5 CFR § 179.207 - Hearing.

§ 179.207 Hearing.

(a) Request for hearing. Except as provided in paragraph (b) of this section, an employee who desires a hearing concerning the existence or amount of the debt or the proposed offset schedule must send such a request to the office designated in the notice of intent (§ 179.207(a)(10)). The request (or petition) for hearing must be received by the designated office not later than 15 calendar days following the employee's receipt of the notice. The employee's request (or petition) must:

(1) Be signed by the employee;

(2) Fully identify and explain with reasonable specificity all the facts, evidence and witnesses, if any, that the employee believes support his or her position; and

(3) Specify whether an oral or paper hearing is requested. If an oral hearing is desired, the request should explain why the matter cannot be resolved by review of the documentary evidence alone (4 CFR 102.3(c)).

(b) Failure to timely submit.

(1) If the employee files a petition for a hearing after the expiration of the 15 calendar day period provided for in paragraph (a) of this section, the Office may accept the request if the employee can show that the delay was the result of circumstances beyond his of her control or failure to receive actual notice of the filing deadline (unless the employee had actual notice of the filing deadline).

(2) An employee waives the right to a hearing, and will have his or her disposable pay offset in accordance with the Office offset schedule, if the employee:

(i) Fails to file a timely request for a hearing unless such failure is excused; or

(ii) Fails to appear at an oral hearing of which he or she was notified unless the hearing official determines that failure to appear was due to circumstances beyond the employee's control.

(c) Representation at the hearing. The creditor agency may be represented by legal counsel. The employee may represent himself or herself or may be represented by an individual of his or her choice and at his or her expense.

(d) Review of Office records related to the debt.

(1) An employee who intends to inspect or copy creditor agency records related to the debt, as provided by § 179.207(a)(5), must send a letter to the official designated in the notice of intent to offset stating his or her intention. The letter must be received within 15 calendar days after the employee's receipt of the notice.

(2) In response to a timely request submitted by the debtor, the designated official will notify the employee of the location and time when the employee may inspect and copy records related to the debt.

(3) If personal inspection is impractical, arrangements shall be made to end copies of such records to the employee.

(e) Hearing official. The Office may request an administrative law judge to conduct the hearing, or the Office may obtain a hearing official who is not under the supervision or control of the Director of OPM.

(f) Obtaining the services of a hearing official when OPM is the creditor agency.

(1) When the debtor is not an OPM employee and the Office cannot provide a prompt and appropriate hearing before a hearing official furnished pursuant to another lawful arrangement, the Office may contact an agent of the paying agency designated in 5 CFR part 581, appendix A, or other individual designated by the paying agency, and request a hearing official.

(2) When the debtor is an OPM employee, the Office may contact any agent of another agency designated in 5 CFR part 581, appendix A, or otherwise designated by that agency, to request a hearing official.

(g) Procedure -

(1) General. After the employee requests a hearing, the hearing official shall notify the employee of the form of the hearing to be provided. If the hearing will be oral, the notice shall set forth the date, time and location of the hearing. If the hearing will be paper, the employee shall be notified that he or she should submit arguments in writing to the hearing official by a specified date after which the record shall be closed. This date shall give the employee reasonable time to submit documentation.

(2) Oral hearing. An employee who requests an oral hearing shall be provided an oral hearing if the hearing official determines that the matter cannot be resolved by review of documentary evidence alone (e.g., when an issue of credibility or veracity is involved). The hearing is not an adversarial adjudication and need not take the form of an evidentiary hearing. Oral hearings may take the form of, but are not limited to:

(i) Informal conferences with the hearing official, in which the employee and agency representative will be given full opportunity to present evidence, witnesses, and argument;

(ii) Informal meetings with an interview of the employee; or

(iii) Formal written submissions with an opportunity for oral presentation.

(3) Paper hearing. If the hearing official determines that an oral hearing is not necessary, he or she will make a determination based upon a review of the available written record (4 CFR 102.3(c) (2) and (3)).

(4) Record. The hearing official must maintain a summary record of any hearing provided by this subpart (4 CFR 102.3(c)(1)(ii)). Witnesses who testify in oral hearings will do so under oath or affirmation.

(h) Date of decision. The hearing official shall issue a written opinion stating his or her decision, based upon documentary evidence and information developed at the hearing, as soon as practicable after the hearing, but not later than 60 days after the date on which the petition was received by the creditor agency, unless the employee requests a delay in the proceedings. In such case the 60-day decision period shall be extended by the number of days by which the hearing was postponed.

(i) Content of decision. The written decision shall include:

(1) A statement of the facts presented to support the origin, nature, and amount of the debt;

(2) The hearing official's findings, analysis, and conclusions including a determination whether the debtor's petition for hearing was baseless and resulted from an intent to delay creditor agency collection activity and whether the Office should pursue other actions against the debtor as provided by 5 CFR 550.1104(d)(11); and

(3) The terms of any repayment schedules, if applicable.

(j) Failure to appear. In the absence of good cause shown (e.g., illness), an employee who fails to appear at a hearing shall be deemed, for the purpose of this subpart, to admit the existence and amount of the debt as described in the notice of intent. If the representative of the creditor agency fails to appear, the hearing official shall proceed with the hearing as scheduled and make his/her determination based upon the oral testimony presented and the documentary evidence submitted by both parties. With the agreement of both parties, the hearing official shall schedule a new hearing date. Both parties shall be given reasonable notice of the time and place of the new hearing.

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