U.S. Code of Federal Regulations

Regulations most recently checked for updates: Sep 26, 2022

§ 20.50 - Purpose and scope.

The regulations in this subpart establish the policies and procedures to implement section 11 of the Debt Collection Act of 1982 (Pub. L. 97-365), 31 U.S.C. 3717. Among other things, this statute authorizes the head of each agency to assess interest, penalties and administrative costs against debtors with respect to delinquent debts arising under the agency's program. This subpart establishes the standards and procedures that will be followed by the Department of Labor in assessing such charges.

§ 20.51 - Exemptions.

(a) The provisions of 31 U.S.C. 3717 do not apply:

(1) To debts owed by any State or local government;

(2) To debts arising under contracts which were executed prior to, and were in effect on (i.e., were not completed as of), October 25, 1982;

(3) To debts where an applicable statute, regulation required by statute, loan agreement, or contract either prohibits such charges or explicitly fixes the charges that apply to the debts involved; or

(4) To debts arising under the Social Security Act, the Internal Revenue Code of 1954, or the tariff laws of the United States.

(b) Agencies are authorized to assess interest and related charges on debts which are not subject to 31 U.S.C. 3717 to the extent authorized under the common law or other applicable statutory authority.

§ 20.52 - Definitions.

For purposes of this subpart -

(a) The terms claim and debt are deemed synonymous and interchangeable. They refer to an amount of money or property which has been determined by an appropriate agency official to be owed to the United States from any person, organization or entity, except another federal agency.

(b) A debt is considered delinquent if it has not been paid by the date specified in the agency's initial demand letter (§ 20.54), unless satisfactory payment arrangements have been made by that date, or if, at any time thereafter, the debtor fails to satisfy his obligations under payment agreement with the Department of Labor, or any agency thereof.

§ 20.53 - Agency responsibilities.

(a) The Department of Labor agency responsible for administering the program under which a delinquent debt arose shall assess interest and related charges on the debt, in accordance with guidelines established by the Chief Financial Officer. In the case where a debt arises under the program of two or more Department of Labor agencies, or in such other instances as the Chief Financial Officer, or his or her designee, may deem appropriate, the Chief Financial Officer, or his or her designee, may determine which agency, or official, shall have responsibility for carrying out the provisions of this subpart.

(b) Before assessing any charges on a delinquent debt, the responsible agency must notify the debtor of the Department's policies for assessing interest, penalties and administrative costs and must ensure that the debt is overdue for the respective periods specified in these regulations.

(c) Each Department of Labor agency is responsible for ensuring the continued accuracy of calculations and records relating to its assessment of charges, and for the prompt notification of the debtor of any substantial change in the status or amount of the claim. As appropriate, the Agencies should promptly follow up on any allegation made by a debtor that principal or charges is in error. Agencies should respond promptly to communication from the debtor, within 30 days whenever feasible.

§ 20.54 - Notification of charges.

The agency head (or designee) responsible for carrying out the provisions of this subpart shall mail or hand-deliver an initial demand for payment to the debtor. In the initial demand, the debtor shall be notified that interest on the debt will start to accrue from the date on which the notice is mailed or hand-delivered, but that payment of interest will be waived if the debt is paid by the due date, or within 30 days of the date of notice, if no due date is specified. The initial demand shall also state that administrative costs of recovering the delinquent debt will be assessed if payment is not received by the due date.

§ 20.55 - Second and subsequent notifications.

(a) In accordance with guidelines established by the Chief Financial Officer, the responsible agency head (or designee) shall send progressively stronger second and subsequent demands for payment, if payment or other appropriate response is not received within the time specified by the initial demand. Unless a response to the first or second demand indicates that a further demand would be futile or the debtor's response does not require rebuttal, the second and subsequent demands shall generally be made at 30-day intervals from the first, and shall state that a 6 percent per annum penalty will be assessed after the debt has been delinquent 90 days, accruing from the date it became delinquent. An agency head (or designee), however, in his or her sole discretion can send second and subsequent demands at shorter intervals. The second and subsequent demands shall identify the amount of interest then accrued on the debt, as well as administrative costs thus far assessed. In determining the timing of the demand letters, agencies should give due regard to the need to act promptly so that, if necessary, the debt may be referred in a timely manner to the Department of Justice for litigation. When the agency head (or designee) deems it appropriate to protect the government's interests (for example, to prevent the statute of limitations 28 U.S.C. 2415,from,written,including.

(b) Agencies shall also include in their demand letters the notice provisions to debtors required by other regulations of the Labor Department, pertaining to waiver of the indebtedness, administrative offset, salary offset and disclosure of information to credit reporting agencies, to the extent that such inclusion is appropriate and practicable.

