DMS and the Office of Chief Counsel Host a "Debt Legislative Development Workshop" for Federal Agencies
By Tom Longnecker, Legislative and Public Affairs, Office of the Commissioner
The President's Fiscal Year (FY)2012 Budget looked to the Financial Management Service (FMS) to increase the collection of delinquent debts by more than $5 billion over ten years. FMS is striving to meet this goal by seeking legislative changes, making operational and process improvements, and increasing collaboration with our federal and state partners.
As part of the effort to develop legislative initiatives, Debt Management Services (DMS) and the Office of Chief Counsel hosted the "Debt Legislative Development Workshop" on April 24. DMS representatives met with program and legal experts from federal agencies to present, solicit, and discuss possible legislative initiatives to increase the collection of non-tax debts owed to the United States. This meeting was held as an informal event to allow for an open discussion and a free exchange of ideas without committing to any specific proposal.
The input received from partner agencies included discussions about how various legislative proposals could impact their mission, and what our present operational and legal challenges are. This input helps DMS better evaluate the viability of each proposal as it cuts across the federal agencies. For example, instead of discussing child support initiatives solely with Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) personnel, we brought them to the table with subject matter experts from FMS, Internal Revenue Service and the Department of Justice, agencies whose operations are intertwined with the efforts of HHS and FMS to increase child support collections.
The combined expertise of the conference participants will help us initiate the process of crafting legislation to increase debt collections for all government agencies – a vital effort in this era of reduced budgets and dwindling resources. The administration is actively looking for ideas to increase collections, thus providing a tremendous opportunity for FMS to compile and present a comprehensive inventory of new initiatives. Topics discussed at the workshop included: due process, third party data, tax disclosure, privacy concerns, new debt collection tools, payments exempt from offset, bankruptcy, and many others.
The discussions at this conference will not replace any formal consulting and clearance procedures. This conference was one of many preliminary steps that will allow FMS to approach agency decision-makers and the Office of Management and Budget with ideas that are carefully considered, feasible, and practical from an operational, policy, and legal perspective. DMS will conduct research on the proposed initiatives and will continue to meet and discuss these proposals with agency representatives on an ongoing basis.
The workshop was moderated by DMS Deputy Assistant Commissioner Ronda Kent and organized by DMS and the Office of Chief Counsel.