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Special General Memorandum 16-01

SGM No. 16-01
May 13, 2016
TO: Addressees

FROM: Principal Deputy Director

SUBJECT: Indian Health Service Headquarters Continuity of Operations

The purpose of this Special General Memorandum (SGM) is to summarize and assign implementation and sustainment responsibilities for the new Indian Health Service (IHS) Headquarters (HQ) Continuity of Operations (COOP) framework.  This SGM complements existing IHS COOP, safety, and security directives and guidance listed below, and is effective immediately and remains in effect until rescinded or superseded.

  • IHS Circular 2002-02, "Continuity of Operations Planning Program," dated August 9, 2002.
  • IHS Circular 2003-01, "Headquarters Emergency, Security, and Safety Guidance," dated February 26, 2003.
  • SGM 2006-04, "Adopting the Use of the National Incident Management System," dated May 26, 2006.
  • Part 1, Chapter 10, "Emergency Operations of IHS Field Activities," Indian Health Manual (IHM), dated March 4, 1968.
  • Part 1, Chapter 5, "Delegations of Authority" IHM, dated November 22, 1996.

Indian Health Service-HQ Continuity Framework.

  1. Continuity of Operations Site.  The IHS-HQ COOP site will be collocated with the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) COOP site at the HHS Mission Support Center (MSC) in Frederick, Maryland.
  2. Capability Requirements.  The IHS-HQ COOP capability requirements include that:
    1. Forty-eight fully equipped workstations with computers, telephones, supporting network and peripheral equipment, spare parts, and consumable supplies shall be established at the HHS MSC;
    2. A minimum of an additional 48 units of continuity telework capability be established and distributed to designated IHS-HQ staff, or be prepositioned at the HHS MSC for rapid deployment;
    3. All continuity facilities, equipment and systems are maintained in a constant state of good repair and readiness to support the IHS-HQ Leadership; and
    4. All IHS employees do their part to ensure continuous performance of IHS-HQ Primary Mission Essential Functions (PMEF), Mission Essential Functions (MEF), and Mission Essential Tasks (MET), hereafter collectively referred to as IHS essential functions.
      • IHS PMEF: In the event of an emergency, IHS would continue to oversee and direct the provision of health care delivery to American Indians and Alaskan Natives.  IHS would continue to provide Emergency Support Functions assigned the Agency under the Federal Response Plan.
      • IHS MEF: IHS would continue to deliver health care, including medical, dental, and environmental health to American Indians and Alaskan Natives.
      • The IHS would provide health care expertise and the deployment of limited number of health care professionals.  The available professionals would include:  physicians, nurses, dentists, engineers, environmental health officers, and pharmacists.
      • The IHS would make space available in our federal health care facilities for the provision of emergency care to disaster victims.
      • Under Emergency Support Function 6 & 8 of the Federal Response Plan, the IHS will support HHS in fulfilling mission requirements.
  3. Order of Succession.  The order of succession to the Director, IHS, is as follows:
    1. Deputy Director
    2. Deputy Director for Management Operations
    3. Chief Medical Officer
    4. Deputy Director for Quality Health Care
    5. Deputy Director for Inter-Governmental Affairs
    6. Deputy Director for Field Operations
    7. Chief of Staff
    8. Director, Oklahoma City Area IHS
  4. Emergency Relocation Group, Continuity Telework Staff, and Residual Staff Element.

    Within 30 days of the date of this memorandum, IHS-HQ Senior Staff, Office Directors, and Staff Directors shall identify and nominate members by name and position in writing, of their respective components to be assigned to the IHS-HQ Emergency Relocation Group (ERG), the Continuity Telework Staff (CTS), or the Residual Staff Element (RSE).  All identified personnel will be submitted in writing to the IHS Director and the IHS Director, Division of Administrative Services, Office of Management Services who serves as the IHS Director, Headquarters Emergency Management.  The IHS-HQ COOP capability has current space and system constraints, which limit the ERG and CTS to 48 members each, for a total complement of 96 IHS-HQ continuity staff. IHS-HQ Offices and Programs are encouraged to program funds and acquire telework capability to sustain their respective operations and efforts not specifically addressed in the IHS-HQ essential functions.

    1. The ERG members shall be prepared to relocate to and work from the IHS-HQ COOP site within 12 hours of its activation by the Director or other successor to the Director.
    2. Subject to personal safety and availability of public utilities, CTS members shall be prepared to start telework from an approved alternate work site within 12 hours of a continuity event.  Approved alternate worksites include personal residence, telework centers, or as otherwise approved by the CTS member's supervisor.
    3. The RSE members shall be placed on Excused Absence during a continuity event if they cannot be reassigned to an alternate work site, and shall remain in daily contact with their supervisors.  Subject to personal safety considerations, RSE members shall remain available for immediate recall to normal duty status at times and locations as directed by their supervisors.
  5. Devolution Successor.

    The Oklahoma City Area Director is designated the devolution successor to the IHS Director, and is authorized to assume Agency-wide direction and control as the Acting IHS Director to ensure the performance of IHS essential functions.  This authority may not be re-delegated and is only provided to an individual serving in a permanent appointment as the Oklahoma City Area Director, unless otherwise 'by-name' authorized in writing by the IHS Director.

