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System name: 

Public Health Service (PHS) Commissioned Corps General Personnel Records, HHS/PSC/HRS.

Security classification: 


System location: 

Division of Commissioned Personnel (DCP)/HRS/PSC, Room 4–36, Parklawn Building, 5600 Fishers Lane, Rockville, Maryland 20857–0001.

PHS Health Data Center, GW Long Hansen's Disease Center, Carville, Louisiana 70721.

National Personnel Record Center, Civilian Personnel Records, 111 Winnebago Street, St. Louis, Missouri 63118.

Duplicates of records may also be maintained in operating offices (duty stations) of the Department and other agencies and organizations to which PHS Commissioned Corps officers are assigned. Contact the System Manager for the location of specific records.

Contact the Rockville, Maryland location before writing to other record sites.

Names and addresses of contractors given information under routine use 7 can be obtained from the System Manager at the location identified below.

Categories of individuals covered by the system: 

Individuals who are part of or who have some relationship with the PHS Commissioned Corps, including: Active duty commissioned officers, former commissioned officers, inactive reserve officers, retired commissioned officers, deceased commissioned officers, dependents and survivors of the above, former spouses of officers, and applicants to the PHS Commissioned Corps.

Categories of records in the system: 

These records contain:

1. Applications for appointment, references and other documents relating to qualifications or suitability for appointment and assignment.

2. Official Personnel Folders (OPF), for all officers who are, or were at one time, on active duty, which include: All documents related to the application and appointment process; effectiveness reports; career development and training records; documents relating to assignment, promotion, retention, separation and all other personnel actions; records of personnel actions relating to pay, travel and allowances (including overseas educational allowances for dependents); documentation of dependent status used to determine entitlement or eligibility for benefits and identification and privilege cards; applications and records of service action relating to the Commissioned Officer Student Training and Extern Programs (COSTEP) officers; survivor benefit elections; information supporting officer awards, honors and commendations; documentation supporting non-board terminations and reprimands issued after final administrative action; pay records and medical data after death of subject individual; and leave records.

3. Worksheets, internal forms, internal memoranda and other documents which result in, or contribute to, an action resulting in a record identified in 2. above.

4. Service Record cards (summarizing personnel actions).

5. Correspondence relating to the above.

Authority for maintenance of the system: 

The Public Health Service Act (42 United States Code [U.S.C.] 202–217, 218a, 224, 228, 233, and other pertinent sections); The Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 410(m) et seq.); portions of Title 10, U.S.C., related to the uniformed services; portions of the Title 37, U.S.C., related to pay and allowance for members of the uniformed services; portions of Title 38, U.S.C., related to benefits administered by the Department of Veterans Affairs; sections of 50 U.S.C. App., related to the selective service obligations and the Soldiers' and Sailors' Civil Relief Act; Executive Order (E.O.) 9397, "Numbering System for Federal Accounts Relating to Individual Persons"; E.O. 10450, "Security Requirements for Government Employment"; and E.O. 11140, which delegates the authority to administer the PHS Commissioned Corps from the President to the Secretary, HHS.


The information is used by the Program Support Center (PSC), DCP, HHS Operating Divisions (OPDIVs) and other organizations where commissioned officers are assigned, to:

1. Determine qualifications and suitability for appointment, selection, career development, training, promotions, assignments, mobilization, temporary duty, and other types of officer utilization.

2. Determine eligibility for pay, allowances, entitlements, privileges, and benefits.

3. Prepare the Commissioned Officer Roster and Promotion Seniority of the Public Health Service.

4. Determine the eligibility or entitlements of dependents and beneficiaries for benefits based on the service of a PHS commissioned officer.

5. Give legal force to personnel transactions and establish officer rights and obligations under the pertinent laws and regulations governing the commissioned corps personnel system.

6. Provide material for research by the Office of the Secretary, HHS, concerning the activities of health professionals.

7. Provide information to HHS components seeking to collect an overdue debt to the Federal Government, but only to the extent necessary to collect that overdue debt.

8. Provide information about professional qualifications, past performance and career interests of PHS officers to Department and Agency officials involved in the selection or assignment of an officer to a particular program.

Routine uses of records maintained in the system, including categories of users and the purposes of such uses: 

These records or information from these records may be used:

1. To locate individuals for personnel research or survey response, and in the production of summary descriptive statistics and analytical studies in support of the function for which the records are collected and maintained, or for related work force studies. While published statistics and studies do not contain individual identifiers, in some instances the selection of elements of data included in the study may be structured in such a way as to make the data individually identifiable by inference.

2. To disclose information to a congressional office from the record of an individual in response to a verified inquiry from the congressional office made at the written request of that individual.

