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ministrative costs became payable and the estimated costs of recovering the remaining interest balance exceed the amount owed to the agency.

(d) The creditor agency must document its reasons for waiving interest, penalties, or administrative costs. This documentation must be retained by the agency for at least three years. (50 FR 7722, Feb. 26, 1985, as amended at 55 FR 38663, Sept. 20, 1990)

8 3.35 Disclosure to a credit reporting

agency. (a) The Department may report all commercial debts and all delinquent consumer debts to credit reporting agencies. The Department need not report foreign debts, or the debts of State and local governments, Indian tribal governments, or other public institutions.

(b) Disclosure of delinquent consumer debts must be consistent with the requirements of 31 U.S.C. 3711(f), 4 CFR 102.3(c), and 5 U.S.C. 552a (the Privacy Act). (50 FR 7722, Feb. 26, 1985, as amended at 55 FR 38663, Sept. 20, 1990)

(2) Current employees of the Department who owe debts to other agencies.

(c) These regulations do not apply to debts or claims arising under the Internal Revenue Code of 1954 (26 U.S.C. 1 et seq.); the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 301 et seq.); the tariff laws of the United States; or to any case where collection of a debt by salary offset is explicitly provided for or prohibited by another statute.

(d) These regulations identify the types of salary offset available to the Department, as well as certain rights provided to the employee, which in. clude a written notice before deductions begin, the opportunity to peti. tion for a hearing and to receive a written decision if a hearing is granted. These employee rights do not apply to any adjustment to pay arising out of an employee's election 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.

(e) These regulations do not preclude an employee from:

(1) Requesting waiver of a salary overpayment under 5 U.S.C. 5584, 10 U.S.C. 2774, or 32 U.S.C. 716;

(2) Requesting waiver of any other type of debt, if waiver is available by statute; or

(3) Questioning the amount or valid. ity of a debt by submitting a subse. quent claim to the General Accounting Office.

(f) Nothing in these regulations precludes the compromise, suspension or termination of collection actions where appropriate under the Department's regulations contained elsewhere.

8 3.36 Use of collection agencies.

USDA agencies should use collection agencies at any time accounts become delinquent. Agencies must refer all accounts 6 months or more delinquent unless other collection actions are being pursued or referral is prohibited by statute. (55 FR 38663, Sept. 20, 1990)

Subpart C-Salary Offset

AUTHORITY: 5 U.S.C. 5514; 5 CFR Part 550, Subpart K.

SOURCE: 51 FR 8995, Mar. 17, 1986, unless otherwise noted.

8 3.51 Scope.

(a) The provisions of this subpart set forth the Department's procedures for the collection of a Federal employee's pay by salary offset to satisfy certain valid and past due debts owed the government.

(b) These regulations apply to:

(1) Current employees of the Department and other agencies who owe debts to the Department; and

$ 3.52 Definitions.

(a) “Agency” means:

(1) An Executive Agency as defined by section 105 of title 5 U.S.C., the U.S. Postal Service, the U.S. Postal Rate Commission; and

(2) A Military Department as defined by section 102 of title 5, U.S.C.

(b) “Debt" means:

(1) An amount owed to the United States from sources which include, but

disposable pay of an employee without his or her consent.

(h) “Secretary” means the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or his or her designee.

(i) “Waiver" means the cancellation, remission, forgiveness, or non-recovery of a debt owed by an employee to an agency. as permitted or required by 5 U.S.C. 5584, 10 U.S.C. 2774, or 32 U.S.C. 716, 5 U.S.C. 8346(b) or any other law.

are not limited to, insured or guaran. teed loans, fees, leases, rents, royalties, services, sales of real or personal property, overpayments, penalties, damages, interest, fines and forfeitures (except those arising under the Uniform Code of Military Justice).

(2) An amount owed to the United States by an employee for pecuniary losses where the employee has been determined to be liable due to his or her negligent, willful, unauthorized or illegal acts, including but not limited to:

(i) Theft, misuse, or loss of Government funds;

(ii) False claims for services and travel;

(iii) Illegal, unauthorized obligations and expenditures of Government appropriations;

(iv) Using or authorizing the use of Government owned or leased equipment, facilities, supplies, and services for other than official or approved purposes;

(V) Lost, stolen, damaged, or destroyed Government property;

(vi) Erroneous entries on accounting records or reports; and

(vii) Deliberate failure to provide physical security and control procedures for accountable officers, if such failure is determined to be the approximate cause for a loss of Government funds.

(C) “Department” or “USDAmeans the United States Department of Agriculture.

(d) “Disposable pay” means any pay due an employee that remains after required deductions for Federal, State and Local income taxes; Social Security taxes, including Medicare taxes; Federal retirement programs; premiums for life and health insurance benefits; and such other deductions required by law to be withheld.

