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Title 14Chapter VPart 1261 → Subpart 1261.5

Title 14: Aeronautics and Space

Subpart 1261.5—Administrative Offset of Claims

§1261.500   Scope of subpart.
§1261.501   Definition.
§1261.502   Notification procedures.
§1261.503   Agency records inspection; hearing or review.
§1261.504   Interagency requests.
§1261.505   Multiple debts.
§1261.506   Limitation periods.
§1261.507   Civil Service Retirement and Disability Fund.
§1261.508   Offset against a judgment.

Source: 52 FR 19487, May 26, 1987, unless otherwise noted.

§1261.500   Scope of subpart.

(a) This subpart applies to collection of claims by administrative offset under section 5 of the Federal Claims Collection Act of 1966 as amended by the Debt Collection Act of 1982 (31 U.S.C. 3716), other statutory authority, or the common law; it does not include “Salary Offset,” which is governed by subpart 1261.6, infra. Consistent with 4 CFR 102.3, collection by administrative offset will be undertaken by NASA on all liquidated or certain in amount claims in every instance in which such collection is determined to be feasible and not otherwise prohibited.

(b) Whether collection by administrative offset is feasible is a determination to be made by NASA on a case-by-case basis, in the exercise of sound discretion. NASA will consider not only whether administrative offset can be accomplished, both practically and legally, but also whether offset is best suited to further and protect all of the Government's interests. In appropriate circumstances, NASA may give due consideration to the debtor's financial condition; or whether offset would tend to substantially interfere with or defeat the purposes of the program authorizing the payments against which offset is contemplated. For example, under a grant program in which payments are made in advance of the grantee's performance, offset will normally be inappropriate.

(c) NASA is not authorized by 31 U.S.C. 3716 to use administrative offset with respect to:

(1) Debts owed by any State or local Government;

(2) Debts arising under or payments made under the Social Security Act, the Internal Revenue Code of 1954, or the tariff laws of the United States; or

(3) Any case in which collection of the type of debt involved by administrative offset is explicitly provided for or prohibited by another statute. However, unless otherwise provided by contract or law, debts or payments which 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.

§1261.501   Definition.

Administrative offset—the term, as defined in 31 U.S.C. 3701(a)(1), means “withholding money payable by the United States Government to, or held by the Government for, a person to satisfy a debt the person owes the Government.”

§1261.502   Notification procedures.

(a) Before collecting any claims through administrative offset, a 30-day written notice must be sent to the debtor by certified mail, return receipt requested. The notice must include:

(1) The nature and amount of the debt;

(2) NASA's intention to collect by administrative offset; and

(3) An explanation of the debtor's rights under 31 U.S.C. 3716(a), or other relied upon statutory authority, which must include a statement that the debtor has the opportunity, within the 30-day notice period, to:

(i) Inspect and copy records of NASA with respect to the debt;

(ii) Request a review by NASA of its decision related to the claim; and

(iii) Enter into a written agreement with the designated official (see §1261.402) to repay the amount of the claim. However, sound judgment should be exercised in determining whether to accept a repayment agreement in lieu of offset. The determination should balance the Government's interest in collecting the debt against fairness to the debtor. If the debt is delinquent and the debtor has not disputed its existence or amount, NASA should accept a repayment agreement in lieu of offset only if the debtor is able to establish that offset would result in undue financial hardship or would be against equity and good conscience.

(b) NASA may effect administrative offset against a payment to be made to a debtor prior to the completion of the procedures required by paragraph (a) of this section if:

(1) Failure to take the offset would substantially prejudice the Government's ability to collect the debt; and

(2) The time before the payment is to be made does not reasonably permit the completion of those procedures. Such prior offset must be promptly followed by the completion of those procedures. Amounts recovered by offset but later found not to be owed to the Government shall be promptly refunded.

(3) In cases where the procedural requirements of paragraph (a) of this section had previously been provided to the debtor in connection with the same debt under some other statutory or regulatory authority, such as pursuant to a notice of audit disallowance or salary offset under §1261.603, the agency is not required to duplicate those requirements before taking administrative offset.

§1261.503   Agency records inspection; hearing or review.

(a) NASA shall provide the debtor with a reasonable opportunity for an “oral hearing” when:

(1) An applicable statute authorizes or requires the agency to consider waiver of the indebtedness involved, the debtor requests waiver of the indebtedness, and the waiver determination turns on an issue of credibility or veracity; or

(2) The debtor requests reconsideration of the debt and the agency 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. Unless otherwise required by law, an oral hearing under this section is not required to be a formal evidentiary-type hearing, although significant matters discussed at the hearing should be carefully documented. See 4 CFR 102.3(c)(1). Such hearing may be an informal discussion/interview with the debtor, face-to-face meeting between debtor and cognizant NASA personnel, or written formal submission by the debtor and response by the NASA cognizant personnel with an opportunity for oral presentation. The hearing will be conducted before or in the presence of an official designated by the NASA General Counsel or designee on a case-by-case basis. The decision of the reviewing/hearing official should be communicated in writing (no particular form is required) to the affected parties, and will constitute the final administrative decision of the agency.