3. To the Department of Justice, a court or other tribunal, when: (a) HHS, or any component, thereof; or (b) any HHS employee in his or her official capacity; or (c) any HHS employee in his or her individual capacity where the Department of Justice (or HHS, where it is authorized to do so) has agreed to represent the employee; or (d) the United States or any agency thereof where HHS determines that the litigation is likely to affect HHS or any of its components, is a party to litigation or has interest in such litigation, and HHS determines that the use of such records by the Department of Justice, the court or other tribunal is relevant and necessary to the litigation and would help in the effective representation of the governmental party, provided, however, that in each case HHS determines that such disclosure is compatible with the purpose for which the records are collected.

4. To disclose pertinent information to appropriate Federal, State, or local agencies; international agencies; or foreign governments responsible for investigating, prosecuting, enforcing or implementing statutes, rules, regulations or orders when PHS becomes aware of evidence of a potential violation of civil or criminal law.

5. To disclose information to an individual who has been asked to provide a reference, to the extent necessary to clearly identify the individual to whom the reference will pertain, inform the source of the purpose(s) of the reference, and to identify the type of information requested from the source, where necessary to obtain information relevant to an agency decision concerning the hiring or retention of any employee, the issuance of a security clearance, the conducting of a security or suitability investigation of an individual, the classifying of jobs, the letting of a contract, or the issuance of a license, grant or other benefit.

6. To disclose to any agency in the executive, legislative or judicial branch; the District of Columbia Government; a State or local government agency; a professional credentialing agency or a non-profit institution, in response to its request, or at the initiation of the PHS, information in connection with the hiring of an employee; the issuance of a license, grant or other benefit by the requesting agency; or the lawful statutory administrative, or investigative purpose of the agency to the extent that the information is relevant and necessary to the requesting agency's decision on the matter.

7. When the Department contemplates contracting with a private firm for the purpose of collating, analyzing, aggregating, or otherwise refining records in this system, relevant records will be disclosed to such a contractor. The contractor will be required to maintain Privacy Act safeguards with respect to such records. These safeguards are explained in the section entitled "Safeguards."

8. To disclose information to the Department of State and officials of foreign governments for the issuance of passports, visas and other clearances before an active, retired or inactive officer is assigned to that country.

9. To disclose information to the Department of Labor, the Department of Veterans Affairs, Social Security Administration or other Federal agencies having special employee benefit programs; to a Federal, State, county or municipal agency; or to a publicly recognized charitable organization when necessary to adjudicate a claim under a benefit program, or to conduct analytical studies of benefits being paid under such programs, provided such disclosure is consistent with the purposes for which the information was originally collected.

10. To disclose information to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) at any stage in the legislative coordination and clearance process in connection with private relief legislation as set forth in OMB Circular No. A–19, or for budgetary or management oversight purposes.

11. To respond to interrogatories in the prosecution of a divorce action or settlement for purposes stated in 10 U.S.C. 1408 ("The Former Spouses' Protection Act").

12. To disclose information about the entitlements and benefits of a beneficiary of a deceased officer, retiree, or annuitant for the purpose of making disposition of the estate.

13. To disclose information to the Department of Defense, United States Coast Guard or Federal Emergency Management Agency, to the extent necessary to facilitate participation of PHS employees in planning, training, and emergency operations in support of civil defense activities and to provide support in the event of a national emergency.

14. To disclose information to Government training facilities (Federal State, and local) and to non-Government training facilities (e.g., private vendors of training courses or programs, private schools), for training purposes such as crediting of work experience in the COSTEP, or verification of status or income.

15. To disclose information to the Defense Enrollment/Eligibility Reporting System, uniformed services medical treatment facilities and to the Department of Defense, Office of the Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Uniformed Services when the information is needed to verify the eligibility of an officer, his/her dependents, or a former spouse for medical benefits.

16. To disclose information to agencies or organizations established in medically underserved areas which apply to the National Health Service Corps for the assignment of commissioned officers to such agencies or organizations.

17. To disclose information to an officer assigned to Federal health care facilities or private sector (i.e., other than Federal, State, or local government) agencies, boards or commissions (e.g., the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations), to obtain accreditation or other approval rating but only to the extent that the information disclosed is relevant and necessary for that purpose.

18. To disclose to a private employer who is considering hiring a former officer information such as the officer's dates of employment, salary, job title and description, duty station and character and nature of separation.

19. To disclose information to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission when requested in connection with investigations into alleged or possible discrimination practices in the Federal sector, examination of Federal affirmative employment programs, or other functions vested in the Commission by the President's Reorganization Plan No. 1 of 1978.

