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e-CFR data is current as of August 6, 2020

Title 7Subtitle APart 3 → Subpart A

Title 7: Agriculture

Subpart A—General

§3.1   Purpose and scope.
§3.2   Authority.
§3.3   Definitions.
§3.4   Delegations of authority.

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§3.1   Purpose and scope.

(a)(1) The regulations in this part prescribe standards and procedures for use by USDA agencies in the collection, compromise, suspension, or termination of debts owed to the United States.

(2) The regulations in this part apply to all debts of the United States subject to collection by USDA agencies, except as otherwise specified in this part or by statute.

(3) The regulations in this part do not preclude the Secretary from collection, compromise, suspension, or termination of debts as otherwise authorized by law. In such cases the laws and implementing regulations that are specifically applicable to claims collection activities of a particular agency generally will take precedence over this part.

(b) USDA agencies may issue regulations to supplement this part in order to meet the specific requirements of individual programs.

(c) The regulations of this part will not apply to:

(1) Collection of debts owed government travel card contractors by USDA employees;

(2) Collection of debts owed by individual Food Stamp Program recipients for whom debt collection procedures are provided under §273.18 of this title.

(3) Collection of debts owed by foreign governments and, sovereign institutions of foreign governments.

(4) Actions pursuant to the FSA FLP Debt Settlement regulations in part 761, subpart F, of this title are authorized under the Consolidated Farm and Rural Development Act (ConAct), which are independent of the DCIA are excepted from this part.

(5) Actions pursuant to the following RD Debt Settlement regulations authorized under the ConAct and the Housing Act, which are independent of the DCIA are excepted from this part:

(i) 7 CFR part 1717, subpart Y;

(ii) 2 CFR part 175;

(iii) 7 CFR 1782.20;

(iv) 7 CFR 1951.213;

(v) 7 CFR part 1956;

(vi) 7 CFR part 3550, subpart F;

(vii) 7 CFR 3560.457; and

(viii) 7 CFR 3565.56.

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§3.2   Authority.

(a) Generally, the regulations in this part are issued under the Debt Collection Act of 1982, as amended by the Debt Collection Improvement Act of 1996 (DCIA) (31 U.S.C. 3701, 3711-3720) and the Federal Claims Collection Standards (FCCS) issued pursuant to the DCIA by Treasury and Justice (31 CFR parts 901-904) that prescribe government-wide standards for administrative collection, compromise, suspension, or termination of agency collection action, disclosure of debt information to credit reporting agencies, referral of claims to private collection contractors for resolution, and referral to Justice for litigation to collect debts owed the government. The regulations under this part also are issued under Treasury regulations implementing DCIA (31 CFR part 285) and related statutes and regulations governing the offset of Federal salaries (5 U.S.C. 5512 and 5514; 5 CFR part 550, subpart K) and administrative offset of tax refunds (31 U.S.C. 3720A).

(b) With respect to agency specific provisions of this part, the following authorities are applicable:

(1) The Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC): section 4 of the Commodity Credit Corporation Charter Act (15 U.S.C. 714b).

(2) The Farm Service Agency (FSA): sections 331, 331A, 331D, and 373 of the Consolidated Farm and Rural Development Act (ConAct) (7 U.S.C. 1981, 1981a, 1981d, and 2008h).

(3) The Federal Crop Insurance Corporation (FCIC): section 506(j) of the Federal Crop Insurance Act (7 U.S.C. 1506(j)).

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§3.3   Definitions.

For the purpose of this part, except as where otherwise specifically provided, the term or terms:

Account means a record of transactions involving the debt, claim, or loan for a particular person or entity, including the name, address, taxpayer identification number, other information necessary to establish the person's or entity's identity, the balance, status, history of the debt, and program under which the debt or claim arose.

Administrative charges means the additional costs of processing delinquent debts against the debtor, to the extent such costs are attributable to the delinquency. Such costs include, but are not limited to, costs incurred in obtaining a credit report, costs of employing commercial firms to locate debtor, costs of employing contractors for collection services, and costs of selling collateral or property to satisfy the debt.

Administrative offset means withholding funds payable by the United States (including funds payable by the United States on behalf of a State government) to, or held by the United States for, a person to satisfy a debt. This definition is consistent with 31 U.S.C. 3701(a)(1).

Agency means an agency, office, or corporation within USDA subject to the authority or general supervision of the Secretary.

Borrower and debtor have the same meaning and refer to a person who owes a delinquent, nontax debt to the United States.

Carrier means a person or other entity, including but not limited to railroads, motor carriers, ocean carriers or inter-modal marketing companies, that provide transportation or other transportation-related services for compensation.

CCC means Commodity Credit Corporation.

Centralized administrative offset means referral of a debt to the Treasury Offset Program (TOP) to collect debts that creditor agencies have certified pursuant to 31 U.S.C. 3716(c), 3720A(a), and applicable regulations for offset of payments made to a debtor by Federal agencies other than USDA. Centralized offset also includes offset of payments made by States pursuant to 31 U.S.C. 3716(h) and 31 CFR 285.6.

CFO means Chief Financial Officer.

Civil monetary penalties are assessed for violations and failures to comply with various program requirements. The management and settlement of these debts are specified in this part, and the applicable laws and program specific regulations.

Claim and debt have the same meaning and refer to an amount of money, funds, or property that has been determined by an agency official to be owed to the United States from any person, organization, or entity, except another Federal agency.

Compromise means the settlement or forgiveness of a debt under 31 U.S.C. 3711, in accordance with standards specified in FCCS and applicable federal law.

Contracting officer has the same meaning as in 41 U.S.C. 7101.