(b) Paragraph (a) of this section does not require an oral hearing with respect to debt collection systems in which determinations of indebtedness or waiver rarely involve issues of credibility or veracity and NASA has determined that review of the written record is ordinarily an adequate means to correct prior mistakes. In administering such a system, the agency is not required to sift through all of the requests received in order to accord oral hearings in those few cases which may involve issues of credibility or veracity. See 4 CFR 102.3(c)(2).

(c) In those cases where an oral hearing is not required or granted, NASA will nevertheless accord the debtor a “paper hearing”—that is, the agency will make its determination on the request for waiver or reconsideration based upon a review of the available written record. See 4 CFR 102.3(c)(3). In such case, the responsible official or designee shall refer the request to the appropriate NASA legal counsel for review and determination by counsel or designee.

(d) A request to inspect and/or copy the debtor's own debt records or related files, and/or for a hearing or review accompanied by a statement of the basis or grounds for such hearing or review, must be submitted within 30 calendar days of the receipt of the written notice under §1261.502(a). A reasonable time to inspect and copy records will be provided during official working hours, but not to exceed 5 business days, unless a verified statement showing good cause requires a longer period. Any suspension of collection or other charges during the period of the inspection, or hearing or review, shall comply with §§1261.412 and 1261.416. Requests for or consideration of compromising the debt must comply with §1261.414.

§1261.504   Interagency requests.

(a) Requests to NASA by other Federal agencies for administrative offset should be in writing and forwarded to the Office of the NASA Comptroller, NASA Headquarters, Washington, DC 20546.

(b) Requests by NASA to other Federal agencies holding funds payable to the debtor should be in writing and forwarded, certified return receipt, as specified by that agency in its regulations; however, if such rule is not readily available or identifiable, the request should be submitted to that agency's office of legal counsel with a request that it be processed in accordance with their internal procedures.

(c) Requests to and from NASA should be processed within 30 calendar days of receipt. If such processing is impractical or not feasible, notice to extend the time period for another 30 calendar days should be forwarded 10 calendar days prior to the expiration of the first 30-day period.

(d) Requests from or to NASA must be accompanied by a certification that the debtor owes the debt (including the amount) and that the provisions of (or comparable to) subpart 1261.5 or subpart 1261.6, as applicable, have been fully complied with. NASA will cooperate with other agencies in effecting collection.

§1261.505   Multiple debts.

When collecting multiple debts by administrative offset, NASA 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, paying special attention to applicable statutes of limitations.

§1261.506   Limitation periods.

NASA may not initiate administrative offset to collect a debt under 31 U.S.C. 3716 more than 10 years after the Government's right to collect the debt first accrued, unless facts material to the Government's right to collect the debt were not known and could not reasonably have been known by the official or officials of the Government who were charged with the responsibility to discover and collect such debts. Determination of when the debt first accrued is to be made in accordance with existing law regarding the accrual of debts, such as under 28 U.S.C. 2415. See 4 CFR 102.3(b)(3).

§1261.507   Civil Service Retirement and Disability Fund.

(a) Unless otherwise prohibited by law, NASA may request that moneys which are due and payable to a debtor from the Civil Service Retirement and Disability Fund be administratively offset in reasonable amounts in order to collect in one full payment or a minimal number of payments debts owed to the United States by the debtor. Such requests shall be made to the appropriate officials of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) in accordance with the OPM regulations (see 5 CFR 831.1801, et seq.).

(b) When making a request for administrative offset under paragraph (a) of this section, NASA shall include a written certification that:

(1) The debtor owes the United States a debt, including the amount of the debt;

(2) NASA has complied with the applicable statutes, regulations, and procedures of the Office of Personnel Management; and

(3) NASA has complied with the requirements of this subpart 1261.5 which implements 4 CFR 102.3, including any required hearing or review.

(c) Once NASA has decided to request administrative offset under this section, the request should be made as soon as practical after completion of the applicable procedures in order that the Office of Personnel Management may identify and “flag” the 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 expiration of the applicable statute of limitations. At such time as the debtor makes a claim for payments from the Fund, if at least a year has elapsed since the offset request was originally made, the debtor should be permitted to offer a satisfactory repayment plan in lieu of offset upon establishing that changed financial circumstances would render the offset unjust.

(d) If NASA collects part or all of the debt by other means before deductions are made or completed pursuant to paragraph (a) of this section, the designated official should act promptly to modify or terminate the agency's request to OPM for offset.

(e) OPM is not required or authorized by 4 CFR 102.4 to review the merits of NASA's determination with respect to:

(1) The amount and validity of the debt;

(2) Waiver under an applicable statute; or

(3) Provide or not provide an oral hearing.

§1261.508   Offset against a judgment.

Collection by offset against a judgment obtained by a debtor against the United States shall be accomplished in accordance with 31 U.S.C. 3728.

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