20. To disclose to Federal and non-Federal agencies information allowing the consideration and selection of officers for honor awards made as a result of the individual's work as a commissioned officer, and to publicize those awards granted. This may include disclosure to other public and private organizations, including the news media, which grant or publicize officer awards and honors.

21. To disclose information to officials of the Selective Service System to allow crediting of active service performed by an individual with PHS so that the individual may be properly classified if draft laws once again become operative.

22. To disclose administrative and personnel information, including data elements reflected in the Officer Information Summary, to authorized officials in Federal agencies and other programs where commissioned officers are assigned such as the State Department; the Department of Defense; the Department of Justice, Bureau of Prisons and the Immigration and Naturalization Service; the Transportation Department, United States Coast Guard; the Environmental Protection Agency; the Department of the Interior, the United States Park Service; and the Commerce Department, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Policies and practices for storing, retrieving, accessing, retaining, and disposing of records in the system: 


Automated files are stored on disks, microfiche, electronic medium and magnetic tapes. Nonautomated (hard-copy) files are kept in offices, and may be stored in Lektrievers, safes, cabinets, bookcases or desks.


Alphabetically by name, by PHS serial number and/or by Social Security Number.


1. Authorized Users

(a) Automated Records. Access to and use of automated records is limited to: (1) Personnel employed in the PSC and the Office of the Surgeon General (OSG)/OS, (2) personnel employed in DCP, (3) authorized officials in HHS components and organizations where commissioned officers are assigned whose official duties require such access, and (4) authorized officials in other Federal agencies, such as those in routine use 22 above, where commissioned officers are assigned whose official duties require such access. Automated data is provided to Department personnel officials to update information contained in their personnel records and pay, leave and attendance systems. The Human Resources Service (HRS) provides computer design, programming and support to DCP, and has access to the data to the extent necessary to facilitate the provision of these services to DCP. However, HRS personnel are not authorized to grant access to or make disclosures from automated data in this system to anyone or any organization without the written approval of the Director of DCP or to an official to whom this authority has been delegated.

b. Nonautomated records. Access to and use of nonautomated records is limited to departmental employees whose official duties require such access or to individuals needing access to the information for purposes stated under routine uses. These individuals are permitted access to records only after they have satisfactorily identified themselves as having an official need to review the information and have provided satisfactory proof of their identities. Access is also granted to individuals who have written permission to review the record when that permission has been obtained from the individual to whom the record pertains. All individuals from outside the Department, to whom disclosure is made pursuant to a routine use, must complete Privacy Act nondisclosure oaths and must submit written requests for access to these records showing the name and employing office of the requester, the date on which the record is requested and the purpose for reviewing the information in the records. This written request is then placed into the record.

2. Physical safeguards

a. Automated records. Terminals by which automated records are accessed are kept in offices secured with locks. Automated records on magnetic tape, disks and other computer equipment are kept in rooms designed to protect the physical integrity of the records media and equipment. These rooms are within inner offices to which access is permitted only with special clearance. Outer offices are secured with locks. During nonwork hours, all cabinets, storage facilities, rooms and offices are locked and the premises are patrolled regularly by building security forces.

b. Nonautomated records. Nonautomated records are kept in such a way as to prevent observation by unauthorized individuals while the records are actively in use by an authorized employee. When records are not in use, they are closed and secured in desk drawers with locks, filing cabinets with locks, or other security equipment, all of which are kept inside authorized office space which is locked whenever it is not in use. Keys to furniture and equipment are kept only by the individual who is assigned to that furniture or equipment and by the DCP security officer.

3. Procedural safeguards

a. Automated records. Automated records are secured by assigning individual access codes to authorized personnel, and by the use of passwords for specific records created by authorized personnel. Access codes and passwords are changed on a random schedule. In addition, programming for automated records allows authorized personnel to access only those records that are essential to their duties. Remote access to automated data from remote terminals is restricted to the PSC, OSG and personnel officials where commissioned officers are employed. No access is permitted to organizations that do not have automated personnel record-keeping systems that comply with Privacy Act requirements.

b. Nonautomated records. All files are secured when employees are absent from the premises and are further protected by locks on entry ways and by the building security force. Official records may not be removed from the physical boundaries of DCP. When records are needed at a remote location, copies of the records will be provided. When copying records for authorized purposes, care is taken to ensure that any imperfect or extra copies are not left in the copier room where they can be read, but are destroyed or obliterated.

4. Contractor Guidelines. A contractor who is given records under routine use 7 must maintain the records in a secured area, allow only those individuals immediately involved in the processing of the records to have access to them, prevent unauthorized persons from gaining access to the records, and return the records to the System Manager immediately upon completion of the work specified in the contract. Contractor compliance is assured though inclusion of Privacy Act requirements in contract clauses, and through monitoring by contract and project officers. Contractors who maintain records are instructed to make no disclosure of the records except as authorized by the System Manager and as stated in the contract.

