PART 15—DEBT COLLECTION PROCEDURES
Subpart A—Application and Coverage
Subpart B—Administrative Collection of Claims
Subpart C—Compromise of a Claim
Subpart D—Suspension or Termination of Collection Action
Subpart E—Referral of a Claim
Authority: Atomic Energy Act secs. 161, 186 (42 U.S.C. 2201, 2236); Energy Reorganization Act sec. 201 (42 U.S.C. 5841); sec. 1, Pub. L. 97–258 (31 U.S.C. 3713); sec. 5, Pub. L. 89–508, (31 U.S.C. 3716); Pub. L. 97–365 (31 U.S.C. 3719); Federal Claims Collection Standards, 31 CFR Chapter IX, parts 900–904; 31 U.S.C. 3701, 3716; 31 CFR Sec. 285; 26 U.S.C. sec. 6402(d); 31 U.S.C. 3720A; 26 U.S.C. 6402(c); 42 U.S.C. 664; Pub. L. 104–134, as amended (31 U.S.C. 3713); 5 U.S.C. 5514; E.O. 12146 (3 CFR, 1980 Comp. pp. 409–412); E.O. 12988 (3 CFR, 1996 Comp., pp. 157–163); Government Paperwork Elimination Act sec. 1704 (44 U.S.C. 3504 note).
Source: 47 FR 7616, Feb. 22, 1982, unless otherwise noted.
[77 FR 39904, Jul. 6, 2012]
Subpart A--Application and Coverage
§ 15.1 Application.
(a) This part applies to claims for the payment of debts owed to the United States Government in the form of money or property and; unless a different procedure is specified in a statute, regulation, or contract; prescribes procedures by which the NRC --
(1) Collects, compromises, suspends, offsets, and terminates collection actions for claims;
(2) Determines and collects interest and other charges on these claims; and
(3) Refers unpaid claims over 180 days delinquent to Treasury for offset and collection and to the DOJ for litigation.
(b) The following are examples of kinds of debts to which special statutory and administrative procedures apply:
(1) A claim against an employee for erroneous payment of pay and allowances subject to waiver under 5 U.S.C. 5584 are covered by the provisions of 10 CFR part 16.
(2) A claim against an applicant for, or a holder or former holder of, an NRC license involving the payment of civil penalties imposed by the NRC under 10 CFR 2.205.
(3) A claim involved in a case pending before any Federal Contract Appeals Board or Grant Appeals Board. However, nothing in this part prevents negotiation and settlement of a claim pending before a Board.
(c) The NRC is not limited to collection remedies contained in the revised Federal Claims Collection Standards (FCCS). The FCCS is not intended to impair common law remedies.
[47 FR 7616, Feb. 22, 1982, as amended at 55 FR 32377, Aug. 9, 1990; 56 FR 51830, Oct. 16, 1991; 67 FR 30318, May 6, 2002]
§ 15.2 Definitions.
Administrative offset means withholding money payable by the United States Government to, or held by the Government for, a person to satisfy a debt the person owes the United States Government.
Administrative wage garnishment is the process of withholding amounts from an employee's disposable pay and the paying of those amounts to a creditor in satisfaction of a withholding order.
Claim and debt are used synonymously to refer to an amount of money, funds, or property that has been determined by an agency official to be owed to the United States from any person, organization, or entity, except another Federal agency. For the purposes of administrative offset under 31 U.S.C. 3716, the terms claim and debt include an amount of money, funds, or property owed by a person to a State (including past-due support being enforced by a State), the District of Columbia, American Samoa, Guam, the United States Virgin Islands, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, or the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.
Cross-servicing means that the Treasury or another debt collection center is taking appropriate debt collection action on behalf of one or more Federal agencies or a unit or subagency thereof.
Delinquent. A debt is considered delinquent if it has not been paid by the date specified in the initial written demand for payment or applicable contractual agreement with the NRC unless other satisfactory payment arrangements have been made by that date. If the debtor fails to satisfy obligations under a payment agreement with the NRC after other payment arrangements have been made, the debt becomes a delinquent debt.
Federal agencies include agencies of the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of the Government, including Government corporations.
License means any license, permit, or other approval issued by the Commission.
Payment in full means payment of the total debt due the United States, including any interest, penalty, and administrative costs of collection assessed against the debtor.
Recoupment is a special method for adjusting debts arising under the same transaction or occurrence. For example, obligations arising under the same contract generally are subject to recoupment.
Salary offset means an administrative offset to collect a debt under 5 U.S.C. 5514 by deduction(s) at one or more officially established pay intervals from the current pay account of an employee without his/her consent.
Tax refund offset means withholding or reducing a tax refund payment by an amount necessary to satisfy a debt owed by the payee(s) of a tax refund payment.
Treasury as used in 10 CFR part 15 means the Department of the Treasury.
Withholding order means any order for withholding or garnishment of pay issued by an agency, or judicial or administrative body.
[55 FR 32377, Aug. 9, 1990, as amended at 56 FR 51830, Oct. 16, 1991; 67 FR 30318, May 6, 2002]
§ 15.3 Communications.
Unless otherwise specified, communications concerning the regulations in this part may be addressed to the Secretary of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and sent either by mail to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Washington, DC 20555-0001, ATTN: Rulemakings and Adjudications Staff; by hand delivery to the NRC's offices at 11555 Rockville Pike, One White Flint North, Rockville, Maryland; or, where practicable, by electronic submission, for example, via Electronic Information Exchange, or CD-ROM. Electronic submissions must be made in a manner that enables the NRC to receive, read, authenticate, distribute, and archive the submission, and process and retrieve it a single page at a time. Detailed guidance on making electronic submissions can be obtained by visiting the NRC’s Web site at http://www.nrc.gov/site-help/e-submittals.html; by e-mail to MSHD.Resource@nrc.gov; or by writing the Office of Information Services, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Washington, DC 20555–0001. The guidance discusses, among other topics, the formats the NRC can accept, the use of electronic signatures, and the treatment of nonpublic information.
[63 FR 15743, Apr. 1, 1998 as amended at 68 FR 58801, Oct. 10, 2003; 70 FR 69421, Nov. 16, 2005; 72 FR 33386, Jun. 18, 2007; 74 FR 62680, Dec. 1, 2009]
§ 15.5 Claims that are covered.
