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09–40–0004

System name:

Public Health Service (PHS) Commissioned Corps Grievance, Investigatory and Disciplinary Files, HHS/PSC/HRS.

Security classification: 

None.

System location: 

Division of Commissioned Personnel (DCP), HRS/PSC, Room 4–36, Parklawn Building, 5600 Fishers Lane, Rockville, Maryland 20857-0001 and offices and organizations to which an individual commissioned officer is assigned. The exact location of any record may be obtained by contacting the Director, DCP, at the location identified below.

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.

Categories of individuals covered by the system: 

PHS Commissioned Corps officers, including active duty, inactive, terminated, separated and deceased officers.

Categories of records in the system: 

Files concerning grievances filed by or against commissioned officers; investigative files, records related to disciplinary actions, records related to involuntary retirements and involuntary separations (non-board or pre-board actions) taken against commissioned officers; 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.

Purpose(s): 

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. Investigate allegations of misconduct or marginal and substandard performance.

2. Process and decide grievances, involuntary retirements, involuntary separations, temporary grade reversions or disciplinary actions.

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 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.

2. 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.

3. 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.

4. 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.

5. Disclosure may be made to State Boards of Medical Examiners and to equivalent State licensing boards of professional review actions which adversely affect the clinical privileges of health care professionals who either: (a) Are or were employed by the Federal Government; (b) provide or have provided health care services under a fee-for-service contract with the Federal Government; or (c) provide or have provided health care services on behalf of the Federal Government as a volunteer or visiting fellow. Boards of Medical Examiners and equivalent State licensing boards are required by the Health Care Quality Improvement Act of 1986 and by the Medicare and Medicaid Patient and Program Protection Act of 1987 to report this information to the National Practitioner Data Bank.

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

Storage: 

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

Retrievability: 

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

Safeguards: 

1. Authorized Users

a. Automated Records. Access to and use of automated records is limited to DCP personnel involved in the grievance or investigation for which the information was collected. 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 DCP personnel involved in the specific grievance or investigatory process for which the information was collected. These records may be copied and related to departmental officials involved in a decisionmaking capacity in a given case. 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 combination 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 or 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.

Retention and disposal: 

Grievance files are destroyed after two years or earlier if no longer needed for administrative purposes. Documentation which directly supports personnel actions affecting an individual is placed into the individual's Official Personnel Folder after a final, official decision has been made and/or the action has been effected, and is then treated in the same manner as other material in system 09–40–0001, "PHS Commissioned Corps General Personnel Records, HHS/PSC/HRS." Investigatory records concerning cases in which no final decisions have been made, or which are ongoing over a period of time are kept indefinitely until a final decision is made. Records concerning cases which are closed or on which final action has been taken, but which are not essential to document or support the final action, are retained as long as they are needed for administrative purposes and are then destroyed by shredding.

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 the DCP Privacy Act Coordinator for information about obtaining access to the record. Each individual seeking access will be required to verify his/her identity to the satisfaction of the 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.

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 record.

3. Requests by mail. Written requests must be addressed to the System Manger 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 or their service records; efficiency reports; persons providing references; reports of findings and recommendations made by the commissioned corps Board members; supervisors, private and Government physicians; hospitals and clinics rendering treatment; licensure and professional credentialing organizations; investigative reports; law enforcement organizations; court records; death certificates and reports of death; survivors and executors of estates; and records contained in the following systems: 90–40–0001, Public Health Service (PHS) Commissioned Corps General Personnel Records, HHS/PSC/HRS; 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; and 09–40–0006, Public Health Service (PHS) Commissioned Corps Payroll Records, HHS/PSC/HRS.

System exempted from certain provision of the Act: 

None.

Content created by Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Division