(e) “Employee" means a current employee of an agency, including a current member of the Armed Forces or a Reserve of the Armed Forces.

(f) “Hearing official” means an administrative law judge of the Department or some other individual not under the control of the Secretary.

(g) "Salary offset” means a deduction of a debt by deduction(s) from the

$ 3.53 Coordinating offset with another

Federal agency. (a) When USDA is owed the debt. When USDA is owed a debt by an employee of another agency, the other agency shall not initiate the requested offset until USDA provides the agency with a written certification that the debtor owes USDA a debt (including the amount and basis of the debt and the due date of the payment) and that USDA has complied with these regulations.

(b) When another agency is owed the debt. The Department may use salary offset against one of its employees who is indebted to another agency, if requested to do so by that agency. Such a request must be accompanied by a certification by the requesting agency that the person owes the debt (including the amount and basis of the debt and the due date of the payment) and that the agency has complied with its regulations required by 5 U.S.C. 5514 and 5 CFR Part 550, Subpart K.

$ 3.54 Determination of indebtedness.

(a) In determining that an employee is indebted to USDA and that 4 CFR Parts 101 through 105 have been satisfied and that salary offset is appropriate, the Secretary will review the debt to make sure that it is valid and past due.

(b) If the Secretary determines that any of the requirements of paragraph (a) of this section have not been met, no determination of indebtedness shall be made and salary offset will not proceed until the Secretary is assured that the requirements have been met. 8 3.55 Notice requirements before offset.

Except as provided in $3.51(d), salary offset will not be made unless the Secretary first provides the employee with a minimum of 30 calendar days written notice. This Notice of Intent to Offset Salary (Notice of Intent) will state:

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

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

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

(d) An explanation of the Department's requirements concerning interest, penalties and administrative costs; unless such payments are waived in accordance with 31 U.S.C. 3717 and $ 3.34;

(e) The employee's right to inspect and copy Department records relating to the debt;

(f) The employee's right to enter into a written agreement with the Secretary for a repayment schedule differing from that proposed by the Secretary, so long as the terms of the repayment schedule proposed by the employee are agreeable to the Secretary;

(g) The right to a hearing conducted by a hearing official on the Secretary's determination of the debt, the amount of the debt, or percentage of disposable pay to be deducted each pay period, so long as a petition is filed by the employee as prescribed by the Secretary;

(h) That the timely filing of a petition for hearing will stay the collection proceedings;

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

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

(1) Disciplinary procedures appropriate under 5 U.S.C. Chapter 75, 5 CFR Part 752, or any other applicable statutes or regulations;

(2) Penalties under the False Claims Act, 31 U.S.C. 3729-3731, or any other applicable statutory authority; or

(3) Criminal penalties under 18 U.S.C. 286, 287, 1001, and 1002 or any other applicable statutory authority;

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

(1) That 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, unless there are applicable contractual or statutory provisions to the contrary;

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

(n) The name and address of an official of USDA to whom communications should be directed.

a

8 3.56 Request for a hearing.

(a) Except as provided in paragraph (c) of this section, an employee must file a petition for a hearing, that is received by the Secretary not later than 30 calendar days from the date of the Department's notice described in $ 3.55, if an employee wants a hearing concerning:

(1) The existence or amount of the debt; or

(2) The Secretary's proposed offset schedule (including percentage).

(b) The petition must be signed by the employee and should identify and explain with reasonable specificity and brevity the facts, evidence and witnesses which the employee believes support his or her position. If the em. ployee objects to the percentage of disposable pay to be deducted from each check, the petition should state the objection and the reasons for it.

(c) If the employee files a petition for hearing later than the 30 calendar days as described in paragraph (a) of this section, the hearing officer may

accept the request if the employee can show that the delay was because of circumstances beyond his or her control or because of failure to receive notice of the filing deadline (unless the employee has actual notice of the filing deadline).

all of the evidence presented and the respective burdens of the parties, in light of the hearing;

(c) The amount and validity of the alledged debt determined as a result of the hearing; and

(d) There payment schedule (includ. ing percentage of disposable pay), if applicable.

(e) The determination of the amount of the debt at this hearing is the final agency action on this matter.

8 3.57 Result if employee fails to meet

deadlines. An employee will not granted a hearing and will have his or her disposable pay offset in accordance with the Secretary's offset schedule if the employee:

(a) Fails to file a petition for a hearing as prescribed in $3.56; or

(b) Is scheduled to appear and fails to appear at the hearing.

$ 3.60 Review of Departmental record re

lated to the debt. (a) Notification by employee. An employee who intends to inspect or copy Departmental records related to the debt must send a letter to the Secretary stating his or her intention. The letter must be received by the Secretary within 30 calendar days of the date of the Notice of Intent.

(b) Secretary's response. In response to the timely notice submitted by the debtor as described in paragraph (a) of this section, the Secretary will notify the employee of the location and time when the employee may inspect and copy Departmental records related to the debt.

