B-171935, MAY 13, 1971

B-171935: May 13, 1971

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FOR RECOVERY OF $946 ERRONEOUSLY PAID SINCE CLAIMANT WAS NOT FREE FROM FAULT AS REQUIRED UNDER PROVISIONS OF 5 U.S.C. 5584 WHICH ALLOWS WAIVER IN CERTAIN CASES. SNIDER'S RURAL MAIL CARRYING ROUTE WAS REDUCED FROM 88 TO 78 MILES (MEANING THAT HIS ANNUAL SALARY WAS REDUCED FROM $6481 TO $6231) AS THE RESULT OF THE CANCELLATION OF A DETOUR WHEN A NEW BRIDGE WAS OPENED. HE WAS OBLIGATED TO QUESTION AT THAT TIME THE CONTINUATION OF HIS OLD SALARY AND MILEAGE RATE. THE REQUEST WAS DENIED IN OUR CLAIMS DIVISION LETTER OF DECEMBER 4. YOU HAVE ENCLOSED A COPY OF THE DIRECTOR'S LETTER OF DECEMBER 17. YOU WERE OVERPAID FOR THE PERIOD APRIL 1. SHOWS THAT THE LENGTH OF YOUR RURAL ROUTE WAS REDUCED FROM 88 TO 78 MILES AND THAT YOUR ANNUAL SALARY WAS REDUCED FROM $6.

B-171935, MAY 13, 1971

CIVILIAN EMPLOYEE - OVERPAYMENT OF PAY - WAIVER DENYING CLAIM OF MARION L. SNIDER FOR WAIVER OF CLAIM OF U.S. FOR RECOVERY OF $946 ERRONEOUSLY PAID SINCE CLAIMANT WAS NOT FREE FROM FAULT AS REQUIRED UNDER PROVISIONS OF 5 U.S.C. 5584 WHICH ALLOWS WAIVER IN CERTAIN CASES. WHEN MR. SNIDER'S RURAL MAIL CARRYING ROUTE WAS REDUCED FROM 88 TO 78 MILES (MEANING THAT HIS ANNUAL SALARY WAS REDUCED FROM $6481 TO $6231) AS THE RESULT OF THE CANCELLATION OF A DETOUR WHEN A NEW BRIDGE WAS OPENED, HE WAS OBLIGATED TO QUESTION AT THAT TIME THE CONTINUATION OF HIS OLD SALARY AND MILEAGE RATE.

TO MR. MARION L. SNIDER:

WE REFER FURTHER TO YOUR LETTER OF JANUARY 22, 1971, WHEREIN YOU SEEK RECONSIDERATION OF THE DENIAL OF YOUR REQUEST FOR WAIVER OF THE CLAIM OF THE UNITED STATES FOR RECOVERY FROM YOU OF $946.02 ERRONEOUSLY PAID. YOU REQUEST WAIVER CONSIDERATION UNDER THE PROVISIONS OF 5 U.S.C. 5584 AS ADDED BY PUBLIC LAW 90-616, APPROVED OCTOBER 21, 1968.

THE REQUEST WAS DENIED IN OUR CLAIMS DIVISION LETTER OF DECEMBER 4, 1970, TO THE DIRECTOR, POSTAL DATA CENTER IN ATLANTA, GEORGIA. YOU HAVE ENCLOSED A COPY OF THE DIRECTOR'S LETTER OF DECEMBER 17, 1970, TO YOU SETTING FORTH THE REASONS FOR THE DENIAL OF YOUR REQUEST. AS POINTED OUT IN THOSE LETTERS, YOU WERE OVERPAID FOR THE PERIOD APRIL 1, 1967, THROUGH NOVEMBER 15, 1968, FOR PAY IN THE GROSS AMOUNT OF $408.42 AND FOR EQUIPMENT ALLOWANCE IN THE GROSS AMOUNT OF $537.60, A TOTAL OF $946.02. COPY OF YOUR OFFICIAL RURAL ROUTE DESCRIPTION, POD FORM 4003, APPROVED ON APRIL 3, 1967, WITH AN EFFECTIVE DATE OF APRIL 1, 1967, SHOWS THAT THE LENGTH OF YOUR RURAL ROUTE WAS REDUCED FROM 88 TO 78 MILES AND THAT YOUR ANNUAL SALARY WAS REDUCED FROM $6,481 TO $6,231. THE REDUCTION IN ROUTE AS NOTED ON POD FORM 4003 WAS CAUSED BY THE CANCELLATION OF A DETOUR DUE TO A BRIDGE BEING OPENED TO THE PUBLIC AS OF APRIL 1, 1967. THE RECORD SHOWS THAT A COPY OF THE POD FORM 4003 ADVISING OF THIS REDUCTION IN SALARY AND MILEAGE WAS GIVEN TO YOU. HOWEVER, THE ORIGINAL WAS INADVERTENTLY FILED IN YOUR PAYROLL AUDIT FOLDER WITHOUT BEING PROCESSED TO YOUR MASTER PAYROLL RECORD WITH THE RESULT THAT BOTH YOUR MILEAGE PAYMENT AND YOUR ANNUAL SALARY WERE ERRONEOUSLY CONTINUED WITHOUT CHANGE.

