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e-CFR data is current as of October 26, 2020

Title 29Subtitle APart 20 → Subpart D


Title 29: Labor
PART 20—FEDERAL CLAIMS COLLECTION


Subpart D—Salary Offset


Contents
§20.74   Purpose.
§20.75   Scope.
§20.76   Definitions.
§20.77   Agency responsibilities.
§20.78   Notifications.
§20.79   Examination of records relating to the claim; opportunity for full explanation of the claim.
§20.80   Opportunity for repayment.
§20.81   Review of the obligation.
§20.82   Cooperation with other DOL agencies and Federal agencies.
§20.83   DOL agency as paying agency of the debtor.
§20.84   Collections.
§20.85   Notice of offset.
§20.86   Non-waiver of rights by payments.
§20.87   Refunds.
§20.88   Additional administrative collection action.
§20.89   Prior provision of rights with respect to debt.
§20.90   Responsibilities of the Chief Financial Officer.

Source: 52 FR 3772, Feb. 5, 1987, unless otherwise noted.

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§20.74   Purpose.

(a) The regulations in this subpart establish procedures to implement section 5 of the Debt Collection Act of 1982 (Pub. L. 97-365), 5 U.S.C. 5514. This statute authorizes the head of each agency to deduct from the current pay account of an employee (salary offset) when the employee owes money to the United States. This subpart specifies the agency procedures that will be available in a salary offset by the Department of Labor of an employee's current pay account.

(b) Administrative offset is defined in 31 U.S.C. 3701(a)(1) as “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.”

A salary offset is a form of administrative offset and is separately authorized and governed by 5 U.S.C. 5514. This authority is consistent with and supplemented by administrative offset regulations of subpart B of 29 CFR part 20.

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§20.75   Scope.

(a) This subpart applies to debts owed to the United States (arising under Labor Department programs) by Labor Department employees, debts owed to the United States (arising under Labor Department programs) by employees of other Federal agencies, and debts owed the United States (arising under programs of other Federal agencies) by Labor Department employees. Other agency means:

(1) An executive agency as defined in section 105 of title 5 U.S.C. (but not including the Labor Department), including the U.S. Postal Service and the U.S. Postal Rate Commission;

(2) A military Department as defined in section 102 of title U.S.C.;

(3) An agency or court in the judicial branch, including a court as defined in section 610 of title 28 U.S.C., the District Court for the Northern Mariana Islands, and the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation;

(4) An agency of the legislative branch, including the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives; and

(5) Other independent establishments that are entities of the Federal Government.

(b) The procedures contained in this subpart do not apply to debts or claims arising under the Internal Revenue Code of 1954 as amended (26 U.S.C. 1 et seq), the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 301 et seq), or 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 (e.g.) travel advances in 5 U.S.C. 5705 and employee training expenses in 5 U.S.C. 4108.

(c) This subpart does not preclude an employee from requesting waiver of a salary overpayment under 5 U.S.C. 5584, 10 U.S.C. 2774, or 32 U.S.C. 716, or in any way questioning the amount or validity of a debt by submitting a subsequent claim to the Government Accountability Office in accordance with procedures prescribed by the Government Accountability Office. Similarly, in the case of other types of debts, this subpart does not preclude an employee from requesting waiver, if waiver is available under any statutory provisions pertaining to the particular debt being collected.

[52 FR 3772, Feb. 5, 1987, as amended at 72 FR 37098, July 9, 2007]

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§20.76   Definitions.

(a) Disposable pay means that part of current 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 remaining after the deduction of any amount required by law to be withheld. Agencies must exclude deductions described in 5 CFR 581.105 paragraphs (b) through (f) to determine disposal pay subject to salary offset.

(b) As used in this subpart, the terms claim and debt are deemed synonymous and interchangeable. A debt means an amount owed to the United States from sources which include loans insured or guaranteed by the United States and all other amounts due the United States from 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), and all other similar sources.

(c) Employee means a current employee of an agency, including a current member of the Armed Forces or a Reserve of the Armed Forces (Reserves).

(d) Paying agency means the agency employing the individual and authorizing the payment of his or her current account.

(e) Credit agency means the agency to which the debt is owed.

(f) Salary offset means an administrative offset to collect a debt under 5 U.S.C. 5514 by deduction(s) at one or more officially established pay intervals from the current pay account of an employee without his or her consent.

(g) FCCS means the Federal Claims Collection Standards jointly published by the Justice Department and the Government Accountability Office at 4 CFR 101.1 et seq.

(h) Waiver means the cancellation, remission, forgiveness, or non-recovery of a debt allegedly 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.

[52 FR 3772, Feb. 5, 1987, as amended at 72 FR 37098, July 9, 2007]

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§20.77   Agency responsibilities.

