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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

A: The normal IHS deployment approval process remains in effect, until further notice. The Division of Commissioned Personnel Support (DCPS) forwards each request for deployment for concurrence by the officer’s CEO/Tribal/Urban Organization and Area/Office Director. Upon receipt of the Area/Office Director’s decision, a member of DCPS will notify the Readiness and Deployment Branch (RDB) and the officer of either approval or disapproval.

A: Yes, potentially. Personnel Operations Memorandum (POM) 821.76 "Deployment   Procedures" Exit Disclaimer: You Are Leaving  [PDF] outlines a process through which OPDIVs may designate individual officers as Mission Critical (MC), which will generally temporarily preclude the officer from deployment under specific types of conditions.  However, if there is a declared urgent or emergency public health care need, in accordance with the POM, the CCHQ Director will not act on a MC submission until the declared public health care emergency ends.

A: Many officers in the IHS are heavily involved in COVID-19 response activities and may be temporarily deemed Mission Critical (MC).  Officers on the MC list can still be deployed by authority of the Secretary and Assistant Secretary for Health to meet the needs of the mission, per CCI 241.02 “Deployment of Corps Officers” Exit Disclaimer: You Are Leaving  [PDF].  Officers should continue to be willing and prepared to deploy, if called upon to serve.

A: Upon receipt of deployment notification, deploying officers should:

  1. Notify your supervisory chain and DCPS Regional Liaison Office of the details, including travel dates and location.
  2. Update your supervisory chain and DCPS Regional Liaison Office of any significant changes from the itinerary, including plans to demobilize early or extend the deployment.
  3. Upon demobilization, notify your supervisory chain and Regional Liaison Office for their awareness and discuss post-deployment instructions and return-to-work expectations with your supervisory chain.

IHS Leadership, including Area and HQ Office Directors, and most federal, Tribal, and Urban Indian organizations support the deployment of Corps officers, whenever possible. Commissioned Corps Leadership works in close coordination with the IHS Leadership to ensure that patient care for American Indians and Alaska Natives is not impacted.

A: Immediately notify your supervisor and your DCPS Regional Liaison Office team with copy to CAPT Angela Mtungwa, DCPS Director, providing the travel itinerary and a contact phone number through which to reach you quickly.  The deployment notification may be inadvertent or it could indicate that you are being deployed without agency concurrence, per CCI 241.02 Exit Disclaimer: You Are Leaving  [PDF].  DCPS will immediately contact RDB to verify, and provide you additional direction.  If travel for the deployment is imminent and/or until hearing from DCPS, continue to prepare for deployment and comply with the travel orders.

A: Officers should seek medical advice and follow current CDC guidance. If you are unsure who to contact for medical advice, call the Military Health System Nurse Advice line (MHS NAL) online or at 1-800-874-2273, choose Option 1.

A: If you test positive for COVID-19, pursuant to Commissioned Corps Directive (CCD) 111.03, “Conditions of Service,” Exit Disclaimer: You Are Leaving  [PDF] all officers are required to promptly inform Medical Affairs of any significant new medical/mental health diagnoses which could potentially affect their long term health status, including a positive COVID-19 diagnosis. You are required to report a positive COVID-19 test result to Medical Affairs, through Corps Care at or 240-276-9616. You should also send related medical records into your permanent digital medical folder by uploading them through the medical section of eDOC-U using the document name, “Medical Record.”

Officers should also report their condition to their supervisor in a manner consistent with their duty station’s expectations as well as request sick leave in accordance with CCI 363.01 “Sick Leave” Exit Disclaimer: You Are Leaving  [PDF], documenting sick leave requests in eCORPS Exit Disclaimer: You Are Leaving .

If you test positive for COVID-19 while you are deployed, report it immediately to your deployment Supervisor and they will notify the proper authorities.

A: No, unless all other options are exhausted. After post-deployment respite leave (if applicable), officers who are required to self-isolate or quarantine should telework to the extent possible. Only if remote duty or telework is not possible should administrative leave be used.

Post-Deployment Respite Absence

Per POM 15-002 “Post-Deployment Respite Absence” Exit Disclaimer: You Are Leaving  [PDF], officers returning from a public health emergency or other national crisis deployment of at least 14 days that took them outside of their commuting area (50 mile radius), are allowed to utilize Post-Deployment Respite Absence (PDRA) at a rate dependent on the length of deployment. This type of leave must be requested by the officer, approved by the supervisor, and start within 48 hours of return.