WITH RESPECT TO THE OVERPAYMENT OF $537.60 FOR EQUIPMENT MAINTENANCE BASED ON YOUR MILEAGE, AS SET FORTH IN THE DISALLOWANCE LETTERS, THERE IS NO PROPER BASIS FOR WAIVER CONSIDERATION SINCE EQUIPMENT MAINTENANCE IS NOT CONSIDERED PAY UNDER THE PROVISIONS OF 5 U.S.C. 5584. ACCORDINGLY, YOUR REQUEST FOR RECONSIDERATION CAN ONLY APPLY TO THE OVERPAYMENT OF PAY IN THE AMOUNT OF $408.42.

CONCERNING THE OVERPAYMENT OF PAY, YOU DISAGREE WITH THE CONCLUSION THAT YOU SHOULD REASONABLY HAVE BEEN AWARE OF THE ERROR. YOU STATE THAT YOU WERE TRANSFERRED FROM THE VETERANS ADMINISTRATION TO YOUR POSITION OF RURAL CARRIER ON AUGUST 13, 1966, WITH A SALARY RATE OF $6,306 PER ANNUM. THEREAFTER, YOU STATE YOU HAD NINE SALARY CHANGES BETWEEN AUGUST 13, 1966, AND AUGUST 10, 1968. SPECIFICALLY, YOU IDENTIFY A SALARY CHANGE NOTICE OF $6,657 EFFECTIVE AUGUST 12, 1967, AS WELL AS ON THE SAME DATE A CHANGE NOTICE TO $6,407, AND A CHANGE NOTICE TO $6,988 EFFECTIVE OCTOBER 7, 1967. YOU URGE THAT WITH SUCH CHANGES CONTINUING TO AUGUST 10, 1968, YOU HAD NO WAY OF KNOWING THAT YOU WERE BEING OVERPAID. ADDITIONALLY, YOU STATE YOU VISITED THE POSTAL REGION AT ATLANTA TO REQUEST ADVICE ON THE CORRECTNESS OF YOUR SALARY. YOU STATE THAT A MRS. CLAIR NASH OF THE PERSONNEL DIVISION DISCUSSED THE MATTER WITH YOU AND SCREENED YOUR FILE BUT FOUND NO ERROR AT THAT TIME.

THE SEVERAL CHANGES IN SALARY RATE WHICH YOU MENTION AS WELL AS THE INDICATION OF YOUR VISIT TO THE REGIONAL OFFICE WERE PART OF THE RECORD AT THE TIME OF OUR LETTER OF DECEMBER 4, 1970. WE NOTE THAT FROM APRIL 1, 1967, WHEN THE PAYMENT CHANGES SHOULD HAVE BEEN EFFECTED TO ACCORD WITH THE REDUCTION IN YOUR ROUTE FROM 88 TO 78 MILES, UNTIL AUGUST 12, 1967, THAT NO OTHER CHANGES IN RATE OCCURRED, AND THAT DURING THIS TIME IN ADDITION TO HAVING A COPY OF POD FORM 4003 REDUCING THE LENGTH OF YOUR ROUTE, YOU WOULD HAVE BEEN DRIVING THE SHORTER ROUTE AND USING THE BRIDGE. IN SUCH CIRCUMSTANCES IT WAS INCUMBENT UPON YOU TO QUESTION AT THAT TIME THE CONTINUATION OF YOUR OLD SALARY RATE AND MILEAGE PAYMENT. THE ERROR IN YOUR RECORDS WAS NOT DISCOVERED UNTIL THE LOCAL POSTMASTER AT MITCHELL, GEORGIA, MADE INQUIRY TO THE POSTAL DATA CENTER ON NOVEMBER 21, 1968, CONCERNING THE RATE OF MILEAGE YOU WERE BEING PAID BECAUSE YOU BELIEVED THERE WAS AN ERROR. THERE IS NO OTHER OFFICIAL RECORD OF YOUR HAVING QUESTIONED THE ACCURACY OF THE PAYMENTS.

IN VIEW OF YOUR OBLIGATION TO MAKE PROMPT INQUIRY CONCERNING THE CORRECTNESS OF YOUR PAY FOR PERIODS AFTER APRIL 1, 1967, IT CANNOT BE SAID THAT YOU WERE WITHOUT FAULT IN THE MATTER SO AS TO BE ENTITLED TO WAIVER OF THE ERRONEOUS PAYMENTS UNDER THE AUTHORITY OF 5 U.S.C. 5584. THE PREVIOUS ACTION DENYING YOUR CLAIM IS THEREFORE SUSTAINED.