Comments on the Occurrence of Overpayments

B-197582(RJH): Published: Feb 25, 1980. Publicly Released: Feb 25, 1980.

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GAO was asked to comment on two of its recent decisions which were the subjects of a newspaper article. Both decisions were appeals of Claims Division denials of requests for waiver of U. S. claims against Federal employees. The first decision involved an administrative error in which an agency failed to deduct annuity payments from an employee's salary as required by law. There was no dispute in this case that an administrative error had occurred, and nothing indicated that the employee had actual or constructive knowledge that the amount should have been deducted. Accordingly, under the statute and the implementing regulations, GAO concluded that the employee was entitled to a waiver of his indebtedness. In the second case, an employee appealed the denial of his claim for payment of 1 week's salary and 57 hours of accrued annual leave. The record showed that a son was interviewed and selected for a Government job that was supposed to be offered to his father. The error went unnoticed until the temporary job was almost over. The issue presented was whether or not an employee, whose appointment was found to have been improper, was entitled to receive his unpaid compensation and payment for unused annual leave. GAO ruled that an employee who performs services for the Government is entitlwd to receive any unpaid compensation and credit for good-faith service for purposes of accrual of annual leave and to a lump-sum payment for unused leave upon separation, unless (1) the appointment is made in violation of an absolute statutory prohibition, or (2) the employee is guilty of fraud in regard to the appointment or has deliberately misrepresented or falsified a material matter. There was no statutory bar to the employee's employment, and the record showed that he acted honestly and in good faith and was not responsible for the mistake regarding his identity. GAO found no fraud or misrepresentation on the part of the employee.

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