(a) These procedures generally apply to any claim for payment of a debt which:
(1) Results from activities of the NRC, including fees imposed under part 170 and part 171; or
(2) Is referred to the NRC for collection.
(b) These procedures do not apply to:
(1) A claim based on a civil monetary penalty for violation of a licensing requirement unless § 2.205 of this chapter provides otherwise;
(2) A claim as to which there is an indication of fraud, the presentation of a false claim, or misrepresentation on the part of the debtor or any other party having an interest in the claim;
(3) A claim based in whole or in part on conduct in violation of the antitrust laws;
(4) A claim under the Internal Revenue Code of 1986.
(5) A claim between Federal agencies. Federal agencies should attempt to resolve interagency claims as referenced in Executive Order 12146 (3 CFR, 1980 Comp., pp. 409-412).
(6) A claim once it becomes subject to salary offset under 5 U.S.C. 5514. These claims are subject to the provisions of 10 CFR part 16.
(7) A claim involving bankruptcy is covered by Title 11 of the United States Code.
[47 FR 7616, Feb. 22, 1982, as amended at 55 FR 32377, Aug. 9, 1990; 56 FR 51830, Oct. 16, 1991; 67 FR 30318, May 6, 2002]
§ 15.7 Monetary limitation on NRC's authority.
The NRC's authority to compromise a claim, or to terminate or suspend collection action on a claim covered by these procedures, is limited by 31 U.S.C. 3711(a) to claims that --
(a) Have not been referred to another Federal Agency for further collection actions; and
(b) Do not exceed $100,000 (exclusive of interest, penalties, and administrative charges) or such higher amount as the Attorney General shall from time to time prescribe for purposes of compromise or suspension or termination of collection activity.
[47 FR 7616, Feb. 22, 1982, as amended at 55 FR 32378, Aug. 9, 1990; 67 FR 30318, May 6, 2002]
§ 15.8 Information Collection Requirements: OMB approval.
This part contains no information collection requirements, and therefore, is not subject to the requirements of the Paperwork Reduction Act (44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq.).
[67 FR 30319, May 6, 2002]
§ 15.9 No private rights created.
(a) The failure of NRC to include in this part any provision of the FCCS, 31 CFR Chapter IX, parts 900-904, does not prevent the NRC from applying these provisions.
(b) A debtor may not use the failure of the NRC to comply with any provision of this part or of the Federal Claims Collections Standards as a defense.
[47 FR 7616, Feb. 22, 1982, as amended at 55 FR 32378, Aug. 9, 1990; 67 FR 30319, May 6, 2002]
§ 15.11 Form of payment.
These procedures are directed primarily to the recovery of money on behalf of the Government. The NRC may demand:
(a) The return of specific property; or
(b) The performance of specific services.
[47 FR 7616, Feb. 22, 1982, as amended at 67 FR 30319, May 6, 2002]
§ 15.13 Subdivision of claims.
The NRC shall consider a debtor's liability arising from a particular transaction or contract as a single claim in determining whether the claim is less than the monetary limitation for the purpose of compromising or suspending or terminating collection action. A claim may not be subdivided to avoid the monetary limitation established by 31 U.S.C. 3711(a)(2) and § 15.7.
[55 FR 32378, Aug. 9, 1990]
Subpart B--Administrative Collection of Claims
§ 15.20 Aggressive agency collection activity.
(a) The NRC shall take aggressive action to collect all debts. These collection activities will be undertaken promptly and follow-up action will be taken as appropriate. These regulations do not require the Department of Justice, Department of the Treasury (Treasury), or any other Treasury-designated collection center to duplicate collection activities previously undertaken by NRC.
(b) Debt referred or transferred to Treasury or to a Treasury-designated debt collection center under the authority of 31 U.S.C. 3711(g) must be serviced, collected, or compromised, or the collection action will be suspended or terminated, in accordance with the statutory requirements and authorities applicable to the collection of the debts.
(c) The NRC shall cooperate with other agencies in their debt collection activities.
(d) The NRC will consider referring debts that are less than 180 days delinquent to Treasury or to a Treasury-designated debt collection center to accomplish efficient, cost-effective debt collection. Referrals to debt collection centers are at the discretion of, and for a time period acceptable to, Treasury.
(e) The NRC shall transfer any debt that has been delinquent for 180 days or more to Treasury so that it may take appropriate action to collect the debt or terminate collection actions. This requirement does not apply to any debt that--
(1) Is in litigation or foreclosure;
(2) Will be disposed of under an approved asset sale program;
(3) Has been referred to a private collection contractor for a period of time acceptable to Treasury;
(4) Is at a debt collection center for a period of time acceptable to Treasury;
(5) Will be collected under internal offset procedures within 3 years after the date the debt first became delinquent; or
(6) Is exempt from this requirement based on a determination by Treasury that exemption for a certain class of debt is in the best interest of the United States.
(f) Agencies operating Treasury-designated debt collection centers are authorized to charge a fee for services rendered regarding referred or transferred debts. The fee may be paid out of amounts collected and may be added to the debt as an administrative cost.
[67 FR 30319, May 6, 2002]
§ 15.21 Written demands for payment.
(a) The NRC shall make appropriate written demands upon the debtor for payment of money or the return of specific property in terms which specify:
(1) The basis of the indebtedness and the right of the debtor to seek review within the NRC;
(2) The amount claimed;
(3) A description of any property which is to be returned by a date certain;
(4) The date on which payment is to be made (which is normally the date the initial written demand letter statement was mailed or hand delivered, unless otherwise specified by contractual agreement, established by Federal statute or regulation, or agreed to under a payment agreement);
(5) The applicable standards for assessing interest, penalties, and administrative costs under 31 CFR 901.9;
(6) The applicable policy for reporting the delinquent debt to consumer reporting agencies; and
(7) The name, address, and phone number of a contact person or office within the NRC will be included with each demand letter.