Credit reporting agencies (also known as credit bureaus) means major credit reporting agencies that have signed agreements with agencies to receive and integrate credit information (data) from voluntary subscribers (Federal agencies and private sector entities) into their respective databases for the purpose of generating credit reports for sale to purchasers of credit data.

Creditor agency means a Federal agency or USDA agency to which a debtor owes a debt, including a debt collection center when acting on behalf of a creditor agency in matters pertaining to collection of the debt.

Cross-servicing means the centralized collection of Federal debt and the various collection actions taken by Treasury on behalf of a Federal agency in accordance with the provisions of 31 U.S.C. 3711, 31 U.S.C. 3720D, 31 CFR part 285, and other Treasury regulations. Cross-servicing includes, but is not limited to, the use of debt collection centers and private collection contractors.

Day means calendar day unless otherwise specified.

DCIA means the Debt Collection Improvement Act of 1996.

Debt means an amount of money, funds, or property that has been determined by an agency official to be owed to the United States from any person, organization, or entity, except another Federal agency.

Debt collection center means the Treasury or other government agency or division, designated by the Secretary of the Treasury with authority to collect debt on behalf of creditor agencies in accordance with 31 U.S.C. 3711(g).

Debt record means the account, register, balance sheet, file, ledger, data file, or similar record of debts owed to any Federal agency with respect to which collection action is being pursued.

Debtor means a person who owes a delinquent, nontax debt to the United States.

Delinquent means a debt that has not been paid by the date specified in the agency's initial written demand for payment or applicable agreement or instrument (including a post-delinquency payment agreement), unless other satisfactory payment arrangements have been made, or as otherwise defined by program specific statutes or regulations.

Discharged debt means any debt, or part thereof, that an agency has determined is uncollectible and has closed out or, in the case of FSA FLP, means the amount of debt that was discharged through bankruptcy proceedings where no further collection actions may be taken on that debt.

Disposable pay means that part of the debtor's compensation (including, but not limited to, salary, bonuses, commissions, and vacation pay) from an employer remaining after the deduction of health insurance premiums and any amounts required by law to be withheld including social security taxes and other withholding taxes, but not including any amount withheld pursuant to a court order.

Federal agency means any department or entity within the Executive branch of the government that is not a USDA agency.

Financial statement means a statement of financial condition at a given date that accurately reflects the debtor's assets, liabilities, income, and expenses.

Fiscal Service means the United States Department of the Treasury's Bureau of the Fiscal Service.

Foreign debt means debt owed by a sovereign or non-sovereign entity, when the debt is subject to adjudication in a non-U.S. jurisdiction.

FSA FLP means the Farm Loan Programs of FSA.

Government or Federal government means the government of the United States, unless otherwise specified.

Justice means the United States Department of Justice.

Late payment interest rate means the amount of interest charged on delinquent debts and claims in cases where the annual rate of interest is not established by a promissory note. Unless otherwise provided by the law, regulation, contract, or agreement that established the debt, the late payment interest rate will be equal to the higher of the Prompt Payment Act interest rate or the standard late payment rate prescribed by 31 U.S.C. 3717, as of the date the debt became delinquent. Interest on delinquent debts will accrue on a daily basis.

NAD means the USDA National Appeals Division.

Non-centralized administrative offset means an agreement between a USDA creditor agency and a payment authorizing agency to offset the payments made by the payment authorizing agency to satisfy a USDA debt. The creditor agency and paying agency can be the same.

Offset means withholding funds payable by the United States to or held by the United States for a person to satisfy a debt owed by the payee.

OGC means the USDA Office of the General Counsel.

Payee means a person who is due a payment from a payment authorizing agency and includes a person who is entitled to all or part of a payment.

Payment authorizing agency means a Federal agency or USDA agency that is authorized to disburse payments to a recipient.

Penalty charge or penalty interest means the additional penalty amount charged on delinquent debts as specified in 31 U.S.C. 3717(e)(2) and §3.17(d).

Person means an individual, corporation, partnership, association, organization, State or local government, or any other type of public or private entity other than a Federal agency.

Private Collection Agency means any organization or corporation that specializes in debt collection is known as a collection agency or debt collector.

Recoupment means a special method for adjusting debts arising under the same transaction or occurrence, such as obligations arising under the same contract.

Reviewing officer means a person designated by a creditor agency as responsible for conducting a hearing or providing documentary review on the existence of the debt and the propriety of an administrative collection action.

Salary offset means the deduction of money from the current pay account of a present or former Government employee as specified in 5 U.S.C. 5514 to satisfy a debt that person owes the Government.

Secretary means the Secretary of Agriculture, unless otherwise specified.

Settlement or debt settlement means, for the purposes of this part only, the final disposition or resolution of a debt or claim that results in cancellation of any remaining balance owed and reporting of the canceled amount to the IRS as specified in §3.90, and applicable IRS requirements.

Tax Identification Number or TIN means the identification number required on tax returns and other documents submitted to the Internal Revenue Service; that is, an individual's social security number (SSN) or employer identification number (EIN).

TOP means Treasury Offset Program, which is a centralized offset program that collects delinquent debts owed to Federal agencies and states.

Treasury means the United States Department of the Treasury.

USDA means the United States Department of Agriculture.

Withholding of payment means the action taken to temporarily prevent the payment of some or all amounts to a debtor under one or more contracts or programs.

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§3.4   Delegations of authority.

The head of an agency is authorized to exercise any or all of the functions provided by this part with respect to programs for which the head of the agency has delegated responsibility and may delegate and authorize the redelegation of any of the functions vested in the head of the agency by this part, except as otherwise provided by this part.

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