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«U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES Program Support Center Human Resources Service Division of Commissioned Personnel 5600 Fishers Lane, ...»

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This section identifies the officer being rated and enables him/her to furnish current assignment data. The officer should be careful to provide accurate information concerning his/her duties, accomplishments, particularly with respect to its impact on program initiatives and goals. This is the officer's opportunity to document the major projects and activities accomplished over the rating period that should be considered by the supervisor in assessing the officer's performance. Both the officer being rated and the supervisor should check each item in this section for accuracy.

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After the officer completes Section I of the COER, the COER is to be delivered to his/her immediate supervisor (normally the supervisor indicated on an officer's billet) no later than the date specified in the circular that accompanies the annual COER.

2. Section II: (by supervisor/rating official) This section identifies the supervisor and indicates the duration of supervision. This section also includes the supervisor's name, title, phone number, and the date the supervisor completed the COER.

3. Section III: (by supervisor/rating official) This section consists of 18 five-level rating scales covering work quality, leadership skills, professional skills, commitment, and attitude. To provide supervisors with standards, five descriptive levels are furnished to evaluate each characteristic. The supervisor indicates the level which most nearly describes the officer on the line to the left of the item number. The supervisor should rate each item independently without reference to any other one. All A and E ratings require narrative comments. Comments are recommended for B, C, and D ratings, as well.

4. Section IV: (Item l by officer; and Item 2 by reviewing official)

Item l is used by the officer being rated to concur or nonconcur with the evaluation. Any specific disagreements or agreements with evaluations by the supervisor may be stated in the space provided or on an attachment. The rating official's evaluations are not to be modified on the COER form. Item 2 is to be used by the reviewing official (normally the rating officer's supervisor) to indicate agreements or disagreements with the supervisor's evaluation. Also, reviewing officials must assure that all A and E ratings have narrative comments before signing and forwarding the COER. Comments made by a reviewing official are to be provided to the officer and, upon request by the officer, discussed with him/her.

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1. Annual -- Each year, in May, a CCPM Manual Circular is issued to all officers on active-duty providing them with a copy of the COER with instructions to complete Section 1 and submit the form to their supervisors no later than a date in June.

2. Transfer -- Every effort should be made to complete the rating process including review and signature by the rated officer prior to the officer's departure. The rated officer is, however, expected to be given an opportunity to review and acknowledge receipt of the transfer COER, even after departing the "old" duty station.

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3. Reassignment of Rating Officer -- When the rating officer of one or more commissioned officers is to be reassigned to another position, even within the duty station, the supervisor should require all officers under his/her immediate supervision to promptly initiate COERs and submit them to the supervisor.

4. Special Requests for COERs are made by DCP as part of the 3-year file review process, for consideration for involuntary retirement, or other non-routine action. DCP may direct that a COER be submitted under certain circumstances, including 3-year file review, assimilation, consideration for involuntary retirement, and other situations as determined on a case basis.


Some officers are assigned or detailed to State, county, and local health organizations, other Federal agencies, and international organizations. The immediate supervisor in the organization to which the officer is assigned, or detailed, shall be the rating official for the COER. The OPDIV official designated in the personnel agreement covering the detail will function as the reviewing official. If no OPDIV official has been so designated, the next higher level supervisor over the rating official will serve as the reviewing official.

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The PHS Commissioned Corps has two types of promotions: permanent and temporary. Eligibility for the permanent grade accrues at a slower pace than for the temporary grades. When entering on active duty, officers are appointed at the permanent grade based on creditable training and experience and may be concurrently promoted to a higher temporary grade. The higher grade determines an officer's pay.


Regular promotions are based on performance and length-of-service. However, the promotion policy also allows for the special accelerated temporary promotion of an individual when that individual possesses truly exceptional capabilities and is performing in an assignment above his/her current grade.

Recommendations are submitted in memorandum form to the Director, DCP, by OPDIV Heads.

Promotion boards meet annually to consider nominees and to make recommendations to the Surgeon General.


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The Promotion Year is July 1st through June 30th. Promotion Boards in each category and the Research Officer Group are convened by the Director, DCP, to consider all officers eligible for competitive temporary and permanent promotions within that category. In general, these Boards consist of at least

- 76 Commissioned Corps Officer’ Handbook, 1998 s five members, who are as representative as possible of the category in terms of OPDIV distribution, specialty, and other pertinent factors. All Boards include at least one member assigned outside the Washington, DC area, and provide gender and minority representation whenever possible.

