Survey Manual

338.7 - Waiver of Claims for Erroneous Payments of Pay

This Chapter provides policy and procedures for the waiver of claims against USGS employees for erroneous payments of pay and allowances.


OPR: Admin/Financial Management

1. Purpose. This Chapter provides policy and procedures for the waiver of claims against USGS employees for erroneous payments of pay and allowances in accordance with 5 U.S.C. 5584 and 344 DM 9.1.

2. Policy. It is USGS policy to review requests for waivers of erroneous payments and determine if such requests meet conditions set forth in 4 CFR 91-93.

3. Definitions.

A. "Pay" as it relates to an employee means salary, wages, pay, compensation, emoluments, and remuneration for services. It includes but is not limited to overtime pay; night, Sunday standby, irregular and hazardous duty differential; pay for Sunday and holiday work; payment for accumulated and accrued leave; and severance pay. It does not include travel and transportation expenses and allowances, and relocation allowances payable under 5 U.S.C 5724a.

B. "Allowances" include payments to the employee for quarters, uniforms, overseas cost-of-living expenses, but excludes travel and transportation allowances.

4. Exclusions. The following are not considered erroneous payments within the purview of this chapter:

A. Advance leave due to be refunded upon retirement or separation.

B. Overpayments that occur due to the granting of leave to an employee transferred from another Federal agency prior to the receipt of his/her official leave record.

C. Debts resulting from failure to make deductions for employee benefits, such as health benefits.

5. Responsibilities.

A. Employees are responsible for the verification of pay, deductions and leave on their bi-weekly leave and earnings statement. Employees are responsible for notifying the Bureau of Reclamation, Division of Payroll Operations, or the Office of Financial Management (OFM) of any unexplained increase in pay or allowances that occurs on the Leave and Earnings Statement.

B. The Chief, Office of Financial Management (OFM) is responsible for the establishment and control of a documented system of controls for aggressive debt collection action, including installment deductions for recovery of erroneous payments to employees. Also, the Chief, OFM may waive claims of not more than $500 against any person whose debt arose out of an erroneous payment of pay or allowances to or on the behalf of an employee after a determination that the conditions set forth in SM 338.7.6 have been satisfied (see 4 CFR 91.4,5). Claims greater than $500 must be forwarded to the Comptroller General for waiver concurrence.

6. Conditions for Waiver of Claims. Claims arising out of erroneous payments of pay or allowances may be waived by the Chief, OFM if the following conditions have been satisfied:

A. The claim amounts to $500 or less and is filed with the Survey or the General Accounting Office (GAO) within 3 years of the date the erroneous payment was discovered.

B. Collection action would be against equity and good conscience and not in the best interest of the Government. An example would include such payments made through administrative error and there is no indication of fraud, misrepresentation or lack of good faith on the part of the employee or other person having an interest in the claim. An increase in pay which would require a reasonable person to make an inquiry concerning the correctness of such pay ordinarily precludes a waiver when the employee fails to bring the matter to the attention of the appropriate officials.

7. Procedures for Filing and Processing Waivers.

A. Applications must be submitted in writing through the immediate supervisor to the Chief, OFM within 3 years of discovery of the erroneous payment. The request should include documentation supporting the claim. The immediate supervisor should attach to the employee's request for waiver a written statement incorporating the supervisor's understanding of the facts and a recommendation for disposition of the request.

B. The Survey will conduct an investigation of the claim, including a review of pay records and any other factual data pertaining to the erroneous payment. Copies of such records will serve as documentation to the response to the waiver request.

C. Through the investigation, a determination will be made as to whether there is any indication of fraud, misrepresentation or lack of good faith on the part of the employee or other person who may have an interest in the claim.

8. Procedures Upon Determination of Waiver Request. The Chief, OFM will:

A. Review the findings and will make a decision pertaining to the waiver request in accordance with the conditions in SM 338.7.4.

B. Assure that corrective action is taken to prevent similar erroneous payments.

C. Refer the report to the Comptroller General if the claim exceeds $500.

D. Issue written notification to the employee and provide copies to all concerned as to the final decision and actions taken on the request for waiver. A copy of the notification and supporting documentation shall serve as the written record for each respective case.

E. If the request is denied, assure that collection action is initiated.

9. Collection. Collection action will be in accordance with SM 338.3.

10. Refunds of Amount Repaid and Waived. Employees shall be refunded for amounts repaid to the Survey for claims that have been waived under the provisions of this chapter provided that application for such a refund is made by the employee in writing within 2 years of the waiver.

11. Reporting. OFM will maintain records in order to provide the information required to complete the Annual Report of Waiver of Claims for Erroneous Payments of Pay and Allowances (see Figure 1).