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Chapter 2 - Merit Promotion Plan

Part 7 - Human Resources Administration And Management

Title Section
Introduction 7-2.1
    Purpose 7-2.1A
    Coverage 7-2.1B
    Objectives 7-2.1C
    Definitions 7-2.1D
Responsibilities 7-2.2
    Director, Division of Human Resources 7-2.2A
    Regional Human Resources Officer 7-2.2B
    Manager, Supervisors, and/or Selecting Officials 7-2.2C
    Equal Employment Opportunity Official 7-2.2D
    Employees 7-2.2E
Application 7-2.3
    Required Competitive Promotion Procedures 7-2.3A
    Exceptions to Merit Competition and Indian Preference 7-2.3B
    Exceptions to Merit Promotion Procedures 7-2.3C
    Special Placement Actions 7-2.3D
    Notes on Special Placement Actions 7-2.3E
Area of Consideration 7-2.4
    Minimum Areas of Consideration 7-2.4A
    Expanding Minimum Areas of Consideration 7-2.4B
    Reduced Areas of Consideration 7-2.4C
    Relocation Expenses 7-2.4D
Vacancy Announcements 7-2.5
    Unencumbered Positions 7-2.5A
    Time Frames 7-2.5B
    Recurring Positions 7-2.5C
    Open Until Filled 7-2.5D
    Outside Area of Consideration 7-2.5E
    Additional Selections 7-2.5F
    No Selection Decision 7-2.5G
    Vacancy Announcement Specifications 7-2.5H
Methods of Applying 7-2.6
    Required Completed Forms 7-2.6A
    Employees who are Temporarily Absent 7-2.6B
    Receipt of Applications 7-2.6C
Legal and Regulatory Requirements 7-2.7
    Time-after-competitive Appointment 7-2.7A
    Time-in-grade Requirements 7-2.7B
    Minimum Qualification Standards 7-2.7C
    Selective Factors 7-2.7D
    Modification 7-2.7E
    Licensure 7-2.7F
    Citizenship 7-2.7G
    Other Eligibility Requirements 7-2.7H
    Suitability 7-2.7I
Evaluation of Candidates 7-2.8
    Evaluation Requirements 7-2.8A
    Qualifications Review Board 7-2.8B
Referral of Eligible Candidates 7-2.9
    Priority Consideration Candidates 7-2.9A
    Non-Indian Preference Candidates 7-2.9B
    Ranked Candidates 7-2.9C
    United States Commissioned Corps Officer Candidates 7-2.9D
    Other Candidates 7-2.9E
Selection of Candidates 7-2.10
    Indian Preference 7-2.10A
    Public Law 94-437 Scholarship Recipients 7-2.10B
    Non-merit Factors 7-2.10C
    Sources of Selection 7-2.10D
    Void Certificate 7-2.10E
    Decision to Fill 7-2.10F
    Interviews 7-2.10G
    Placement Consideration 7-2.10H
    Additional or Alternative Selection 7-2.10I
    Advertised at More than One Grade Level 7-2.10J
    Reference Checks 7-2.10K
Releasing the Selected Candidate 7-2.11
Notification of Candidates 7-2.12
Maintenance of Records 7-2.13
    Promotion Files 7-2.13A
    Crediting Plans 7-2.13B
    Merit Promotion Records 7-2.13C
Program Review 7-2.14
Information Available to Applicants and Employees 7-2.15
    Applicant's Information 7-2.15A
    Additional Information 7-2.15B
    Employees 7-2.15C
Employee Questions and Complaints 7-2.16

  1. PURPOSE.  The purpose of this chapter is to publish the revised policies and procedures to be followed when filling positions in the Indian Health Service (IHS).  The merit promotion plan reflects the merit promotion policies and procedural requirements issued by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) in Title 5, Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), Part 335; the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Instruction 335-6; and Part 7, Chapter 3, "Indian Preference," Indian Health Manual (IHM).  This merit promotion plan must be used in conjunction with Part 7, Chapter 1, "Excepted Service Examining Plan," IHM.  It must also conform to all appropriate automated staffing systems in use, e.g., QuickHire/HHS Careers.
  2. COVERAGE.  This merit promotion plan applies to the filling of all competitive and excepted service positions at General Schedule (GS)-15 and below, and wage grade equivalents in the IHS.  United States Public Health Service (USPHS) Commissioned Corps Officers may apply and be considered for vacancies through the Division of Human Resources (DHR) at the IHS Headquarters or the Regional Human Resources Office.  (See 7-2.9D in this chapter for information on how USPHS Commissioned Corps Officer applicants are to be evaluated.)
  3. OBJECTIVE.  The objective of the plan is to provide a fair and systematic means of considering and selecting applicants for promotion based on merit principles and Indian preference requirements.
  4. DEFINITIONS.  Following are definitions and explanation of terms used throughout this guide.
    1. Ability.  An observable behavior that results in an observable product.
    2. Accretion of Duties.  A promotion resulting from an employee's position being reclassified at a higher grade as a result of additional duties and responsibilities that have evolved and grown over a period of time.  The employee, who meets the minimum qualification and eligibility to perform requirements for the upgraded position, continues to perform the former duties and responsibilities as they have been absorbed into the revised duties.
    3. Appointing Authority (Official).  The person delegated to authorize personnel actions.  In the IHS, this authority is given to the DHR Director, to the Regional Human Resources Officers (RHRO), and to others delegated under their line authority.
    4. Area of Consideration.  The area, organization, or group of organizations in which an intensive search is made for eligible candidates to fill vacancies covered by this merit promotion plan.
    5. Best Qualified Candidates.  Those qualified candidates determined by the rating and ranking process who possess the job-related knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs) to a greater degree than other qualified candidates, and who are referred to the selecting official for consideration.
    6. Career Ladder Position.  The grade progression from entry level to full performance level is identified and documented in position descriptions and vacancy announcements.
    7. Change-to-Lower Grade.  An employee change to a lower grade when both the old and the new positions are under the GS or same wage grade schedule, or an employee change to a position with a lower rate of basic pay when both old and new positions are under the same type upgraded wage schedule or in a different pay-method categories.
    8. Crediting Plan.  Sometimes called ranking schedule, a crediting plan is a set of criteria for candidates rated job eligible.
    9. Detail.  The temporary assignment of an employee to a different position or to unclassified duties for a specified period with the employee retaining his/her position of record and returning to his/her regular duties at the end of the temporary assignment.
    10. Job Analysis.  Identifying the KSAs and other characteristics essential to a position in order to provide a job-related basis for evaluating and selecting candidates for that position.
    11. Performance Appraisal.  Evaluation of an employee's work performance.
    12. Minimum Area of Consideration.  The smallest geographic area or the organizational area from which it is reasonably expected that enough high quality candidates will be located to fill a particular vacancy covered by the IHS Merit Promotion Plan and within which a vacancy must be announced.
    13. Minimum Qualifications Standards.  For positions in the competitive service, and for positions in the excepted service when Preston Standards have not been developed, the qualification standards prescribed by the OPM in "Qualification Standards for General Schedule Positions," Operating Manual, and the Handbook X-118C Job Qualification System for Trades and Labor Occupations, or the OPM approved single agency standards, are to be used to determine minimum qualifications.  These standards may be supplemented by appropriate selective factors, as approved by the DHR Director, the RHRO, or the OPM, as appropriate.
    14. Outside Applicants.  Any applicants other than current permanent HHS employees who:
      1. are eligible for reinstatement or transfer because of their previous or current Federal civil service employment; or
      2. are entitled to Indian preference; or
      3. are eligible for some other excepted service appointment, such as appointments for veterans or people with disabilities.
    15. Preston/Excepted Service Qualification Standards.  Preston Standards are Excepted Service Qualification Standards that have been established for Indian job applicants.  The United States Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit held in Preston v. Heckler 734 F.2d 1359 (1984) that the Secretary of HHS was required to adopt separate and independent standards for evaluating the employment qualifications of federally recognized Indians.  The standards developed as a result of this case are called "Preston Standards."  All qualification standards are located in the DHR or Regional Human Resources Offices.
    16. Knowledge.  A body of information applied directly to the performance of a function.
    17. Priority Promotion Consideration.  If a procedural error or violation results in applicants failing to receive proper consideration in a competitive promotion action, they are entitled to be referred to the next vacancy for which they qualify, in any geographic area they are willing to accept, before other candidates are sought.  However, the vacancy must be for the same grade and under the same promotion plan as the position for which they were not properly considered.
    18. Promotion.  A promotion is the change of an employee to a position at a higher grade level within the same job classification system and pay schedule or to a position with a higher rate of basic pay in a different job classification system and pay schedule.
    19. Qualified Candidates.  Candidates who meet the legal and regulatory requirements such as Public Law (P.L.) 101-630 and those regarding citizenship, time-after-competitive-appointment, time-in-grade (if applicable) and suitability; and those who meet and/or exceed minimum qualification standards, including any selective factors established for the position.
    20. Ranking.  Applying the KSA ranking schedule to the applications and arranging qualified candidates in an order according to the results.
    21. Rating.  Reviewing the backgrounds of candidates to determine if they meet the minimum qualifications for the position.
    22. Realigning.  Moving employees with their positions within the IHS.  (A realignment action is not the filling of a vacancy.)
    23. Reassignment.  Moving employees from one position to another within the HHS without promoting them or lowering their grade.
    24. Selecting Official.  The official who, by any type of personnel action, selects a person to fill a position.
    25. Selective Factors.  The KSAs essential for satisfactory job performance, in addition to the basic qualification standards for a position.
    26. Skill.  An act that can be seen, heard, or otherwise perceived by someone other than the person performing it.
    27. Subject Matter Expert.  An employee at the same grade level or higher than the job being rated, who has bona-fide knowledge of what it takes to do the job.  This normally includes first line and other supervisors who have a current and thorough knowledge of the job requirements, and employees who are performing or have performed the same or very similar duties.
    28. Transfer.  The change of an employee, without a break in service of one full workday, from a position in one department/agency to a position in another department/agency.
    29. Vacancy.  A vacancy is an unencumbered position which management plans to fill.


