane K. Wade                                                                                           Date
Associate Director for Administration and Enterprise Information
and Acting Associate Director for Human Capital


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