45 CFR 30.12 - Administrative offset.
(a) Scope. (1) Administrative offset is the withholding of funds payable by the United States to, or held by the United States for, a person to satisfy a debt.
(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 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; 31 CFR 285.7; and part 33 of this chapter);
(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 for 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, collection by administrative offset under the authority of 31 U.S.C. 3716 may not be conducted more than 10 years after the Department's right to collect the debt first accrued, unless facts material to the Department's right to collect the debt were not known and could not reasonably have been known by the Secretary. This limitation does not apply to debts reduced to judgment.
(5) Where there is reason to believe that a bankruptcy petition has been filed with respect to a debtor, the Office of the General Counsel should be contacted for legal advice concerning the impact of the Bankruptcy Code, particularly 11 U.S.C. 106, 362 and 553, on pending or contemplated collections by offset.
(b) Centralized administrative offset. (1) Except as provided in the exceptions listed in § 30.10(c)(1), legally enforceable debts which are 180 days delinquent shall be referred to the Secretary of the Treasury for collection by centralized administrative offset pursuant to and in accordance with 31 CFR 901.3(b). Debts which are less than 180 days delinquent, including debts referred to the Department by another agency, also may be referred to the Secretary of the Treasury for collection by centralized administrative offset.
(2) When referring delinquent debts to the Secretary of the Treasury for centralized administrative offset, the Department must certify, in a form acceptable to the Secretary of the Treasury, that:
(i) The debt is past due and legally enforceable; and
(ii) The Department has complied with all due process requirements under 31 U.S.C. 3716(a) and paragraph (c)(2) of this section.
(3) Payments that are prohibited by law from being offset are exempt from centralized administrative offset. The Secretary of the Treasury shall exempt payments under means-tested programs from centralized administrative offset when requested in writing by the head of the payment certifying or authorizing agency. Also, the Secretary of the Treasury may exempt other classes of payments from centralized offset upon the written request of the head of the payment certifying or authorizing agency.
(c) Non-centralized administrative offset. (1) Unless otherwise prohibited by law, when centralized administrative offset under paragraph (b) of this section is not available or appropriate, the Secretary may collect a delinquent debt by conducting non-centralized administrative offset internally or in cooperation with the agency certifying or authorizing payments to the debtor.
(2) Except as provided in paragraph (c)(3) of this section, administrative offset may be initiated only after:
(i) The debtor has been sent written notice of the type and amount of the debt, the intention of the Department to initiate administrative offset to collect the debt, and an explanation of the debtor's rights under 31 U.S.C. 3716; and
(ii) The debtor has been given:
(A) The opportunity to inspect and copy Department records related to the debt;
(B) The opportunity for a review within the Department of the determination of indebtedness; and
(C) The opportunity to make a written agreement to repay the debt.
(3) The due process requirements under paragraph (c)(2) of this section may be omitted when:
(i) Offset is in the nature of a recoupment, i.e., the debt and the payment to be offset arise out of the same transaction or occurrence;
(ii) 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 covered by the Contracts Disputes Act); or
(iii) In the case of non-centralized administrative offset conducted under paragraph (c)(1) of this section, the Department 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, the Secretary shall give the debtor such notice and an opportunity for review as soon as practical and shall promptly refund any money ultimately found not to have been owed to the Government.
(4) When the debtor previously has been given any of the required notice and review opportunities with respect to a particular debt, such as under § 30.11 of this part, the Department need not duplicate such notice and review opportunities before administrative offset may be initiated.
(5) Before requesting that a payment authorizing agency to conduct non-centralized administrative offset, the Department shall:
(i) Provide the debtor with due process as set forth in paragraph (c)(2) of this section; and
(ii) Provide the payment authorizing agency written certification that the debtor owes the past due, legally enforceable delinquent debt in the amount stated, and that the Department has fully complied with this section.
(6) When a creditor agency requests that the Department, as the payment authorizing agency, conduct non-centralized administrative offset, the Secretary shall comply with the request, unless the offset would not be in the best interest of the United States with respect to the program of the Department, or would otherwise be contrary to law. Appropriate use should be made of the cooperative efforts of other agencies in effecting collection by administrative offset, including salary offset.
(7) When collecting multiple debts by non-centralized administrative offset, the Department 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 and the Federal Employee Retirement System. Upon providing OPM written certification that a debtor has been afforded the procedures provided in paragraph (c)(2) of this section, the Department 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 5 CFR part 831, subpart R, or under the Federal Employee Retirement System (FERS) in accordance with 5 CFR part 845, subpart D. 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 or under FERS. This will satisfy any requirement that offset be initiated prior to the expiration of the time limitations referenced in 31 CFR 901.3(b)(4).
(e) Review requirements. (1) For purposes of this section, whenever the Secretary is required to afford a debtor a review within the Department, the debtor shall be provided with a reasonable opportunity for an oral hearing when the debtor requests reconsideration of the debt and the Secretary 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) Unless otherwise required by law, an oral hearing under this section is not required to be a formal evidentiary hearing, although the Department will carefully document all significant matters discussed at the hearing.
(3) An oral hearing is not required with respect to debt collection systems where determinations of indebtedness rarely involve issues of credibility or veracity, and the Secretary has determined that a review of the written record is adequate to correct prior mistakes.
(4) In those cases when an oral hearing is not required by this section, the Secretary shall accord the debtor a “paper hearing,” that is, a determination of the request for reconsideration based upon a review of the written record.