Clarence Maddox -- Relief of Liability for Improper Payments for Bottled Water
B-303920, Mar 21, 2006
We deny relief for a disbursing/certifying officer of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida who certified improper payments to purchase bottled water for court employees in the absence of any documentation that the available drinking water posed a health risk. While the disbursing/certifying officer claims that he was unaware that the bottled water being purchased was for employees (bottled water for jurors is an allowable expense), and that he certified the payments in good faith, we do not agree. To find "good faith" as used in the relief statute requires that there be no doubt regarding, nor reason to doubt, the propriety of the payments. Since the record states that the payments for employee bottled water came from a different account than that for juror bottled water, and vouchers for the improper purchases indicate that each purchase was funded by that different, non-juror, account, we find that reasonable examination of the vouchers should have identified the water being purchased as other than for jurors. We therefore cannot conclude that he had no reason to doubt the propriety of the payments.