Board members are instructed to base their rankings only on information documented in an officer's OPF. For this reason, it is important that officers include appropriate and accurate information in their records, such as a current and dated resume or Curriculum Vitae (CV) and any other information pertinent to the promotion criteria discussed below. Please do not send reprints, actual publications, photos, or other voluminous materials including civil service performance evaluations to your folder, because they will not be accepted. A current resume or CV, bibliography, and evidence of recent educational and professional achievements are all examples of appropriate additions to the folder.


Promotions to the O-5 and O-6 grades are highly competitive due to ceiling limitations at those grades.

The primary goal of the promotion board process is to identify and recommend for promotion those officers who are recognized by their peers as outstanding performers and contributors to the PHS Commissioned Corps. The Surgeon General’ Policy Advisory Council Representatives decided that s beginning with the 1998 promotion board, all OPFs will be reviewed for consideration for promotion whether or not they contain a current annual form PHS-838, “Commissioned Officers’Effectiveness Report (COER).” The promotion board precepts emphasize consideration of the officer's documented performance record (as reflected in the COER).

Other less heavily weighted criteria which the boards consider include:

career progression; program and/or geographic mobility; receipt of commissioned corps awards and other exceptional achievements; and career potential.

After the Boards combine all these factors to yield an overall assessment of the officer's qualification for promotion, then the OPDIV recommendations are added. This assessment results in a rank order list for each grade in each category. Considering the numbers of vacancies in grade to which promotions can be made, the Director, DCP, establishes cutoff scores for each rank order list, and officers above the cutoff lines are promoted during the cycle. Those below the line are not promoted.

All officers who have been promoted will receive a promotion personnel order. *


Based on evidence that an officer's performance has deteriorated, that the officer has engaged in misconduct, or is not functioning at a level commensurate with his/her grade, the Surgeon General, in addition to any other adverse action authorized by law, regulation, and commissioned corps policy, may appoint a Temporary Promotion Review Board to make recommendations about whether an officer should retain a temporary promotion. If the Surgeon General concurs in a Board's recommendation that an officer's temporary promotion be rescinded, the officer must serve at the lower grade for a minimum of 1 year and must successfully re-compete for the higher temporary grade in accordance with established policy.

*Officers who are recommended for promotion by the Boards, but who are not promoted are considered in future promotion cycles.

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CCPM Citation:

Chapter CC27, CCPM, “Recognition and Awards” The Commissioned Corps Awards Program is designed to provide a means for the Secretary, HHS, the Assistant Secretary for Health (ASH), Surgeon General, OPDIV Heads, and program heads to give formal recognition to officers who have performed particularly effectively in carrying out the mission of HHS, to encourage maximum performance, and improve the esprit de corps of commissioned officers. Pursuant to the authority delegated by the Secretary, the Surgeon General established designated awards to recognize PHS commissioned officers for personal merit or achievement.

The Commissioned Corps Awards Program began in 1958 with three awards: the Distinguished Service Medal; the Meritorious Service Medal; and the Commendation Medal. Eight awards were added in 1978, including two unit and four service awards, and the program continues to expand. All OPDIVs and programs to which officers are assigned participate in this program.

The Awards Program is designed to encourage and to recognize excellence in performance at various levels of accomplishment. Supervisors should keep in mind that all officers, whatever their grade, should be considered for recognition at regular intervals in their careers (e.g., the end of the initial 3year tour, the end of an assignment, or after any noteworthy period of performance). The writing of the annual COER may be an excellent time to review whether recognition is indicated for the officer.


Initiation of an honor award nomination must occur within 13 months of the period under consideration. A specific format has been developed and is available from the OPDIV awards coordinator. The nomination of an officer or a group of officers as candidates for an individual or unit honor award may be initiated by a fellow officer, co-worker, superior, or by someone outside the PHS with knowledge of the accomplishments deserving recognition. The nominator cannot be a member of the group being nominated. Service awards may be initiated at any time after the criteria for the award have been met.

Most OPDIVs have an internal review process wherein award nominations are evaluated for their appropriateness. The individual and unit honor awards are approved at three levels. Program Level (Bureau, Institute, or Center Directors) may approve PHS Citations or Achievement Medals;

Commendation Medals and Unit Commendations are approved by the OPDIV Head. The Surgeon General approves all other honor awards.

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When an award is approved, the OPDIV is notified and is then responsible for presenting the award to the officer. Once an award has been processed and received by the program, it should be presented to the officer as expeditiously as possible.


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