U.S. Geological Survey Manual
U.S. Geological Survey Instructional Memorandum
No. OFM 97-06
Date: March 13, 1997
Date Archived: December 2008
Subject: Refund Receivables Owed to the USGS
Reference: SM 336.1-2
Reference: IM replaced by the Financial Operating Procedures Handbook, Chapter 17, Accounts Receivable Billing/Collections
1. Purpose. The purpose of this Instructional Memorandum (IM) is to define refunds and to identify the difference between refunds and reimbursements owed to the U.S.Geological Survey (USGS), and to establish procedures for identifying and recording refund receivables.
2. Background. Survey Manual (SM) Chapters 336.1-2 define procedures for billing customers for amounts owed to the USGS. This IM supplements the information contained in those chapters regarding 1) what constitutes a refund, 2) the difference between a refund and reimbursement receipt, and 3) the accounting for refunds by the Office of Financial Management (OFM).
3. Policy. The USGS debt management program provides for the billing of customers for debts owed to the USGS, initiating followup collection actions, and the deposit of collections.
The USGS issues bills for collection to Federal and non-Federal customers for various activities including 1) reimbursable programs where the USGS has performed work for a customer, 2) credit sales for maps and products, and 3) refunds.
4. Definitions .
5. Types of Refunds.
- A. Federal customers include both civilian Federal agencies (OFA) and Department of Defense (DOD) customers.
- B. Non-Federal customers are all customers other than Federal customers, including current and former employees.
- C. Refunds are the repayments to the USGS of excess payments made to an employee or customer, or for payments made on the behalf of a customer. These amounts are repayments of previous outlays made against an appropriation. Refunds are to be deposited to the credit of the account number and object class originally charged when the expenditure was recorded.
- D. Reimbursements are payments to the USGS for providing goods and services to Federal and non-Federal customers. Reimbursement payments are usually provided for in an agreement or a request for information, products, or services provided to a customer.
- A. Employee Debts - Amounts owed by current or former employees for overpayments received by an employee, or for amounts owed due to training or travel expenses.
- Payroll debts - Payroll debts are determined through audits performed on payroll records by the Bureau of Reclamation's Payroll Operations Division (Payroll). Examples of these debts include salary overpayments, health benefits payments due from an employee while on leave without pay (LWOP), and repayment of advanced leave.
- Training expenses - These debts are incurred by employees when approved training is paid for and not attended by the employee, or when an employee violates the Continuous Service Agreement, whereby the employee agrees to continue employment in the Department of the Interior for an agreed upon period after completion of training. Training debts are usually determined by the Human Resources Office.
- Travel expenses - These debts are incurred when travel expenses claimed by an employee have been reimbursed by the USGS and the expenses are subsequently determined not to be allowable. These debts include expenses directly and indirectly related to change of headquarters. Repayment of travel advances are not considered refunds since the advance is not an expenditure charged to a Division account number. Travel debts are usually determined by the Travel Management Branch, OFM.
- B. Federal Debts - Debts owed by a Federal customer for repayment of an expenditure made to that agency.
- C. Property Debts - These debts occur when an employee is deemed responsible for damaging or losing Government property for which he/she was responsible. These debts are usually determined by the Property Management Branch. (It is noted that payments to the USGS for repairing damaged property or replacing lost property is considered a Miscellaneous Receipt and are not refunded to a USGS account number).
- D. Vendor Overpayments - These debts occur when a payment is made to a USGS vendor in excess of the amount owed. These debts are usually determined by OFM's Accounts Payable Branch through a review of accounts paid. Offices within the Water Resources Division (WRD) review their own payment records to determine overpayments processed through their remote data entry (RDE).
Overpayments may also be identified by staff in other Divisions who are responsible for reviewing expenditure information included on monthly report #268, Status of Current Year Transactions. Divisions should contact the Accounts Payable Branch, OFM, if their review determines that an overpayment may have occurred.
6. Procedures for Notifying Employees or Vendors of Indebtedness.
- A. Non-Federal Customers - Upon determination by the offices noted in #5 above that a refund is owed by a non-Federal customer, that office will prepare a letter to the employee or vendor indicating that a debt is owed and describing the circumstances that created the debt. The letter will also provide the employee or vendor with the opportunity and procedure to appeal the debt or request a waiver of the debt as provided for in the appropriate regulation.
The original copy of the letter or form should be forwarded to the Accounts Receivable Branch (ARB), OFM in order to prepare the official notification of indebtedness, which is made via form DI 1040, Bill for Collection (Bill). The office will provide the ARB with the accounting information in order to properly credit the refund. The Bill will provide official notification of a debt and include the USGS contact or Hotline phone number for requesting additional information. The bill will also serve to establish an account receivable in FFS. The ARB will forward the Bill and the original letter to the debtor and provide a copy of the Bill to the originating office. The ARB will be responsible for issuing followup letters if the debt is not paid by the payment due date, and will be responsible for additional followup collection actions such as referral to Payroll for salary deductions, or referral to either a contracted collection agent or to IRS for further collection action.
The Office of Acquisition and Federal Assistance (OAFA) will continue to issue bills to vendors who owe refunds as a result of disallowed costs determined through audits of contract payments.
- B. Federal Customers - Upon determination by the appropriate office that a refund is owed by a Federal customer, that office should prepare either form 9-2048, OPAC Billing Request, or form SF 1080, Voucher for Transfer (see SM 336.1). The bills should indicate in the description of services that the billing is for a refund of expenditures. A copy of the SF 1080 must be forwarded to the ARB in order to establish an account receivable in FFS. The completed form 9-2048 must be forwarded to the ARB for processing the collection through the OPAC system. The forms are to include the name and phone number of the USGS contact or the Hotline phone number for requesting additional information. Attached is a copy of a blank form 9-2048 and a sample of the form completed for collecting a refund.
8. Effective Date. This IM is effective upon date of issuance.
9. Cancellation Date. This IM will remain in effect until superseded or canceled.
Timothy E. Calkins, Acting Chief
Office of Financial Management
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