(b) The NRC shall normally send two demand letters to debtors. The initial demand letter will be followed approximately 30 days later with a second demand letter, unless circumstances indicate that alternative remedies better protect the Government's interest, that the debtor has explicitly refused to pay, or that sending a further demand letter is futile. Depending upon the circumstances, the first and second demand letters may--
(1) Offer or seek to confer with the debtor;
(2) State the amount of the interest and penalties that will be added on a daily basis as well as the administrative costs that will be added to the debt until the debt is paid; and
(3) State that the authorized collection procedures include any procedure authorized in this part including:
(i) Contacts with the debtor's employer when the debtor is employed by the Federal Government or is a member of the military establishment or the Coast Guard;
(ii) The NRC may report debts to credit bureaus, refer debts to debt collection centers and collection agencies for cross-servicing (including wage garnishment), tax refund offset, administrative offset, and litigation. Any eligible debt that is delinquent for 180 days or more will be transferred to the Treasury for collection. Credit bureau reporting for transferred debts will be handled by Treasury or a Treasury-designated center.
(iii) Possible reporting of the delinquent debt to consumer reporting agencies in accordance with the guidance and standards contained in 31 CFR 901.4.
(iv) The suspension or revocation of a license or other remedy under § 15.29;
(v) Installment payments possibly requiring security; and
(vi) The right to refer the claim to DOJ for litigation.
(c) The NRC shall normally send only one written demand to a debtor who is a current NRC employee. The procedure described in § 15.33 and 10 CFR part 16 will be followed if full payment is not received either 30 days from the date the initial written demand was mailed or hand delivered. If the NRC cannot obtain full payment by following the procedures described in § 15.33 and 10 CFR part 16, the NRC may follow other collection procedures described in this subpart.
(d) The failure to state in a letter of demand a matter described in § 15.21 is not a defense for a debtor and does not prevent the NRC from proceeding with respect to that matter.
(e) When the NRC learns that a bankruptcy petition has been filed with respect to a debtor, the NRC will cease collection action immediately unless it has been determined that under 11 U.S.C. 362, the automatic stay has been lifted or is no longer in effect.
[47 FR 7616, Feb. 22, 1982, as amended at 55 FR 32378, Aug. 9, 1990; 56 FR 51830, Oct. 16, 1991; 67 FR 30319, May 6, 2002]
§ 15.23 Telephone or internet inquiries and investigations.
(a) If a debtor has not responded to one or more demands, the NRC shall make reasonable efforts by telephone or internet to determine the debtor's intentions.
(b) The NRC may undertake an investigation to locate a debtor if the whereabouts of a debtor is a problem, or if a debtor cannot be contacted by telephone.
(c) The NRC, under 15 U.S.C. 1681(f), may obtain consumer credit information from private firms, including the name, address, former addresses, place of employment, and former places of employment of a debtor.
[47 FR 7616, Feb. 22, 1982, as amended at 67 FR 30319, May 6, 2002]
§ 15.25 Personal interviews.
(a) The NRC may seek an interview with the debtor at the offices of the NRC when --
(1) A matter involved in the claim needs clarification;
(2) Information is needed concerning the debtor's circumstances; or
(3) An agreement for payment might be negotiated.
(b) The NRC shall grant an interview with a debtor upon the debtor's request. The NRC will not reimburse a debtor's interview expenses.
[47 FR 7616, Feb. 22, 1982, as amended at 55 FR 32378, Aug. 9, 1990]
§ 15.26 Reporting claims.
(a) In addition to assessing interest, penalties, and administrative costs under § 15.37, the NRC may report a debt that has been delinquent for 90 days to a consumer reporting agency if all the conditions of this paragraph are met.
(1) The debtor has not --
(i) Paid or agreed to pay the debt under a written payment plan that has been signed by the debtor and agreed to by the NRC; or
(ii) Filed for review of the debt under § 15.26 (a)(2)(iv).
(2) The NRC has included a notification in the second written demand (see § 15.21(b)) to the individual debtor stating--
(i) That the payment of the debt is delinquent;
(ii) That within not less than 60 days after the date of the notification, the NRC intends to disclose to a consumer reporting agency that the individual debtor is responsible for the debt;
(iii) The specific information to be disclosed to the consumer reporting agency; and
(iv) That the debtor has a right to a complete explanation of the debt (if that has not already been given), to dispute information in NRC records about the debt, and to request reconsideration of the debt by administrative appeal or review of the debt.
(3) The NRC has reconsidered its initial decision on the debt when the debtor has requested a review under paragraph (a)(2)(iv) of this section.
(4) The NRC has taken reasonable action to locate a debtor for whom the NRC does not have a current address to send the notification provided for in paragraph (a)(2) of this section.
(b) If there is a substantial change in the condition or amount of the debt, the NRC shall --
(1) Promptly disclose that fact(s) to each consumer reporting agency to which the original disclosure was made;
(2) Promptly verify or correct information about a debt on request of a consumer reporting agency for verification of information disclosed by the NRC; and,
(3) Obtain assurances from the consumer reporting agency that the agency is complying with all applicable Federal, state and local laws relating to its use of consumer credit information.
(c) The information the NRC discloses to the consumer reporting agency is limited to --
(1) Information necessary to establish the identity of the individual debtor, including name, address, and taxpayer identification number;
(2) The amount, status, and history of the debt; and
(3) The NRC activity under which the debt arose.
[55 FR 32378, Aug. 9, 1990 as amended at 67 FR 30319, May 6, 2002]
§ 15.27 Contact with debtor's employing agency.
If the debtor is employed by the Federal government or is a member of the military establishment or the Coast Guard, collection by offset must be accomplished in accordance with 5 U.S.C. 5514 and the provisions of 10 CFR part 16.
[56 FR 51830, Oct. 16, 1991]
§ 15.29 Suspension or revocation of license.
In non-bankruptcy cases, the NRC may suspend or revoke any license, permit, or approval which the NRC has granted to the debtor for any inexcusable, prolonged, or repeated failure of the debtor to pay a delinquent debt. Before suspending or revoking any license, permit, or approval for failure to pay a debt, the NRC shall issue to the debtor (by certified mail) an order or a demand for information as to why the license, permit, or approval should not be suspended or revoked. The NRC shall allow the debtor no more than 30 days to pay the debt in full, including applicable interest, penalties, and administrative costs of collection of the delinquent debt. The NRC may revoke the license, permit, or approval at the end of this period. If a license is revoked under authority of this part, a new application, with appropriate fees, must be made to the NRC. The NRC may not consider an application unless all previous delinquent debts of the debtor to the NRC have been paid in full. The suspension or revocation of a license, permit, or approval is also applicable to Federal programs or activities that are administered by the states on behalf of the Federal Government to the extent that they affect the Federal Government's ability to collect money or funds owed by debtors. In bankruptcy cases, before advising the debtor of NRC's intention to suspend or revoke licenses, permits, or approvals, the NRC will seek legal advice from its Office of the General Counsel concerning the impact of the Bankruptcy Code which may restrict such action.
