B-165143, SEPT. 10, 1968

B-165143: Sep 10, 1968

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RADCLIFF WHO WAS EMPLOYED AS A CASUAL FIREFIGHTER ON THE PINE MOUNTAIN FIRE. RADCLIFF DID NOT EXTINGUISH A FIRE THAT HE HAD BUILT TO KEEP WARM AND THAT A FOREST SERVICE CREW WAS CALLED OUT ON SEPTEMBER 12 TO EXTINGUISH SUCH FIRE WHICH BURNED ABOUT 800 SQUARE FEET BEFORE IT FINALLY WAS EXTINGUISHED. THE COST OF SUPPRESSING THE FIRE AMOUNTED TO $80.23 AND THE QUESTION IS WHETHER THE AMOUNT OWING MR. RADCLIFF CLAIMS THAT IT IS IMPROPER TO EFFECT THE OFFSET BECAUSE HE HAS NOT BEEN GIVEN THE OPPORTUNITY OF A HEARING AND THAT THERE IS NO BASIS FOR TAKING ADMINISTRATIVE ACTION TO DEPRIVE HIM OF THE $67.73 WITHOUT THE BENEFIT OF SUCH A HEARING OR APPEAL. WHEN THE FACTS STATED BY A CLAIMANT ARE AT VARIANCE WITH THE FACTS CONTAINED IN AN OFFICIAL ADMINISTRATIVE REPORT.

B-165143, SEPT. 10, 1968

TO MR. REED H. JENSEN:

WE REFER TO YOUR LETTER OF AUGUST 15, 1968, YOUR REFERENCE 6540, TRANSMITTED HERE BY THE DIRECTOR, DIVISION OF BUDGET AND FINANCE, FOREST SERVICE, CONCERNING THE PROPRIETY OF THE PAYMENT OF $67.73 TO MR. ROY W. RADCLIFF WHO WAS EMPLOYED AS A CASUAL FIREFIGHTER ON THE PINE MOUNTAIN FIRE. THE DOUBT PROMPTING YOUR SUBMISSION OF THE MATTER ARISES BY REASON OF THE FACT THAT IT HAS BEEN ADMINISTRATIVELY DETERMINED, AS A RESULT OF AN INVESTIGATION BY THE FOREST SERVICE, THAT MR. RADCLIFF DID NOT EXTINGUISH A FIRE THAT HE HAD BUILT TO KEEP WARM AND THAT A FOREST SERVICE CREW WAS CALLED OUT ON SEPTEMBER 12 TO EXTINGUISH SUCH FIRE WHICH BURNED ABOUT 800 SQUARE FEET BEFORE IT FINALLY WAS EXTINGUISHED. THE COST OF SUPPRESSING THE FIRE AMOUNTED TO $80.23 AND THE QUESTION IS WHETHER THE AMOUNT OWING MR. RADCLIFF SHOULD BE SET OFF AGAINST HIS INDEBTEDNESS TO THE GOVERNMENT FOR FIRE SUPPRESSING COSTS.

MR. RADCLIFF CLAIMS THAT IT IS IMPROPER TO EFFECT THE OFFSET BECAUSE HE HAS NOT BEEN GIVEN THE OPPORTUNITY OF A HEARING AND THAT THERE IS NO BASIS FOR TAKING ADMINISTRATIVE ACTION TO DEPRIVE HIM OF THE $67.73 WITHOUT THE BENEFIT OF SUCH A HEARING OR APPEAL.

THE GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE HAS NO KNOWLEDGE OR INFORMATION CONCERNING THE FACTS GIVING RISE TO THE CLAIM AGAINST MR. RADCLIFF OTHER THAN AS INDICATED IN THE CORRESPONDENCE TRANSMITTED HERE AND WE NECESSARILY MUST BASE OUR CONCLUSIONS UPON THE FACTS APPEARING IN THE WRITTEN RECORD. MOREOVER, UNDER ESTABLISHED PRACTICE, WHEN THE FACTS STATED BY A CLAIMANT ARE AT VARIANCE WITH THE FACTS CONTAINED IN AN OFFICIAL ADMINISTRATIVE REPORT, WE ACCEPT THE ADMINISTRATIVE REPORT IN THE ABSENCE OF SUFFICIENT EVIDENCE BEING PRESENTED BY THE CLAIMANT TO OVERCOME THE PRESUMPTION OF THE CORRECTNESS OF THE FACTS STATED IN THE ADMINISTRATIVE REPORT. WE HAVE CAREFULLY CONSIDERED THE INFORMATION YOU TRANSMITTED HERE, INCLUDING THE LETTERS WRITTEN BY MR. RADCLIFF, AND WE DO NOT FIND THAT MR. RADCLIFF HAS PRESENTED SUFFICIENT EVIDENCE TO OVERCOME THE PRESUMPTION OF THE CORRECTNESS OF THE ADMINISTRATIVE REPORT. MOREOVER, THERE IS NO REQUIREMENT OF LAW OF WHICH WE ARE AWARE NECESSITATING A FORMAL HEARING BEFORE THE GOVERNMENT IS ENTITLED TO EXERCISE ITS RIGHT OF SETOFF. ACCORDINGLY, WE FEEL THAT IT IS PROPER TO APPLY THE $67.73 OWING MR. RADCLIFF IN THE LIQUIDATION OF HIS INDEBTEDNESS OF $80.23 TO THE UNITED STATES.