29 CFR 1450.10 - Collection by administrative offset.
(a) Collection by administrative offset will be undertaken in accordance with these regulations on all claims which are liquidated or certain in amount, in every instance in which such collection is determined to be feasible and not otherwise prohibited.
(1) For purposes of this section, the term “administrative offset” is the same as stated in 31 U.S.C. 3716(a)(1).
(2) Whether collection by administrative offset is feasible is a determination to be made by the agency on a case-by-case basis, in the exercise of sound discretion. FMCS will consider not only whether administrative offset can be accomplished practically, but also whether offset is best suited to further and protect all of the Government's interests. In appropriate circumstances, FMCS may give due consideration to the debtor's financial condition and is not required to use offset in every instance in which there is an available source of funds. FMCS may also consider whether offset would tend to substantially interfere with or defeat the purposes of the program authorizing the payments against which offset is contemplated. For example, under a grant program in which payments are made in advance of the grantee's performance, offset will normally be inappropriate. This concept generally does not apply, however, where payment is in the form of reimbursement.
(b) Before the offset is made, a debtor shall be provided with the following: Written notice of the nature and amount of the debt, and the agency's intention to collect by offset; opportunity to inspect and copy agency records pertaining to the debt; opportunity to obtain review within the agency of the determination of indebtedness; and opportunity to enter into a written agreement with the agency to repay the debt. FMCS may also make requests for offset to other agencies holding funds payable to the debtor, and process requests for offset that are received from other agencies.
(1) FMCS will exercise sound judgment in determining whether to accept a repayment agreement in lieu of offset. The determination will weigh the Government's interest in collecting the debt against fairness to the debtor. If the debt is delinquent and the debtor has not disputed its existence or amount, FMCS will normally accept a repayment agreement in lieu of offset only if the debtor is able to establish that offset would result in undue financial hardship or would be against equity and good conscience.
(2) In cases where the procedural requirements specified in paragraph (b) of this section have previously been provided to the debtor in connection with the same debt under § 1450.9, or some other regulatory or statutory authority, such as pursuant to a notice of audit allowance, the agency is not required to duplicate those requirements before taking administrative offset.
(3) FMCS may not initiate administrative offset to collect a debt under 31 U.S.C. 3716 more than 10 years after the Government's right to collect the debt first accrued, unless facts material to the Government's right to collect the debt were not known and could not reasonably have been known by the official or officials of the Government who were charged with the responsibility to discover and collect such debts. When the debt first accrued is to be determined according to existing law, regarding the accrual of debts, such as 28 U.S.C. 2415.
(4) FMCS is not authorized by 31 U.S.C. 3716 to use administrative offset with respect to:
(i) Debts owed by any State or local Governments;
(ii) Debts arising under or payments made under the Social Security Act, the Internal Revenue Code of 1954, or the tariff laws of the United States; or
(iii) Any case in which collection of the type of debt involved by administrative offset is explicitly provided for or prohibited by another statute. However, unless otherwise provided by contract or law, debts or payments which are not subject to administrative offset under 31 U.S.C. 3716 may be collected by administrative offset under the common law or other applicable statutory authority.
(5) FMCS may effect administrative offset against a payment to be made to a debtor prior to completion of the procedures required by paragraph (b) of this section if:
(i) Failure to take the offset would substantially prejudice the Government's ability to collect the debt, and
(ii) The time before the payment is to be made does not reasonably permit the completion of those procedures.
(6) FMCS will obtain credit reports on delinquent accounts to identify opportunities for administrative offset of amounts due to a delinquent debtor when other collection techniques have been unsuccessful.
(c) Type of hearing or review: (1) For purposes of this section, whenever FMCS is required to provide a hearing or review within the agency, the agency shall provide the debtor with a reasonable opportunity for an oral hearing when:
(i) An applicable statute authorizes or requires the agency to consider waiver of the indebtedness involved, the debtor requests waiver of the indebtedness, and the waiver determination turns on an issue of credibility or veracity; or
(ii) The debtor requests reconsideration of the debt and the agency determines that the question of the indebtedness cannot be resolved by review of the documentary evidence, for example, when the validity of the debt turns on an issue of credibility or veracity.
(2) This section does not require an oral hearing with respect to debt collection systems in which determinations of indebtedness or waiver rarely involve issues of credibility or veracity and the agency has determined that review of the written record is ordinarily an adequate means to correct prior mistakes. In administering such a system, the agency is not required to sift through all of the requests received in order to accord oral hearings in those few cases which may involve issues of credibility or veracity.
(3) In those cases where an oral hearing is not required by this section, the agency will make its determination on the request for waiver or reconsideration based upon a “paper hearing” that is, a review of the written record.
(d) Appropriate use will be made of the cooperative efforts of other agencies in effecting collection by administrative offset. Generally, FMCS will not refuse to comply with requests from other agencies to initiate administrative offset to collect debts owed to the United States, unless the requesting agency has not complied with the applicable provisions of these standards or the offset would be otherwise contrary to law.
(e) Collection by offset against a judgment obtained by a debtor against the United States shall be accomplished in accordance with 31 U.S.C. 3728.
(f) Whenever the creditor agency is not the agency which is responsible for making the payment against which administrative offset is sought, the latter agency shall not initiate the requested offset until it has been provided by the creditor agency with an appropriate written certification that the debtor owes a debt (including the amount) and that full compliance with the provisions of this section has taken place.
(g) When collecting multiple debts by administrative offset, FMCS will apply the recovered amounts to those debts in accordance with the best interests of the United States, as determined by the facts and circumstances of the particular case, paying special attention to applicable statutes of limitations.