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Office of the General Counsel

Date: January 6, 2000
Matter of: [xxx]
File Number: S003960

OPM Contact: Murray M. Meeker

As a result of a clerical error, the claimant, a civilian employee of the [agency], was underpaid a total of $1,550.00 during the period from July 1998 to September 1999. The agency has confirmed that during this period, amounts were erroneously withheld from the claimant's pay and deposited into the account of another employee with a similar name. While the claimant has been reimbursed for the erroneously withheld amounts, he has requested that this office determine his entitlement to interest. For the reasons discussed herein, the claim is granted.

It is well established that federal employees have a right to their pay. United States v. Testan, 424 U.S. 392, 406 (1976). Accordingly, an erroneous deduction from a federal employee's pay constitutes an unwarranted personnel action under the Back Pay Act, 5 U.S.C. ' 5596. See 5 C.F.R. ' 550.803 (definition of unjustified or unwarranted personnel action) and Payment of Interest Under the Back Pay Act, B-242277, September 12, 1991 (holding that an employing agency must pay interest on moneys that were erroneously withheld from an employee's pay). The Back Pay Act authorizes the payment of interest where an unwarranted personnel action is committed. 5 U.S.C. ' 5596(b)(2) and Department of Agriculture, B-211784, May 1, 1984.

Accordingly, the agency is directed to compute and pay the claimant interest in accordance with the Back Pay Act and implementing regulations.

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