[50 FR 5202, Feb. 6, 1985, as amended at 85 FR 83817, Dec. 23, 2020]

§ 20.56 - Delivery of notices.

The responsible agency head (or designee) shall exercise due care to ensure that demand letters are dated and mailed or hand-delivered on the same day that they are actually dated. If evidence suggests that the debtor is no longer located at the address of record, reasonable action shall be taken to obtain a current address.

§ 20.57 - Accrual of interest.

Interest shall accrue from the date on which notice of the debt and the interest requirements is first mailed or hand-delivered to the debtor, using the most current address that is available to the agency.

§ 20.58 - Rate of interest.

(a) The rate of interest assessed shall be the rate of the current value of funds to the United States Treasury as published in the Federal Register (as of the date the notice is sent), unless another rate is specified by statute, regulations or preexisting contract condition. The Office of the Chief Financial Officer will notify agencies promptly of the current Treasury rate. The responsible agency may assess a higher rate of interest if it reasonably determines that a higher rate is necessary to protect the interests of the United States, and such rate is agreed to by the Chief Financial Officer (or his designee). The rate of interest prescribed in section 6621 of the Internal Revenue Code shall be sought for backwages recovered in litigation by the Department.

(b) The rate of interest as initially assessed shall remain fixed for the duration of the indebtedness, except that where a debtor has defaulted on a repayment agreement and seeks to enter into a new agreement, the agency may set a new interest rate which reflects the current value of funds to the Treasury at the time the new agreement is executed.

(c) Interest shall not be assessed on interest, penalties or administrative costs required by this subpart. However, if the debtor defaults on a previous repayment agreement, charges which accrued but were not collected under the defaulted agreement shall be added to the principal to be paid under a new repayment agreement.

§ 20.59 - Assessment of administrative costs.

(a) The Department of Labor agency responsible for collecting the claim shall assess against debtors charges to cover administrative costs incurred as a result of the delinquent debt; that is, the additional costs incurred in processing and handling the debt because it became delinquent. Calculation of administrative costs shall be based on cost analyses establishing an average of actual additional costs incurred by the agency in processing and handling claims against other debtors in similar stages of delinquency.

(b) In addition to assessing the costs listed in the administrative cost fee schedule, the responsible agency may include the costs incurred in obtaining a credit report or in using a private debt collector, to the extent they are attributable to delinquency.

(c) The Chief Financial Officer shall issue each year a schedule providing the costs associated with various common activities required to collect delinquent debts.

§ 20.60 - Application of partial payments to amounts owed.

When a debt is paid in partial or installment payments, amounts received by the responsible agency should be applied first to outstanding penalty and administrative cost charges, second to accrued interest, and third to outstanding principal.

§ 20.61 - Waiver.

(a) The Department of Labor agency responsible for collecting the claim shall waive the collection of interest on the debt or any portion of the debt which is paid within 30 days after the date on which interest began to accrue. This 30-day period may be extended for another 30 days on a case-by-case basis, if the agency reasonably determines that such action is appropriate, and is in accordance with these regulations. Also, the responsible agency may waive charges assessed under this subpart, based on criteria specified in the Federal Claims Collection Standards relating to the compromise of claims (without regard to the amount of the debt), or if the agency determines that collection of these charges would be against equity and good conscience or not be in the best interests of the United States. Waiver under the first sentence of this paragraph is mandatory. Under the second and third sentences waiver is permissive and may be exercised only in accordance with the standards set by these regulations.

(b) Agencies may waive interest and other charges under appropriate circumstances, including, for example:

(1) Pending consideration of a request for reconsideration, administrative review, or waiver under a permissive statute,

(2) If the agency has accepted an installment plan, there is no fault or lack of good faith on the part of the debtor, and the amount of interest is large enough in relation to the size of the debt and the amount of the installments that the debtor can reasonably afford to pay so that the debt can never be repaid, or

(3) If repayment of the full amount of the debt is made after the date upon which interest and other charges became payable and the estimated costs of recovering the residual interest balance exceed the amount owed the Agency.

(c) Where a mandatory waiver or review statute applies, interest and related charges may not be assessed for those periods during which collection action must be suspended.

§ 20.62 - Responsibilities of the Chief Financial Officer.

The Chief Financial Officer, or his or her designee, shall provide appropriate and binding written or other guidance to Department of Labor agencies and officials in carrying out this subpart, including the issuance of guidelines and instructions, which he or she may deem appropriate. The Chief Financial Officer shall also take such administrative steps as may be appropriate to carry out the purposes and ensure the effective implementation of this regulation.