41 CFR 105-55.011 - Collection by administrative offset.
(a) Scope. (1) The term “administrative offset” has the meaning provided in 31 U.S.C. 3701(a)(1).
(2) This section does not apply to -
(i) Debts arising under the Social Security Act, except as provided in 42 U.S.C. 404;
(iii) Debts arising under, or payments made under, the Internal Revenue Code (see 31 CFR 285.2, Tax Refund Offset) or the tariff laws of the United States;
(iv) Offsets against Federal salaries to the extent these standards are inconsistent with regulations published to implement such offsets under 5 U.S.C. 5514 and 31 U.S.C. 3716 (see 5 CFR part 550, subpart K, and 31 CFR 285.7, Federal Salary Offset);
(v) Offsets under 31 U.S.C. 3728 against a judgment obtained by a debtor against the United States;
(vi) Offsets or recoupments under common law, State law, or Federal statutes specifically prohibiting offsets or recoupments of particular types of debts; or
(vii) Offsets in the course of judicial proceedings, including bankruptcy.
(3) Unless otherwise provided for by contract or law, debts or payments that 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.
(4) Unless otherwise provided by law, administrative offset of payments under the authority of 31 U.S.C. 3716 to collect a debt may not be conducted more than 10 years after the General Services Administration's (GSA's) right to collect the debt first accrued, unless facts material to GSA's right to collect the debt were not known and could not reasonably have been known by the official or officials of GSA who were charged with the responsibility to discover and collect such debts. This limitation does not apply to debts reduced to a judgment.
(b) Mandatory centralized administrative offset. (1) GSA is required to refer past due, legally enforceable non-tax debts that are over 180 days delinquent to the Secretary for collection by centralized administrative offset. Debts that are less than 180 days delinquent also may be referred to the Secretary for this purpose. See paragraph (b)(5) of this section for debt certification requirements.
(2) The names and taxpayer identifying numbers (TINs) of debtors who owe debts referred to the Secretary as described in paragraph (b)(1) of this section will be compared to the names and TINs on payments to be made by Federal disbursing officials. Federal disbursing officials include disbursing officials of the Department of the Treasury, the Department of Defense, the United States Postal Service, other Government corporations, and disbursing officials of the United States designated by the Secretary. When the name and TIN of a debtor match the name and TIN of a payee and all other requirements for offset have been met, the payment will be offset to satisfy the debt.
(3) Federal disbursing officials will notify the debtor/payee in writing that an offset has occurred to satisfy, in part or in full, a past due, legally enforceable delinquent debt. The notice will include a description of the type and amount of the payment from which the offset was taken, the amount of offset that was taken, the identity of GSA as the creditor agency requesting the offset, and a contact point within GSA who will respond to questions regarding the offset.
(i) Offsets may be initiated only after the debtor -
(A) Has been sent written notice of the type and amount of the debt, the intention of GSA to use administrative offset to collect the debt, and an explanation of the debtor's rights under 31 U.S.C. 3716(c)(7); and
(B) The debtor has been given -
( 1 ) The opportunity to inspect and copy Agency records related to the debt;
( 2 ) The opportunity for a review within GSA of the determination of indebtedness (see paragraph (e) of this section); and
( 3 ) The opportunity to make a written agreement to repay the debt.
(ii) The procedures set forth in paragraph (b)(4)(i) of this section may be omitted when -
(A) The offset is in the nature of a recoupment;
(B) The debt arises under a contract as set forth in Cecile Industries, Inc. v. Cheney, 995 F.2d 1052 (Fed. Cir. 1993) (notice and other procedural protections set forth in 31 U.S.C. 3716(a) do not supplant or restrict established procedures for contractual offsets accommodated by the Contracts Disputes Act); or
(C) In the case of non-centralized administrative offsets conducted under paragraph (c) of this section, GSA first learns of the existence of the amount owed by the debtor when there is insufficient time before payment would be made to the debtor/payee to allow for prior notice and an opportunity for review. When prior notice and an opportunity for review are omitted, GSA will give the debtor such notice and an opportunity for review as soon as practicable and will promptly refund any money ultimately found not to have been owed to the Government.
(iii) When GSA previously has given a debtor any of the required notice and review opportunities with respect to a particular debt (see, e.g., § 105-55.010), the Agency need not duplicate such notice and review opportunities before administrative offset may be initiated.
(5) When referring delinquent debts to the Secretary, GSA will certify, in a form acceptable to the Secretary, that -
(i) The debt(s) is (are) past due and legally enforceable; and
(ii) GSA has complied with all due process requirements under 31 U.S.C. 3716(a) and Agency regulations.
(6) Payments that are prohibited by law from being offset are exempt from centralized administrative offset. The Secretary shall exempt payments under means-tested programs from centralized administrative offset when requested in writing by the Administrator. Also, the Secretary may exempt other classes of payments from centralized offset upon the written request of the Administrator.
(7) Benefit payments made under the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 301 et seq.), part B of the Black Lung Benefits Act (30 U.S.C. 921 et seq.), and any law administered by the Railroad Retirement Board (other than tier 2 benefits), may be offset only in accordance with Treasury regulations, issued in consultation with the Social Security Administration, the Railroad Retirement Board, and the Office of Management and Budget. See 31 CFR 285.4.