$ 3.58 Hearings.

(a) If an employee timely files a petition for a hearing under $ 3.56, the Secretary shall select the time, date, and location for the hearing.

(b)(1) Hearings shall be conducted by an appropriately designated hearing official; and

(2) Rules of evidence shall not be adhered to, but the hearing official shall consider all evidence that he or she determines to be relevant to the debt that is the subject of the hearing and weigh it accordingly, given all of the facts and circumstances surrounding the debt.

(c) USDA will have the burden of going forward to prove the existence of the the debt.

(d) The employee requesting the hearing shall bear the ultimate burden of proof.

(e) The evidence presented by the employee must prove that no debt exists or cast sufficient doubt such that reasonable minds could differ as to the existence of the debt.

$ 3.61 Written agreement to repay debt as

alternative to salary offset. (a) Notification by employee. The employee may propose, in response to a Notice of Intent, a written agreement to repay the debt as an alternative to salary offset. Any employee who wishes to do this must submit a proposed written agreement to repay the debt which is received by the Secretary within 30 calendar days of the date of the Notice of Intent.

(b) Secretary's response. The Secretary will notify the employee whether the employee's prosposed written agreement for repayment is acceptable. The Secretary may accept a repayment agreement instead of proceeding by offset. In making this determination, the Secretary will balance the Department's interest in collecting the debt against hardship to the employee. If the debt is delinquent and the employee has not disputed its existence or amount, the Secretary will accept a repayment agreement, in

8 3.59 Written decision following a hear

ing. Written decisions provided after a hearing will include:

(a) A statement of the facts presented at the hearing to support the nature and origin of the alleged debt and those presented to refute the debt;

(b) The hearing officer's analysis, findings and conclusions, considering

stead of offset, for good cause such as, if the employee is able to establish that offset would result in undue financial hardship or would be against equity and good conscience.

$ 3.62 Procedures for salary offset: when

deductions may begin. (a) Deductions to liquidate an employee's debt will be by the method and in the amount stated in the Secretary's Notice of Intent to collect from the employee's current pay.

(b) If the employee filed a petition for a hearing with the Secretary before the expiration of the period provided for in $ 3.56 then deductions will begin after the hearing officer has provided the employee with a hearing, and a final written decision has been rendered in favor of the Secretary.

(c) If an employee retires or resigns before collection of the amount of the indebtedness is completed, the remaining indebtedness will be collected according to the procedures for administrative offset (see Subpart B of this part).

exceed 15 percent of the disposable pay from which the deduction is made, unless the employee has agreed in writing to the deduction of a greater amount. If possible, the installment payment will be sufficient in size and frequency to liquidate the debt in no more than three years. Installment payments of less than $25 per pay period or $50 a month will be accepted only in the most unusual circumstances.

(c) Sources of deductions. The Department will make deductions only from basic pay, special pay, incentive pay, retired pay, retainer pay, or in the case of an employee not entitled to basic pay, other authorized pay.

8 3.65 Procedures for salary offset: impo

sition of interest, penalties and admin

istrative costs. Interest, penalties and administra. tive costs will be charged in accord. ance with 4 CFR 102.13.

8 3.63 Procedures for salary offset: types

of collection. A debt will be collected in a lumpsum or in installments. Collection will be by lump-sum collection unless the employee is financially unable to pay in one lump-sum, or if the amount of the debt exceeds 15 percent of disposable pay for an ordinary pay period. In these cases, deduction will be by installments, as set forth in § 3.64.

$ 3.66 Nonwaiver of rights.

So long as there are no statutory or contractual provisions to the contrary, no employee payment (or all or por. tion of a debt) collected under these regulations will be interpreted as a waiver of any rights that the employee may have under 5 U.S.C. 5514.

$ 3.67 Refunds.

The Department will refund promptly to the appropriate individual amounts offset under these regulations when:

(a) A debt is waived or otherwise found not owing the United States (unless expressly prohibited by statute or regulation); or

(b) The Department is directed by an administrative or judicial order to refund deducted from the employee's current pay.

8 3.64 Procedures for salary offset: meth

ods of collection. (a) General. A debt will be collected by deductions at officially-established pay intervals from an employee's current pay account, unless the employee and the Secretary agree to alternative arrangements for repayment under § 3.61.

(b) Installment deductions. Installment deductions will be made over a period not greater than the anticipated period of employment. The size and frequency of installment deductions will bear a reasonable relation to the size of the debt and the employee's ability to pay. However, the amount deducted for any period will not

§ 3.68 Agency regulations.

The Head of each USDA agency is delegated the authority to act for the Secretary under these regulations and may issue regulations or policies not inconsistent with Office of Personnel Management regulations (5 CFR Part 550, Subpart K) and regulations in

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