In May 2005, the IHS Director consolidated the IHS human resource (HR) functions/offices into the following five regional HR offices: Navajo, Northern Plains, Southeast, Southwest, and Western.  The DHR, Office of Management Services, provides oversight and direction to the five offices.  (This structure was published in the October 17, 2005, Federal Register.)

  1. Director, Division of Human Resources.  The DHR Director
    1. develops, and when necessary, revises the IHS-wide merit promotion plan;
    2. provides technical assistance to RHRO on the administration of the merit promotion plan;
    3. evaluates the administration of the merit promotion program in IHS; and
    4. manages responsibilities as described in paragraph B below
  2. Regional Human Resources Officer.  The RHRO ensures the promotion plan is applied fairly and equitably, and operates the plan for employees and positions under his/her appointing authority.  However, the DHR Director operates the plan for positions for which selection authority is exercised by a Headquarters official even though an RHRO may have appointing authority over the position.  The RHRO:
    1. provides technical assistance and guidance on all promotion matters to managers, supervisors, and employees.
    2. assists managers in locating qualified candidates.  Refers the best qualified candidates to the selecting official, within the framework of Indian preference.
    3. assists subject matter experts in job analysis and development of KSA crediting plans.
    4. informs candidates and selecting officials about the status of pending actions.
    5. ensures that those who are assigned merit promotion administration responsibilities are properly trained to assume such responsibilities.
    6. consults with the selecting official to determine the area of consideration and decide whether to convene and ad hoc promotion panel.
    7. determines whether selective factors are appropriate and consistent.
    8. ensures that Indian preference and merit principles and requirements have been applied before effecting an action to fill a position and takes corrective action where appropriate when violations of these principles occur.
    9. evaluates all candidates to determine eligibility.
    10. maintains promotion records.  (See 7-2.13.)
  3. Managers, Supervisors, and/or Selecting Officials.  Managers, supervisors, and selecting officials at all levels:
    1. analyze staffing needs, keep the DHR Director or the RHRO informed of immediate and long-range human capital needs, assist DHR staff and Regional Human Resources Office staff in identifying recruitment sources likely to yield high quality candidates, and initiate requests for personnel action in sufficient time for all required processing;
    2. provide appropriate performance reviews to employees and ensure that a timely performance appraisal is on file for each employee supervised;
    3. work with the DHR staff and Regional Human Resources Office staff to develop and document selective factors and specific evaluation criteria for individual vacancies according to the nature of the position;
    4. participate with the DHR staff or the Regional Human Resources Office staff to determine the area of consideration and whether to convene an ad hoc promotion panel;
    5. consider all appropriate information about employees certified to them for consideration before making selections in accordance with the requirements of this plan; and
    6. apply the principles and requirements of this merit promotion plan when filling a position, including the principles of equal employment opportunity and Indian preference; and are held accountable for actions that violate law, regulations, or applicable promotion plans.
  4. Equal Employment Opportunity Officials.  All Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) officials must:
    1. become familiar with the provisions of the merit promotion and excepted service examining plans so that they may advise EEO counselors on the applicable procedures and provide employees and applicants with accurate information when concerns are raised;
    2. consistently apply Indian preference laws and regulations, assisting managers, the DHR staff, and Regional Human Resources Office staff in locating candidates from under-represented groups, as identified in the IHS EEO Affirmative Employment Plan and the Federal Equal Opportunity Recruitment Program;
    3. bring to the attention of the DHR staff and Regional Human Resources Office staff any questions raised by employees/applicants concerning the administration of the merit promotion plan; and
    4. support the principle of EEO that prohibits employment discrimination based on age, race, color, religion, sex, national origin, mental or physical disability, marital status, reprisal, sexual orientation, or membership or non-membership in any employee organization.
  5. Employees.  Employees must:
    1. demonstrate that they have the KSAs and personal qualifications necessary to qualify for positions for which they desire consideration;
    2. submit the required completed forms within the time frames indicated on the vacancy announcements.  Those claiming Indian preference must provide proof (See 7-2.6A(3));
    3. perform the duties of their current positions in a manner which shows that they are ready to be considered for advancement to more difficult work and greater responsibility; and
    4. when temporarily absent, e.g., on detail, on leave, at training courses, in the military service, or on regular purpose Intergovernmental Personnel Act assignments, provide the DHR staff or the Regional Human Resources Office staff, a current application to ensure their consideration for desired occupational vacancies announced during their absence.


