Sunday, September 23, 2012

Payback is tough for former Federal Aviation Administration employee

Tom Singer joined the Federal Aviation Administration as an aerospace engineer in 2009. After a productive year writing safety regulations, he moved back to Florida and took a job with a private company.

Then he became Federal Debtor #2012390768A.

Singer, 32, did not borrow any money from the government, skip child-support payments or violate a law that would have his wages garnished. He was swallowed by the maw of federal bureaucracy when the FAA mistakenly sent him two paychecks after he left the government.

Almost four years later, he hasn’t crawled out.

Singer resigned in October 2009 from the FAA’s Office of Commercial Space Transportation, where he worked on safety regulations for the commercial space industry. He and his wife moved back to Orlando, their home town.

Meanwhile, in Washington, an FAA clerk who was on vacation during the Christmas holidays in 2009 had failed to remove Singer from the government payroll. He eventually was taken out of the system in early 2010, but not before the FAA erroneously issued him two bi-weekly paychecks in December 2009. 

When the first paycheck landed by direct deposit in his account at USAA Federal Savings Bank, Singer mistook the money for the accrued vacation leave he was expecting. After the FAA wrote him a letter explaining that he received a paycheck in error, he reimbursed the government his net pay of $2,059.49.

The problems started with the second paycheck....

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