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338.5 - Refunds - Publications and Other Products

This chapter contains instructions regarding the refund of credits or cash to non- Federal purchasers of publications and other products.


OPR: Admin/Financial Management

1. Purpose. This chapter contains instructions regarding the refund of credits or cash to non- Federal purchasers of publications and other products.

2. Authority. Only those offices authorized (SM 338.1) to collect and deposit monies are authorized to make refunds.

3. General. Refunds may be made in any of the following ways:

A. Petty Cash Refunds in amounts of less than $5.00 may be made by mail using a coin card and a separate imprest fund established for this purpose.

B. Over-the-Counter refunds which may be made in currency regardless of the amount involved.

C. Credit Memorandum. When refunds are small and relate to receivable accounts, dealers, or other regular customers, refunds are made by issuing a credit memorandum (USGS Form 9-005). The original is forwarded to the payee. A copy is filed with the payee's order as evidence of credit. The customer may retain the credit memo to apply against a subsequent order or to an existing account receivable, or return it for redemption. If returned for redemption, the refund will be made by U.S. Treasury check using Public Voucher for Refunds, SF 1047, or by coin card if under $5.00.

D. Public Voucher. These refunds are made by U.S. Treasury check using SF 1047 for significant amounts, orders from educational institutions, and similar discretionary situations. Generally, if the customer does not request a cash refund with an order, a credit memorandum may be used first.

4. The Method of Refund by Mail is generally determined by the amount involved, the circumstances of the sale, the nature of the customer (e.g., if the refund can be applied to an account receivable, etc.,), and the expense of issuing a U.S. Treasury check.

A. Refunds Under $5.00 may be by either credit memorandum or cash at the discretion of refunding office.

B. Refunds Over $5.00 are made by SF 1047 when the use of a credit memorandum is impractical or when an account receivable has not been, or is not likely to be, established.

5. Special Procedures.

A. Standard Form 1047. These refunds are made by U.S. Treasury check using Public Voucher for Refunds, SF 1047. Prepare an original and two copies as illustrated in Figure 1. Forward the original and one copy to the Office of Financial Management for processing. Retain one copy in the issuing office with the customer's order as evidence of the refund.

B. Cash Refunds by Mail. A sub-cashier to the USGS Cashier is designated (SM 335.1) to operate and be accountable for a special imprest fund established at each location authorized to make cash refunds by mail. Locations and individual employees are designated by the Chief, Office of Financial Management in accordance with SM 335.1 and SM 338.1. The amount of the fund will be established based upon an estimated dollar value of total monthly cash refunds. Use of the fund will be restricted to cash refund by mail for amounts under $5.00. It should not be commingled with other cash, including any sub-cashier funds issued for change-making.

(1) General Procedures.

(a) Mail Orders determined to require cash refunds under $5.00 are sent to the imprest fund sub-cashier.

(b) The Correct Change for the refund is placed in a coin card and mailed to the customer with documents identifying the refund.

(c) The Sub-Cashier maintains records which serve as a satisfactory audit trail which will relate the refund to the specific orders and deposits to which they apply.

(d) Where the Sub-cashier is unable to maintain an audit trail determined to be adequate by the Chief, Office of Financial Management, a detailed record in support of Standard Form 1129, Reimbursement Voucher, will be maintained as follows:

The sub-cashier enters the amount of refund and a file reference for the order in the "Cash Refund Log for Mail Order Advances." (See Figure 3.) If orders are filed alphabetically under ZIP code, a file reference for the order is established (e.g., by entering the ZIP code followed by the first two alphabetic letters of the name under which the order is filed).

(e) Nonreceipt. In event the customer alleges the cash refund was not received, a second refund will be processed for payment by U.S. Treasury check using SF 1047. The refunding office or activity will charge its current year account for the second refund.

(f) Undelivered Mail. For internal control purposes, an individual other than the sub-cashier should open and record all returned, unclaimed mail containing cash refunds. After being recorded in a log by date, payee, and amount, the mail and cash will be turned over to the imprest fund cashier.

(2) Replenishment Procedures.

(a) To Replenish the Imprest Fund, prepare Standard Form 1129, Reimbursement Voucher, in an original and one copy for the total amount of funds disbursed since the last replenishment voucher was processed. See Figure 2 for an example of completed SF 1129. Enter the appropriation symbol assigned to the activity (e.g., 14X0804 (Sale of Maps, Geological Survey for the Branch of Distribution Centers; suspense account 14X6875(08) for all ESIC offices, and the Station Identification Number (SM 338.1, Figure 1). The payee is the sub- cashier initiating the SF 1129. Attach copies of "Cash Refund Log for Mail Order advances," or equivalent, supporting the amount of funds disbursed and an adding machine tape summarizing the amounts, stapled in the upper left-hand corner of the original SF 1129. Send original SF 1129 and attachments directly to the USGS Cashier, Office of Financial Management, MS 270. The USGS Cashier completes an SF 1166, Voucher and Schedule of Payment. Treasury makes replenishment checks for imprest funds payable only to the USGS Cashier. These, in turn, are endorsed over to respective sub-cashiers. Replenishment is recommended whenever the imprest fund cash reaches 1/3 of the total fund. At close of the fiscal year, the fund should be replenished shortly before the established cut-off date for current fiscal year disbursements.

(b) Verification. Two responsible employees, other than the cashier or employees under his/her supervision, will be appointed by the Chief of each division or office authorized to collect and deposit public funds (SM 338.1) to perform a monthly verification of the imprest fund accountability. The verification will include a cash count and reconciliation to the cash refund source documents. The adequacy of procedures for safekeeping cash should also be observed. The verification of accountability will be documented on Form FS:FO-1159, Audit Report, provided by the sub-cashier, signed by those appointed, and forwarded at the end of each month to the USGS Cashier, Office of Financial Management. Once or twice a year a special verification should be made on an unannounced basis. Any irregularities should be reported to the Chief, Office of Financial Management.