Are foreign nationals or local nationals allowed to be Primary hand Receipt Holders. In the past few years, there has been many questions and concerns about foreign nationals or local nationals serving as hand receipt Holders, as several hundreds of thousands of Government equipment become missing, with no one held responsible. Are we (the Government) able to hold the foreign nationals or local nationals accountable for these missing properties. I am aware that based on the SOFA agreement, in some countries, accountability of property is mentioned. However, in the case where no agreement is in place, can a foreign national or local national serve as hand receipt holders (whether primary or otherwise)? And if not, what guidance is in place that addresses this?
A most excellent question but one that will have to be asked & answered up-chain of command and potentially by your legal office.
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But let’s discuss this a bit before you pursue this.
A good point of departure is FM 10-27-4, Organizational Supply and Services for Unit Leaders, Chapter 6, Para 6-1, which in part discusses concepts and procedures for accounting for organizational property and weapons.
· It notes that “The commander must stress to the soldiers that each person is responsible for all property in his charge and not just for property that is listed on the unit property books. Commanders must also ensure their soldiers properly account for unit property.”
· It further notes three vital reference documents including AR 710-2 and AR 735-5 which contain the Army policy for property accountability and responsibility and DA Pam 710-2-1 which documents the manual procedures for property accountability.
· None of these documents directly talks to your question/issue – that of foreign nationals or local nationals being primary hand receipt holders.
However, FM 10-27-4, Para 6-1 does a first class job of defining and therefore distinguishing terms as follows:
Property Accountability. Property accountability is the obligation of a person to keep an accurate formal record of property issued to him. The record should show item identification data, quantities, balances, and transactions. This obligation may not be delegated. The accountable officer does not have to personally make all detailed entries on property records. However, he must:
· Make sure that the property issued to him is correctly noted on the property records
· Know what is on hand as determined by the property records
· Take action to resolve shortages or overages
Property Responsibility. Property responsibility is the obligation of a person to ensure that government property entrusted to his possession, command, or supervision is properly used and cared for and proper custody and safekeeping are provided. AR 710-2 requires someone to be assigned direct responsibility for each nonexpendable and durable item on hand in the unit. There are three types of responsibility based on position within the organization, and a fourth type based on signatures. The four types of responsibility are shown below:
Ø Direct Responsibility. Per AR 735-5, direct responsibility is the obligation of a person to ensure all government property for which he or she is receipted, is properly used and cared for. Direct responsibility results from assignment as an accountable officer, receipt of formal delegation, or acceptance of the property on hand receipt from an accountable officer or other hand receipt holder.
Ø Command Responsibility. The commander has command responsibility of all property in his unit. Command responsibility is the obligation of a commander to ensure the proper care, custody, and safekeeping of all government property within the command. He has this command responsibility for unit property whether he has signed for it or not. He must personally ensure the security of all unit property whether it is in storage or in use. For example, he must provide a secure place for mechanics to store tool kits issued to them. If he has not done so, and an item is lost, the commander could be held liable for the loss. The commander must also ensure proper supervision to make sure the tool kit is being used properly.
Ø Supervisory Responsibility. Supervisory responsibility is the obligation to ensure the proper use, care, and safekeeping of government property issued to or used by subordinates. Supervisors can be held liable for losses incurred by their subordinates.
Ø Personal Responsibility. Unit personnel are responsible for all arms, hand tools, and OCIE issued to them for their use. They are responsible whether they signed for the property or not. For example, when the tool kit is issued, the mechanic assumes personal responsibility for it and all items in it. The mechanic must take proper care of the kit and secure it in the assigned storage area when it is not being used. If the mechanic forgets to secure the kit and it is lost, he is responsible for the loss.
Financial Responsibility. Financial liability is the statutory obligation of a person to pay the U.S. Government for government property that was lost, damaged, or destroyed because of negligence or willful misconduct. A person may be held liable by his admission or as the result of an investigation. Soldiers can be charged the full amount of the loss when personal arms or equipment are lost. Accountable officers are liable for the full amount of the loss unless they can prove they were not at fault. Commanders who maintain separate property books at company level are accountable officers. The concept of financial responsibility is for reparations for the loss to be made by the person responsible for the loss rather than for this to be used as a punitive action.
Hand Receipts. A hand receipt is a listing of nonexpendable and durable items (other than components) which have been issued to an individual, section, or unit. The signature on a hand receipt establishes direct responsibility for that item. Hand receipts are also accountable records of all nonexpendable and durable property. Manual systems use the DA Form 2062 as hand receipt documents to account for property at company, unit, or activity level. It is used to assign responsibility to the supervisor and user levels. Instructions for preparing the DA Form 2062 are found in DA Pam 710-2-1. Automated systems use machine listings as hand receipt documents. These are prepared and maintained according to AR 710-2-1 and the system end user’s manual.
Let’s turn our attention back to your question/background.
Carefully note the differences and the distinction of each of the terms noted below:
· “responsibility” (several types/levels) and
· “financial responsibility”
Glance again at the definition of “accountability.” It is merely “…the obligation of a person to keep an accurate formal record of property issued to him.” While the paragraph talks to the “accountable officer,” it’s logical that anyone hand receipting for items would perform the very same functions. Basically, a foreign/local national signing a hand receipt has, a) noted that the property annotated on the hand receipt is accurately recorded, b) insures that they have & maintain items quantities annotated and finally, c) takes personal action as necessary when variances to the hand receipt occur.
“Accountability” DOES hard link to “direct responsibility” on the part of a hand receipt holder (as noted in the definition above). But that’s not the only form of responsibility. In fact, there is ALSO “Command” and “Supervisory” responsibility. So, while a hand receipt holding foreign/local national both “accountable” for the items/numbers that they signed for AND “directly responsible” for those items/numbers, but so to, is the supervisor of that foreign/local national as well as the commander of the unit. Therefore your claim that no one is held responsible indicates a broken process since neither the foreign/local national, the supervisor nor the commander are (apparently) held to be “responsible.”
Finally let’s look at what I suspect you’re really asking about – “financial responsibility.”
Here’s the definition once again:
“Financial liability is the statutory obligation of a person to pay the U.S. Government for government property that was lost, damaged, or destroyed because of negligence or willful misconduct.”
Here’s where the linkage breaks down when a foreign/local national is made “accountable” and “directly responsible” for items/quantities on a hand receipt. In most cases (unless expressly stated in a SOFA) such folks are not held to have a “statutory obligation” to pay the U.S. Government. In other words, they may not be bound by U.S. law to make restitution…
But on the other hand, Command and supervisory personnel MAY be held to be responsible for the loss owing to a lack of either process control or oversight and therefore be held financially liable!!
In summary, locating policy guidance relative to hand receipting procedures by foreign/local national was unsuccessful. Your best bet it to make this inquiry through your legal office, since there may be a SOFA that may cover an individual theater of operation.