The Resolution Trust Corp. paid out $964,969 in excess costs from January to July 1990 for servicing 1,800 loans it inherited from the failed Freedom Savings and Loan Association in Tampa, the General Accounting Office said in a report released yesterday.

When the RTC, the government agency in charge of disposing of failed thrifts, sold part of Freedom to North Carolina National Bank of Florida in October 1989, it agreed that NCNB would operate Freedom's computerized loan processing center even though the government would retain ownership.

The center, in Orlando, Fla., and its 32 employees collected and kept track of monthly payments from 9,000 loans that NCNB had purchased as part of the deal and 1,800 loans the RTC kept. The agency agreed to reimburse NCNB for the costs of servicing the government-owned loans.

By Jan. 15, 1990, according to the GAO, NCNB transferred the loans it owned to its own processing center, leaving the RTC to bear the full operating cost of the Freedom center.

This effectively raised the cost of processing borrowers' payments from $20 per loan each month to $120 per loan, the GAO said. Neither the RTC nor NCNB took actions to reduce the center's staff, even though 85 percent of the loans had been removed, it said.

Eventually, on July 19, the RTC transferred its loans to a less expensive regional processing center.

RTC and NCNB officials could not be reached for comment yesterday, a federal and bank holiday. But, the GAO said RTC officials had explained they were adamantly opposed to hiring a temporary servicer for Freedom's loans while they arranged for a processor to handle loans from many other failed thrifts in the region. Moving the loan among too many servicers risked losing payments and loan records, RTC officials contended.

The GAO, Congress's auditing and investigative arm, concluded: "RTC did not have enough staff in place to adequately oversee the operation of the center to ensure that costs incurred were reasonable."