  1. Required Competitive Promotion Procedures.  These principles apply to IHS employees in the competitive and excepted services, and to all USPHS Commissioned Corps Officers.  Competitive promotion procedures apply in the following situations:
    1. Promotion of an employee within the HHS except as noted in paragraph 7-2.3B below.
    2. Reassignment or demotion to a position with more promotion potential than a position currently or previously held on a permanent basis in the competitive service or under Schedule A authorities 213.3112(a) (7) or 213.3116(b)(8) (except as permitted by reduction-in-force (RIF) regulations).  Schedule A positions are defined as positions for which it is not practicable to apply qualification standards and requirements used in the competitive civil service system and which are not of a confidential or policy determining nature.
    3. Details for more than 120 days to:
      1. a position at a higher grade, or
      2. a position with known promotion potential beyond the known promotion potential of the position currently or previously held on a permanent basis in the competitive service under Schedule A authority 213.3112(a)(7) or 213.3116(b)(8).
    4. Selection for training which is given primarily to prepare an employee for advancement and is required for promotion (i.e., when eligibility for promotion depends on whether the employee has completed training).
    5. Time-limited (temporary) promotion of an employee expected to exceed a total of 120 days in a 12-month period (prior service under noncompetitive details to higher grade positions or noncompetitive temporary promotions, during the preceding 12 months, MUST be included in the calculation of the 120 days).  If a temporary promotion that was expected to last less than 120 days was originally made as an exception to competitive procedures, any extensions beyond 120 days must be made under competitive procedures.  Time-limited promotions made under competitive procedures may be extended for up to 4 years.  A time-limited promotion of an Indian preference employee effected under competitive procedures may be made permanent without further competition provided that the fact that it might become permanent was noted on the vacancy announcement.  The policies governing Indian preference continue to be applicable.
    6. Transfer or reinstatement to a higher graded position or to a position with known promotion potential higher than the potential of a position held at any time on a permanent basis in the competitive service or under Schedule A authority 213.3112(a)(7) or 213.3116(b)(8).  For example, an employee is hired from a competitive examination as a GS-5 in a GS-5/7/9/11/12 career ladder.  This employee is promoted to GS-9.  He or she then accepts a demotion to GS-6 with no promotion potential.  He or she leaves the Federal Government.  The employee may be reinstated to a GS-9 position which has promotion potential to GS-12 because at one time he or she held a GS-9 with promotion potential to GS-12.  He or she may not be reinstated to a GS-11 or to a GS-9 with promotion potential to GS-13 without competition.  If he or she is not entitled to Indian preference, any reinstatement is subject to Indian preference rules.
    7. In situations when Indian preference is waived under P.L. 96-135, the DHR Director or the RHRO must determine whether the action being effected requires competition under merit promotion procedures.  For example, if Indian preference is waived to permit the reassignment of an individual whose relationship with the Tribe has deteriorated, merit promotion competition would be required if the new position has greater promotion potential than the employee's current position and the employee never held any other position with more potential than his or her current position.
  2. Exceptions to Merit Competition and Indian Preference.  These principles apply to all IHS employees in the competitive and excepted services, and to USPHS Commissioned Corps Officers.  The following actions do not require merit promotion competition and do not require clearing Indian preference.
    1. The promotion of an employee in a position with known promotion potential up to the full performance level, provided all the following conditions are met:
      1. The employee first entered the position by a competitive appointment, an Excepted Service Examining Plan appointment, or in accordance with merit promotion procedures, i.e., competed under a vacancy announcement indicating the known promotion potential.
      2. The employee meets all the qualifications and eligibility requirements on or before the effective date of the promotion.
      3. The performance in the present grade is fully satisfactory and the employee has demonstrated the ability to perform satisfactorily at the next higher level.
      4. The promotion has been recommended by the supervisor and approved by the selecting official.
      5. The promotion action has been approved by the appointing authority.
    2. When the incumbent of the position is promoted without significant change in responsibilities and duties (i.e., when a classification error is corrected or a new classification standard is issued).
    3. A promotion resulting from an employee's position being reclassified at a higher grade as a result of additional duties and responsibilities that have evolved and grown into a higher grade position over a period of time (also known as accretion of duties).  For such promotions, the employee must continue to perform the same basic function in the upgraded position, with the former duties being absorbed into the revised duties, and must meet minimum qualification and eligibility requirements for the position.  The promotion must be approved by the DHR Director or the RHRO.  Generally this condition will not be met in actions where employees go from clerical or assistant positions to professional or administrative positions or where employees go from non-supervisory to supervisory positions.  Non-supervisory employees who wish to apply for a supervisory position must do so through the competitive process.  Competition must be held to fill the new position that is created when a non-supervisory position becomes a supervisory one.  A noncompetitive promotion to a supervisory position may be appropriate when the individual already supervises one or more employees and the addition of more employees would result in a higher grade when the position is compared to the General Schedule Supervisory Guide.
    4. When the function(s) and incumbent(s) are moved from one geographic and/or organizational location to another without change in duties or responsibilities, e.g., transfer of function or realignment.
    5. Details to the same or lower grade position, with no greater promotion potential than the employee's current position or any position held on a permanent basis in the competitive service or under Schedule A authority 213.3112(a)(7) or 213.3116 (b)(8).  Details to positions with unclassified duties, in increments of 120 days, may be renewed without limit for persons entitled to Indian preference.  For persons not entitled to Indian preference, renewal of details beyond one year must be approved by the DHR Director or by the RHRO and a management official at a higher level than the official who approved the initial detail.  Details must be made for sound management reasons and may not be used to circumvent Indian preference requirements.
    6. Details of 120 days or less to a higher grade position or to a position with promotion potential beyond the potential of the employee's current position or beyond the potential of any permanent position held by the employee in the competitive service or under Schedule A authority 213.3112(a)(7) or 213.3116(b)(8).  Noncompetitive details to higher grade positions and noncompetitive temporary promotions during the prior 12 months count toward the 120 days.  (The DHR Director and the RHRO are cautioned to ensure that details are not affected for the purpose of circumventing Indian preference.)
    7. A position change involving displacement effected under RIF regulations as provided by P.L. 96-135, the "Annual Report to Congress, Indian Civil Service Retirement Act."
    8. A career ladder promotion following noncompetitive conversion of a Student Career Experience Program.
    9. Re-employment of an individual under the P.L. 93-638, Section 105(i), "Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act," as amended, and the implementation of OPM regulations in Title 5 CFR, Part 352, Subpart G.
    10. A temporary appointment not to exceed 30 days, with one extension of 30 days to meet documented special or emergency needs (within a 12-month period).
    11. An employee is demoted or reassigned to a non-supervisory/non-managerial position because he/she did not satisfactorily complete a probationary period as a supervisor/manager.
    12. An employee is demoted under Title 5 United States Code (U.S.C.), Chapter 43 (performance) or Chapter 75 (conduct).
    13. Return of an employee from a temporary promotion to his or her former position.
    14. An employee is changed from employment in the civil service to employment in the USPHS Commissioned Corps, and continues to perform the same job, i.e., carries out the same duties and/or responsibilities.  NOTE:  USPHS Commissioned Corps Officers who wish to enter the competitive service must compete for a position through the competitive process if they do not have Federal civil service employment status.
    15. Placement of an employee who has been removed from the Senior Executive Service for performance or conduct.
    16. Persons exercising restoration rights following military service and persons exercising restoration rights to their former position following recovery from an on-the-job injury within one year.
    17. A placement necessary so that a qualified P.L. 94-437 scholarship recipient who applies to a vacancy can satisfy his or her service obligation.
  3. Exceptions to Merit Promotion Procedures.  Indian preference rules must be followed before exercising the following exceptions to merit promotion procedures.  This means that vacancies must be announced unless there is an Indian preference candidate available or Indian preference has been waived under P.L. 96-135, These principles apply to all IHS employees in the competitive and excepted services and to all USPHS Commissioned Corps Officers.
    1. A temporary promotion for 120 days or less.
    2. An action taken as a remedy for failure to receive proper consideration in a competitive promotion.  (See definition of priority promotion consideration in 7-2.1D(17).)
    3. Reinstatement or transfer to a position of the same or lower grade with promotion potential that does not exceed the highest potential of any position held on a permanent basis in the competitive service or under Schedule A authority 213.3112(a)(7) or 213.3116(b)(8).
    4. Promotion of an employee up to and including the highest grade ever held on a permanent basis oin the Federal Government under a competitive service appointment or under Schedule A authority 213.3112(a)(a7) or 213.3116(b)(8) provided that the employee was not downgraded for personal cause.
    5. A temporary appointment not-to-exceed (NTE) one year provided the appointment is made in accordance with Title 5 CFR Part 316 and Part 333 and/or Part 7, Chapter 1, "Excepted Service Examining Plan," IHM whichever is appropriate.
    6. Reassignment or demotion from one position to another having no higher promotion potential than the employee's current position or the promotion potential of any position held on a permanent basis in the competitive service or Schedule A authority 213.3112(a)(7) or 213.3116(b)(8).  Noncompetitive movement may be made from one career ladder to another, provided the journey level of the career ladder to which the employee moves is no higher than the journey level of his or her current career ladder or any which he or she permanently held in the past in the competitive service or under Schedule A authority 213.3112(a)(7) or 213.3116(b)(8).  The movement of an employee in retained grade status to another position at the level of the retained grade is like a reassignment.  According to the provisions in this paragraph, if no greater promotion potential is involved, it is permissible to effect the action without using promotion plan procedures.  This is called a "Position Change to Retained Grade," and the employee's retained grade entitlement is terminated.
    7. Reinstatement from the re-employment priority list.
    8. Appointment via competitive examination or under excepted service appointment authorities in accordance with Title 5 CFR Part 213 and Part 302 and HHS Instruction 302-1.  Following are some examples of excepted service appointment authorities:
      1. Veterans Recruitment Appointment (VRA).
      2. Appointments of persons with severe physical disabilities.
      3. Appointments of persons with mental retardation or psychiatric disabilities who have been certified by State rehabilitation agencies.
  4. Special Placement Actions.
    1. In most, but not all cases, placement actions of employees by OPM, Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB), Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), or other third parties may become effective without regard to Indian preference or merit promotion procedures.  These are handled on a case-by-case basis because of the complexities of some of these cases.  If a third party decision simply cancels an action, for example, when an employee is removed and returns to his or her former position, the resulting action may be effected.  However, if a third party moved an employee into a new position without regard to Indian preference and/or merit promotion, the RHO should contact the DHR Director to determine whether the decision should be appealed.  Settlement agreements never provide an authority to violate Indian preference and only in rare cases may the settlement agreement replace merit promotion procedures.  A settlement agreement that simply cancels an action, such as a removal, and restores an employee to his or her former position without any change does not violate Indian preference or merit promotion requirements.
    2. Appointment of temporary Indian preference employees to new temporary appointments at the same grade or at a higher grade level, if the initial announcement included the higher grade level and the employee was within reach of the higher grade level at that time.  These appointments may be effected without further competition.  Temporary appointments are restricted to time limitations.
  5. Notes on Special Placement Actions.
    1. The above provisions which permit actions to be taken on the basis of a grade formerly held or the promotion potential of a position formerly held only apply if the employee did not leave the position in question for cause, i.e., performance or conduct reasons.
    2. Nothing in this plan which permits a position to be filled without being announced supersedes the career transition regulations or an IHS placement program for surplus or displaced employees that may require a position to be announced.


