Liability of Certifying Officers for Advance of Severance Pay to Foreign Service Local Employee Later Terminated for Cause

B-192511: Jun 8, 1979

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Shirley Jones
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The Department of State (DOS) requested an opinion on issues concerning severance payment made to a Foreign Service National employee of the Embassy or consulate in Colombia. DOS may issue instructions to the U.S. Embassy in Colombia, stating that the certifying officer will not be liable for advance severance pay paid to eligible employees who subsequently lose eligibility for such payment. This is provided that certification of payment was made on the basis of information provided the certifying officer. In addition, DOS may follow local practice as to prevailing wage rates and compensation practices. However, this does not confer authority to follow local practice as to collection of claims in favor of the United States. DOS is still required to attempt collection of the advance severance pay. The fact that payment was proper at the time it was made does not affect the debt to the United States that arose by reason of the employee's termination for cause.