[67 FR 30320, May 6, 2002]
§ 15.31 Disputed debts.
(a) A debtor who disputes a debt shall explain why the debt is incorrect in fact or in law within 30 days from the date that the initial demand letter was mailed or hand-delivered. The debtor may support the explanation by affidavits, cancelled checks, or other relevant evidence.
(b) If the debtor's arguments appear to have merit, the NRC may extend the interest waiver period as described in § 15.37(j) pending a final determination of the existence or amount of the debt.
(c) The NRC may investigate the facts involved in the dispute and, if it considers it necessary, arrange for a conference at which the debtor may present evidence and any arguments in support of the debtor's position.
[47 FR 76716, Feb. 22, 1982, as amended at 55 FR 32379, Aug. 9, 1990]
§ 15.32 Contracting for collection services.
The NRC may contract for collection services in order to recover delinquent debts only if the debts are not subject to the DCIA requirement to transfer debts to Treasury for debt collection services, e.g. debts that are less than 180 days delinquent. However, the NRC retains the authority to resolve disputes, compromise claims, suspend or terminate collection action, and initiate enforced collection through litigation. When appropriate, the NRC shall contract for collection services in accordance with the guidance and standards contained in 31 CFR chapter IX, parts 900-904.
[67 FR 30320, May 6, 2002]
§ 15.33 Collection by administrative offset.
(a) Application. (1) The NRC may administratively undertake collection by centralized offset on each claim which is liquidated or certain in amount in accordance with the guidance and standards in 31 CFR Chapter IX, parts 900-904 and 5 U.S.C. 5514.
(2) This section does not apply to:
(i) Debts arising under the Social Security Act, except as provided in 42 U.S.C. 404;
(ii) Payments made under the Social Security Act, except as provided for in 31 U.S.C. 3716(c) (see 31 CFR 285.4, Federal Benefit Offset);
(iii) Debts arising under, or payments made under, the Internal Revenue Code (see 31 CFR 285.2, Tax Refund Offset) or the tariff laws of the United States;
(iv) Offsets against Federal salaries to the extent these standards are inconsistent with regulations published to implement such offsets under 5 U.S.C. 5514 and 31 U.S.C. 3716 (see 5 CFR part 550, subpart K, and 31 CFR 285.7, Federal Salary Offset);
(v) Offsets under 31 U.S.C. 3728 against a judgment obtained by a debtor against the United States;
(vi) Offsets or recoupments under common law, State law, or Federal statutes specifically prohibiting offsets or recoupments of particular types of debts; or
(vii) Offsets in the course of judicial proceedings, including bankruptcy.
(3) Unless otherwise provided for by contract or law, debts or payments that are not subject to administrative offset under 31 U.S.C. 3716 may be collected by administrative offset under the common law or their applicable statutory authority.
(4) Unless otherwise provided by law, the NRC may not initiate administrative offset of payments under the authority of 31 U.S.C. 3716 to collect a debt more than 10 years after the Government's right to collect the debt first accrued, unless facts material to the Government's right to collect the debt were not known and could not reasonably have been known to the NRC, or collection of "approval" fees has been deferred under 10 CFR part 170. If the collection of "approval" fees has been deferred, the ten-year period begins to run at the end of the deferral period.
(5) In bankruptcy cases, the NRC will seek legal advice from its Office of the General Counsel concerning the impact of the Bankruptcy Code on pending or contemplated collections by offset.
(b) Mandatory centralized offset. (1) The NRC is required to refer past due, legally enforceable, nontax debts that are over 180 days delinquent to Treasury for collection by centralized administrative offset. A debt is legally enforceable if there has been a final NRC determination that the debt, in the amount stated, is due and there are no legal bars to collection action. Debts that are less than 180 days delinquent also may be referred to Treasury for this purpose.
(2) The names and taxpayer identifying numbers (TINs) of debtors who owe debts referred to Treasury as described in paragraph (b)(1) of this section must be compared to the names and TINs on payments to be made by Federal disbursing officials. Federal disbursing officials include disbursing officials of Treasury, the Department of Defense, the United States Postal Service, other Government corporations, and disbursing officials of the United States designated by Treasury. When the name and TIN of a debtor match the name and TIN of a payee and all other requirements for offset have been met, the payment will be offset to satisfy the debt.
(3) Federal disbursing officials will notify the debtor/payee in writing that an offset has occurred to satisfy, in part or in full, a past due, legally enforceable delinquent debt. The notice must include a description of the type and amount of the payment from which the offset was taken, the amount of offset that was taken, the identity of the creditor agency (NRC) requesting the offset, and a contact point within NRC who will respond to questions regarding the offset.
(c) NRC administrative offset. (1) Before referring a delinquent debt to Treasury for administrative offset, the NRC adopts the following administrative offset procedures:
(i) Offsets may be initiated only after the debtor has been sent written notice of the type and amount of the debt, the intention of the NRC to use administrative offset to collect the debt, and an explanation of the debtor's rights under 31 U.S.C. 3716; and
(ii) The debtor has been given--
(A) The opportunity to inspect and copy NRC records related to the debt;
(B) The opportunity for a review within the NRC of the determination of indebtedness; and
(C) The opportunity to make a written agreement to repay the debt.
(iii) The procedures set forth in paragraph (c)(1)(i) of this section may be omitted when--
(A) The offset is in the nature of a recoupment;
(B) The debt arises under a contract as set forth in Cecile Industries, Inc. v. Cheney, 995 F.2d 1052 (Fed. Cir. 1993) (notice and other procedural protections set forth in 31 U.S.C. 3716(a) do not supplant or restrict established procedures for contractual offsets accommodated by the Contracts Disputes Act); or
(C) The NRC first learns of the existence of the amount owed by the debtor when there is insufficient time before payment would be made to the debtor/payee to allow for prior notice and an opportunity for review. This applies to non-centralized offsets conducted under paragraph (d) of this section. When prior notice and an opportunity for review are omitted, the NRC shall give the debtor notice and an opportunity for review as soon as practicable and shall refund any money ultimately found not to have been owed to the NRC.