(a) Each Department of Labor agency which has delinquent debts owed under its program and administrative activities is responsible for collecting its claims by means of salary offset, in accordance with guidelines established by the Chief Financial Officer.

(b) Before collecting a claim by means of salary offset, the responsible agency should be satisfied that salary offset is feasible, allowable and appropriate, and, as otherwise provided in these regulations, must notify the debtor of the Department's policies for collecting a claim by means of salary offset.

(c) Whether collection by salary offset is feasible is a determination to be made by the creditor agency on a case-by-case basis, in the exercise of sound discretion. Agencies shall consider not only whether salary 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, agencies may give due consideration to the debtor's financial condition, and are not required to use offset of the full or partial amount of the claim in every instance in which there is an available source of funds.

(d) Before advising the debtor that the delinquent debt will be subject to salary offset, the agency head (or designee) responsible for administering the program under which the debt arose shall review the claim and determine that the debt is valid and overdue. In the case where a debt arises under the programs of two or more Department of Labor agencies, or in such other instances as the Chief Financial Officer, or his or her designee, may deem appropriate, the Chief Financial Officer, or his or her designee, may determine which agency (or agencies), or official (or officials), shall have responsibility for carrying out the provisions of this subpart.

(e) Agencies may not initiate offset to collect a debt more than 10 years after the Government's right to collect the debt first accrued, unless facts material to the right to collect the debt were not known and could not reasonably have been known by the official of the Agency who was charged with the responsibility to discover and collect such debts. When the debt first accrued should be determined according to existing laws regarding the accrual of debts, such as under 28 U.S.C. 2415.

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§20.78   Notifications.

(a) The agency head (or designee) of the creditor Labor Department agency shall send appropriate written demands to the debtor in terms which inform the debtor of the consequences of failure to repay claims. In accordance with guidelines as may be established by the Chief Financial Officer, a total of three progressively stronger written demands at not more than 30-day intervals will normally be made unless a response to the first or second demand indicates that a further demand would be futile and the debtor's response does not require rebuttal. In determining the timing of the demand letters, agencies should give due regard to the need to act promptly so that a debt to be collected by salary offset will be recovered during the employee's anticipated period of employment with the Government.

(b) In accordance with guidelines as may be established by the Chief Financial Officer, the creditor Labor Department agency shall send (at least 30 days prior to any deduction) written notice to the debtor, informing such debtor as appropriate:

(1) Of the origin, nature and amount of the indebtedness determined by the agency to be due;

(2) Of the intention of the agency to initiate proceedings to collect the debt by means of deduction from the employee's current disposable pay account;

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

(4) Unless such payments are excused in accordance with the FCCS, of the creditor agency's policy concerning assessment of interest, penalties, and administrative costs;

(5) Of the employee's right to inspect and copy Government records relating to the debt or, if the employee or his or her representative cannot personally inspect the records, to request and receive a copy of such records;

(6) If not previously provided, of the opportunity (under terms agreeable to the creditor agency) to establish a schedule for the voluntary repayment of the debt or to enter into a written agreement to establish a schedule for repayment of the debt in lieu of offset. The agreement must be in writing, be signed by both the employee and the creditor agency, and be documented in the creditor agency's files (4 CFR 102.2(e));

(7) Of the employee's right to a hearing conducted by an administrative law judge of the Department of Labor, if a petition is filed as prescribed by the Department of Labor. In the event the debtor is an employee working in the Office of Administrative Law Judges, the notification shall inform such debtor of the right to elect to have the review of the agency's determination heard and decided by a person who is not in the Office of Administrative Law Judges, and not under the supervision and control of the Secretary of Labor; in such a case, all provisions in this subpart will otherwise apply, unless stated otherwise in the notification;

(8) Of the method and time period for petitioning for hearing;

(9) That the timely filing of a petition for hearing will stay the commencement of collection proceedings, unless the creditor agency determines that §20.81(d) applies and further informs the debtor of the basis for its determination;

(10) That a final decision on the hearing (if one 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 administrative law judge grants a delay in the proceedings;

(11) 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 U.S.C., part 752 of title 5, Code of Federal Regulations, or any other applicable statutes or regulations;

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

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

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

(13) 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.

(c) Creditor Labor Department agencies shall also include in their demand letters the notice provisions to debtors required by other regulations of the Labor Department, pertaining to disclosures to credit reporting agencies, administrative offset from other sources of funds, and the assessment of interest, penalties and administrative costs, to the extent inclusion of such is appropriate and practicable.

(d) The responsible agency head (or designee) shall exercise due care to ensure that demand letters are mailed or hand-delivered on the same day that they are actually dated. If evidence suggests that the debtor is no longer located at the address of record, reasonable action shall be taken to obtain a current address.

(e) The creditor Labor Department agency shall, in the initial demand letter to the debtor, provide the name of an agency employee who can provide a full explanation of the claim.

