Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

335.1 - Accountable Officers





Issuance Number:      335.1

Subject:                       Accountable Officers

Issuance Date:            07/01/2021

Expiration Date:          07/01/2026

Responsible Office:    Office of Administration/Office of Accounting and Financial Management

Instruction:                 This Survey Manual (SM) chapter revises SM 335.1, Accountable Officers, dated August 21, 2013.  This version                                                                 clarifies the roles of the Accountable Officers and updates SM references.

Approving Official:     /s/ Katherine M. McCulloch

                                     Associate Director for Administration


1.    Purpose and Scope.  This SM chapter establishes policy 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. Code (U.S.C.) §§ 3701, 3322, 3716, et seq.

C.  Treasury Financial Manual (TFM), Volume 1, Part 5 (Deposit Regulations) and Part 6 (Other Fiscal Matters)

D.  330 Departmental Manual 1, Series 09 - Financial Management, Chapter 1 – Issuance of Instructions

E.  SM 205.10, Financial Administration Delegations

3.    References.  

A.  Department of the Interior Cash Management Handbook, Chapter 4, Collections and Deposits

B.  U.S. Department of the Treasury Financial Management Service “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 will 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 as required 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 SM chapter, the term includes the following:

(1)  Certifying Officer.  A Certifying Officer is a Federal employee that is designated in writing and responsible for certifying a voucher to Treasury that trigger payments by a Treasury Disbursing Officer.  Certifying Officers are 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.  Certifying Officers are also 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 (refer to SM 338.1, Collection and Deposit) 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.  The following requirements apply:

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

B.  Certifying Officer positions must 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 Federal Government assumes the risk for fidelity losses.  The elimination of surety bonding in no way affects the personal liability of Federal employees.  Employees may secure a personal bond for faithful performance through any bonding company, if desired.  However, the employee is responsible for paying the premium cost.

8.    Designation.  Certifying Officers and Collection Officers are designated by the Chief, Office of Accounting and Financial Management (OAFM).  Each Officer will receive written notice from the Chief, OAFM, containing a description of the required function 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.  

9.    Responsibilities.  

A.  Certifying Officers are responsible for:

(1)  Correctness of Facts.  Certifying Officers ensure that documents presented for payment are consistent with supporting documents and other available information.

(2)  Legality of Payment.  Certifying Officers ensure proposed payments are within the limitations of the appropriation and consistent with its objectives.  The Certifying Officer may directly request a decision from the Comptroller General.

B.  Collection Officers are responsible for:

1.  Accountability.

(a)  Ensuring that the functions of the designee are restricted to those described in the notice of designation;

(b)  Ensuring funds are not collected or maintained by anyone other than the authorized designee;

(c)  Ensuring that collections are fully documented and accounted for from the time of receipt and are held in secure facilities until deposited;

(d)  Ensuring that supporting records are maintained in a manner acceptable for audit; and

(e)  Ensuring that collections, to the greatest extent possible, are deposited within 24 hours or the next workday.  When deposits are made by mail, cash must be first converted into a money order.

2.  Safeguarding Funds.  

(a)  Ensuring a safe or safe-type cabinet with key locks, or a similar secure storage container, is provided for safeguarding funds.  The Collection Officer should consider using a separate locked room or secure area for any funds that are likely to exceed $500 before deposit;

(b)  Ensuring that funds are not left unattended unless secured;

(c)  Ensuring that only the Collection Officer has access to the funds storage area and container; and

(d)  Ensuring that any combination locks are changed whenever there is a change in Collection Officer or after someone other than the designated employee has had access to the storage facility.

10.    Irregularities, Shortages, and Theft.  

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

B.  Discovery of erroneous payments made by Certifying Officers must be promptly brought to the attention of the Chief, OAFM.  OAFM will review the circumstances and conditions causing the erroneous payment and, if warranted, take immediate action to recover the amount of overpayment or to seek relief for the Certifying Officer under existing law.