USGS Home Page

U.S. Geological Survey Manual

451.3 - Government Tort Claims

5/5/87

OPR: Admin/Financial Management

1. Purpose. This chapter establishes policy and procedures for instituting and processing tort claims in favor of the Government to recover for damages to Government property under the USGS jurisdiction.

2. Policy. USGS employees responsible for operation of facilities and equipment under their jurisdiction shall exercise every precaution to prevent accidents. When accidents do occur that justify the initiation of tort claims in favor of the Government within the meaning of this chapter, such claims shall be pursued with the same sense of urgency as the Departmental policy for tort claims against the Government (451 DM 1).

3. Responsibilities. The USGS official in charge of the field station or unit where the property is located and administered shall make every effort to collect the full amount of an USGS tort claim.

4. Procedures.

A. Unsuccessful Collection of Claim.

(1) If the USGS official is unsuccessful in collecting the claim and the amount of the claim is not in excess of $500, the official shall refer the Accident Report Forms to the United States Attorney for the judicial district in which the person who committed the tort resides. Copies of the letter transmitting the forms are sent through channels to the Office of the Division Chief concerned; to the appropriate Tort Claims Officer; and to the Claims Division, Department of Justice, Washington, D.C.

(2) If the USGS official is unsuccessful in collecting the claim and the amount of the claim is in excess of $500, the official shall refer the Accident Report Forms to the nearest Regional or Field Solicitor (SM 450.1). Copies of the letter transmitting the forms are sent through channels to the Office of the Division Chief concerned and to the appropriate Tort Claims Officer.

B. Full Recovery of Damages. The release of the Government's claim must be executed by the Assistant Director for Administration. Releases are submitted through the Office of the Division Chief concerned and, after signature, are sent to the interested party through the USGS office obtaining the settlement. A copy of correspondence is forwarded to the appropriate Tort Claims Officer.

(1) When payment for the full amount of damage sustained by the Government (including payment for repairs, towing, and automobile storage for automobile and any other charges incidental to the damage) is offered by the party responsible for the damage, the amount may be accepted by the USGS official.

(2) If the claim has been referred to the Regional or Field Solicitor for collection, all incoming correspondence or payments received regarding the claim should be sent to the Regional or Field Solicitor.

C. Partial Recovery of Damages.

(1) No Departmental official is authorized to accept a compromise offer to settle the Government's claim without first obtaining from the Department of Justice a determination that the claim should be compromised.

(a) If the Government's claim is not in excess of $500, the USGS official shall refer the settlement offer to the U.S. Attorney for the judicial district in which the person who has committed the tort resides. Copies of the letter transmitting the offer are sent through channels to the Office of the Division Chief concerned; to the appropriate Tort Claims Officer; and to the Claims Division, Department of Justice, Washington, D.C.

(b) If the Government's claim is in excess of $500, the USGS official shall refer the settlement offer to the nearest Regional or Field Solicitor. Copies of the letter transmitting the offer are sent through channels to the Office of the Division Chief concerned and to the appropriate Tort Claims Officer.

(2) The U.S. Attorney, Regional or Field Solicitors, and appropriate Tort Claims Officers shall be furnished all pertinent data, including information regarding the compromise offer and, if known, the private party's financial ability to pay full amount of damage.

D. Inscription of Negotiable Instruments.

(1) All negotiable instruments (e.g., checks and money orders) covering remittances to the Government for damages should be made payable to the U.S. Department of the Interior, Geological Survey, and forwarded to the Branch of Financial Management, 271 National Center, Reston, VA 20192, with a memorandum identifying the transaction for which submitted.

(2) When the damage to a Government vehicle can be or has been repaired, the party at fault or his/her insurer should be requested to issue a check for payment to the garage making the repairs. If they insist in making a check payable jointly to the USGS and the garage making the repairs, the remittance should be sent to the National Center for endorsement by the Branch of Financial Management and returned to the field office for delivery to the garage. The field office should send notification of all transactions and settlement to the appropriate Tort Claims Officer.


Return to Survey Manual Table of Contents
Return to Survey Manual Index
Return to Survey Manual Home Page
U.S. Geological Survey, 807 National Center, Reston, VA 20192, USA
URL: http://www.usgs.gov/usgs-manual/410/451-3.html
Contact: OIS, Corporate Information Technology Branch
Content Information Contact: jcordyac@usgs.gov
Last modification: 11-Jan-2013@10:24 (bt)