(iv) When an agency previously has given a debtor any of the required notice and review opportunities with respect to a particular debt (31 CFR 901.2), the NRC need not duplicate the notice and review opportunities before administrative offset may be initiated.
(2) When referring delinquent debts to Treasury, the NRC shall certify, in a form acceptable to Treasury, that:
(i) The debt is past due and legally enforceable; and
(ii) The NRC has complied with all due process requirements under 31 U.S.C. 3716(a) and the NRC's regulations.
(3) Payments that are prohibited by law from being offset are exempt from centralized administrative offset. The Treasury shall exempt payments under means-tested programs from centralized administrative offset when requested in writing by the head of the payment-certifying or authorizing agency. Also, the Treasury may exempt other classes of payments from centralized offset upon the written request of the head of the payment-certifying or authorizing agency.
(4) Benefit payments made under the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 301 et seq.), part B of the Black Lung Benefits Act (30 U.S.C. 921 et seq. ), and any law administered by the Railroad Retirement Board (other than tier 2 benefits), may be offset only in accordance with Treasury regulations, issued in consultation with the Social Security Administration, the Railroad Retirement Board, and the Office of Management and Budget (31 CFR 285.4).
(5) In accordance with 31 U.S.C. 3716(f), the Treasury may waive the provisions of the Computer Matching and Privacy Protection Act of 1988 concerning matching agreements and post-match notification and verification (5 U.S.C. 552a(o) and (p)) for centralized administrative offset upon receipt of a certification from the NRC that the due process requirements enumerated in 31 U.S.C. 3716(a) have been met. The certification of a debt in accordance with paragraph (c)(2) of this section will satisfy this requirement. If a waiver is granted, only the Data Integrity Board of the Department of the Treasury is required to oversee any matching activities, in accordance with 31 U.S.C. 3716(g). This waiver authority does not apply to offsets conducted under paragraphs (c) and (d) of this section.
(d) Non-centralized administrative offset. (1) Generally, non-centralized administrative offsets are ad hoc case-by-case offsets that NRC would conduct, at its discretion, internally or in cooperation with the agency certifying or authorizing payments to the debtor. Unless otherwise prohibited by law, when centralized administrative offset is not available or appropriate, past due, legally enforceable, nontax delinquent debts may be collected through non-centralized administrative offset. In these cases, the NRC may make a request directly to a payment-authorizing agency to offset a payment due a debtor to collect a delinquent debt. For example, the NRC will request the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to offset a Federal employee's lump sum payment upon leaving Government service to satisfy an unpaid advance.
(2) Before requesting Treasury to conduct a non-centralized administrative offset, the NRC adopts the following procedures, which provide that such offsets may occur only after:
(i) The debtor has been provided due process as set forth in paragraph (c)(1) of this section; and
(ii) The Treasury has received written certification from NRC that the debtor owes the past due, legally enforceable delinquent debt in the amount stated, and that the NRC has fully complied with its regulations concerning administrative offset.
(3) Treasury shall comply with offset requests by NRC to collect debts owed to the United States, unless the offset would not be in the best interests of the United States with respect to the Treasury's program, or would otherwise be contrary to law. Appropriate use should be made of the cooperative efforts of other agencies in effecting collection by administrative offset.
(4) When collecting multiple debts by non-centralized administrative offset, the NRC will apply the recovered amounts to those debts in accordance with the best interests of the United States, as determined by the facts and circumstances of the particular case, particularly the applicable statute of limitations.
(e) Requests to OPM to offset a debtor's anticipated or future benefit payment under the Civil Service Retirement and Disability Fund. Upon providing OPM written certification that a debtor has been afforded the procedures provided in paragraph (c)(1) of this section, the NRC will request OPM to offset a debtor's anticipated or future benefit payments under the Civil Service Retirement and Disability Fund (Fund) in accordance with regulations codified at 5 CFR 831.1801-831.1808. Upon receipt of such a request, OPM will identify and "flag" a debtor's account in anticipation of the time when the debtor requests, or becomes eligible to receive, payments from the Fund. This will satisfy any requirement that offset be initiated prior to the expiration of the time limitations referenced in paragraph (a)(4) of this section.
(f) Review requirements. (1) For purposes of this section, whenever the NRC is required to afford a debtor a review within the agency, the NRC shall provide the debtor with a reasonable opportunity for an oral hearing in accordance with 10 CFR 16.9, when the debtor requests reconsideration of the debt, and the NRC determines that the question of the indebtedness cannot be resolved by review of the documentary evidence, for example, when the validity of the debt turns on an issue of credibility or veracity.
(2) Unless otherwise required by law, an oral hearing under this section is not required to be a formal evidentiary hearing, although the NRC should carefully document all significant matters discussed at the hearing.
(3) This section does not require an oral hearing with respect to debt collection systems in which a determination of indebtedness rarely involves issues of credibility or veracity, and the NRC has determined that review of the written record is ordinarily an adequate means to correct prior mistakes.
(4) In those cases in which an oral hearing is not required by this section, the NRC shall accord the debtor a "paper hearing," that is, a determination of the request for reconsideration based upon a review of the written record.
[67 FR 30320, May 6, 2002]
§ 15.35 Payments.
(a) Payment in full. The NRC shall make every effort to collect a claim in full before it becomes delinquent. If a claim is paid in one lump sum after it becomes delinquent, the NRC shall impose charges for interest, penalties, and administrative costs as specified in § 15.37.
(b) Payment in installment. If a debtor furnishes satisfactory evidence of inability to pay a claim in one lump sum, payment in regular installments may be arranged. Evidence may consist of a financial statement or a signed statement that the debtor's application for a loan to enable the debtor to pay the claim in full was rejected. Except for a claim described in 5 U.S.C. 5514 and codified in 10 CFR part 16, all installment payment arrangements must be in writing and require the payment of interest and administrative charges.
(1) Installment note forms may be used. The written installment agreement must contain a provision accelerating the debt payment in the event the debtor defaults. If the debtor's financial statement discloses the ownership of assets which are free and clear of liens or security interests, or assets in which the debtor owns an equity, the debtor may be asked to secure the payment of an installment note by executing a Security Agreement and Financing Statement transferring to the United States a security interest in the asset until the debt is discharged.
(2) If the debtor owes more than one debt, the NRC will apply the payment to the various debts in accordance with the best interests of the United States, as determined by the facts and circumstances of the particular case.
