San Diego

Senators Urge Pentagon to Waive Return of Military Overpayment

California Senators Kamala D. Harris and Dianne Feinstein urged Defense Secretary Jim Mattis to waive the recoupment of excessive pay in a letter sent Tuesday.

Nearly 100 civilian police officers hired to augment military police on U.S. military bases in San Diego County are being asked by the federal government to pay back tens of thousands of dollars in wages after it was discovered the federal government had made an error in determining their pay scale.

The officers working at Camp Pendleton and on a naval station in Fallbrook are facing big bills after a clerical error by the U.S. Navy Office of Civilian Human Resources (CHR).

The error was made in 2008 when the force was implemented to assist military police. The CHR used the wrong pay scale and put in data from a pay table with rates for the City of San Diego not the county, an error the officers were unaware of when they excepted offers to work there.

When the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS) Office discovered the error, they notified officers they would have to pay back the overpaid amount.

For some officers who have been with the U.S. Marine Corps Police Department, many of whom are veterans, the amount totals in the thousands.

In a letter sent Tuesday, Senators Kamala Harris and Dianne Feinstein are asking the Defense Secretary to waive repayment. 

“We understand the overpayment of salary was due to a mistake made by the Navy Office of Civilian Human Resources that went unnoticed for approximately nine years,” the letter states.

“As you know, civilian police officers on military installations are paid, on average, $56,000 per year. Asking these police officers to repay upwards of tens of thousands of dollars will impose a significant burden on these officers and their families, would be against equity and good conscience, and not in the United States’ best interest.”

Read the letter here. 

On March 14, DFAS began sending letters to officers notifying them of how much money they need to repay for the overpayment beginning a decade ago.

According to letters the civilian officers received from DFAS, they have three options: Pay the money back, request a payment plan, or submit a waiver for the entire amount – but there is no guarantee the waiver will be granted.

Spokespersons with the Navy and Marines tell NBC 7 they are aware of the issue and that town hall meetings have been held to help personnel understand what has happened and what will happen going forward.

The civilian police officers have until April 28 to resolve their individual cases with DFAS.

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