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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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Commissioned officers are fully compensated by the Federal government for meeting their responsibilities. Officers may not accept other compensation or benefits in exchange for actions taken on behalf of the government. Except while on terminal leave, officers may not accept Federal employment. The law provides for fines and imprisonment when these principles are violated. (However, as discussed below, officers may sometimes accept items of nominal value.)

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PHS officers have an obligation to make Federal programs function as efficiently and economically as possible. Federal programs, expressed in law, Executive Order, or regulation must be supported as public policy.

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PHS officers must use government property exclusively to advance public purposes. Officers have a positive duty to protect and conserve government property, including equipment, supplies, and other property entrusted or issued to the officer and other Federal employees.

Officers must not use or allow the use of government property of any kind, including property leased to the government, for other than officially approved activities.

7. Financial Interests

PHS officers may have private financial interests, but these may not conflict with government duties and responsibilities. An officer (1) may not engage in a financial transaction as a result of information obtained through government employment; (2) may not participate in an official capacity in any matter in which the officer, spouse, or any minor child has a financial interest.

(See Section 208 of Title 18, U.S. Code.)

8. Receipt of Meals, Favors of Nominal Value, and Travel Expenses

When attending a meeting or participating in an inspection tour on behalf of the Federal government, PHS officers are permitted to accept food and refreshments of nominal value if offered in the ordinary course of the event and there is no reasonable opportunity to compensate the sponsor. An officer is also permitted to accept unsolicited advertising or promotional materials, such as pens, pencils, note pads, calendars, and other items of nominal intrinsic value.

- 51 Commissioned Corps Officer’ Handbook, 1998 s When attending meetings or providing advisory services on behalf of the Federal government, PHS officers may accept travel and subsistence from outside sources, but only if approved in advance in accordance with provisions of the Joint Federal Travel Regulations and the travel manual of the HHS or the Department concerned.

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When traveling on government business using commercial airlines, an officer may not participate as an individual in any free mileage, also known as "Frequent Flyer," programs sponsored by an airline. Any bonus mileage that is accumulated in the course of official government business belongs to the government.

PHS commissioned officers have the privilege of traveling Space-A on military aircraft. The military services promulgate rules and regulations relating to this type of travel by which the officer must abide at all times. DCP will vigorously pursue any complaints from other Services regarding PHS officers' abuse of the Space-A privilege. An officer can be the subject of disciplinary action by PHS and be barred from future Space-A travel for infractions of SpaceA rules.

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PHS officers must use information received in the course of meeting their responsibilities to advance public purposes. An officer must not directly or indirectly make or allow use of official information that is not already available to the general public for the purpose of furthering private interests.

11. Outside Employment and Other Activity PHS officers may engage in outside employment or other activity that is compatible with the full and proper discharge of their official duties, when such outside activity has been explicitly authorized by their OPDIV.

In general, PHS officers are encouraged to engage in professional teaching, lecturing, writing and publishing. It is critical, however, that all information on which the activity relies be in the public domain. It must not derive from government employment. While these kinds of activities are encouraged, and other forms of professional activity are permitted, they require prior approval. Other limitations may be imposed by law, Executive Order, regulation, or the approving official. Check with the Agency Office of Government Ethics for details.

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13. Holding Office in Professional Societies PHS officers may join professional societies and be elected or appointed to offices in them.

Activity in professional associations is generally mutually desirable from the point of view of HHS, the association, and the officer. However, an officer must avoid any real or apparent conflict of interest in connection with such membership. Office-holding activities in professional associations require advance administrative approval. (See Subpart G, 73.735-707 of HHS Standards of Conduct).

14. Acceptance of Awards

PHS officers may accept an award for a meritorious public contribution or achievement given by a charitable, professional, social, nonprofit educational, recreational, public service, or civic organization. Officers may not accept a gift, present, decoration, or other items from a foreign government except as authorized in the Standards of Conduct, Subpart E, 73.735-506. Prior authorization must be received from DCP before accepting gifts, presents, decorations, or other items from a foreign government.





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There are various other statutory provisions in the HHS Standards of Conduct governing the conduct of present and former employees relating to prohibited activities, e.g., sexual misconduct, bribery, graft, gambling on government property, disloyalty, disclosure of classified material, or certain types of political participation. Refer to the INSTRUCTION 1, Subchapter CC26.1, CCPM, or consult with administrative officials.