(c) To whom payment is made. Payment of a debt is made by check, electronic transfer, draft, credit card, or money order and should be payable to the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission, License Fee and Accounts Receivable Branch, P.O. Box 954514, St. Louis, MO. 63195-4514, unless payment is--
(1) Made pursuant to arrangements with DOJ;
(2) Ordered by a Court of the United States; or
(3) Otherwise directed in any other part of this chapter.
[47 FR 7616, Feb. 22, 1982, as amended at 52 FR 31610, Aug. 21, 1987; 54 FR 53316, Dec. 28, 1989; 55 FR 32379, Aug. 9, 1990; 56 FR 51830, Oct. 16, 1991; 63 FR 15743, Apr. 1, 1998; 67 FR 30322, May 6, 2002]
§ 15.37 Interest, penalties, and administrative costs.
(a) The NRC shall assess interest, penalties, and administrative costs on debts owed to the United States Government in accordance with the guidance provided under the FCCS, 31 CFR 901.9.
(b) Before assessing any charges on delinquent debt, the NRC shall mail or hand-deliver a written notice to the debtor explaining its requirements concerning these charges under 31 CFR 901.2 and 901.9, except where these charges are included in a contractual or repayment agreement.
(c) Interest begins to accrue from the date on which the initial written demand, advising the debtor of the interest requirements, is first mailed or hand delivered to the debtor unless a different date is specified in a statute, regulation, or contract.
(d) The NRC shall assess interest based upon the rate of the current value of funds to the United States Treasury (the Treasury tax and loan account rate) prescribed for the current quarter and published in the Federal Register and the Treasury Financial Manual Bulletins, unless a different rate is prescribed by statute, regulation, or contract.
(e) Interest is computed only on the principal of the debt and the interest rate remains fixed for the duration of the indebtedness, unless a debtor defaults on a repayment agreement and seeks to enter into a new agreement.
(f) The NRC shall assess against a debtor charges to cover administrative costs incurred as a result of a delinquent debt. Administrative costs may include costs incurred in obtaining a credit report or in using a private debt collector, to the extent they are attributable to the delinquency.
(g) The NRC shall assess a penalty charge of 6 percent a year on any portion of a debt that is delinquent for more than 90 days. The charge accrues retroactively to the date that the debt became delinquent.
(h) Amounts received by the NRC as partial or installment payments are applied first to outstanding penalty and administrative cost charges, second to accrued interest, and third to outstanding principal.
(i) The NRC shall waive collection of interest on the debt or any portion of the debt which is paid in full within 30 days after the date on which interest began to accrue.
(j) The NRC may waive interest during the period a debt disputed under § 15.31 is under investigation or review by the NRC. However, this additional waiver is not automatic and must be requested before the expiration of the initial 30-day waiver period. The NRC may grant the additional waiver only when it finds merit in the explanation the debtor has submitted under § 15.31.
(k) The NRC may waive the collection of interest, penalties, and administrative costs if it finds that one or more of the following conditions exist:
(1) The debtor is unable to pay any significant sum toward the debt within a reasonable period of time;
(2) Collection of interest, penalties, and administrative costs will jeopardize collection of the principal of the debt;
(3) The NRC is unable to enforce collection in full within a reasonable time by enforced collection proceedings; or
(4) Collection would be against equity and good conscience or not in the best interests of the United States, including the situation in which an administrative offset or installment payment agreement is in effect.
(l) The NRC is authorized to impose interest and related charges on debts not subject to 31 U.S.C. 3717, in accordance with common law.
[55 FR 32380, Aug. 9, 1990, as amended at 67 FR 30322, May 6, 2002]
§ 15.38 Use of credit reports.
The NRC may institute a credit investigation of the debtor at any time following receipt of knowledge of the debt in order to aid NRC in making appropriate determinations as to:
(a) The collection and compromise of a debt;
(b) The collection of interest, penalties, and administrative costs;
(c) The use of administrative offset;
(d) The use of other collection methods; and
(e) The likelihood of collecting the debt.
[55 FR 32380, Aug. 9, 1990]
§ 15.39 Bankruptcy claims.
When the NRC learns that a bankruptcy petition has been filed with respect to a debtor, before proceeding with further collection action, the NRC will immediately seek legal advice from its Office of the General Counsel concerning the impact of the Bankruptcy Code on any pending or contemplated collection activities. Unless the NRC determines that the automatic stay imposed at the time of filing pursuant to 11 U.S.C. 362 has been lifted or is no longer in effect, collection activity against the debtor will in most cases stop immediately.
(a) After seeking legal advice from its Office of the General Counsel, a proof of claim usually will be filed with the bankruptcy court or the Trustee.
(b) If the NRC is a secured creditor, it may seek relief from the automatic stay regarding its security, subject to the provisions and requirements of 11 U.S.C. 362.
(c) Offset is stayed in most cases by the automatic stay. However, the NRC will seek legal advice from its Office of the General Counsel to determine whether its payments to the debtor and payments of other agencies available for offset may be frozen by the agency until relief from the automatic stay can be obtained from the bankruptcy court. The NRC will seek legal advice from its Office of the General Counsel to determine if recoupment is available.
[67 FR 30322, May 6, 2002]
Subpart C--Compromise of a Claim
§ 15.41 When a claim may be compromised.
(a) The NRC may compromise a claim not in excess of the monetary limitation if it has not been referred to DOJ for litigation.
(b) Unless otherwise provided by law, when the principal balance of a debt, exclusive of interest, penalties, and administrative costs, exceeds $100,000 or any higher amount authorized by the Attorney General, the authority to accept the compromise rests with the DOJ. The NRC will evaluate the compromise offer, using the factors set forth in this part. If an offer to compromise any debt in excess of $100,000 is acceptable to the NRC, the NRC shall refer the debt to the Civil Division or other appropriate litigating division in the DOJ using a CCLR. The referral must include appropriate financial information and a recommendation for the acceptance of the compromise offer. DOJ approval is not required if the compromise offer is rejected by NRC.
[67 FR 30322, May 6, 2002]
§ 15.43 Reasons for compromising a claim.
A claim may be compromised for one or more of the reasons set forth below:
(a) The full amount cannot be collected because:
(1) The debtor is unable to pay the full amount within a reasonable time; or
(2) The debtor refuses to pay the claim in full and the Government is unable to enforce collection in full within a reasonable time by enforced collection proceedings.