In accordance with the CDC guidelines Exit Disclaimer: You Are Leaving  and/or out of an abundance of caution at the discretion of an officer’s supervisory chain or a Tribe, returning officers may be approved for telework, if eligible. Commissioned Corps Instruction CC313.01 “Telework” Exit Disclaimer: You Are Leaving  [PDF] and IHS telework policies should guide the use of telework for officers.

If the officer’s position of record does not have duties that are amenable to telework, the officer may be assigned duties from other positions, COVID-19 response duties, and/or other responsibilities. It will be difficult to justify a lack of duties for a Corps officer during this growing crisis, which is requiring a coordinated, all-hands-on-deck approach at all levels.

The IHS Commissioned Corps telework form [PDF] is available under the Officer Resources section of the DCPS website. If you have a current IHS telework form that has been used to capture the telework, it does not need to be redone at this time; please provide a copy of it to the officer’s Regional DCPS Liaison for our records. The form should be updated annually.

Administrative Leave

CC361.01 “Leave of Absence; General” Exit Disclaimer: You Are Leaving  [PDF] Section 6-5 (a) permits officers who have been deployed on a COVID-19 mission and are required or encouraged to quarantine or self-isolate as a result, to be granted administrative leave that exceeds the 5-day per calendar year maximum, in order to ensure that appropriate officer monitoring occurs following deployment. 

A: Speak with your supervisor about an alternative work schedule or telework or a combination

of the two, or request annual leave. The tone and content of your request should demonstrate the desire to serve the mission in a way that also allows you to take care of your responsibilities at home, so you can devote your full attention to work while on duty, without anxiety or distraction. If you or your supervisor would like assistance exploring potential solutions, please contact your Regional DCPS Liaison.

A: No. If an officer indicates availability, but is not given agency concurrence for deployment, the officer is not held responsible, and is not subject to disciplinary action as a result of not deploying. Additionally, officers who do not deploy are not penalized in the promotion process.

A: Effective July 2, 2020, Commissioned Corps Headquarters will no longer process any new requests for Voluntary Separations or Voluntary Retirements for officers who have between 20 to 30 years of active duty service. This means any separation/retirement paperwork (PHS-1373) with effective dates between August 1, 2020 and December 30, 2020 will not be accepted or processed. By October 1, 2020, a decision will be made regarding the acceptance and processing of future requests for Voluntary Separations and Voluntary Retirements with separation dates effective January 1, 2021 and beyond.

A: Transfers are not being cancelled or delayed at this time, intra agency (within IHS) or for transfers or calls to active duty into IHS. If you are transferring to another agency, please check with your gaining agency to see if your assignment has been delayed or cancelled.

A: Officers who have health conditions that they believe make it unsafe or impair their ability to effectively deploy, can apply for a waiver from Medical Affairs. Medical waivers differ in duration as well as type. Please consult the Medical Affairs waiver program website Exit Disclaimer: You Are Leaving  for details, including the link to the Medical Waiver Request form Exit Disclaimer: You Are Leaving  [PDF] that must be completed and uploaded via eDOC-U in the Officer Secure Area Exit Disclaimer: You Are Leaving .

A: No. Mission critical, as outlined in POM 821.76 Exit Disclaimer: You Are Leaving  [PDF], applies only to an officer’s position or role in the agency. An officer’s medical status should be addressed with Medical Affairs through a medical waiver request, per CCI 221.02, “Medical Readiness” Exit Disclaimer: You Are Leaving  [PDF], Section 6-6. Medical or other types of waivers may temporarily preclude deployment of an officer, but does not designate them as mission critical.

A: Commissioned Corps Headquarters (CCHQ) released guidance regarding the wear of face masks in public while in uniform. To summarize:

  • Officers are mandated to wear a cloth face mask while in uniform, in public, whenever 6 feet of social distancing cannot be maintained.
  • Face masks can be manufactured or handmade and must be a single solid color (blue, black, gray, or white), with no designs, pins, printed wording, or logos.
  • Based on the exclusions, even the PHS logo should not be visible on the mask.

A: Because barber shops and salons are currently closed in many municipalities, CCHQ has relaxed the grooming standards, effective until 30 days after the end of the Public Health Emergency or sooner, as ordered by the Surgeon General.  The relaxed standards may allow for longer hair length and additional bulk on the sides, top, and back of the head, provided there is no interference with the proper wear of covers, head gear, or PPE.

However, provisions regarding sideburns, hair styles, and shaving requirements remain in effect per CCI 412.01 Exit Disclaimer: You Are Leaving  [PDF], “Uniforms and Appearance.”

