5 CFR § 179.206 - Notice requirements before offset.

§ 179.206 Notice requirements before offset.

(a) Deductions under the authority of 5 U.S.C. 5514 shall not be made unless the creditor agency provides the employee with written notice that he/she owes a debt to the Federal government a minimum of 30 calendar days before salary offset is initiated. When OPM is the creditor agency, this notice of intent to offset an employee's salary shall be hand-delivered at work, or sent by registered mail, return receipt requested, to the employee's most current address that is available to the Office and will state:

(1) That the creditor agency has reviewed the records relating to the claim and has determined that a debt is owed, the amount of the debt, and the facts giving rise to the debt;

(2) The creditor agency's intention to collect the debt by means of deduction from the employee's current disposable pay account until the debt and all accumulated interest are paid in full;

(3) The amount, frequency, beginning date, and duration of the intended deductions;

(4) An explanation of OPM's policy concerning interest, penalties and administrative costs including a statement that such assessments must be made unless excused in accordance with the FCCS, 4 CFR 101.1 et seq. (§ 179.214);

(5) The employee's right to inspect and copy all records of the office pertaining to the debt claimed, or to request and to receive copies of such records if personal inspection is impractical;

(6) If not previously provided, the opportunity to establish a schedule for the voluntary repayment of the debt through offset or to enter into an agreement to establish a schedule for repayment of the debt in lieu of offset (4 CFR 102.2(e)). The agreement must contain terms agreeable to the Office and must be in such form that it is legally enforceable. The agreement must:

(i) Be in writing;

(ii) Be signed by both the employee and the creditor agency;

(iii) Specify all the terms of the arrangement for payment; and

(iv) Contain a provision accelerating the debt in the event of a default by the debtor, but such an increase may not result in a deduction that exceeds 15 percent of the employee's disposable pay unless the employee has agreed in writing to the deduction of a greater amount (5 CFR 550.1104(i)).

(7) The right to a hearing conducted by an impartial hearing official (an administrative law judge, or alternatively, a hearing official not under the supervision or control of the Director) with respect to the existence and amount of the debt claimed, or the repayment schedule (i.e., the percentage of disposable pay to be deducted each pay period), so long as a petition is filed by the employee as prescribed in § 179.207;

(8) The method and time period for requesting a hearing;

(9) The name, address and phone number of an official or employee of the Office who may be contacted concerning procedures for requesting a hearing;

(10) The name and address of the office to which the petition for a hearing should be sent;

(11) That a timely and properly filed petition for hearing will stay the commencement of collection proceedings (a timely filing must be received in the office specified under paragraph (a)(10) of this section within 15 calendar days after receipt of such notice of intent to offset);

(12) That the Office will initiate certification procedures to implement a salary offset (which may not exceed 15 percent of the employee's disposable pay) not less than 30 days from the date of receipt of the notice of debt, unless the employee files a timely petition for a hearing;

(13) That a final decision on the hearing (if a hearing is requested) will be issued at the earliest practical date, but not later than 60 days after the filing of the petition requesting the hearing, unless the employee requests and the hearing official grants a delay in the proceedings;

(14) That any knowingly false or frivolous statements, representations, or evidence may subject the employee to;

(i) Disciplinary procedures appropriate under chapter 75 of title 5, United States code; part 752 of title 5, Code of Federal Regulations; or any other applicable statute or regulations;

(ii) Penalties under the False Claims Act, sections 3729 through 3731 of title 31, United States Code, or any other applicable statutory authority; and

(iii) Criminal penalties under sections 286, 287, 1001, and 1002 of title 18, United States code, or any other applicable statutory authority;

(15) Any other rights and remedies available to the employee under statutes or regulations governing the program for which the collection is being made;

(16) That unless there are applicable contractual or statutory provisions to the contrary, amounts paid on or deducted for the debt, which are later waived or found not owed to the United States, will be promptly refunded to the employee; and

(17) That proceedings with respect to such debt are governed by section 5 of the Debt Collection Act of 1982 (5 U.S.C. 5514).

(b) The Office is not required to comply with paragraph (a) of this section for any adjustment to pay arising from:

(1) An employee's selection of coverage or a change in coverage under a Federal benefits program requiring periodic deductions from pay, if the amount to be recovered was accumulated over four pay periods or less; or

(2) An employee's consent to make voluntary withholdings from his or her current pay account.

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