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of the amount appropriated in this Act in excess of 10 per centum of any claim shall be paid or delivered to or received by any agent or agents; attorney or attorneys, on account of services rendered in connection with such claim. It shall be unlawful for any agent or agents, attorney or attorneys, to exact ,collect, withhold or receive any sum of the amount appropriated in this Act for any claim in excess of 10 per centum thereof on account of services rendered in connection with any claim, any contract to the contrary notwithstanding. Any person violating the provisions of this Act shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor upon conviction thereof shall be fined in any sum not exceeding $1,000.

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BERNICE B. COOPER

FEBRUARY 20, 1945.—Committed to the Committee of the Whole House and

ordered to be printed

Mr. PITTENGER, from the Committee on Claims, submitted the

following

REPORT

(To accompany H. R. 988]

do pass.

The Committee on Claims, to whom was referred the bill (H. R. 988) for the relief of Bernice B. Cooper, junior clerk-typist, Weatherford, Tex., rural rehabilitation office, Farm Security Administration, Department of Agriculture, having considered the same, report favorably thereon without amendment and recommend that the bill

The purpose of the proposed legislation is to relieve Bernice B. Cooper, junior clerk-typist, Farm Security Administration, Department of Agriculture, Weatherford, Tex., from any and all liability on account of the loss of funds in the amount of $300, together with interest due thereon from the date of loss, representing public funds for which she is accountable and which were stolen from her custody in the county rural rehabilitation office, Weatherford, Tex., on February 13, 1942. The Comptroller General and the War Food Administrator are authorized and directed to remove from their records the debt against the said Bernice B. Cooper in the amount of $300, plus interest due thereon.

The Department of Agriculture transmitted a request to the Speaker of the House of Representatives for this legislation. Therefore, your committee recommends favorable consideration of the bill.

Appended hereto is a letter from the Secretary of Agriculture.

DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE,
WAR FOOD ADMINISTRATION,

Washington, June 10, 1943. The Honorable the SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES.

DEAR MR. SPEAKER: There is enclosed a draft of a private bill which this Department recommends for the relief of Miss Bernice B. Cooper, junior clerktypist of the Farm Security Administration, Weatherford, Tex. The proposal is predicated upon the following facts:

On February 13, 1942, when the personnel left the office for lunch, Miss Cooper left in the drawer of her desk $300 in cash that had been collected as loan repayments from clients of the Farm Security Administration, and $320.15 in nonnegotiable checks received from clients as payments of premiums on life-insurance policies. The money was being held temporarily in the county office pending the preparation of the necessary documents for its transmittal to the United States Treasury. Upon her return to the office nothing unusual about the desks or files was noticed. However, in the late afternoon after the transmittal documents had been prepared for remitting the collections, Miss Cooper opened the drawer where she had placed the funds and discovered that they were missing. The records of this Administration reveal that Miss Cooper has at all times been diligent in depositing collections from clients in accordance with established procedure.

Investigation revealed that some unknown person, or persons, had broken into the office and stolen the money during the noon hour; also, that Miss Cooper was not guilty of undue negligence or wrong-doing in handling these funds. The only precaution she failed to exercise was to lock her desk drawer during the noon hour, even though the two office doors were locked.

Efforts by the Farm Security Administration and by the civil authorities in Weatherford, Tex., to identify and apprehend the person or persons responsible for the theft have failed. Since there is an absolute liability on the part of a Federal employee to account for public money, it appears that Miss Cooper will be obligated to the Government for the sum of $300, unless the Comptroller General is authorized and directed to remove from the records of his office the debt which has been raised against her. Miss Cooper is a bonded employee and it appears certain that a satisfactory settlement could be obtained from her surety, but in the event settlement is made through the surety injury would probably revert to her in a like amount.

The request for relief, in this case, will not be used by this Department as a precedent, inasmuch as every case submitted has for its determination the facts and circumstances appear therein and not the action that has been taken in previous cases under similar circumstances. The amount involved represents more than 20 percent of Miss Cooper's annual salary of $1,320. It appears that due diligence was exercised in accordance with the circumstances and that the introduction and passage of the relief bill would be equitable and proper.

The Bureau of the Budget advises that it has no objection to the submission of this proposed legislation and explanatory letter to the Congress for its consideration. Sincerely,

CHESTER C. Davis, Administrator.