A: Many states and the District of Columbia have suspended license renewal services due to COVID-19. Officers who are unable to renew their license before expiration due to suspension of renewal services, may upload documentation of a waiver or extension via eDOC-U, in lieu of the license. The date the extension is set to end can be used as the expiration date for now. Officers may obtain information about license extensions from their issuing state agency’s website.

A: At this time, CAC transactions shall be limited to initial issuances or reissuance of a CAC expiring within 30 days. CACs are currently not being reissued for printed information changes (e.g., promotions, name changes). To locate the nearest DEERS/Rapids site, please visit the Rapids Site Locator Exit Disclaimer: You Are Leaving .

A: The Department of Defense has authorized the extended carryover of annual leave to 120 days per year until September 30, 2023. Leave for the DoD and all other uniformed services, except the PHS Commissioned Corps, is covered by Title 10, Chapter 40 of the U.S. Code. For the PHS Commissioned Corps, the leave authority resides in 42 U.S.C. §210-1, which restricts leave carryover in excess of 60 days per year. CCHQ is working to resolve the lack of alignment of leave authorities with the other uniformed services.

A: Information may be found through the following links:


Below are several resources:

A: Contact information for Division of Commissioned Personnel Support (DCPS) leadership and regional liaison office contacts may be found on the DCPS website.

A: To obtain practice hours through your primary job duties, you must have a position designated by OPM code 81. To look up if you are in an OPM code 81 position:

  • Log into the Officer Secure Area of the CCMIS website and open your
  • Look under “Current Assignment”, you will see under “Position Primary Job” what your OPM code is, as seen in the example below:

Current Assignment

Chief Pharmacist 1


Position Grade: 5


A: Determine, with your supervisor’s approval, if obtaining the hours will be as an official duty (official duty activity during your normal tour of duty) or as a non-official duty (during your off-duty time).

Official Duty

If you obtain practice hours as an official duty activity (i.e. during duty hours), you may do so through:

  • An MOU between your agency and another non-HHS federal agency (i.e. BOP, ICE, VA, DoD)
  • A TDY to an HHS clinical site
  • A deployment (if gaining practice hours is authorized by CCHQ for the deployment)
  • Obtaining practice hours as part of your duties via a billet addendum (PHS Form 7085 Exit Disclaimer: You Are Leaving  [PDF]).

Non-Official Duty

If you obtain practice hours as a non-official duty activity (i.e. outside of duty hours), you must do so only during off-duty hours or on annual leave.

  • Supervisory and Ethics approval must be documented via an HHS 520, whether the activity is compensated or
  • Performing non-official duties at a federal facility during non-duty hours must be non- compensated to comply with regulations that prohibit dual compensation of federal

A: It depends on how you obtain your practice hours.

I obtain my practice hours:

What form do I submit and where?

As part of my primary duties

Fill and submit the electronic PHS-7047 located in “Forms” in your Officer Secure Area Exit Disclaimer: You Are Leaving 

As part of an MOU/MOA

Fill and submit the electronic PHS-7047 located in “Forms” in your Officer Secure Area Exit Disclaimer: You Are Leaving 

Through a TDY to an HHS clinical site

Upload TDY documents using eDOC-U, under the heading “TDY without PO.” Ensure that your supervisor’s signature is on the TDY form/memo.

Fill and submit the electronic PHS-7047 located in “Forms” in your Officer Secure Area Exit Disclaimer: You Are Leaving 

Through a deployment role that the Readiness and Deployment Branch (RDB) has approved for practice hours

Fill and submit the electronic PHS-7047 located in “Forms” in your Officer Secure Area Exit Disclaimer: You Are Leaving 

Through adding a billet addendum to include obtaining practice hours as part of my duties.

Submit the PHS 7085 Exit Disclaimer: You Are Leaving  [PDF] form to for Liaison review and signature

Upload the completed PHS 7085 Exit Disclaimer: You Are Leaving  [PDF] forms using eDOC-U under "PHS 7085 Billet/Position Addendum " in your eOPF.

Fill and submit the electronic PHS-7047 located in “Forms” in your Officer Secure Area Exit Disclaimer: You Are Leaving 

Through an outside activity

Submit the HHS 520 Exit Disclaimer: You Are Leaving  [PDF] to your supervisor. Route the form through your Area Ethics contact for review. Ensure that you upload your approved HHS 520 Exit Disclaimer: You Are Leaving  [PDF] into your eOPF.

Ensure that you report all outside activities annually using the HHS 521 Exit Disclaimer: You Are Leaving  [PDF] to your Area/Office Ethics contact.

Fill and submit the electronic PHS-7047 located in “Forms” in your Officer Secure Area Exit Disclaimer: You Are Leaving