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Office of the General Counsel

Matter of: [xxx]
File Number: S98002201
Date: February 24, 1999

OPM Contact: Jo-Ann Chabot

The claimant, through his attorney, seeks damages based on an alleged breach of an employment contract and estoppel.(1) For the reasons stated below, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) cannot render a decision concerning this matter.

The claimant reports that, on December 2, 1997, the [agency] advised that he had been selected to fill a GS-11 position and, on December 9, 1997, the claimant notified the [agency] that he accepted the position. The claimant also reports that, in a telephone conversation of the same date, the [agency] confirmed his acceptance and advised that his starting date would be January 20, 1998. On December 29, 1997, the claimant signed an appointment affidavit and received his travel orders. The claimant reports that, on January 6, 1998, the [agency] notified the claimant it had discovered an administrative error regarding his eligibility for the GS-11 position and, therefore, he could not fill the position. He also reports that, on January 8, 1998, he met with [agency] officials in an unsuccessful attempt to resolve the matter and that he met with [agency] officials again on January 15, 1998. At the second meeting, the claimant received the following written statement from these officials:

An administrative error was discovered on 5 Jan 98, during which it was determined that [the claimant] could not legally be appointed under the authority cited. Due to no personal fault of his own, the job offer made to [the claimant] was withdrawn.

The claimant seeks $41,205.27 in monetary damages, alleging that officials of the federal government entered into an employment contract with him and breached the contract. Alternatively, the claimant alleges that the federal government cannot escape liability for the job offer, even though the offer was made in error, because he relied on the offer to his detriment.

The purpose of this claim is to recover monetary damages for breach of contract. According to 31 U.S.C. 3702(a)(2), OPM's authority to settle claims extends only to claims for compensation and leave filed by, or on behalf of, federal civilian employees or former federal employees regarding compensation and leave matters that arose during their employment. The scope of OPM's authority under section 3702(a)(2) does not extend to considering or deciding breach of contract claims, or to awarding monetary damages on the basis of such claims. Accordingly, OPM does not have jurisdiction to consider, or settle, this claim. 

This settlement is final. No further administrative review is available within OPM. Nothing in this settlement limits the claimant's right to bring an action in an appropriate United States Court.

1. The claim, including a power of attorney signed by the claimant, originally was submitted to the General Accounting Office. Effective June 30, 1996, the Legislative Branch Appropriations Act of 1996, Pub. L. 104-53, 109 Stat. 535 (November 19, 1995), transferred certain claims adjudication functions from the General Accounting Office to the Office of Management and Budget. The Office of Management and Budget delegated to the Office of Personnel Management the responsibility for adjudicating federal employees' claims for compensation and leave. See B-275605, Memorandum from the Acting Comptroller General to the Heads of Departments and Agencies (March 17, 1997). Section 202(n)(1)(B) of the General Accounting Office Act of 1996, Pub. L. 104-316, 110 Stat 3826, 3843-44, October 19, 1996, transferred the Comptroller General's authority to settle claims for federal civilian employees' compensation to the Director of the Office of Personnel Management.

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