(b) There is a real doubt concerning the Government's ability to prove its case in Court for the full amount claimed, either because of the legal issues involved or a bona fide dispute as to the facts.
(c) The cost of collecting the claim does not justify the enforced collection of the full amount. The NRC shall apply this reason for compromise in accordance with the guidance in 31 CFR 902.2.
(d) The NRC shall determine the debtor's inability to pay, the Government's ability to enforce collection, and the amounts that are acceptable in compromise in accordance with the FCCS, 31 CFR part 902.
(e) Compromises payable in installments are discouraged, but, if necessary, must be in the form of a legally enforceable agreement for the reinstatement of the prior indebtedness less sums paid thereon. The agreement also must provide that in the event of default --
(1) The entire balance of the debt becomes immediately due and payable; and
(2) The Government has the right to enforce any security interest.
[47 FR 7616, Feb. 22, 1982, as amended at 55 FR 32380, Aug. 9, 1990; 67 FR 30322, May 6, 2002]
§ 15.45 Consideration of tax consequences to the Government.
(a) The NRC may accept a percentage of a debtor's profits or stock in a debtor corporation in compromise of a claim. In negotiating a compromise with a business concern, the NRC should consider requiring a waiver of tax-loss-carry-forward and tax-loss-carry-back rights of the debtor. For information on reporting requirements, see § 15.60.
(b) When two or more debtors are jointly and severally liable, the NRC will pursue collection activity against all debtors, as appropriate. The NRC will not attempt to allocate the burden of payment between the debtors but will proceed to liquidate the indebtedness as quickly as possible. The NRC will ensure that a compromise agreement with one debtor does not release the NRC's claim against the remaining debtors. The amount of a compromise with one debtor shall not be considered a precedent or binding in determining the amount that will be required from other debtors jointly and severally liable on the claim.
[67 FR 30322, May 6, 2002]
§ 15.47 Finality of a compromise.
An offer of compromise must be in writing and signed by the debtor. An offer of compromise which is accepted by the NRC is final and conclusive on the debtor and on all officials, agencies, and courts of the United States, unless obtained by fraud, misrepresentation, the presentation of a false claim, or mutual mistake of fact.
§ 15.49 Mutual releases of the debtor and the Government.
(a) In all appropriate instances, a compromise that is accepted by NRC should be implemented by means of a mutual release.
(1) The debtor is released from further non-tax liability on the compromised debt in consideration of payment in full of the compromised amount.
(2) The Government and its officials, past and present, are released and discharged from any and all claims and causes of action arising from the same transaction held by the debtor.
(b) If a mutual release is not executed when a debt is compromised, unless prohibited by law, the debtor is still deemed to have waived any and all claims and causes of action against the Government and its officials related to the transaction giving rise to the compromised debt.
[67 FR 30322, May 6, 2002]
Subpart D--Suspension or Termination of Collection Action
§ 15.51 When collection action may be suspended or terminated.
The NRC may suspend or terminate collection action on a claim not in excess of the monetary limitation of $100,000 or such other amount as the Attorney General may direct, exclusive of interest, penalties, and administrative costs, after deducting the amount of partial payments or collections, if any of the debt has not been referred to the DOJ for litigation. If, after deducting the amount of any partial payments or collections, the principal amount of a debt exceeds $100,000, or such other amount as the Attorney General may direct, exclusive of interest, penalties, and administrative costs, the authority to suspend or terminate rests solely with the DOJ. If the NRC believes that suspension or termination of any debt in excess of $100,000 may be appropriate, the NRC shall refer the debt to the Civil Division or other appropriate litigating division in the DOJ, using the CCLR. The referral should specify the reasons for the NRC's recommendation. If, prior to referral to the DOJ, the NRC determines that a debt is plainly erroneous or clearly without legal merit, the NRC may terminate collection activity, regardless of the amount involved, without obtaining DOJ concurrence.
[67 FR 30323, May 6, 2002]
§ 15.53 Reasons for suspending collection action.
The NRC may suspend collection activity when:
(a) The NRC cannot locate the debtor;
(b) The debtor's financial condition is not expected to improve; or
(c) The debtor has requested a waiver or review of the debt.
(d) Based on the current financial condition of the debtor, the NRC may suspend collection activity on a debt when the debtor's future prospects justify retention of the debt for periodic review and collection activity and:
(1) The applicable statute of limitations has not expired; or
(2) Future collection can be effected by administrative offset, notwithstanding the expiration of the applicable statute of limitations for litigation of claims, with due regard to the 10-year limitation for administrative offset prescribed by 31 U.S.C. 3716(e)(1); or
(3) The debtor agrees to pay interest on the amount of the debt on which collection will be suspended, and such suspension is likely to enhance the debtor's ability to pay the full amount of the principal of the debt with interest at a later date.
(e)(1) The NRC shall suspend collection activity during the time required for consideration of the debtor's request for waiver or administrative review of the debt, if the statute under which the request is sought prohibits the NRC from collecting the debt during that time.
(2) If the statute under which the request is sought does not prohibit collection activity pending consideration of the request, the NRC may use discretion, on a case-by-case basis, to suspend collection. Further, the NRC ordinarily should suspend collection action upon a request for waiver or review, if the NRC is prohibited by statute or regulation from issuing a refund of amounts collected prior to NRC consideration of the debtor's request. However, the NRC should not suspend collection when the NRC determines that the request for waiver or review is frivolous or was made primarily to delay collection.
(f) When the NRC learns that a bankruptcy petition has been filed with respect to a debtor, in most cases, the collection activity on a debt must be suspended, pursuant to the provisions of 11 U.S.C. 362, 1201, and 1301, unless the NRC can clearly establish that the automatic stay has been lifted or is no longer in effect. The NRC should seek legal advice immediately from its Office of the General Counsel and, if legally permitted, take the necessary steps to ensure that no funds or money are paid by the NRC to the debtor until relief from the automatic stay is obtained.
[67 FR 30323, May 6, 2002]
§ 15.55 Reasons for terminating collection action.