(f) In any internal Labor Department collection, the provisions of §20.78 paragraphs (a) through (e) need not be applied to any adjustment to pay which is not considered to be the result of collection of a debt, such as excess pay or allowances caused by:

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

(2) Ministerial adjustments in pay rates or allowances which cannot be placed into effect immediately because of normal processing delays, if the amount to be recovered was accumulated in four pay periods or less.

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§20.79   Examination of records relating to the claim; opportunity for full explanation of the claim.

Following receipt of the notice specified in §20.78(b), the debtor may request to examine and copy agency records pertaining to the debt.

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§20.80   Opportunity for repayment.

(a) The creditor Labor Department agency shall afford the debtor the opportunity to (1) repay the debt or (2) enter into a repayment plan which is agreeable to the agency head (or designee) and is in a written form signed by such debtor and the creditor agency. The head of the agency (or designee) may deem a repayment plan to be abrogated if the debtor should, after the repayment plan is signed, fail to comply with the terms of the plan.

(b) Agencies have discretion and should exercise sound judgment 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, an agency should effect an offset unless the debtor is able to establish that offset would result in undue financial hardship or would be against equity and good conscience, or the agency otherwise determines that offset would be contrary to sound judgment.

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§20.81   Review of the obligation.

(a) The debtor shall have the opportunity to obtain a hearing by an administrative law judge of the agency's determination concerning the existence or amount of the debt, or the repayment schedule proposed by the agency, and except as provided in §20.75(c), review by an administrative law judge is to be the exclusive administrative review remedy on the agency's determination under these regulations.

(b) The debtor seeking a hearing shall make the request in writing to the Chief Administrative Law Judge, pursuant to 29 CFR part 18, not more than 15 days from the date the notice of proposed salary offset was received by the debtor. The request for hearing shall be signed by the employee and state the basis for challenging the determination. If the debtor alleges that the agency's information relating to the debt is not accurate, timely, relevant or complete, such debtor shall fully identify and explain with reasonable specificity all the facts, evidence and witnesses, if any, which the employee believes supports his or her position.

(c) The hearing ordinarily shall be based on written submissions and documentation by the debtor. However, an opportunity for an oral hearing shall be provided an individual debtor when the administrative law judge determines that:

(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) An individual debtor requests reconsideration of the debt and the administrative law judge 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; or

(3) In other situations in which the administrative law judge deems an oral hearing appropriate.

Unless otherwise required by law or these regulations, any oral hearing under this section shall be conducted under the procedures in 29 CFR part 18. Except as provided under §20.79, the provisions for discovery shall not be applicable unless otherwise ordered by the administrative law judge. Procedural and evidentiary rules shall be relaxed by the administrative law judge to provide informality and to facilitate the hearing.

(d) Agencies may effect a salary offset against the current pay account of a debtor prior to the completion of the hearing procedures required by this subpart, if failure to initiate the offset would substantially prejudice the agency's ability to collect the debt; for example, if the employee's anticipated period of employment with the Government would not reasonably permit the completion of the hearing and recovery of the debt prior to termination of employment. Offset prior to completion of the hearing must be promptly followed by the completion of that hearing.

(e) If the debtor seeking a hearing under this section makes the request for review of the obligation after the expiration of the period for filing as described in paragraph (b) of this section, the administrative law judge may accept the request for hearing if the debtor can show that the delay was because of circumstances beyond his or her control or because of failure to receive notice of the time limit (unless otherwise aware of it).

(f) Upon completion of the hearing, the administrative law judge shall transmit to the debtor a written decision. This decision shall state, at a minimum: The facts purported to evidence the nature and origin of the alleged debt; the administrative law judge's findings and conclusions, as to the employee's and/or creditor agency's grounds; the amount and validity of the alleged debt; and, where applicable, the repayment schedule. If appropriate, the notification shall also indicate any changes in the information to the extent such information differs from that provided in the notification under §20.78(b).

(Approved by the Office of Management and Budget under control number 1225-0038)

[52 FR 3772, Feb. 5, 1987; 52 FR 13563, Apr. 23, 1987]

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§20.82   Cooperation with other DOL agencies and Federal agencies.

(a) Appropriate use should be made of the cooperative efforts of other DOL and Federal agencies in effecting collection by salary offset. Generally, paying agencies should comply with requests from other agencies to initiate salary offset to collect debts owed to the United States, unless the creditor agency has not complied with applicable regulations or the request would otherwise be contrary to law.