18. Disciplinary and Other Remedial Actions

A PHS officer who violates, or appears to violate, the standards of conduct will be disciplined by his/her OPDIV, DCP, or the Surgeon General, as appropriate, in addition to any penalty prescribed by law. The officer may be issued a letter of reproval or letter of reprimand. More severe infractions could result in reduction in grade, forfeiture of eligibility for promotion, and special pay, or involuntary separation or retirement, (possibly under less than honorable conditions) following a review by a disciplinary board (INSTRUCTIONs 1, 4, and 6, Subchapter CC23.7, CCPM; INSTRUCTIONS 3 and 4, Subchapter CC23.4, CCPM; and INSTRUCTION 1, Subchapter CC23.8, CCPM; Subchapter CC46.4, CCPM). Officers found guilty of criminal offense and sentenced to confinement of more than 30 days may be summarily dismissed. Remedial action to end real or apparent conflicts of interest may include changes in assignment, divestment of conflicting interest, or disqualification for particular assignment(s). This can further involve changes in pay and allowances that are associated with specific assignments and locations.

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D. THE PROBATIONARY PERIOD

Commissioned officers should know the importance of certain special provisions of the probationary period. Newly commissioned officers enter on active duty in the reserve corps. During the first 3 years of each reserve corps appointment, all officers serve a probationary period. During this period, their performance, conduct, dedication to duty, professionalism, flexibility, and willingness to accept new assignments are monitored closely. In certain categories and grade levels there are diminishing needs for career officers and only a portion can be retained beyond the 3-year commitment.

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Prior to the end of the probationary period, DCP, in conjunction with the officer's OPDIV, conducts a review of the officer's performance and conduct during the probationary period to determine whether an officer on probation should be retained. If DCP and the OPDIV determine that an officer on probation shall be terminated, the officer will be provided with at least 30 days prior notice of the effective date of such action.

3. 3-Year File Review After Assimilation to the Regular Corps

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E. DISCIPLINARY ACTIONS

The actions covered here relate to violations of the standards of conduct, other forms of misconduct such as Absent Without Leave, and marginal or substandard performance. Subsequent to completing the probationary period, officers may be referred to an Involuntary Separation Board for marginal or substandard performance or to a Board of Inquiry for specific charges of misconduct. Officers may also be considered by a Temporary Promotion Review Board for performance or conduct problems.

There are two basic types of disciplinary actions, those that can be initiated by management without a hearing, and those requiring a hearing.

Summary Actions: (Actions that do not require a hearing)

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Both of these actions are issued in writing to the officer. They can be originated, by the OPDIV Head and those management officials designated by the OPDIV Head, the Director, DCP, the Surgeon General, or the Assistant Secretary for Health. The primary difference between the two is that the letter of reprimand is placed in the officer's OPF for a period not to exceed 2 years, while the letter of reproval is placed in the file maintained at the officer's duty station.

Since most personnel actions in the commissioned corps involve a board review (e.g., promotions, details, special pay, assimilation, etc.), having a letter of reprimand in his/her OPF can adversely affect an officer's career.

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Suspension with pay may occur when allegations of misconduct or unsatisfactory performance are of such severity that the officer is suspended as a precautionary measure pending full investigation of the allegations, or because of a pending involuntary separation, board of inquiry, or fitness for duty evaluation.

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An officer's commission may be terminated without a hearing if he or she: (a) has been AWOL for 30 or more consecutive days; (b) has been convicted of a criminal offense and sentenced to more than 30 days in a State, Federal, or other correctional facility with or without suspension;

or, (c) is being separated during the probationary period.

Actions Requiring Board Action

Some disciplinary actions require the review of the officer’ service record by a special board appointed s by the Director, DCP or the Surgeon General. Such boards include the Temporary Promotion Review Board, Medical Officer/Dental Officer Special Pay Review Board, Involuntary Separation Board, and Involuntary Retirement Board. Officers are provided notice of such boards and are provided with an opportunity to submit documentation to their records. Regular Corps officers also have a right to a hearing if their records are submitted to an Involuntary Separation Board.

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Actions Requiring a Hearing When an officer is charged with misconduct by his or her superior or other responsible persons, the officer may be ordered to appear before a board of inquiry. The board, after considering all the evidence, may recommend actions including but not limited to: exoneration, reassignment, termination of the officer's commission, or reduction in grade. If the officer's commission is terminated, his or her service may be characterized as "honorable," "under honorable conditions," or "under other than honorable conditions." Regular Corps officers who are charged with marginal or substandard performance are entitled to a hearing before they can be separated.

F. GRIEVANCES

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