B-171524 January 4, 1971

B-171524: Jan 4, 1971

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Cabell: Reference is made to your letters of December 7 and December 10. It was not our intention to indicate that the head of an agency has authority to divest himself of the statutorily assigned function of collecting claims of the United States arising out of the activities of his agency and delegate this responsibility to a private debt collection agency. Even if we were to assume that the heads of agencies had such authority. We regret that we are unable to indicate how he may obtain delinquent Government accounts for collection. As requested we are returning Mr.

B-171524 January 4, 1971

The Honorable Earle Cabell House of Representatives

Dear Mr. Cabell:

Reference is made to your letters of December 7 and December 10, 1970, in which you enclose correspondence from a constituent, Mr. Joe B. Bass, of the National Creditors Bureau of Dallas, Texas, and in which you request that this Office give consideration to the request of your constituent for advice concerning the manner in which his collection agency could obtain delinquent Government accounts for collection.

In his most recent letter, dated December 7, 1970, to you, Mr. Bass has enclosed a copy of a letter dated December 4, 1970, to him from this Office concerning this matter and requested further information as to whether the head of a Government agency may, if he so desires, refer delinquent accounts to a private debt collection agency for collection. In asking this question Mr. Bass refers to a particular sentence in our letter to him. That sentence, referring to the Federal Claims Collection Act of 1966, 31 U.S.C. 951-953 and implementing standards (4 CFR 101-105), reads as follows:

"The head of an agency may--in accordance with terms of the act and implementing standards and regulations--compromise, or cause suspension or termination of collection action on, any claim which does not exceed $20,000, exclusive of interest and which has not been referred to another agency, including this Office, for further collection action." (Emphasis supplied.)

This sentence merely states that the head of an agency may compromise, or cause suspension or termination of collection action on, claims arising out of the activitites of, or referred to, his agency, provided that he has not already divested himself of this authority by referring the claim to another Federal agency--such as the Department of Justice or this Office--having the statutory authority and responsibility to pursue further debt collection action. Thus, it was not our intention to indicate that the head of an agency has authority to divest himself of the statutorily assigned function of collecting claims of the United States arising out of the activities of his agency and delegate this responsibility to a private debt collection agency. Moreover, even if we were to assume that the heads of agencies had such authority, we believe that as a matter of policy the collection debts owed to the United States should be handled by the departments and agencies of the Government in accordance with the policies and procedures of the Federal Claims Collection Act of 1966 and the implementing regulations.

We believe that the foregoing discussion clarifies this matter for your constituent. We regret that we are unable to indicate how he may obtain delinquent Government accounts for collection. As requested we are returning Mr. Bass' letters herewith.

Sincerely yours,

R. F. KELLER Assistant Comptroller General of the United States

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