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SGM No. 15-02
October 7, 2015
TO: Area Directors

FROM: Deputy Director

SUBJECT: Guidance for Areas to Create Internal Policies and Procedures for Indian Health Service Employees to Provide Testimony or Documents in a Timely Manner

The purpose of this Special General Memorandum (SGM) is to clarify the instructions contained in Section 2A(4), Part 5, Chapter 27, Indian Health Manual.

Each Area Director will create an internal Area-wide policy and/or procedures to ensure that once a request is approved for an employee to provide testimony, the following occurs:

  1. An employee will be notified immediately (within 24 hours, and no later than the next business day, upon receipt of the request) that he or she may be required to provide testimony, if approved by the Director, Indian Health Service (IHS) or his or her appointed delegate.  Additionally, after the Director, IHS or his or her appointed delegate approves the request, then the employee will be notified immediately (within 24 hours and no later than the next business day) that the subject employee is approved to testify.
  2. Internal procedures or policies for continuity of patient care must be implemented, and/or the employee's other duties must be covered, during the requested employee's absence.
  3. The requested employee's supervisor(s) must be informed, and administrative leave for the subject employee must be approved without delay.
  4. Where an employee's testimony is requested for domestic or sexual assault or similar criminal cases, then the subject employee's work schedule must be rearranged immediately (within 24 hours of receipt of the request, or the next business day, and prior to receipt of the Director's letter of approval) in anticipation of the employee providing testimony.
  5. Tribal, State, Federal, and other entities' (i.e., court or administrative proceedings) deadlines must be met when practical and legally permissible.  If trial dates are changed, then the employee works with his or her supervisors to rearrange schedules and obtain administrative leave for the new date.
  6. If the requester seeks access to the subject IHS employee beyond the employee's appearance at trial, then the appropriate IHS official will consult with the Office of the General Counsel (OGC).
  7. The subject IHS employee does not testify unless the request is approved by the Director, IHS or a designated delegate.  If approval is given by the Director, IHS or his or her designated delegate, then the employee is held accountable to appear to testify.  If a request for testimony is not approved, then the employee must not testify.

Additionally, in coordination with the OGC, each Area Director will maintain a record of the number of requests that are received (and either approved or denied) for IHS employees to provide testimony.

Please send a copy of your policy and/or procedures to:

Director, Division of Regulatory Affairs
801 Thompson Avenue, TMP Suite 450
Rockville, MD 20852

If you have questions about this SGM, please contact the Director, Division of Regulatory Affairs, at (301) 443-1116.

/Robert G. McSwain/
Robert G. McSwain