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System name: 

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

Security classification: 


System location: 

Medical Affairs Branch (MAB), DCP/HRS/PSC, Room 4C–14, Parklawn Building, 5600 Fishers Lane, Rockville, Maryland 20857–0001.

Records in this system are kept at the address shown above when the person to whom the record pertains has an active relationship with the PHS Commissioned Corps personnel system. When an officer ceases the active relationship with the commissioned corps, the records are combined with the Official Personnel Folder (OPF) in records system 09–40–0001, Public Health Service (PHS) Commissioned Corps General Personnel Records, HHS/PSC/HRS, and transferred to the appropriate facility as outlined in 09–40–0001.

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.

Names and addresses of contractors given information under routine use 4 can be obtained from the System Manager at the location identified below.

Categories of individuals covered by the system: 

PHS commissioned officers (including active, inactive, terminated, retired and deceased officers), applicants to the commissioned corps, and dependents of officers seeking Defense Enrollment/Eligibility Reporting System eligibility on the basis of incapacity.

Categories of records in the system: 

Medical files and records on individuals identified above; medical board records from Medical Review Boards and Appeals Boards, including board reports and supporting medical documentation; death case files and supporting documents; sick leave records; performance and behavior documentation of individuals as may relate to medical conditions; and 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; 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. Evaluate applicants for appointment and officers for reassignment, reactivation and fitness for duty and suitability for retention on active duty.

2. Make determinations about the level of an officer's disability and entitlement to disability severance or retired pay.

3. Make determinations regarding EEO complaints or grievances filed by the officer, if the nature of the complaint suggests that pertinent evidence may be located in the medical record.

4. Make determinations about the level of a dependent's disabilities or incapacities which may make the dependent eligible for benefits from PHS.

5. Make budgetary estimates about the cost of disability severance and retired pay.

6. Prepare reports or provide statistical information relating to the medical status of officers.

7. Initiate or support disciplinary or other adverse actions by the Director, DCP, against applicants or officers for misconduct.

8. Support monitoring of compliance of officers with the requirements of their professional licensing or certifying authorities.

9. Make decisions about funding, use, access, location and quality of medical care and promote continuity of medical evaluation and treatment.

10. Monitor officer compliance with recommended treatment and with commissioned corps policies regarding sick leave.

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 disclose information to the Department of Veterans Affairs; Bureau of Prisons (Department of Justice); Coast Guard (Department of Transportation); Department of State; Department of Defense; NOAA (Department of Commerce); Agency for International Development, Environmental Protection Agency and other Federal agencies or civilian health care providers where commissioned officers are assigned or are receiving medical treatment or voluntary or directed evaluations to ensure continuity of evaluation and/or treatment, to assure medically appropriate assignments and duty limitations, to support disciplinary or other adverse actions and to assure compliance with sick leave policies.

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 promote continuity of care by supplying information to Government or civilian medical care facilities and/or practitioners who, under contract or as otherwise authorized or due to an emergency, provide treatment to officers and their dependents.

4. 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".

5. 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.

6. To provide information relating to the disability or death of officers to the Social Security Administration to determine the Social Security benefits or other benefits which may be available to the officer or to the survivors of deceased officers.

7. To provide information to Federal agencies such as the Department of Veterans Affairs and State Workers' Compensation offices to help adjudicate post-service claims for benefits.

8. Information regarding the commission of crimes or the reporting of occurrences of communicable diseases, tumors, child abuse, births, deaths, alcohol or drug abuse, etc., may be disclosed as required by health providers and facilities by State law or regulation of the department of health or other agency of the State or its subdivision in which the facility is located. Disclosures will be made to organizations as specified by the State law or regulation, such as births and deaths to the vital statistics agency and crimes to law enforcement agencies. Disclosure of the contents of records which pertain to patient identity, diagnosis, prognosis, or treatment of alcohol or drug abuse is restricted under the provisions of the Confidentiality of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Patient Records Regulation 42 CFR part 2, as authorized by 21 U.S.C. 1175 and 42 U.S.C. 290dd.2, as amended by Pub. L. 98–24 and 102–321.

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


Automated files are stored on disks, microfiche and magnetic tapes. Nonautomated (hard-copy) files are kept in offices, and may be stored in Lektrievers, Conserve-a-files, 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 personnel employed in the MAB and certain employees of the Office of the Director, DCP. Selected information may be released to employees in DCP whose official duties require such access. 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.

b. Nonautomated records. Access to and use of nonautomated records is limited to MAB, certain members of the Office of the Director, DCP, and departmental employees, such as EEO officials and members of Medical Review and Appeals Boards, whose official duties require such access to the information for purposes stated under routine uses or purposes. 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 other than DCP employees must complete Privacy Act nondisclosure oaths and, except for Medical Board members, must submit written requests for access to these records showing the name and employing office of the requestor, the date on which the record is requested, and the purpose for reviewing the information in the record. 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 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, Office of the Surgeon General and personnel officials where commissioned officers are employed. No access is permitted to automated records from remote terminal sites maintained by individuals or organizations outside of DCP.

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 MAB, 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 4 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: 

When an officer terminates his/her commission, records are incorporated into the OPF and transferred to a Federal Records Center in accordance with 09–40–0001, Public Health Service (PHS) Commissioned Corps General Personnel Records, HHS/PSC/HRS, procedures. Medical records on nonselected applicants may be destroyed after two years. Records of retirees are incorporated into the OPF and disposed of in accordance with 09–40–0001, Public Health Service (PHS) Commissioned Corps General Personnel Records, HHS/PSC/HRS procedures, unless the individual is on the temporary disability retirement list, in which case the file is maintained under the same conditions as an active duty officer's file until the individual is permanently retired, returned to active duty or terminated. Medical records of a dependent incapable of self support are maintained until the dependent is no longer eligible for benefits from PHS at which time the records are transferred to a Federal Records Center for permanent storage.

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 initially contact any DCP office or employee for information about obtaining access to the records. The DCP employees will inform each individual of the appropriate procedures to follow. Each individual seeking access will be required to verify his/her identity to the satisfaction of the DCP employee providing access. 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 automated records to the Medical Affairs Branch.

If a determination is made that the material sought contains medical information that is likely to have an adverse effect on the requester, the requester shall be asked to designate in writing a responsible representative who will be willing to review the record and inform the subject individual of the material's contents at the representative's discretion. Such a representative must provide proof that s/he is duly authorized to review the record by either the individual or the individual's legal guardian. A parent, guardian or legal representative who requests notification of, or access to, a dependent/incompetent person's record shall designate a family physician or other health professional (other than a family member) to whom the record, if any, will be sent. The parent or guardian must verify his/her relationship to the dependent/incompetent person as well as his/her own identity.

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 MAB, DCP.

3. Requests by mail. Written requests must be addressed to the System Manager or the Medical Affairs Branch 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 and other commissioned corps officials; applicants; private and Government physicians; hospitals and clinics rendering treatment; investigative reports, records contained in system 09–40–0001, Public Health Service (PHS) Commissioned Officer General Personnel Records, HHS/PSC/HRS; records from system 09–40–0005, Public Health Service (PHS) Beneficiary Contract Medical/Health Care Records, HHS/PSC/HRS; death certificates and reports of death and from survivors and executors of estates.

System exempted from certain provision of the Act: 


Content created by Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Division