(b) Unless otherwise prohibited by law, a DOL agency may request that the current pay account of a debtor in another DOL or Federal agency be administratively offset in order to collect debts owed the creditor DOL agency by the debtor. In requesting a salary offset, the creditor DOL agency must provide the paying DOL agency or other paying Federal agency with written certification stating:

(1) That the debtor owes the creditor agency a debt (including the basis and amount of the debt);

(2) The date on which payment was due;

(3) The date on which the Government's right to collect the debt first accrued; and

(4) Where the paying agency is another federal agency, that the creditor agency's regulations under 5 U.S.C. 5514 have been approved by the Office of Personnel Management, and that the creditor agency has followed such regulations to the best of its information and belief.

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§20.83   DOL agency as paying agency of the debtor.

Whenever a salary offset is sought by another DOL or Federal agency from a paying DOL agency, the paying DOL agency should not initiate the requested offset until it has been provided by the creditor organization with an appropriate written certification as described in §20.82(b). Where the creditor agency is not another DOL agency, the creditor agency must certify that its regulations under 5 U.S.C. 5514 have been approved by the Office of Personnel Management and that it, the creditor agency, has followed such regulations to the best of its information and belief. When the creditor agency is not also the paying DOL agency, the creditor agency should also be required to certify that if an administrative or judicial order is issued directing the paying DOL agency to pay a debtor an amount previously paid to the creditor agency, the creditor agency will reimburse the paying DOL agency or pay the debtor directly within 15 days of the date of the order.

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§20.84   Collections.

(a) Whenever feasible, and except as otherwise provided by law, debts owed to the United States, together with interest, penalties, and administrative costs should be collected in full in one lump sum. This is true whether the debt is being collected by salary offset or by another method, including voluntary payment. However, if the debtor is financially unable to pay the indebtedness in one lump sum, or the amount of the debt exceeds 15 percent of disposable pay for an officially established pay interval, collection must be made in installments. Ordinarily, the size of installment deductions must bear a reasonable relationship to the size of the debt and the employee's ability to pay. However, the amount deducted for any period must not 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. Installment deductions must be made over a period not greater than the anticipated period of active duty or employment, as the case may be except as provided in §20.84 paragraphs (c) and (d). Where a DOL agency is the paying agency, salary offset will ordinarily begin with the salary payment made to the employee for the first full pay period following expiration of the 30 day notice period described in §20.78(b), or if a hearing is pending under §20.81, the first full pay period following the date of the administrative law judge's written decision.

(b) If the debtor owes more than one debt and designates how a voluntary installment payment is to be applied as among those debts, that designation must be followed. If the debtor does not designate the application of the payment, agencies should apply payments to the various 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.

(c) If the employee retires or resigns or if his or her employment or period of active duty ends before collection of the debt is completed, under 5 U.S.C. 5514, salary offset shall be from subsequent payments of any nature (e.g., final salary payment, lump-sum leave, etc.) due the employee from the paying agency as of the date of separation to the extent necessary to liquidate the debt.

(d) If the debt cannot be liquidated by salary offset from any final payment due the former employee as of the date of separation, under 5 U.S.C. 5514, administrative offset shall be from later payments of any kind due the former employee from the United States.

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§20.85   Notice of offset.

Prior to effecting a salary offset, the paying DOL agency should advise the debtor of the impending offset. This notice should state that the debtor has been provided his/her rights under 5 U.S.C. 5514, that a determination has been made that collection by salary offset would be in the best interests of the United States, the amount of the offset, the date the salary offset will begin, and that the source of funds shall be from current disposable pay, except as provided by (c) and (d) of §20.84. If evidence suggests that the debtor is no longer located at the address of record, reasonable action shall be taken to obtain a current address.

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§20.86   Non-waiver of rights by payments.

An employee's involuntary payment, of all or any portion of a debt being collected under 5 U.S.C. 5514, shall not be construed as a waiver of any rights which the employee may have under 5 U.S.C. 5514 or any other provision of contract or law, unless there are statutory or contractual provisions to the contrary.

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§20.87   Refunds.

(a) Agencies shall promptly refund to the appropriate party amounts paid or deducted under this subpart when—

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

(2) The employee's paying agency is directed by an administrative or judicial order to refund amounts deducted from his or her current pay.

(b) Refunds do not bear interest unless required or permitted by law or contract.

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§20.88   Additional administrative collection action.

Nothing contained in this subpart is intended to preclude the utilization of any other administrative remedy which may be available.

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§20.89   Prior provision of rights with respect to debt.

To the extent that the rights of the debtor in relation to the same debt have been previously provided by the creditor agency under some other statutory or regulatory authority, the creditor agency is not required to duplicate those efforts before taking salary offset.

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§20.90   Responsibilities of the Chief Financial Officer.

The Chief Financial Officer, or his or her designee, shall provide appropriate and binding written or other guidance to Department of Labor agencies and officials in carrying out this subpart, including the issuance of guidelines and instructions, which he or she may deem appropriate. The Chief Financial Officer shall also take such administrative steps as may be appropriate to carry out the purposes and ensure the effective implementation of this subpart.

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