Survey Manual

338.7 - Waiver of Claims for Erroneous Payments of Pay





Issuance Number:      338.7

Subject:                       Waiver of Claims for Erroneous Payments of Pay    

Issuance Date:            07/01/2021

Expiration Date:          07/01/2026

Responsible Office:    Office of Administration/Office of Accounting and Financial Management

Instruction:                 This updates Survey Manual (SM) chapter 338.7, Waiver of Claims for Erroneous Payments of Pay, dated                                                                           February 15, 1991.  Dollar figures reflect current standards in 344 Departmental Manual (DM) 9.

 Approving Official:    /s/ Katherine M. McCulloch

                                     Associate Director for Administration


1.    Purpose and Scope.  This SM chapter provides policy and procedures for the waiver of claims against U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) employees for erroneous payments of pay and allowances.

2.    Authority.  

A.  5 U.S. Code (U.S.C.) § 5584

B.  344 DM 9, Waiver of Claims for Erroneous Payments

3.    Policy.  The USGS reviews requests for waivers of erroneous payments and determines if such requests meet conditions set forth in 4 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 91-93.

4.    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 exclude travel and transportation allowances.

5.    Exceptions.  The following are not considered erroneous payments within the purview of this SM 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 their official leave record.

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

6.    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 Interior Business Center, Division of Payroll Operations, of any unexplained increase in pay or allowances that occurs on the Leave and Earnings Statement.

B.  The Chief, Office of Accounting and Financial Management (OAFM)/Deputy Chief Financial Officer (CFO) 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 Deputy CFO may waive claims of not more than $3,999.00 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 338.7.7 have been satisfied (refer to 4 CFR 91.4,5).  Claims totaling $4,000.00 or more must be forwarded to the Department of the Interior, Office of Hearing and Appeals for review and decision of waiver requests.

7.    Conditions for Waiver of Claims.  Claims arising out of erroneous payments of pay or allowances may be waived by the Deputy CFO if the following conditions have been satisfied:

A.  The claim amounts to $3,999.00 or less and is filed with the USGS 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 Federal 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.

8.    Procedures for Filing and Processing Waivers.

A.  Applications must be submitted in writing through the immediate supervisor and OAFM, Funds Management and Receivables Management Section (RMS) to the Chief, OAFM 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 USGS will investigate 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.  The USGS will determine 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 through the investigative process.

9.    Procedures Upon Determination of Waiver Request.  The Deputy CFO will:

A.  Review the findings and make a decision pertaining to the waiver request in accordance with the conditions outlined in SM 338.7.5.

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

C.  Refer the report to the Office of Hearing and Appeals if the claim exceeds $4,000.00.

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 will serve as the written record for each respective case.

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

10.    Collection.  Collection action is made in accordance with SM 338.3, Collection of Erroneous Payments of Pay and Allowances to Employees.

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

12.    Reporting.  OAFM will maintain records to meet any reporting needs pertaining to Waiver of Claims for Erroneous Payments of Pay and Allowances.