The servicing human resources staff consults with the selecting official before determining the area of consideration for all vacancies covered by this plan.

  1. Minimum Areas of Consideration.
    1. For positions GS-8 and below and Wage Grade (WG) equivalent, the minimum area of consideration is Area-wide.  (Note: WG equivalents are determined by using representative rates, see Title 5 CFR Part 351).
    2. For positions GS-9 and above and WG equivalents, the minimum areas of consideration are IHS-wide, HHS-wide, Government-wide, or all sources as determined by the human resources staff.
  2. Expanding Minimum Areas of Consideration.  The minimum area of consideration may be expanded at any time.
  3. Reduced Areas of Consideration.  An area of consideration smaller than the minimum area is permitted under any of the following circumstances:
    1. A higher grade position is established as a result of a realignment of duties within an organizational unit with no provision for an increase in the number of employees in the unit.
    2. Details to higher grade positions or temporary promotions are made when it is impractical to consider employees outside a special area.
    3. Management determines in advance of the announcement that there is likely to be an adequate number of qualified applicants in the local commuting area.
    4. Hiring freeze or ceiling restrictions are in effect.

    The reason for a reduced area of consideration and the reason that non-Indian preference candidates outside this area will not be considered must be documented on the vacancy announcement.  However, qualified Indian preference candidates who apply MUST be considered regardless of the reduced area of consideration.  Vacancy announcements must be circulated as if there were no restriction.  For example, even though a vacancy announcement for a GS-09 position limits the area of consideration to the local commuting area, the vacancy announcement must still be circulated nationwide.

  4. Relocation Expenses.  Management determines whether or not travel, transportation, and relocation expenses will he paid for employees who fill all vacancies covered by this plan.
    1. Travel Expenses - Not Paid.  If travel, transportation, and relocation expenses are not paid, the vacancy announcement must state that "travel, transportation, and relocation expenses associated with reporting for duty in this position will be the responsibility of the employee."
    2. Travel Expenses - Paid.  If travel, transportation, and relocation expenses will be paid, the vacancy announcement should state this fact, as well as the fact that these expenses will he paid primarily in the interest of the government and not in the interest of the selected employee.


  1. Unencumbered Positions.  The DHR Director and the RHRO must issue a vacancy announcement for unencumbered positions which management plans to fill.  Applications will be accepted from outside Indian preference candidates at the same time a vacancy announcement is distributed to all offices within the minimum area of consideration.
  2. Time Frames.  Management may decide the length of time that a vacancy announcement will be open.  The following should be used as a guideline:
    1. For a minimum of 5 business days for positions when the area of consideration is in the local commuting area-wide or less.
    2. For a minimum of 10 business days for positions when the area of consideration is IHS-wide.
    3. For a minimum of 15 business days when the area of consideration is beyond IHS, e.g., HHS-wide, Government-wide, or all sources.
  3. Recurring Positions.  For recurring need-to-fill positions, the DHR Director and/or the RHRO may issue vacancy announcements that remain open on a continuous basis.  These announcements posted continuously during the open period throughout the area of consideration contain a statement that all interested and qualified employees may apply for consideration for any of these positions until the announcement is closed or cancelled, whichever occurs first.
  4. Open Until Filled.  Announcements may also be issued on an "opened-until-filled" basis.  The DHR Director, and the RHRO are responsible for ensuring that objective criteria are established for determining when these announcements will be closed (e.g., after applications from a specific number of candidates are received).  The responsible Human Resources Office staff must document the closure date.
  5. Outside Area of Consideration.  As a general rule, HHS employees from outside the area of consideration may apply and be considered under a vacancy announcement even though candidates have not been sought from outside the minimum area of consideration.  The HHS employees from outside the area of consideration receive the same consideration as employees who apply from within the area of consideration except in situations where such applications will not be accepted because of a reduced area of consideration.
  6. Additional Selections.  Additional selections of candidates may be made from a promotion certificate within 90 days from the date the selection certificate was issued.  The positions to be filled must have the same title, series, and grade, geographic location, and the same qualification requirements as in the original vacancy announcement.
  7. No Selection Decisions.  Selecting officials may decide not to make a selection from the certificate of candidates presented for consideration.  Such decisions must, of course, be for sound management purposes and not to circumvent the spirit or letter of the Indian preference requirement:
    1. The "No-Selection" decision, for example, may be made not to fill the position at that time, to cancel or abolish the position, or to re-advertise the position in an effort to identify additional candidates.
    2. A position may not be re-advertised for 120 calendar days from the date the certificate was issued if there were three or more qualified and available Indian candidates identified through the prior announcement.
    3. The selecting official writes justification for any exceptions to this provision.  The RHRO must review and concur with the selecting official's justification, and the Area Director must approve it.  If the Area Director and the selecting official is the same person, then the IHS Director must approve the justification.  For Headquarter positions, the selecting official writes the justification, which must be reviewed and concurred with by the DHR Director.  The IHS Director must then approve the justification.
  8. Vacancy Announcement Specifications.  Vacancy announcements will specify the following:
    1. Title, series, and grade of the position to be filled.
    2. A brief summary of the duties and responsibilities.
    3. Area of consideration and reason for reduced areas, when applicable.
    4. Qualification requirements (quality of experience) including any license, certification, or registration requirements, etc.
    5. Selective factors that have been approved.
    6. Time-in-grade requirements.
    7. Application procedures.
    8. Evaluation methods.
    9. Equal employment opportunity statement.
    10. Indian preference statement and the documentation needed to verify the individual's eligibility for preference.
    11. A statement regarding any known promotion potential.
    12. Organizational designation of the position.
    13. Duty station.
    14. Conditions of employment information and requirements.  For example, if the position is permanent, temporary, part-time, or intermittent; or if the position requires specific work hours, travel, drug testing, immunization, or background clearance.
    15. Opening and closing dates for applying.
    16. If the position is supervisory or managerial, a statement regarding the requirement for a probationary period for first-time supervisors/managers in competitive service.
    17. Payment or non-payment of relocation expenses.
    18. A statement instructing USPHS Commissioned Corps Officers who want to be considered for the position within the USPHS Commissioned Corps to submit a resume' or curriculum vitae to the DHR or the Regional Human Resources Office.  The statement should also indicate that it is up to the officer to submit sufficient information, as stated in the vacancy announcement, to permit the Human Resources Office staff to determine whether the applicant meets qualification requirements including Indian preference, knowledge, skills, and ability, license, registration, certification, and any selective factors.
    19. A statement that additional or alternate selections may be made within 90 days of the date the candidate referral roster certificate was issued if the position becomes vacant or to fill an identical additional position in the same geographic location.
    20. A statement indicating that "The IHS is a tobacco-free environment."
    21. A statement specifying that only material that is received by the closing date will be considered.  The announcement must clearly indicate that the material must actually be received by a specific time (e.g., 5:00 P.M.) on the closing date.  The announcement must also indicate whether or not applications may be submitted by FAX or e-mail.
    22. If applicable, a statement that the position is covered by P.L. 101-630, the Indian Child Protection and Family Violence Prevention Act, and that persons convicted of crimes enumerated in the law are not eligible for the position.  Applicants for child care positions covered by P.L. 101-630 must submit the required information about any criminal background.
    23. A statement that Veterans eligible for appointment under special appointing authorities may apply.  The following is OPM approved:  [Under the Veterans Employment Opportunities Act (VEOA) of 1998, Veterans who are preference eligible or have substantially completed 3 or more years of continuous active service may apply for permanent positions as a merit promotion candidate; however, Veterans preference is not a factor in these appointments.]  Candidates must submit a copy of their DD-214 as proof of eligibility.
    24. A statement indicating the security level required for the position.
    25. If the position requires clinical privileges, the following statement must be included:  "The selected individual is required to obtain and maintain medical staff clinical privileges, including any licensure requirements.  If privileges are not obtained or maintained during employment, the employee will be subject to adverse actions, up to and including removal from Federal service."
    26. A statement that "the IHS provides reasonable accommodations to applicants with disabilities.  If you need a reasonable accommodation for any part of the application and hiring process, please notify the Human Resources Office (name, telephone number, and/or email.)  The decision on granting reasonable accommodation will be on a case-by-case basis."
    27. If applicable, a statement that the employee may be required to be on-call or confined to a designated location for stand-by purposes.


  1. Required Completed Forms.  All employees must submit the following completed forms to the DHR or the Regional Human Resources Office listed on the vacancy announcement:
    1. Resumé or Other Application Form.  Applicants may not be required to complete a specific application form, but the vacancy announcement must specify the information that applicants must provide.
    2. Verification of Indian Preference.  Applicants claiming Indian preference must submit with the employment application, a properly completed and signed copy of the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) Form BIA-4432, "Verification of Indian Preference for Employment in the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Indian Health Service."  Current employees with acceptable proof (as identified above) on file in their Official Personnel Folder are still required to submit a copy of the documentation with their application.  Indian preference will not be given unless the Form BIA-4432 is attached to the application.  In circumstances when the Form BIA- 4432 is determined to be invalid due to improper authorization, the HRO may contact the candidate and allow a specified time limit (i.e., one day, 2 days, or no more than 3 days) to submit a properly authorized document.  [See Part 7, Chapter 3, Section 3A, "Indian Preference," IHM]
    3. Educational Credit.  Applicants must submit a college transcript, diploma, certificate of achievement, or other appropriate proof of educational attainment to obtain educational credit.  Official transcripts must be reviewed before entrance on duty.
  2. Employees Who Are Temporarily Absent.  See 7-2.2E(4) for instructions covering those employees who are temporarily absent.
  3. Receipt of Applications.  Only application material that is received by the specific closing date and time will be considered.  For example, if the position being filled has a positive education requirement, and an applicant claims to have such education, but does not submit proof as shown above with his/her application, he/she cannot be considered qualified.  If an Indian preference candidate applies and does not submit this proof of preference at the time of application, he/she is considered a non-preference eligible for that vacancy.


Proof of U.S. citizenship is required for appointment to the IHS.  Candidates must meet time-after-competitive appointment, time-in-grade (if applicable), qualification requirements, licensure requirements, performance requirements, citizenship and suitability requirements, and any other eligibility requirements.  The DHR Director or the RHRO may consider applicants who meet these requirements within 30 days of the vacancy announcement's closing date.  For open continuous announcements, these requirements must be met on or before the cut-off date for receipt of applications for a specific position(s).  These requirements apply to both the competitive and excepted service candidates.  Proof of all legal and regulatory requirements must be documented prior to the entrance on duty date.

If an individual is considered for a position, but prior to appointment, information becomes available that would have disqualified him or her, he or she loses any entitlement for appointment.  For example, if an employee has been tentatively selected for a position involving contact with children, but the Agency then determines that he or she was convicted of a crime covered by the Indian Child Protection and Family Violence Prevention Act, P.L. 101-630, as amended, the employee is not appointed and is eliminated from any further consideration for that position.

  1. Time-after-competitive Appointment.  Time-after-competitive appointment as specified in Title 5 CFR Part 330.
  2. Time-in-grade Requirements.  Time-in-grade requirements as specified in 5 CFR 300 and HHS Personnel Instruction 302-1.
  3. Minimum Qualification Standards.  Minimum qualification standards, including a description of the quality of experience, where appropriate, and as prescribed by the OPM or HHS (the Preston Standards), will be used in filling positions under the provisions of this plan.  These standards are described in 7-2.1D(13) and 7-2.1D(16).
  4. Selective Factors.  When required, appropriate selective factors may also be used.  Whenever selective factors are determined to be essential to satisfactory job performance, such factors are jointly developed by the selecting official with input from the Human Resources Specialist and approved by the RHRO, for the region, or by the DHR Director, for Headquarters positions; this responsibility may not be redelegated.  These selective factors will constitute part of the minimum requirement for the position and must be stated on the vacancy announcement.  Once approved, the selective factors must be used each time the position is filled (unless the job changes materially or it is determined that the selective factor was originally used in error.)  Examples of essential selective factors are the ability to speak, read, and/or write in a language other than English, the knowledge or ability pertaining to a certain program or mission when these cannot readily be acquired after selection, or the proven ability in a functional area (e.g., ability to evaluate alternative automated data processing systems, etc.)  Selective factors cannot be added after a vacancy announcement was advertised.
  5. Modification.  A qualification standard may not be modified after the merit promotion process is underway unless an inappropriate standard was inadvertently used or the OPM has issued a revised standard.  If the modification is due to "an inappropriate standard has been used through error," the change in the qualification standard must receive prior approval of the RHRO for the region or the DHR Director, or his or her designee.  When the standard has been appropriately modified, the process for filling the vacancy must be reinitiated and all employees eligible under the modified standard considered.  The reason for modifying a qualification standard must be documented and maintained as part of the merit promotion records.

    Qualification standards in the excepted service may be waived in accordance with HHS Instruction 302-1.  Agencies are permitted to modify qualification standards except for positive education requirements for in-service placement actions in the competitive and excepted service.  In the IHS, this modification is only permitted for individuals entitled to Indian Preference and for actions that do not require the application of competitive promotion procedures.  Nothing in the Merit Promotion Plan affects IHS' authority to waive qualification requirements in a RIF as permitted by Title 5 CFR Part 351 and HHS Instruction 351-1.

  6. Licensure.  Public Health Service requirements on licensure of health care providers, or any succeeding IHS policy, are included as part of the qualifications standard for each covered position.
  7. Citizenship.  Proof of U.S. citizenship is required for an appointment to the IHS.  If the only available applicant is a non-citizen, an exception may be requested or the position will have to remain vacant.  The DHR Director may accept a request for an exception to this policy for appointments to excepted service positions, provided that the current appropriations act restrictions, immigration law, and executive order restrictions permit the IHS to pay citizens from another country.  To meet USOPM requirements for an exemption, the IHS must also document that the position is extremely difficult to fill (e.g., it is in a remote location); that the vacancy has been advertised for a long period of time; that qualified candidates have been difficult to recruit and retain; and that no qualified Indian preference or U.S. candidates have applied for the position.  (The OPM Web site lists all documentation requirements for hiring a non-citizen.)  Hiring requests are submitted to the DHR Director, then to HHS, and finally to the USOPM for a final decision.
  8. Other Eligibility Requirements.  There may be other eligibility requirements which applicants must meet in addition to the qualification requirements.  For example, the Indian Child Protection and Family Violence Prevention Act, P.L. 101-630, as amended, and the Crime Control Act of 1990, P.L. 101-647 provide that individuals convicted of certain crimes, or two or more misdemeanor offenses involving certain crimes of violence, are not eligible for positions involving regular contact with children.  Thus, even though an applicant convicted of such a crime may have the experience and training required by the qualification standards, he or she is not eligible for consideration or appointment.
  9. Suitability.  An employee or an applicant is considered suitable for Federal employment if there is no information available concerning conduct that could reasonably be expected to interfere with the Agency's ability to discharge its responsibilities.  Suitability determinations are governed by Part 5 CFR Part 731, HHS and IHS instructions, case law, and other requirements.


  1. Evaluation Requirements.  Except as provided in Section 7-2.9A, candidates identified as meeting the legal and regulatory requirements will be evaluated by a Qualifications Review Board (QRB) or by a human resources staff member against the KSAs needed for successful job performance to determine the degree to which the candidates experience, education, training, performance appraisal, special achievements, awards, or outside activities exceed the minimum requirements and/or give evidence that they possess the KSAs identified by a job analysis.
  2. Qualifications Review Board.  If the Human Resources Office staff or the selecting official determine that a QRB will be used, the following procedures apply:
    1. The composition of the QRB will be determined by the Human Resources Office staff with advice and guidance from selecting officials.
    2. Qualifications Review Boards will normally consist of at least two voting members.  Insofar as possible, QRB membership should include diverse representation.  A representative of the Human Resources Office staff will provide advice and assistance.  The selecting official will not serve as a QRB member.
    3. The QRB members must have a working knowledge of the position being filled.  Where practicable, at least one member should be a representative from a different organizational segment than that supervised by the selecting official.
    4. The Human Resources Office staff will provide any necessary training on evaluation methods, procedures, and regulatory requirements.
    5. Candidates will be ranked according to their numerical score.  When the QRB is used, the total points assigned to the candidates by individual QRB members will be added together and averaged to arrive at a point score for each candidate.


  1. Priority Consideration Candidates.  The following must be considered before issuing the vacancy announcement or in the case of open-continuous announcements, before issuing the Candidate Referral Roster:
    1. Indian preference does not apply in the placement of a P.L. 94-437 scholarship recipient, who must be placed to fulfill their service obligation.
    2. Indian preference applicants entitled to priority consideration must be referred to the selecting official.  (Only one such consideration is authorized for each consideration previously lost.)
    3. Non-Indian preference applicants entitled to priority consideration can only be referred after a vacancy announcement has been issued and no Indian preference candidates are found qualified.  (Only one such consideration is authorized for each consideration previously lost.)

    Priority consideration does not provide a selection entitlement; it does mean that the employee must be given bona-fide consideration by the selecting official before other candidates are sought through the promotion plan process.  The employee is not required to compete with other employees for promotion and his/her selection will be processed as an exception to promotion plan requirements.

  2. Non-Indian Preference Candidates.  When the applicant pool includes qualified Indian and non-Indian applicants, the non-Indian applicants will not be rated.  Instead, they should be notified that their applications could not be considered because of Indian preference requirements.
  3. Ranked Candidates.  Based on the results of the promotion panel, only the top scoring applicants, as determined by cutoff scores, are certified as best qualified and referred to the selecting official.
  4. United States Public Health Service Commissioned Corps Officer Candidates.  When USPHS Commissioned Corps Officer candidates apply for specific vacancies, they will be evaluated as follows.  Indian candidates will be evaluated by the DHR Director or the RHRO against the Preston Standard, the billet qualifications, or the OPM standard if no Preston Standard exists.  If they are found to be qualified, they are referred to the selecting official.  If an officer is selected, the action will be referred to the Division of Commissioned Personnel Support (DCPS), Office of Management Services, for processing.  If no Indian candidates are located for the vacancy, non-Indian officers will have their qualifications evaluated by the DHR Director or the RHRO against the qualification requirements of the billet and will be referred to the selecting official for consideration.

    Note:  Regardless of which standard is used, USPHS Commissioned Corps Officers must meet any selective factors established for the position.  It is up to the officer to submit sufficient information to permit the DHR Director or the RHRO to determine whether he or she meets the qualification requirements including selective factors.

    When USPHS Commissioned Corps Officers are referred to the selecting official, they are identified as "Referral for Consideration under the Commissioned Corps Personnel System" on the candidate referral roster listing the candidates by name (in alphabetical order), Indian preference, and their rank.  If selected, a completed form 1662, "Request for Personnel Action," will be sent to DCPS.

    If the qualifications determination by the Human Resources Office staff is questioned by the selecting official or program, the selecting official or program may request that the DHR Director or the RHRO ask the DCPS for a determination with regard to qualifying an USPHS Commissioned Corps Officer for a particular position.

    In addition to those Commissioned Corps applicants who may have applied to the DHR or the Regional Human Resources Office for a position, a program or selecting official may request that DCPS refer officers who have expressed an interest in the area where the position is located.

  5. Other Candidates.  Other sources of candidates include the following:
    1. Excepted Service Examining Plan Eligibles and/or Competitive Service Eligibles are referred in accordance with the Excepted Service Examining Plan or competitive examining procedures.
    2. Other applicants not rated and ranked who wish to be considered for reassignment or change to lower grade are listed on the candidate referral roster and are referred together with those eligible for reinstatement and those who may be placed under special appointment procedures, such as persons with a disability or VRA, etc.


  1. Indian Preference.  A selecting official may not select a non-Indian preference candidate where at least one Indian preference candidate from any source was considered qualified.  The only valid reason for not selecting an Indian preference eligible is if the individual is, in fact, ineligible for preference, not qualified or eligible for the position, or not suitable for employment in the position to be filled, or not eligible for reasons indicated in Part 7, Chapter 3, "Indian Preference," IHM, or succeeding instructions.
  2. Public Law 94-437 Scholarship Recipients.  Indian Health Service scholarship recipients who have completed the necessary requirements for an approved health profession degree in accordance with their academic institution and under the Indian Health Care Improvement Act (IHCIA) will receive highest priority placement consideration for available vacancies within the IHS.  This policy reaffirms the IHS commitment to fully recognize the continuing health care needs among American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) people and to make use of the professionally trained health care providers upon completion of their scholarship program.  Within the context of this policy, bona-fide employment consideration will be given to IHCIA scholarship recipients for positions in the health profession disciplines for which they are trained and qualified.  Bona-fide employment consideration is provided for an initial appointment.  Any IHCIA scholarship recipient may be placed without regard to any competitive personnel system, agency personnel limitation, or Indian preference policy.  Refer to Part 5, Chapter 20 "Health Professions Support," IHM, TN 2001-01, dated January 22, 2001, or any succeeding document for specific instructions pertaining to the policy of highest priority placement of IHCIA scholarship recipients.
  3. Non-merit Factors.  The selecting official may select or not select from among the candidates referred on the Candidate Referral Roster.  However, the selection will be made without regard to any non-merit factors.  These include such factors as race, color, religion, sex, national origin, mental or physical disability, marital status, age, sexual orientation, reprisal, or membership or non-membership in any employee organization.  Non-merit factors do not include rights extended under the "Indian Reorganization Act" with regards to Indian preference.
  4. Sources of Selection.  Candidates may be selected from a variety of sources as long as Indian preference requirements are met:  For example, a candidate for promotion, reassignment, transfer, or reinstatement when the action is excepted from competitive promotion procedures; a USPHS Commissioned Corps Officer referred through DCPS, a list of candidates who have been reached for certification and selection from a competitive examination and available for appointment; or a candidate (person with a disability, VRA, etc.) available through a special appointment authority.
  5. Void Certificate.  If a selection is not made from among the promotion candidates within 25 calendar days after the date the Candidate Referral Roster was issued, the certificate will become void unless the Human Resources Office staff extends the expiration date.  (Not to exceed an additional 25 calendar days.)  Written concurrence must be received from the selecting official's supervisor.  All efforts should be made to avoid the need to extend the certificate, keeping in mind the time frames required to fill positions after the closing date of an announcement.
  6. Decision to Fill.  The selecting official may decide not to fill the position as announced or to fill it at a later date.
  7. Interviews.  Interviews are not required, but whenever feasible, selecting officials are encouraged to interview all candidates who are referred and within reach on the Candidate Referral Roster.
  8. Placement Consideration.  Employees entitled to placement consideration under the provisions of HHS Personnel Instruction 335-2 (Placement program for employees on retained grade or pay), and in accordance with Indian preference requirements, and who are among the best qualified for a particular vacancy at the level of their retained grade, must be selected above other employees whose names appear on the best qualified list, unless an exception is granted in accordance with guidelines of HHS Personnel Instruction 335-2 or succeeding instructions.

    [Note:  The HHS gave the Operating Divisions of the Department the option to continue using Instruction 335-2 or to develop their own procedures to place employees on retained grade.  The IHS has chosen to continue following the procedures in Instruction 335-2.]

  9. Additional or Alternative Selection.  Additional or alternate selections may be made within 90 calendar days of the date the Candidate Referral Roster was issued.  The positions to be filled must have the same title, series, grade, geographic location, and qualification requirements as was stated in the original vacancy announcement.
  10. Advertised at More than One Grade Level.  If a position is advertised at more than one grade level, selection may be made at any level providing there is compliance with the Indian preference policy in the selection process.  A non-Indian may not be referred or selected at one grade level if there is a qualified Indian available at any one of the grade levels advertised.
  11. Reference Checks.  The selecting official does not have to document the reason for selection or non-selection, but must document reference checks on the selected applicant.  (See IHS Supervisor's Guide for Conducting Reference Checks or any successor instructions).


Official requests for the job offer and for the release of employees selected for positions are made only by the Human Resources Office staff of the DHR Director or the RHRO.  The employees selected should be released in two weeks, or at the end of the first full pay period, after a release date has been officially requested unless a later date is agreed to by the gaining organization.  In cases of promotion actions, employees should not be kept from their effective promotion date longer than 30 calendar days.  This gives the organization that is losing the employee more time to accommodate for the loss.  Delay in releasing an employee is not a basis for granting a retroactive promotion.  Release dates for USPHS Commissioned Corps Officers may vary depending on the process required by DCPS.


Applicants determined not eligible for consideration (i.e., for failure to meet qualifications, suitability, time-in-grade, area of consideration, time-after-competitive-appointment requirements, etc.) will be advised of the reasons they were not considered.  Eligible candidates who are not selected will be notified at the time a selection is made.  If the decision is made not to fill the position as advertised at the present time, candidates will be advised of this decision at the time it is made.


  1. Promotion Files.  Promotion files must be maintained for two years from the effective date of the personnel action in such a manner that all actions taken may be reconstructed.  If the DHR Director or the RHRO is aware that an EEO complaint, grievance, or other litigation is pending, the file will be maintained until the issue is resolved even if this is longer than two years.  At a minimum, the promotion file must contain the following information:
    1. Position description.
    2. Copy of Request for Personnel Action, SF52, or Capital HR Action Request.
    3. Documentation (if appropriate), regarding:
      1. limited area of consideration, and
      2. selective factor(s).
    4. Annotation of the crediting plan and job analysis used.  (A copy of the crediting plan is maintained in the promotion file as well as in a separate and secure location as described in 7-2.13B below.)
    5. Vacancy announcement and any amendments issued.
    6. Qualification standards used.
    7. List of applications received.
    8. Priority consideration documentation (if appropriate).
    9. Applications of all candidates (including the selectee).
    10. Employees' performance appraisals submitted.
    11. Evaluation forms showing the rating and ranking of each candidate.
    12. Candidate Referral Roster showing the names of candidates who are in the group from which selection was made, the name of the selectee and the signature of the selecting official.
    13. Merit Promotion File Checklist.
    14. Non-selection letters to applicants.
    15. Conformation letter of job offer to selectee.
    16. Appointment form SF 50.
  2. Crediting Plans.  Crediting plans must be kept in a secure location.  The crediting plans should be maintained until revised or replaced.  Crediting plans are considered to be examining material, and in most cases they may not be released because their release could give applicants who see them an unfair advantage over other applicants.
  3. Merit Promotion Records.  Promotion records will be safeguarded and released only to authorized persons.  The promotion records must be placed in a sealed envelope marked "Human Resources - Confidential" and "To be opened by addressee only" whenever the promotion records are sent to the DHR or to an RHRO or authorized persons.


The DHR Director or the RHRO evaluate the overall effectiveness of the IHS Merit Promotion Program.  The DHR Director or the RHRO evaluates the operation of the program under their jurisdiction and welcome suggestions for program improvement from all levels of management and employees.


  1. Applicants Information.  Applicants for specific vacancies are entitled to know the following:
    1. Whether or not they meet the minimum qualifications for consideration.
    2. Whether or not they rank in the group from which final selection is made.
    3. Who was selected and whether the selectee is an Indian or a non-Indian.
  2. Additional Information.  In addition to the above, upon request, the DHR Director and/or the RHRO will provide information about the number of total points the applicant received and how many points were necessary in order for the applicant to be included on the promotion certificate.  Candidates may also ask their supervisor in what areas they could improve in order to increase their chances for future promotion.
  3. Employees.  An employee is entitled to see, upon request, any supervisory appraisal used in considering him or her for a particular vacancy.  An employee is not entitled to see appraisals of other applicants.  The merit promotion plan is made available to employees upon request.


Employees should contact their supervisor(s) and/or the DHR Human Resources Specialist(s) and/or the Regional Human Resources Office Human Resources Specialist(s) when they have any questions or complaints regarding either the merit promotion program in general or a particular promotion action for which they applied.

In the event the employee is dissatisfied or has a complaint that cannot be resolved on an informal basis, he or she may file a grievance under the IHS administrative grievance procedures or, if covered by a negotiated agreement, he/she must use the negotiated grievance procedures in filing such a complaint.  Please refer to the applicable grievance procedures to determine if a complaint may or may not be filed using these procedures.

If an employee believes that merit promotion procedures were not followed because of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, age, national origin, disability, or reprisal, the employee may file a discrimination complaint under Title 29 CFR Part 1614 and under HHS and IHS implementing instructions and procedures.  United States Public Health Service Commissioned Corps Officers must follow the appropriate EEO complaint procedures as found in the Commissioned Corps Personnel Manual, Instruction 6, Subchapter cc 26.1, "Equal Opportunity: Discrimination Complaints Processing."

Under the Whistleblower Protection Act, some actions alleging prohibited personnel practices must first be appealed to the Office of Special Counsel.  Some actions may be appealed to the Merit System Protection Board.  Information regarding these actions may be obtained from the DHR Human Resources Specialist and/or the Regional Human Resources Office Human Resources Specialist.