B-237234, Jan 18, 1990

B-237234: Jan 18, 1990

Additional Materials:

Contact:

Edda Emmanuelli Perez
(202) 512-2853
EmmanuelliPerezE@gao.gov

 

Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800
youngc1@gao.gov

CIVILIAN PERSONNEL - Compensation - Overpayments - Error detection - Debt collection - Waiver DIGEST: This summary letter decision addresses well established rules which have been discussed in previous Comptroller General decisions. He did not question the accuracy of a series of Standard Form 50s (personnel action notices) that showed premiums were being deducted for coverage of one times his salary. Fault is considered to exist if the employee should have known that an error existed but failed to take corrective action. We consistently have held that an employee who has received documents that on their face indicate that premiums are being deducted for coverage lower than that elected by the employee is on notice of the error.

B-237234, Jan 18, 1990

CIVILIAN PERSONNEL - Compensation - Overpayments - Error detection - Debt collection - Waiver DIGEST: This summary letter decision addresses well established rules which have been discussed in previous Comptroller General decisions. To locate substantive decisions addressing this issue, refer to decisions indexed under the above listed index entry.

Thomas G. Stevens:

Mr. Thomas G. Stevens, a civilian employee of the Air Force, appeals a Claims Group settlement denying his request for a waiver of $766.45 in erroneous payments made to him as a result of his agency's underdeduction of Federal Employees Group Life Insurance premiums. The Claims Group denied waiver because after Mr. Stevens elected optional insurance coverage at twice his annual salary rate, he did not question the accuracy of a series of Standard Form 50s (personnel action notices) that showed premiums were being deducted for coverage of one times his salary.

Absent any fraud, misrepresentation, fault or lack of good faith on the part of an employee receiving an erroneous payment, the Comptroller General may waive collection of the erroneous payment if it "would be against equity and good conscience and not in the best interests of the United States." 5 U.S.C. Sec. 5584. Fault is considered to exist if the employee should have known that an error existed but failed to take corrective action. See 4 C.F.R. Sec. 91.5. We consistently have held that an employee who has received documents that on their face indicate that premiums are being deducted for coverage lower than that elected by the employee is on notice of the error, and the employee will be held at least partially at fault for failing to seek corrective action. See Gordon Field, M.D., B-224910, June 22, 1987; Rosalie L. Wong, B-199262, Mar. 10, 1981. Compare Hollis W. Bowers, 65 Comp.Gen. 216 (1986) (error not readily apparent from face of documents received by the employee).

Accordingly, we hold that Mr. Stevens was at least partially at fault for failing to detect and report the erroneous statement of insurance coverage on his Standard Form 50s, and we sustain the Claims Group's decision denying waiver.