Claims by the Government

401 FW 3
FWM Number
Originating Office
Safety Operations

3.1 Policy. In the event of damage to or theft of Government property, Service officials will protect Service interests in accordance with the procedure described herein after consultation with the appropriate Solicitor.

3.2 Investigations of incidents resulting in damage or possible damage to Government property are conducted in the same manner as employee accidents and as described in 240 FW 7, Report of Accident/Incident. Supervisors ensure the use of form DI-134, Accident/Incident Report for incident investigation and reporting. A supplemental sheet should be added to the DI-134 to include a:

A. Statement of Offer Made by Wrongdoer.

(1) If oral, state the terms offered, or, if in writing, attach the original.

(2) Also, state whether the offer made is fair and reasonable in view of the circumstances.

(3) No demand for payment may be made, but a check or money order payable to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service may be received, if it is voluntarily submitted as full payment or a compromise offer. If it is a compromise offer, the reasons for tendering less than the full amount should be stated.

B. Statement of Financial Responsibility of Wrongdoer. Estimate of basis and amount of the wrongdoer's liability and the nature and extent of insurance coverage, name of insurance company, if any, and the possibility of collection of a claim or judgment.

C. Recommendation as to the advisability of bringing suit, if payment is not made upon demand by the Regional Director, or if a compromise offer is not accepted.

3.3 Action by Regional Director or Designee. Upon receipt of the investigative report, the Regional Director takes the actions listed below, as appropriate:

A. Reviews the investigative report and, with the aid of the Regional Solicitor determines whether the wrongdoer is legally liable to the United States, and if so, the amount of the liability.

B. If legal liability is determined a written demand for payment is issued to the wrongdoer and the insurance company, if any, unless full payment already has been made. Where the amount of liability is not immediately ascertainable; the Regional Director notifies the wrongdoer that a claim will be asserted upon determination of the amount.

C. If the Regional Director is unsuccessful in collecting the full amount of the claim, the claim is referred to the appropriate Solicitor. However, when the claim is less than $75, or it is determined that the debtor is unable to pay, or the debtor cannot be located, the claim is terminated rather than forwarded to the appropriate Solicitor.

D. The Regional Director may accept full payment of the claim and execute a release of liability, provided the claim has not already been referred to the Department of Justice. The release is confined to the particular property damage and the incident out of which it occurred. If the claim has been referred to the Department of Justice, acceptance of payment and execution of release must be authorized by that Department. No forms may be executed purporting to release liability for personal injuries sustained by a Government employee without the consent of the Office of Workers Compensation.

3.4 Repairs by Wrongdoer. If the wrongdoer is willing to pay for the cost of repairs or make replacements without undue delay, the Regional Director may approve such arrangement. Contracting and other arrangements for repairs are left entirely to the wrongdoer. Before acceptance of the repair work, the regional directors satisfy themselves that the property has been restored to its approximate condition prior to the accident. A case handled in this manner is closed upon receipt of a copy of the itemized and receipted repair bill.

3.5 Repairs by Government. If the wrongdoer is unwilling or unable to effect repairs to needed equipment or structures as promptly as is necessary for Service operations, the Regional Director may authorize repairs or replacement at Government expense. In such case, the Regional Director still files a formal claim as indicated in 3.3.

3.6 Remittances. Remittances received are deposited to miscellaneous receipts and do not revert to the credit of the project leader's operating cost budget.

Amended by Decision Memorandum, “Approval of Revisions to ~350 Directives to Remove Gender-Specific Pronouns,” 6/22/2022