The NRC may terminate collection activity when:
(a) The NRC is unable to collect any substantial amount through its own efforts or through the efforts of others;
(b) The NRC is unable to locate the debtor;
(c) Costs of collection are anticipated to exceed the amount recoverable,
(d) The debt is legally without merit or enforcement of the debt is barred by any applicable statute of limitations;
(e) The debt cannot be substantiated; or
(f) The debt against the debtor has been discharged in bankruptcy.
[67 FR 30323, May 6, 2002]
§ 15.57 Termination of collection action.
(a) Before terminating collection activity, the NRC should have pursued all appropriate means of collection and determined, based upon the results of the collection activity, that the debt is uncollectible. Termination of collection activity ceases active collection of the debt. The termination of collection activity does not preclude the NRC from retaining a record of the account for purposes of:
(1) Selling the debt, if the Treasury determines that such sale is in the best interests of the United States;
(2) Pursuing collection at a subsequent date in the event there is a change in the debtor's status or a new collection tool becomes available;
(3) Offsetting against future income or assets not available at the time of termination of collection activity; or
(4) Screening future applicants for prior indebtedness.
(b) Generally, the NRC will terminate collection activity on a debt that has been discharged in bankruptcy, regardless of the amount. However, the NRC may continue collection activity, subject to the provisions of the Bankruptcy Code, for any payments provided under a plan of reorganization.
[67 FR 30323, May 6, 2002]
§ 15.59 Exception to termination.
When a significant enforcement policy is involved, or recovery of a judgment is a prerequisite to the imposition of administrative sanctions, the NRC may refer debts for litigation, although termination of collection activity may be appropriate.
[67 FR 30323, May 6, 2002]
§ 15.60 Discharge of indebtedness; reporting requirements.
(a) Before discharging a delinquent debt (also referred to as a close out of the debt), the NRC shall take all appropriate steps to collect the debt in accordance with 31 U.S.C. 3711(g), including, as applicable, administrative offset; tax refund offset; Federal salary offset; referral to Treasury, Treasury-designated debt collection centers, or private collection contractors; credit bureau reporting; wage garnishment; litigation; and foreclosure. Discharge of indebtedness is distinct from termination or suspension of collection activity under 10 CFR 15.55 and 15.57 and is governed by the Internal Revenue Code. When collection action on a debt is suspended or terminated, the debt remains delinquent, and further collection action may be pursued at a later date. When the NRC discharges a debt in full or in part, further collection action is prohibited. Therefore, the NRC will make the determination that collection action is no longer warranted before discharging a debt. Before discharging a debt, the NRC must terminate debt collection action.
(b) Section 3711(i), title 31, United States Code, requires agencies to sell a delinquent nontax debt upon termination of collection action if Treasury determines such a sale is in the best interests of the United States. Since the discharge of a debt precludes any further collection action (including the sale of a delinquent debt), the NRC may not discharge a debt until the requirements of 31 U.S.C. 3711(i) have been met.
(c) Upon discharge of an indebtedness, the NRC shall report the discharge to the IRS in accordance with the requirements of 26 U.S.C. 6050P and 26 CFR 1.6050P-1. The NRC may request Treasury or a Treasury-designated debt collection center to file a discharge report to the IRS on the NRC's behalf.
(d) When discharging a debt, the NRC shall request that litigation counsel release any liens of record securing the debt.
[67 FR 30323, May 6, 2002]
Subpart E--Referral of a Claim
§ 15.61 Prompt referral.
(a) The NRC shall promptly refer debts that are subject to aggressive collection activity (as described in subpart B of this part) and that cannot be compromised, or debts on which collection activity cannot be suspended or terminated, to DOJ for litigation. Debts for which the principal amount exceeds $1,000,000, or such other amount as the Attorney General may direct, exclusive of interest and penalties, must be referred to the Civil Division or other division responsible for litigating such debts at DOJ, Washington, DC. Debts for which the principal amount is $1,000,000 or less, or such other amount as the Attorney General may direct, exclusive of interest or penalties, must be referred to the DOJ's Nationwide Central Intake Facility, as required by the CCLR instructions. Debts will be referred as early as possible, consistent with the NRC's aggressive collection activity and well within the one year of the NRC's final determination of the fact and the amount of the debt.
(b) DOJ has exclusive jurisdiction over the debts referred to in paragraph (a) of this section. The NRC shall terminate the use of any administrative collection activities to collect a debt when the debt is referred to DOJ. The NRC shall advise the DOJ of the collection activities it used and the results. The NRC shall refrain from having any contact with the debtor and shall direct all inquiries to DOJ. The NRC shall immediately notify DOJ of any payments credited to the debtor's account after the account has been referred to DOJ. DOJ shall notify NRC in a timely manner of any payments it receives from the debtor.
[67 FR 30324, May 6, 2002]
§ 15.65 Referral of a compromise offer.
The NRC may refer a debtor's firm written offer of compromise, which is substantial in amount, to the Civil Division or other appropriate litigating division in DOJ using a CCLR accompanied by supporting data and particulars concerning the debt.
[67 FR 30324, May 6, 2002]
§ 15.67 Referral to the Department of Justice.
(a) Unless excepted by DOJ, the NRC shall complete the CCLR accompanied by a Certificate of Indebtedness, to refer all administratively uncollectible claims to the DOJ for litigation.
(b) The NRC shall indicate the actions it wishes DOJ to take regarding the referred claim on the CCLR.
(c) Before referring a debt to DOJ for litigation, the NRC shall notify each person determined to be liable for the debt that, unless the debt can be collected administratively, litigation may be initiated. This notification must comply with Executive Order 12988 (3 CFR, 1996 Comp., pp 157-163) and may be given as part of a demand letter or as a separate document.
(d) The NRC shall preserve all files and records that DOJ may need to prove the claim in court.
(e) The NRC may ordinarily not refer for litigation claims of less than $2,500, exclusive of interest, penalties, and administrative charges, or such other amount as the Attorney General shall from time to time prescribe.
(f) The NRC may not refer claims of less than the minimum amount unless:
(1) Litigation to collect a smaller claim is important to ensure compliance with NRC's policies and programs;
(2) The claim is being referred solely to secure a judgment against the debtor, which will be filed as a lien against the debtor's property under 28 U.S.C. 3201 and returned to the NRC for enforcement, or
(3) The debtor has the clear ability to pay the claim, and the Government effectively can enforce payment, with due regard for the exemptions available to the debtor under state and Federal law and the judicial remedies available to the Government.
[67 FR 30324, May 6, 2002]