[Request for Advance Decision Concerning Propriety of Paying Claim of Bureau of Reclamation Employee]

B-216195: Jan 28, 1985

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An advance GAO decision was requested regarding the propriety of paying a claim presented by a Bureau of Reclamation employee for a refund of moneys deducted by the Bureau from an amount otherwise due him. The amount due the claimant was based on settlement of a claim for damages to his household goods which occurred during transportation incident to his change of station. From this settlement, the Bureau deducted the amounts charged by the carrier for the excess weight of the shipment and waiting time, as well as interest on these charges. The claimant contended that: (1) the excess weight and waiting-time charges were based on fraudulent representations by the carrier; and (2) no interest should have accrued until the dispute over his debt was settled. GAO found that: (1) the claimant did not challenge the authenticity of the carrier's weight tickets, which constitute a valid basis for computing net weight; (2) the claimant failed to show that the waiting-time charges were unreasonable; and (3) government agencies are required to charge interest on outstanding debts. Accordingly, the claimant did not establish fraud or provide another basis for reversing the Bureau's determination of charges.

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