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U.S. Federal Labor Relations Authority

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27:0156(30)AR - Navy Public Works Center and IAM -- 1987 FLRAdec AR

[ v27 p156 ]
The decision of the Authority follows:

 27 FLRA No. 30
                                            Case No. 0-AR-1304
    I.  Statement of the Case
    This matter is before the Authority on an exception to the award of
 Arbitrator Alfred J. Goodman filed by the Agency under section 7122(a)
 of the Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Statute (the Statute)
 and part 2425 of the Authority's Rules and Regulations.
    II.  Background and Arbitrator's Award
    The grievance in this case concerned the Agency's erroneous
 overpayment of wages to the grievant and its subsequent decision to
 require reimbursement of the overpayment.  The facts leading to this
 dispute are as follows.
    On November 11, 1984, the grievant was temporarily promoted from
 Utility Systems Operator, Wage Grade 9 (WG-9), to Electric Power
 Controller, WG-10, for a period not to exceed one year.  In May 1985 the
 grievant was notified that effective May 11, 1985, he was being returned
 to his former WG-9 position.  However, the grievant continued to receive
 the WG-10 salary for over two months (until July 21, 1985) despite the
 fact that the grievant informed his general foreman about his
 overpayment on several occasions.
    The Agency subsequently recognized that the appropriate paperwork had
 not been processed to make the necessary salary adjustment.  On
 September 25, 1985, the grievant received a personnel action notice
 stating the effective date of the return to the WG-9 position as May 11,
 1985.  The grievant was also informed that he would be required to
 reimburse the $315.28 salary overpayment for the period May 11 through
 July 21, 1985.  The grievant requested a waiver from the Navy Accounting
 and Finance Center of the requirement that he return the overpayment.
 The request was denied.  The grievant made the reimbursement and filed a
 grievance to recover the amount.
    The Arbitrator framed the issue before him as whether the Agency's
 decision to compel the grievant to reimburse the Agency for erroneous
 overpayment of salary violated the parties' agreement.  The Arbitrator
 found that the grievant "openly, honestly, and reasonably attempted to
 apprise supervision of the overpayment error" (Arbitrator's Decision at
 9-10), but was told by the general foreman not to worry about it.  The
 Arbitrator found that it was clear that the overpayment was due to
 administrative error, and that the grievant had acted properly in
 reporting the erroneous salary overpayment and did not conceal the error
 or "fraudulently abscond with government funds." Arbitrator's Decision
 at 11.  The Arbitrator concluded that in light of the facts in this
 case, the grievant was entitled to a waiver of the overpayment.
 Accordingly, he awarded the grievant a $315.28 reimbursement for the
 salary overpayment.
    III.  Exception
    The Agency contends that the Arbitrator's award is contrary to law
 and Government-wide regulations, specifically 5 U.S.C. Section 5584 and
 4 C.F.R. Section 91.5, as interpreted by the Comptroller General.
    IV.  Analysis and Conclusions
    Under 5 U.S.C. Section 5584, claims against federal employees may
 under certain circumstances be waived when collection "would be against
 equity and good conscience and not in the best interests of the United
 States." 5 U.S.C. Section 5584(a).  The Standards for Waiver of Claims
 for Erroneous Payment of Pay and Allowances (Standards for Waiver), 4
 C.F.R. Sections 91.1-93.3, are the implementing regulations and are
 applicable Government-wide.  See American Federation of Government
 Employees, AFL-CIO, Local 225 and Department of the Army, USARRADCOM,
 Dover, New Jersey, 15 FLRA 607 (1984).  Under those regulations, claims
 arising out of an erroneous payment may be waived when, among other
 things, a finding is made "that the erroneous payment of allowances
 occurred administrative error and that there is no indication of fraud,
 misrepresentation, fault or lack of good faith on the part of the
 employee(.) . . .  Waiver of overpayments of pay . . . necessarily must
 depend upon the facts existing in the particular case." 4 C.F.R. Section
    We find that the Agency's exception does not provide a basis for
 finding the Arbitrator's award deficient.  The Agency argues that a
 waiver of the claim for overpayment in wages is not warranted in this
 case because the circumstances in this case differ from those in
 decisions in which the Comptroller General has granted waivers.
 However, the Agency has failed to show that the Arbitrator's award
 violates applicable law or regulations.  Rather, the Agency's contention
 constitutes mere disagreement with the Arbitrator's assessment of the
 facts in this case and his determination that the grievant is entitled
 to compensation.  This contention is not a sufficient basis for finding
 the award deficient.  See, for example, Social Security Administration,
 New York Regional Office and American Federation of Government
 Employees, Local 3369, AFL-CIO, 27 FLRA No. 6 (1987).
    V.  Decision
    For the reasons stated, the Agency's exception is denied.
    Issued, Washington, D.C., May 29, 1987.
                                       /s/ Jerry L. Calhoun, Chairman
                                       /s/ Henry B. Frazier III, Member
                                       /s/ Jean McKee, Member
                                       FEDERAL LABOR RELATIONS AUTHORITY