(1) Whenever the Secretary determines that a recipient of a grant or cooperative agreement under an applicable program must return funds because the recipient has made an expenditure of funds that is not allowable under that grant or cooperative agreement, or has otherwise failed to discharge its obligation to account properly for funds under the grant or cooperative agreement, the Secretary shall give the recipient written notice of a preliminary departmental decision and notify the recipient of its right to have that decision reviewed by the Office and of its right to request mediation.
(2) In a preliminary departmental decision, the Secretary shall have the burden of establishing a prima facie case for the recovery of funds, including an analysis reflecting the value of the program services actually obtained in a determination of harm to the Federal interest. The facts to serve as the basis of the preliminary departmental decision may come from an audit report, an investigative report, a monitoring report, or other evidence. The amount of funds to be recovered shall be determined on the basis of section 1234b of this title.
(3) For the purpose of paragraph (2), failure by a recipient to maintain records required by law, or to allow the Secretary access to such records, shall constitute a prima facie case.
(1) A recipient that has received written notice of a preliminary departmental decision and that desires to have such decision reviewed by the Office shall submit to the Office an application for review not later than 60 days after receipt of notice of the preliminary departmental decision. The application shall be in the form and contain the information specified by the Office. As expeditiously as possible, the Office shall return to the Secretary for such action as the Secretary considers appropriate any preliminary departmental decision which the Office determines does not meet the requirements of subsection (a)(2) of this section.
(2) In cases where the preliminary departmental decision requests a recovery of funds from a State recipient, that State recipient may not recover funds from an affected local educational agency unless that State recipient has—
(A) transmitted a copy of the preliminary departmental decision to any affected subrecipient within 10 days of the date that the State recipient in a State administered program received such written notice; and
(B) consulted with each affected subrecipient to determine whether the State recipient should submit an application for review under paragraph (1).
(3) In any proceeding before the Office under this section, the burden shall be upon the recipient to demonstrate that it should not be required to return the amount of funds for which recovery is sought in the preliminary departmental decision under subsection (a) of this section.
A hearing shall be set 90 days after receipt of a request for review of a preliminary departmental decision by the Office, except that such 90-day requirement may be waived at the discretion of the judge for good cause.
(1) Upon review of a decision of the Office by the Secretary, the findings of fact by the Office, if supported by substantial evidence, shall be conclusive. However, the Secretary, for good cause shown, may remand the case to the Office to take further evidence, and the Office may thereupon make new or modified findings of fact and may modify its previous action. Such new or modified findings of fact shall likewise be conclusive if supported by substantial evidence.
(2) During the conduct of such review, there shall not be any ex parte contact between the Secretary and individuals representing the Department or the recipient.
Parties to the proceeding shall have 30 days to file a petition for review of a decision of the administrative law judges with the Office of the Secretary.
(1) If a recipient submits a timely application for review of a preliminary departmental decision, the Secretary shall take no collection action until the decision of the Office upholding the preliminary Department decision in whole or in part becomes final agency action under subsection (g) of this section.
(2) If a recipient files a timely petition for judicial review under section 1234g of this title, the Secretary shall take no collection action until judicial review is completed.
(3) The filing of an application for review under paragraph (1) or a petition for judicial review under paragraph (2) shall not affect the authority of the Secretary to take any other adverse action under this subchapter against the recipient.
A decision of the Office regarding the review of a preliminary departmental decision shall become final agency action 60 days after the recipient receives written notice of the decision unless the Secretary either—
(1) modifies or sets aside the decision, in whole or in part, in which case the decision of the Secretary shall become final agency action when the recipient receives written notice of the Secretary's action, or
(2) remands the decision to the Office.
The Secretary shall publish decisions that have become final agency action under subsection (g) of this section in the Federal Register or in another appropriate publication within 60 days.
The amount of a preliminary departmental decision under subsection (a) of this section for which review has not been requested in accordance with subsection (b) of this section, and the amount sustained by a decision of the Office or the Secretary which becomes final agency action under subsection (g) of this section, may be collected by the Secretary in accordance with chapter 37 of title 31.
(1) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the Secretary may, subject to the notice requirements of paragraph (2), compromise any preliminary departmental decision under this section which does not exceed the amount agreed to be returned by more than $200,000, if the Secretary determines that (A) the collection of any or all or the amount thereof would not be practical or in the public interest, and (B) the practice which resulted in the preliminary departmental decision has been corrected and will not recur.
(2) Not less than 45 days prior to the exercise of the authority to compromise a preliminary departmental decision pursuant to paragraph (1), the Secretary shall publish in the Federal Register a notice of intention to do so. The notice shall provide interested persons an opportunity to comment on any proposed action under this subsection through the submission of written data, views, or arguments.
No recipient under an applicable program shall be liable to return funds which were expended in a manner not authorized by law more than 5 years before the recipient received written notice of a preliminary departmental decision.
No interest shall be charged arising from a claim during the administrative review of the preliminary departmental decision.
(Pub. L. 90–247, title IV, §452, as added Pub. L. 95–561, title XII, §1232, Nov. 1, 1978, 92 Stat. 2347; amended Pub. L. 100–297, title III, §3501(a), Apr. 28, 1988, 102 Stat. 350; Pub. L. 103–382, title II, §250(a), Oct. 20, 1994, 108 Stat. 3926.)
Last modified: October 26, 2015