    1. The Oklahoma City Area Director will assume the role and duties as Acting IHS Director:
      1. on direction of the IHS Director, a more senior successor to the IHS Director, or other competent HHS or Executive Branch authority; or
      2. within 30 minutes of a catastrophic event rendering the IHS-HQ leadership completely incommunicado, and on pre-authorized written determination that IHS-HQ leadership is no longer operationally viable.
    2. On planned collocation of the IHS Director and all named successors to the IHS Director at common event or location, the IHS Director may issue a written contingency succession delegation of authority to a senior member of the IHS residing away from the event or location.  Such delegation shall be limited to the time of the collocation, and anticipate assumption of the roles and duties as Acting IHS Director as defined in Section 5.a. above.
    3. Upon assembling at the common event location, the IHS Director may issue a written contingency succession delegation of authority to a senior member of the IHS residing away from the event or location.  Such delegation shall be limited to the time of the collocation, and anticipate assumption of the roles and duties as Acting IHS Director as defined in Section 5.a. above.
    4. An Acting IHS Director shall relinquish Agency direction and control on the emergence and written decision of the IHS Director, a more senior successor to the IHS Director, or other competent HHS or Executive Branch authority.
  6. Devolution Emergency Response Group.  IHS-HQ Senior Staff and ERG members shall identify and nominate respective counterparts, in writing, at the Oklahoma City Area Office to become a member of the Devolution Emergency Response Group (DERG) within 30 days of the date this memorandum is signed and provided back to IHS Director, Headquarters Emergency Management.  The DERG members shall be approved by the IHS Director, and will be responsible to assume and perform IHS-HQ essential functions within 12 hours of direction from the IHS Director, or a senior successor to the IHS Director.  The DERG lists will be maintained by Area Office and updated as changes occur with the IHS Director, Headquarters Emergency Management.

Funding and Execution Responsibility.

  1. Fiscal Year 2016 and 2017 funding to establish and implement the requirements of this SGM will be identified by the Deputy Director for Management Operations, from accounts available to IHS-HQ Office of the Director.
    1. The IHS Director, Headquarters Emergency Management has lead component responsibility to plan and coordinate the implementation of this SGM.
    2. All IHS HQ and Area Office elements shall provide timely support of planning and execution requirements.
  2. Beginning with Fiscal Year 2016, and annually thereafter, responsibility to program and execute funds to satisfy requirements, including sustainment and lifecycle expenses, of this SGM is assigned to the following IHS components.
    1. The IHS Director, Headquarters Emergency Management is responsible for:  planning, implementation and operational coordination, training, and exercise of IHS-HQ COOP plans, capabilities and activities; and, to provide cross functional leadership to the IHS-HQ COOP and devolution components as described in this SGM.
    2. The Director, Office of Management Services is responsible for providing and maintaining:  IHS-HQ continuity facilities, including necessary access coordination with MSC facility staff; acquisition, logistics and supply, and other general management and operational support of IHS-HQ continuity and reconstitution facilities; executive transportation during continuity events; vital records management; and other general operating and support requirements.
    3. The Director, Office of Human Resources Human Resources is responsible for human resources policy and operational implementation unique to continuity events.
    4. The Director, Office of Information Technology is responsible to provide:  computers, software, peripherals, communications equipment, system and network integration and administration; and, all necessary help desk support, information and communications security, and associated line, services, and operating agreements.
    5. The Director, Oklahoma City Area Office is responsible to provide general administrative, training, and operational support to Oklahoma City DERG members.
    6. The IHS-HQ Offices and other Area Offices are required to provide administrative, training and operational plans & support to DERG members residing in their respective locations, if required, according to Federal Continuity Directive 1 & 2 and this policy.  (


Time is of the essence to plan, acquire, establish, and test IHS-HQ COOP and devolution capabilities.  The following schedule will be followed:

  1. The IHS-HQ COOP Site Initial Operating Capability is defined to include the:
    1. establishment and outfitting of the IHS-HQ COOP site at the HHS MSC;
    2. selection and training of IHS-HQ ERG, DERG, and other continuity support staff;
    3. development and review of COOP, CTS, and RSE policy and operating procedures; and
    4. familiarization of the IHS Director's order of succession and DERG members with IHS-HQ essential functions and tasks.
  2. The IHS-HQ COOP Full Operating Capability will be maintained to include:
    1. complete outfitting of the IHS-HQ COOP site;
    2. complete outfitting of CTS members; and
    3. complete semi-annual training and at least one integrated exercise of the ERG, DERG, CTS and RSE members.
  3. All necessary plans, program documentation, operating procedures, and updates of pertinent IHS policies and related documentation will be completed by September 30, 2016.

Questions regarding this SGM should be directed to Mr. Christopher R. Jones at 301-443-1771 or .

/Mary Smith/
Mary Smith

Headquarters Management Team
Area Directors
Area Executive Officers
IHS Emergency Points of Contact