B-162685, FEB. 21, 1968

B-162685: Feb 21, 1968

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WIITA: WE HAVE YOUR LETTER DATED FEBRUARY 1. WHICH WOULD RELIEVE YOU FROM LIABILITY FOR REPAYMENT TO THE UNITED STATES OF THAT SUM WAS THE SUBJECT OF OUR LETTER OF DECEMBER 18. YOU SAY YOU HAVE BEEN FURNISHED A COPY OF THAT LETTER. MANY MEMBERS OF THE ARMED SERVICES WHO HAVE BEEN OVERPAID BECAUSE OF ADMINISTRATIVE ERRORS HAVE BEEN AND ARE BEING REQUIRED BY LAW TO REFUND SUCH OVERPAYMENTS. MANY IF NOT MOST OVERPAYMENTS BASED ON ERRONEOUS OR UNAUTHORIZED ACTS OF AGENTS OF THE GOVERNMENT ARE. DOES NOT PERMIT THIS OFFICE TO AUTHORIZE RETENTION OF AN OVERPAYMENT ON THE BASIS THAT IT WAS RECEIVED IN GOOD FAITH OR THAT REFUND WOULD RESULT IN HARDSHIP. IT IS OUR VIEW THAT 5 U.S.C. 5514 PROVIDING FOR RECOVERY OF OVERPAYMENTS WAS INTENDED TO HAVE UNIFORM APPLICATION TO ALL CONCERNED AND ON THAT BASIS WE DID NOT RECOMMEND APPROVAL OF THE BILL FOR YOUR RELIEF.

B-162685, FEB. 21, 1968

ARMED SERVICES - PAY - OVERPAYMENT RELIEF DECISION TO AIR FORCE OFFICER DENYING CLAIM FOR RELIEF FROM LIABILITY FOR REFUND OF OVERPAYMENT OF PAY DUE TO ADMINISTRATIVE ERROR.

TO CAPTAIN BRUCE E. WIITA:

WE HAVE YOUR LETTER DATED FEBRUARY 1, 1968, IN WHICH YOU RELATE IN DETAIL THE CIRCUMSTANCES SURROUNDING AN OVERPAYMENT TO YOU IN THE AMOUNT OF $1,762.68. A BILL, H.R. 13354, 1ST SESSION, 90TH CONGRESS, WHICH WOULD RELIEVE YOU FROM LIABILITY FOR REPAYMENT TO THE UNITED STATES OF THAT SUM WAS THE SUBJECT OF OUR LETTER OF DECEMBER 18, 1967, TO THE CHAIRMAN, COMMITTEE ON THE JUDICIARY, HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES. YOU SAY YOU HAVE BEEN FURNISHED A COPY OF THAT LETTER.

AS INDICATED IN OUR LETTER OF DECEMBER 18, 1967, B-162685, MANY MEMBERS OF THE ARMED SERVICES WHO HAVE BEEN OVERPAID BECAUSE OF ADMINISTRATIVE ERRORS HAVE BEEN AND ARE BEING REQUIRED BY LAW TO REFUND SUCH OVERPAYMENTS. PRESUMABLY, MANY IF NOT MOST OVERPAYMENTS BASED ON ERRONEOUS OR UNAUTHORIZED ACTS OF AGENTS OF THE GOVERNMENT ARE, AS IN YOUR CASE, ACCEPTED IN GOOD FAITH. ALSO, REPAYMENT OFTEN CAUSES HARDSHIP. THE LAW, HOWEVER, DOES NOT PERMIT THIS OFFICE TO AUTHORIZE RETENTION OF AN OVERPAYMENT ON THE BASIS THAT IT WAS RECEIVED IN GOOD FAITH OR THAT REFUND WOULD RESULT IN HARDSHIP. IT IS OUR VIEW THAT 5 U.S.C. 5514 PROVIDING FOR RECOVERY OF OVERPAYMENTS WAS INTENDED TO HAVE UNIFORM APPLICATION TO ALL CONCERNED AND ON THAT BASIS WE DID NOT RECOMMEND APPROVAL OF THE BILL FOR YOUR RELIEF.

WE TRUST THAT YOU WILL UNDERSTAND, HOWEVER, THAT THE QUESTION OF WHETHER RELIEF SHOULD BE GRANTED IN YOUR CASE IS FOR DETERMINATION BY THE CONGRESS ON THE BASIS OF THE FACTS AND CIRCUMSTANCES PRESENTED. IN THE PAST THE CONGRESS HAS GRANTED RELIEF IN MANY SITUATIONS IN WHICH APPROVAL WAS NOT RECOMMENDED BY THIS OFFICE AND FAVORABLE CONSIDERATION OF H.R. 13354 WOULD PERMIT PAYMENT TO YOU OF ANY AMOUNTS RECEIVED OR WITHHELD FROM YOU ON ACCOUNT OF THE OVERPAYMENT REFERRED TO THEREIN. UNTIL SUCH TIME AS LEGISLATIVE APPROVAL OF RELIEF HAS BEEN OBTAINED, WE MAY NOT GRANT SUCH RELIEF AND A RECOMMENDATION OF APPROVAL OF SUCH RELIEF WOULD BE CONTRARY TO THE REQUIREMENTS OF 5 U.S.C. 5514.