Julian F. Cannon, 78, a retired chief disbursing officer of the Treasury Department, died of septicemia Oct. 6 at the Sligo Gardens nursing home in Takoma Park.

During the 10 years that he was head of disbursing, Mr. Cannon was responsible for releasing about $600 billion in federal funds. In the year before his retirement in 1964, he authorized the writing of 363 million federal checks. His name appeared on all federal pay checks except those for the postal service and the armed forces.

"I've been doing it so long now the money never enters my mind," he said in an interview in 1962. "It never disturbs me that I'm responsible for about 1.3 million checks a day."

Mr. Cannon could authorize the release of U.S. funds by telephone. One Saturday night in 1964 President Lyndon B. Johnson called him to say that he wanted $5 million released immediately to the governor of Alaska for earthquake disaster relief. Mr. Cannon was able to reach the comptroller of the Alaskan Railway, an Interior Department agency, and directed him to draw a check for that amount and take it to the governor.

Following his retirement from Treasury, Mr. Cannon took two years off and then became a contract officer with the Agency of International Development. He traveled to Turkey, Iran and Vietnam, advising governments on accounting and disbursing techniques. He retired a second time about 1974.

Mr. Cannon was born in Ashdown, Ark., and grew up in Little Rock, Ark. He began his federal career as a special delivery messenger in the Little Rock post office. He then moved to Washington, where he was a typist in the Post Office Department while earning an accounting at Southeastern University. He later joined the Bureau of Mines and worked in Texas in the late 1920s and early 1930s. In 1935, he joined the Treasury Department in Atlanta and five years later transferred to Washington.

Mr. Cannon was named chief disbursing officer of Treasury in 1955..

He was a member of the Metropolitan Memorial Methodist Church in Washington and of the Kenwood Golf and Country Club.

Survivors include his wife, Sylva, of the home in Bethesda, a daughter, Joan Lehman, also of Bethesda, three grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren.