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Incentive Rates For Indian Health Service Chief Executive Officers

Indian Health Service
Rockville, Maryland 20857

Refer to: OHR




  1. Purpose
  2. Authority
  3. Requirements
  4. Procedures
  5. Effective Date
  1. PURPOSE. The purpose of this Circular is to establish the Indian Health Service (IHS) policy and procedure on paying a Chief Executive Officer (CEO) candidate or employee up to 50 percent of the rate of basic pay in recruitment, relocation, and retention (3Rs) incentives on a case-by-case basis.
  1. AUTHORITY. The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) in a memorandum dated March 23, 2021, has given the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) the authority to waive the 25 percent limit, as set forth by 5 C.F.R. Part 575 Exit Disclaimer: You Are Leaving  for 3Rs incentives for hospital, healthcare center, and clinic CEOs employed by the IHS. This waiver provides for incentives at 26?50 percent of the rate of basic pay for a CEO at any grade level and at any location. The waiver will be applied in accordance with the requirements of applicable law, regulations, and HHS Instruction 575-1 Exit Disclaimer: You Are Leaving .
  1. REQUIREMENTS. Requirements relating to 3Rs incentives over 25 percent include the following:
    1. Documenting in writing each determination to pay an incentive to an individual employee as required by 5 C.F.R. 575.108, § 575.208, § 575.308;
    2. Requiring all recipients, including employees proposed for a retention incentive to be paid bi-weekly, to sign a service agreement, as required by 5 C.F.R. 575.110, § 575.210, and § 575.309(e)(4);
    3. Paying a retention incentive only after an appropriate official has substantiated that the employee is likely to leave federal service if the incentive is not provided;
    4. Adhering to processing and reporting requirements in the Guide to Processing Personnel Actions (to include correct authority codes);
    5. Advising individual recipients on, and adhering to, the aggregate limitation on pay under 5 U.S.C. § 5307; and
    6. Following applicable repayment requirements when an employee fails to fulfill the service agreement.
    1. The supervisor of the employee (or candidate) completes the applicable IHS 3Rs forms with complete responses for all text boxes (forms can be obtained through the appropriate Area Human Resources Office), except that the Approving Official on the form will be the IHS Deputy Director for Management Operations (DDMO) and the Human Resources Officer will be the Director, Headquarters (HQ) Office of Human Resources (OHR), so those lines should be left blank;
    2. The supervisor, through the Area-specific routing protocols, submits the completed IHS 3Rs forms; a memorandum addressing the unique and critical reasons the incentive amount is necessary and how the particular incentive rate was determined; and any applicable supporting documentation on the local labor market, vacancy rates, turnover rates, job offers, etc.;
    3. While intermediate approvals may be obtained based on Area-specific protocols, the Area Director will be the final Area level approving authority; 
    4. Once approved by the Area Director, the request package is forwarded to HQ OHR, attention to compensation staff at the group email “IHS Pay Policy;”
    5. The compensation staff reviews for completeness and adherence to law, regulation, and policy and then routes the request package to the OHR Director and DDMO; and
    6. The OHR Director and DDMO review and approve the request, with the DDMO serving as the Authorized Agency Official.

    Also note that when recruiting for a specific hard-to-fill CEO position, a statement that a higher incentive rate is possible may be included (but is not required) in the Job Opportunity Announcement. 

    EFFECTIVE DATE. This Circular becomes effective on the date of signature.

    /Elizabeth A. Fowler/
    Acting Director
    Indian Health Service

    Distribution: IHS-wide
    Date: 09/21/2022