Skip Navigation
Official website of the United States Government We can do this. Find COVID-19 vaccines near you. Visit U.S. Department of the Treasury
Bureau of the Fiscal Service Home
Debt Management
Rule Book

About the Debt Collection Improvement Act

The Debt Collection Improvement Act of 1996, or the DCIA, passed as part of the Omnibus Consolidated Rescissions and Appropriations Act of 1996 (Public Law 104-134) tasked Treasury with certain governmentwide debt collection responsibilities.

Among other things, the law provides that delinquent non-tax debts generally must be turned over to the Treasury for appropriate action to collect the debt. Certain types of debts are exempt from this requirement .

Purposes of the DCIA


To maximize collections of delinquent debts owed to the Government by ensuring quick action to enforce recovery of debts and the use of all appropriate collection tools.


To minimize the costs of debt collection by consolidating related functions and activities and utilizing interagency teams.


To reduce losses arising from debt management activities by requiring proper screening of potential borrowers, aggressive monitoring of all accounts, and sharing of information within and among Federal agencies.


To ensure that the public is fully informed of the Federal Government's debt collection policies and that debtors are cognizant of their obligations to repay amounts owed to the Federal Government.


To ensure that debtors have all appropriate due process rights, including the ability to verify, challenge, and compromise claims, and access to administrative appeals procedures which are both reasonable and protect the interests of the United States.

Pay Cash

To encourage agencies, when appropriate, to sell delinquent debt, particularly debts with underlying collateral.


To rely on the experience and expertise of private sector professionals to provide debt collection services to federal agencies.

Key Provisions

  • Access to Taxpayer Identifying Numbers
  • Barring Delinquent Debtors from Obtaining Federal Credit
  • Contracting with Private Attorneys
  • Credit Reporting
  • Debt Sales by Agencies
  • Enhanced Administrative Offset Authority
  • Enhanced Salary Offset Authority
  • General Extension of the Debt Collection Act of 1982 Authorities
  • Government-wide Cross-Servicing
  • Tax Refund Offset
  • Wage Garnishment

For information about these provisions, see the FAQs About DCIA page

Read the Memorandum for the Secretaries of All Departments and the Heads of all Federal Agencies: Compliance with the Debt Collection Improvement Act of 1996.

Read Congressman Horn’s Comments on the Debt Collection Improvement Act of 1996 (April 25, 1996)

Looking for Legal Authorities?

For laws, regulations, and guidance related to Debt Management programs, see the Public Laws, Debt Collection Statutes, Executive Orders, Code of Federal Regulations, or Federal Nontax Laws pages.

Last modified 07/14/23