(8) In accordance with 31 U.S.C. 3716(f), the Secretary may waive the provisions of the Computer Matching and Privacy Protection Act of 1988 concerning matching agreements and post-match notification and verification (5 U.S.C. 552a(o) and (p)) for centralized administrative offset upon receipt of a certification from GSA that the due process requirements enumerated in 31 U.S.C. 3716(a) have been met. The certification of a debt in accordance with paragraph (b)(5) of this section will satisfy this requirement. If such a waiver is granted, only the Data Integrity Board of the Department of the Treasury is required to oversee any matching activities, in accordance with 31 U.S.C. 3716(g). This waiver authority does not apply to offsets conducted under paragraphs (c) and (d) of this section.
(c) Non-centralized administrative offset. (1) Generally, non-centralized administrative offsets are ad hoc case-by-case offsets that GSA conducts, at the Agency's discretion, internally or in cooperation with another agency certifying or authorizing payments to the debtor. Unless otherwise prohibited by law, when centralized administrative offset is not available or appropriate, past due, legally enforceable non-tax delinquent debts may be collected through non-centralized administrative offset. In these cases, GSA may make a request directly to a payment authorizing agency to offset a payment due a debtor to collect a delinquent debt. For example, it may be appropriate for GSA to request the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) offset a Federal employee's lump sum payment upon leaving Government service to satisfy an unpaid advance.
(2) Such offsets will occur only after -
(i) The debtor has been provided due process as set forth in paragraph (b)(4) of this section; and
(ii) The payment authorizing agency has received written certification from GSA that the debtor owes the past due, legally enforceable delinquent debt in the amount stated, and that GSA has fully complied with its regulations concerning administrative offset.
(3) Payment authorizing agencies will comply with offset requests by GSA to collect debts owed to the United States, unless the offset would not be in the best interests of the United States with respect to the program of the payment authorizing agency, or would otherwise be contrary to law.
(4) When collecting multiple debts by non-centralized administrative offset, GSA 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, particularly the applicable statute of limitations.
(d) Requests to OPM to offset a debtor's anticipated or future benefit payments under the Civil Service Retirement and Disability Fund. Upon providing OPM written certification that a debtor has been afforded the procedures provided in paragraph (b)(4) of this section, GSA may request OPM to offset a debtor's anticipated or future benefit payments under the Civil Service Retirement and Disability Fund (Fund) in accordance with regulations codified at 5 CFR 831.1801 through 831.1808. Upon receipt of such a request, OPM will identify and “flag” a debtor's account in anticipation of the time when the debtor requests, or becomes eligible to receive, payments from the Fund. This will satisfy any requirement that offset be initiated prior to the expiration of the time limitations referenced in paragraph (a)(4) of this section.
(e) Review requirements. (1) A debtor may seek review of a debt by sending a signed and dated petition for review to the official named in the demand letter. A copy of the petition must also be sent to the Civilian Board of Contract Appeals (CBCA) at 1800 F Street NW., Washington, DC 20405.
(2) For purposes of this section, whenever GSA is required to afford a debtor a review within the Agency, the hearing official will provide the debtor with a reasonable opportunity for an oral hearing when the debtor requests reconsideration of the debt and the hearing official 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.
(3) Witnesses will be asked to testify under oath or affirmation, and a written transcript of the hearing will be kept and made available to either party in the event of an appeal under the Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C. 701-706. Arrangements for the taking of the transcript will be made by the hearing official, and all charges associated with the taking of the transcript will be the responsibility of GSA.
(4) In those cases when an oral hearing is not required by this section, the hearing official will accord the debtor a “paper hearing,” that is, a determination of the request for reconsideration based upon a review of the written record.
(5) Hearings will be conducted by a Board Judge of the CBCA. GSA must provide proof that a valid non-tax debt exists, and the debtor must provide evidence that no debt exists or that the amount of the debt is incorrect.
(6) If an oral hearing is provided, the debtor may choose to have it conducted in the hearing official's office located at 1800 M Street NW., 6th Floor, Washington, DC 20036, at another location designated by the hearing official, or may choose a hearing by telephone. All personal and travel expenses incurred by the debtor in connection with an in-person hearing will be borne by the debtor. All telephonic charges incurred during a hearing will be the responsibility of GSA.
(7) If the debtor is an employee of GSA, the employee may represent himself or herself or may be represented by another person of his or her choice at the hearing. GSA will not compensate the employee for representation expenses, including hourly fees for attorneys, travel expenses, and costs for reproducing documents.
(8) A written decision will be issued by the hearing official no later than 60 days from the date the petition for review is received by GSA. The decision will state the -
(i) Facts supporting the nature and origin of the debt;
(ii) Hearing officials analysis, findings, and conclusions as to the debtor's and/or GSA's grounds;
(iii) Amount and validity of the debt; and
(iv) Repayment schedule, if applicable.
(9) The hearing official's decision will be the final Agency action for the purposes of judicial review under the Administrative Procedure Act (5 U.S.C. 701 et seq.).
(f) Waiver requirements. (1) Under certain circumstances, a waiver of a claim against an employee of GSA arising out of an erroneous payment of pay, allowances, travel, transportation, or relocation expenses and allowances may be granted in whole or in part.
(2) GSA procedures for waiving a claim of erroneous payment of pay and allowances can be found in GSA Order CFO 4200.1, “Waiver of Claims for Overpayment of Pay and Allowances”.
(3) GSA will follow the procedures of 5 U.S.C. 5584 when considering a request for waiver of erroneous payment of travel, transportation, or relocation expenses and allowances.