B-198713.3, Jun 9, 1989

B-198713.3: Jun 9, 1989

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Part 31 are amended to permit this statute of limitations to be satisfied if a claim is timely filed with the agency whose activities gave rise to it. Part 31 is in the form of an interim rule which is effective upon the date of publication in the Federal Register. This amendment provides that a claim is considered timely filed when it is filed either with GAO or with the agency whose activities gave rise to it within 6 years after it first accrues. Immediate implementation is desirable. We are therefore issuing it as an interim rule. We will consider the comments received and take them into account in developing a final rule. EFFECTIVE DATE: This interim rule is effective with respect to claims not barred by 31 U.S.C. 3702(b) as of (insert date of publication in the FEDERAL REGISTER).

B-198713.3, Jun 9, 1989

APPROPRIATIONS/FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT - Claims Against Government - Statutes of limitation - Administrative regulations - Modification DIGEST: The Barring Act, 31 U.S.C. Sec. 3702(b), provides that, with limited exceptions, claims against the government within the jurisdiction of the GAO must be received by the Comptroller General within 6 years after the claim accrues or be forever barred. The GAO's claims regulations in 4 C.F.R. Part 31 are amended to permit this statute of limitations to be satisfied if a claim is timely filed with the agency whose activities gave rise to it. The amendment to 4 C.F.R. Part 31 is in the form of an interim rule which is effective upon the date of publication in the Federal Register.

Billing Code 1610-01

GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE

4 CFR Part 31

Claims Against the United States; General Procedure

AGENCY: General Accounting Office

ACTION: Interim Rule

SUMMARY: This interim rule amends the provisions of the General Accounting Office's claims regulations concerning the Barring Act, 31 U.S.C. 3702(b), by allowing claims against the United States to be filed with the individual federal agencies. Under the prior regulations a claim must be filed with the General Accounting Office (GAO) to toll the 6-year statute of limitations established by the Act. This amendment provides that a claim is considered timely filed when it is filed either with GAO or with the agency whose activities gave rise to it within 6 years after it first accrues. Since this amendment relieves a restriction on the filing of claims, immediate implementation is desirable. We are therefore issuing it as an interim rule. After a 60-day comment period, we will consider the comments received and take them into account in developing a final rule.

This rule also makes editorial changes to update 4 CFR Part 31 and bring it into conformance with existing administrative practices of the General Accounting Office.

EFFECTIVE DATE: This interim rule is effective with respect to claims not barred by 31 U.S.C. 3702(b) as of (insert date of publication in the FEDERAL REGISTER). Comments must be received by (insert date 60 days after effective date).

ADDRESS: Comments should be addressed to: Robert L. Higgins, Associate General Counsel, U.S. General Accounting Office, Room 1830, 441 G Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20548.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Robert L. Higgins at FTS 275-6410 or commercial (202) 275-6410.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The so-called Barring Act, 31 U.S.C. 3702(b) (1982), provides that, with certain exceptions, a claim within the settlement jurisdiction of the General Accounting Office "must be received by the Comptroller General within 6 years after the claim accrues." Since enactment of the Barring Act in 1940, we have required that such claims be filed directly with GAO within the allowed 6 years. Therefore, claims filed with any agency other than GAO did not stop the running of the statute.

The fundamental purpose of a statute of limitations is to bar stale claims. It requires the assertion of claims before so much time has elapsed that evidence necessary to resolve the claim becomes difficult or impossible to obtain. We believe this purpose is served not only when a claim is filed with GAO within the required 6-year period, but also when it is filed with the agency in which the claim arose and which will initially adjudicate it.

Accordingly, GAO's claims regulations in 4 CFR Part 31 are being amended to provide that a claim, within GAO's settlement jurisdiction, which is received by the agency whose program or activity gave rise to the claim within the statutory 6-year period, shall be treated as having been timely filed for purposes of the Barring Act. Agencies are urged to develop procedures to ensure that the date of receipt is clearly stamped on the claim to avoid disputes over the filing date.

Request for Comments

Comments will be solicited for 60 days after publication of this document, and a final document discussing comments received and any amendments required will be published in the FEDERAL REGISTER as soon as possible.

List of Subjects in 4 CFR Part 31

Accounting, Claims, Filing procedures, General Accounting Office, Government employees, Military personnel

For the reasons set forth in the preamble, 4 CFR Part 31 is amended as follows:

PART 31 - CLAIMS AGAINST THE UNITED STATES; GENERAL PROCEDURE

1. The authority citation for Part 31 continues to read as follows:

Authority: 31 U.S.C. 711. Interpret or apply 31 U.S.C. 3702.

2. The first sentence of Sec. 31.1 is amended by adding the words "or in the agency out of whose activities the claim arose" after the words "the General Accounting Office."

3. Section 31.4 is revised to read as follows:

Sec. 31.4 Where claims should be filed

A claimant should file his or her claim with the administrative department or agency out of whose activities the claim arose. Claims which cannot be resolved by the department or agency shall be transmitted to the Claims Group, General Accounting Office, for resolution. Claims referred by agencies to the General Accounting Office, or any correspondence regarding a claim, should be addressed to:

Claims Group

General Government Division

U.S. General Accounting Office

Washington, D.C. 20548.

4. Section 31.5 paragraph (a) is revised to read as follows:

Sec. 31.5 Statutory limitations on claims

(a) Statutory limitations relating to claims generally. All claims against the United States Government, except as otherwise provided by law, are subject to the 6-year statute of limitations contained in 31 U.S.C. 3702(b). To satisfy this statute of limitations, a claim must be received by the General Accounting Office, or by the agency out of whose activities the claim arose, within 6 years from the date it accrued. The burden of establishing compliance with the statute of limitations rests with the claimant.

5. Section 31.6 is amended by removing the words "Accounting and Financial Management Division" wherever they appear and adding, in their place, the words "General Government Division."

6. Section 31.8 paragraph (a) is amended by removing the words "Accounting and Financial Management Division" and adding, in their place, the words "General Government Division."