LQA issues affect 36 at Iwakuni

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From Stripes.com

LQA issues affect 36 at Iwakuni

by: Seth Robson | .
Stars and Stripes | .
published: July 23, 2015

YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan — Some government workers at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni are being asked to refund some hefty sums to the government after an audit showed one person was overpaid $40,000 in housing allowances, according to Marine Corps officials.

The overpayments — along with some underpayments — affecting 36 workers were discovered by Marine Corps Community Services Iwakuni during a recent reconciliation of living quarters allowance accounts, 1st Lt. Luke Kuper, III Marine Expeditionary Force spokesman, said in an email.

“Rules governing LQA provide that employee’s actual annual expenses for rent, utilities and other allowable quarters costs must be reconciled with the amount paid by the federal government to the employee,” he said.

The reconciliation covered 2010 to the present, and amounts ranged from $1,000 underpayments to the $40,000 overpayment.

“All of the impacted employees were entitled to receive LQA, and no employee is losing LQA as a result of the review,” Kuper said.

The overpayments are the latest in a string of mix-ups involving overseas housing allowances.

The most notable came in 2013 when the Department of Defense informed nearly 700 overseas civilians in the Pacific and Europe that they had been paid LQA in error, which meant those workers would be required to reimburse the government for past payments unless they received special debt waivers. Waivers were granted in most cases, but the episode caused considerable angst among the overseas workforce. DOD blamed the problem on bureaucratic confusion over complicated housing allowance rules.

Last month, the Government Accountability Office published a review concluding that the DOD needs to more carefully scrutinize who is entitled to the allowances, which cost the government about $550 million annually.

The Iwakuni workers can dispute the amount they have been asked to repay or seek a waiver of their debts, Kuper said.

“Since this reconciliation, MCCS Iwakuni has implemented a new LQA reconciliation policy to minimize future overpayments or underpayments of LQA,” he said.

robson.seth@stripes.com
Twitter: @SethRobson1

Tags: Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, News
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