[Reconsideration of Claim for Waiver of Debt to the United States]

B-210211: Apr 11, 1983

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A Navy employee appealed a Claims Group denial of his request for waiver of a claim against him, which arose after he received a lump-sum payment for annual leave following the termination of his government employment. A review of the record showed that the separated employee was hired by the Navy 4 days after separation but did not return the lump-sum payment as required by regulations. The employee contended that: (1) he had followed the advice of appropriate government personnel not to return the payment; (2) the debt was more than 5 years old; (3) the regulations were not applied equitably to other similarly situated former employees; and (4) waiver of the claim was in the best interest of the government. GAO noted that, although government employees are entitled to an annual leave lump-sum payment upon termination of employment, if the employee is rehired by the government before the end of the projected period covered by the payment, a refund of the payment is required. GAO held that: (1) since the employee was hired by the Navy on the second day of the projected period, he should have known that he was liable for the refund, despite the erroneous advice; (2) neither the delay in collection nor the liability of other employees provided a basis for waiver; and (3) since repayment may not be waived, it was irrelevant whether waiver was in the best interests of the government. Accordingly, the Claims Group's denial was sustained.

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