Commentary

March 28, 2014

Financial Liability Investigation of Property Loss: What Soldiers, Civilians should know

Army-issued equipment such as the helmet and pair of boots pictured can result in a Soldier’s financial liability if not returned properly. Lost, damaged or stolen Army property can be subject to Financial Liability Investigation of Property Loss, the procedure the Army uses to recover the property.

When Army property is lost or damaged, financial responsibility can fall upon the Soldier or Civilian to whom the property was issued.

Financial Liability Investigation of Property Loss, or FLIPL, is the procedure the Army uses to recover the cost of lost or damaged property. Under Army Regulation 735-5, financial liability ordinarily will not exceed one month’s base pay. However, in certain cases, such as the loss of personal arms or equipment, or damage to government housing, a Soldier can be held liable for the entire loss.

If the Soldier does not contest liability they may voluntarily sign a Department of Defense Form 362, or Statement of Charges/Cash Collection Voucher. While DD Form 362 is an admission of liability for the lost or damaged property and an agreement to pay for it, the Army uses FLIPLs in situations where responsibility for the loss is in question, or where the amount to be charged is in dispute.

On average, the Logistics Readiness Center, or LRC, sees 29 FLIPLs a year through the Central Issue Facility. Last year, the LRC handled 17, with a total of value of $85,000. According to Cliff Songer, LRC supply and services chief, Soldiers might not realize how expensive some Army-issued individual equipment, also known as TA-50, is.

“I’m looking at five FLIPLs [right now] and all together it comes to about $72,000,” Songer said, referring to the fact that lost or damaged property can result in thousands of dollars for the Soldiers.“TA-50 is one of those things that the pawn shop loves to get and pays big money for, and people around here know that,” he continued.

The FLIPL procedure begins when an appointing authority, usually a battalion commander, receives a DD200, or FLIPL form for loss or damage to Army property. He or she reviews the document to determine if there needs to be an investigation or if the cause of the loss is apparent. If an investigation is required, a financial liability officer, or FLO, is appointed.

“The FLO’s job is to determine if negligence is involved, who caused the property loss, and the amount of the loss,” explained Daniel Haws, attorney-advisor, Administrative Law Division, Staff Judge Advocate Office. “If the FLO recommends liability against a Soldier, that individual has seven days to submit a rebuttal explaining why the liability is not appropriate based on the standards for FLIPL.”

Haws added that the FLO will consider the Soldier’s rebuttal, and make a recommendation about who, if anyone, should be held liable and in what amount. The appointing authority reviews the FLIPL, reviews the report by the FLO and determines whether or not they concur with the recommendation to assess liability against the Soldier.

Next, the appointing authority forwards the FLIPL, along with their recommendation, to the approving authority, usually a colonel or above. The approving authority approves or disapproves the recommendation to assess liability, but before making the decision, he or she receives a legal opinion that the findings and recommendations are legally sufficient and that the FLIPL was completed in accordance with AR 735-5.

Military personnel can follow several tips to prevent a FLIPL:

* Do proper inventory. This means for serial numbered items actually check serial numbers and not just count the number of items.

* When asked to sign for property, fully inventory the property before signing for the property.

* Follow your unit’s inventory and supply procedures. The supply policies are there to prevent property from getting lost.

* When you get a hand receipt, do not lose it; the hand receipt is the piece of paper that tells the unit not just what you have, but also what you do not have.

* TA-50 is commonly stolen from closets and from cars because it has a high resale value to local pawn shops, so be sure to store TA-50 in a secure location.

For more information on the FLIPLs, call the Administrative Law Division, Staff Judge Advocate Office at 533.5712.




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