Retention and disposal: 

These records are maintained for varying periods of time. Applicant files of individuals selected for appointment as commissioned officers become a part of the OPF. Applicant files of individuals not selected for appointment are maintained for one year after the application process has been completed and are then destroyed, unless an applicant requests that the file be held open for an additional year. The OPF is maintained for one year after an officer is separated from active duty, at which time such officer's OPF is transferred to a Federal Records Center for permanent storage. The OPF for inactive reserve officers is maintained at the PHS Health Data Center. When inactive officers change status, the OPF is returned to DCP.

The records of a deceased officer are maintained until one year after an individual's death and are then transferred to a Federal Record Center for permanent storage, unless a dependent of a deceased officer continues to receive benefits from PHS based upon the deceased's PHS service. When a dependent or beneficiary dies or becomes ineligible for further benefits based on a deceased officer's service, all records are maintained for one year in the event information is needed from the records to help settle an estate, and are then transferred to the Federal Records Center for permanent storage.

Service Records Cards, which list critical data with regard to the dates or all officers' appointments, reassignments, separations, retirements and deaths, are maintained permanently by the System Manager.

System manager(s) and address: 

Director, DCP/HRS/PSC, Room 4A–15, Parklawn Building, 5600 Fishers Lane, Rockville, Maryland 20857–0001.

Notification procedure: 

Same as Access Procedures. Requesters should also reasonably specify the record contents being sought.

Record access procedures: 

1. General procedures. An individual (and/or the individual's legal representative) seeking access to his/her records may contact the DCP Privacy Act Coordinator for information about obtaining access to the records. Each individual seeking access will be required to verify his/her identity to the satisfaction of the DCP Privacy Act Coordinator. Refusal to provide sufficient proof of identity will result in denial of the request for access until such time as proof of identity can be obtained. The System Manager has authority to release records to authorized officials within DCP, HHS and other organizations where commissioned officers are assigned.

2. Requests in person. An individual who is the subject of a record and who appears in person seeking access shall provide his/her name and at least one piece of tangible identification (e.g., PHS Commissioned Corps Identification Card, driver's license or passport). Identification cards with current photograph are required. The records will be reviewed in the presence of an appropriate DCP employee who will answer questions and ensure that the individual neither removes nor inserts any material into the record without the knowledge of the DCP employee. If the individual requests a copy of any records reviewed, the DCP employee will provide them to the individual. The DCP employee will record the name of the individual granted access, the date of access, and information about the verification of identity on a separate log sheet maintained in the office of the Privacy Act Coordinator, DCP.

3. Requests by mail. Written requests must be addressed to the System Manager or the DCP Privacy Act Coordinator at the address shown as the system location above. All written requests must be signed by the individual seeking access. A comparison will be made of that signature and the signature maintained on file prior to release of the material requested. Copies of the records to which access has been requested will be mailed to the individual. The original version of a record will not be released except in very unusual situations when only the original will satisfy the purpose of the request.

4. When an individual to whom a record pertains is mentally incompetent or under other legal disability, information in the individual's records may be disclosed to any person who is legally responsible for the care of the individual, to the extent necessary to assure payment of benefits to which the individual is entitled.

5. Requests by phone. Because positive identification of the caller cannot be established with sufficient certainty, telephone requests for access to records will not be honored.

6. Accounting of disclosures. An individual who is the subject of records maintained in this records system may also request an accounting of all disclosures made outside the Department, if any, that have been made from that individual's records.

Contesting record procedures: 

Contact the System Manager at the address specified under System Location above and reasonably identify the record. Specify the information being contested. State the corrective action sought, with supporting justification, along with information to show how the record is inaccurate, incomplete, untimely or irrelevant.

Record source categories: 

From individual officers, applicants, persons providing references, dependents, former spouses of officers, governmental and private training facilities, health professional licensing and credentialing organizations, government officials and employees and from the records contained in the following systems: 09–40–0002, Public Health Service (PHS) Commissioned Corps Medical Records, HHS/PSC/HRS; 09–40–0003, Public Health Service (PHS) Commissioned Corps Board Proceedings, HHS/PSC/HRS; 09–40–0004, Public Health Service (PHS) Commissioned Corps Grievance, Investigatory and Disciplinary Files, HHS/PSC/HRS; 09–40–0005, Public Health Service (PHS) Commissioned Corps Beneficiary-Contract Medical/Health Care Records, HHS/PSC/HRS; and 09–40–0006, Public Health Service (PHS) Commissioned Corps Payroll Records, HHS/PSC/HRS.

System exempted from certain provision of the Act: 


Content created by Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Division