COMPTROLLER GENERAL OF THE UNITED STATES,

Washington, June 24, 1943. Hon. Dan R. McGEHEE, Chairman, Committee on Claims,

House of Representatives. MY DEAR MR. CHAIRMAN: Further reference is made to your letter of June 17, 1943, acknowledged June 18, requesting a report on bill H. R. 2981, Seventyeighth Congress, entitled “A bill for the relief of Bernice B. Cooper, junior clerktypist, Weatherford, Tex., rural-rehabilitation office, Farm Security Administration, Department of Agriculture,” which bill provides as follows:

"That Bernice B. Cooper, junior clerk-typist, Farm Security Administration, Department of Agriculture, Weatherford, Tex., is hereby released from any and all liability on account of the loss of funds in the amount of $300, together with interest due thereon drom the date of loss, representing public funds for which she is accountable and which were stolen from her custody in the county ruralrehabilitation office, Weatherford, Tex., on February 13, 1942, and the Comptroller General of the United States, and the War Food Administrator, are hereby authorized and directed to remove from their records the debt against the said Bernice B. Cooper in the amount of $300, plus interest due thereon.'

Under date of May 29, 1943, this office made a report to the Director, Bureau of the Budget, on a proposed bill identical with H. Ř. 2981, which bill, together with a proposed letter of transmittal to the Speaker, House of Representatives, had been submitted by the Secretary of Agriculture to the Bureau of the Budget and by the latter transmitted to this office for a report. In the said report it was stated:

"The proposed letter of transmittal is as follows:

"There is enclosed a draft of a private bill which this Department recommends for the relief of Miss Bernice B. Cooper, junior clerk-typist of the Farm Security Administration, Weatherford, Tex. The proposal is predicated upon the following facts:

" ‘On February 13, 1942, when the personnel left the office for lunch, Miss Cooper left in the drawer of her desk $300 in cash that had been collected as loan repayments from clients of the Farm Security Administration, and $320.15 in nonnegotiable checks received from clients as payments of premiums on life insurance policies. The money was being held temporarily in the county office pending the preparation of the necessary documents for its transmittal to the United States Treasury. Upon her return to the office nothing unusual about the desks or files were noticed. However, in the late afternoon after the transmittal documents had been prepared for remitting the collections, Miss Cooper opened the drawer where she had placed the funds and discovered that they were missing. The records of this Administration reveal that Miss Cooper has at all times been diligent in depositing collections from clients in accordance with established procedure.

“ 'Investigation revealed that some unknown person, or persons, had broken into the office and stolen the money during the noon hour; also, that Miss Cooper was not guilty of undue negligence or wrongdoing in handling these funds. The only precaution she failed to exercise was to lock her desk drawer during the noon hour, even though the two office doors were locked.

“ 'Efforts by the Farm Security Administration and by the civil authorities in Weatherford, "Tex., to identify and apprehend the person or persons responsible for the theft have failed.

" "Since there is an absolute liability on the part of a Federal employee to account for public money, it appears that Miss Cooper will be obligated to the Government for the sum of $300, unless the Comptroller General is authorized and directed to remove from the records of his office the debt which has been raised against her. Miss Cooper is a bonded employee, and it appears certain that a satisfactory settlement could be obtained from her surety, but in the event settlement is made through the surety injury would probably revert to her in a like amount.

"'The request for relief, in this case, will not be used by this Department as a precedent, inasmuch as every case submitted has for its determination the facts and circumstances appearing therein and not the action that has been taken in previous cases under similar circumstances. The amount involved represents more than 20 percent of Miss Cooper's annual salary of $1,320. It appears that due diligence was exercised in accordance with the circumstances and that the introduction and passage of the relief bill would be equitable and proper.

'The Bureau of the Budget advises that it has no objection to the submission of this proposed legislation and explarfatory letter.

'Your assistance in this case will be appreciated.'

The matter was reported to this office by letter of March 8, 1943, from the Department of Agriculture, enclosing a copy of a report of an investigation conducted by the Investigation Division of the Farm Security Administration of the said Department. The facts as set out in the said report appear to be in general agreement with the facts as summarized in the proposed letter of transmittal above quoted. This office has no recommendations to make with respect to the proposed bill."

This office has nothing to add to the said report at this time and I have no recommendation to offer with respect to the enactment of the bill H. R. 2981. Sincerely yours,

LINDSAY C. WARREN, Comptroller General of the United States.

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