oversight

Collection Policies and Procedures, District of Oregon U.S. Attorney's Office

Published by the Government Accountability Office on 1971-01-06.

Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)

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                                                     SEATTLE,WASHINGTON                   98104

IN REPLY   REFER   TOa


    18134




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                   MP. Sidney I. Lezak                                   D-J-J-    'i 4                 wi@L
                   United     States    Attorney                                                up $
                   Room 506, U.S. Court House - New                                       AY      ($0
                   620 S.W. Main Street                                             8      @
                   Portland, Oregon     97205
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                   Rear Mr. Lezak:
                                                     "&"
                            We have completed'our   review of the collection        policies      and
                   procedures employed by the District         of Oregon U.S. Attorney's            Qffioc.
                   Our review,    made pursuant to a recommendation by the House Committee
                   on Government Operations      in House Report 91-701, dated December 8,
                   1969, was directed     toward (1) determining       the effect     of the Federal
                   Claims Collection     Act of 1966 on the U.S. Attorneys'           debt collection
                   work-load,    (2) determining    the adequacy of the U.S. Attorneys'              collec-
                   tion reporting    system , and (3) evaluating       the collection       efforts      of
                   the U.S. Attorneys.       The result of our review,      including       tentative
                   conclusions    and recommendations     for actions at the Department level,
                   will be considered     for inclusion     in a report to the Congress.

                           There are certain areas, however, in which you may wish to make
                    improvements at the local lever.     These matters, which we have dis-
                    cussed with members of your staff,    are (1) continuity    of collection
                    staff,   (2) attempts to locate debtors,     (3) increased use of telephone
                    and personal contacts with debtors,      (4) controls over incoming payments,
                    and (5) use of closing memoranda.     A brief;discussion    of each of these
                    areas f ollons,

                    Continuity     of collection             staff

                          The Assistant U.S. Attorney in charge of collections                told us that
                    most delays in follow-up       on collection    efforts   have been the result of
                    using the position     of collection      clerk as a training      position    for new
                    employees.    He stated that, to be effective,          a collection      clerk should
                    be trained  in the skills      necessary for the position         and kept on the fob
                    long enough to become proficient          in the use of these skills.          In order
                    to provide  continuity    of staff for improved collection           efforts,     you
                    may wish to make the position        a permanent one.
Nr.   Sidney I.   Lezak                     -2-

Attempts    to locate     debtors
         Attempts to locate debtors have been limited             to either obtaining
information       from the referring      agency or requesting       an FBI investigation.
We believe      that large claims merit the utilization            of additional       tracing
procedures.         Accordingly,     you may wish   to  consider    the use   of   such
sources of information           as taxing authorities,      local directors,        public
utilities      and drivers'      license records by your collections          staff.

Use of telephone        and personal     contacts
        We noted that your staff has seldom used telephone         contacts and
personal interviews       in attempting   to collect debts referred     to your
office.     The timeliness    and personal nature of these procedures        could
make them valuable      tools in dealing with debtors.     You may wish to
consider placing increased emphasis on these procedures            in future
collection     efforts.

Control    over   incoming    payments
       You may wish to improve controls   over incoming payments to assure
that they are being properly     recorded and controlled.     We found that
no record is kept of incoming payments.       To preclude undetected     loss of
checks and to check on the timeliness     of deposits,    the individual    re-
ceiving   the mail couId keep a daily record of all payments and periodic-
ally trace the entries    in this daily record to copies of receipts        and
entries   on the debtor index cards.

Use of closing      memoranda
       We noted that a memorandum stating    the reasons for closing is
not always prepared when a case is closed as uncollectible.         You may
wish to consider the use of such memoranda prepared and signed by the
Assistant    U.S. Attorney in charge of collections,    to help ensure that
cases with collection     potentfal are not closed inadvertantly.



      We would like to acknowledge the courtesy and cooperation                      given
our representatives      during this, review.  We are available for                further
discussions    and assistance   if you so desire.


                                                    ,,-..-
                                                       -/i. Sincerely     yours,


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                                                            Regional    Ganager