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SGM No. 21-02
FROM: Acting Director, Indian Health Service
SUBJECT: Personnel Security/Suitability Determinations

The purpose of this Special General Memorandum is to remind Indian Health Service (IHS) staff that, as a condition of Federal employment, employees are required to meet the background investigation requirements for the position they hold. Title 5 Code of Federal Regulations (C.F.R.) Part 731, Suitability, establishes regulations for making determinations of suitability and for taking suitability actions regarding employment in covered positions. If an employee fails to obtain a favorably adjudicated background investigation, they fail to meet a condition of employment or continued employment in the Federal service and their employment is terminated.

The IHS is authorized by law and regulations to assert or exercise a program for adjudicating the suitability and fitness of applicants for, appointees to, and employees serving in, covered positions in the Federal service. The responsibility of the Agency’s overall security program, includes, but is not limited to, the following:

  1. Assessment of a position to determine its potential for adverse impact to the integrity or efficiency of the service and its effect on the agency or the agency’s mission;
  2. Detection of a direct or logical connection between a person’s character or conduct and the integrity or efficiency of the service; and
  3. Determination as to whether or not a person is suitable for initial hire or continued employment while occupying a covered position in the IHS.

The IHS makes suitability decisions pursuant to Suitability, 5 C.F.R. Part 731, which sets forth specific factors to consider as a basis for finding an employee not suitable for Federal employment. Any employee who fails to meet a condition of initial employment or continued employment, will be removed from Federal service in accordance with 5 C.F.R. Part 731.105 and 5 C.F.R. Part 752 subpart D. Any employees serving under a probationary or trial period, will be removed from Federal service in accordance with 5 C.F.R. Part 731.105 and 5 C.F.R. Part 315 subpart H.

The IHS Office of Human Resources, Division of Personnel Security and Ethics (DPSE) conducts the final review and adjudication of all background investigations at the IHS.

Each IHS employee is required to adhere to background investigation and reinvestigation requirements, which include providing any and all information and documents requested by the DPSE. An IHS employee who fails to respond timely, or provide sufficient information to mitigate any issues identified during an adjudication review, will receive an unfavorable background investigation determination.

Agency supervisors and managers are required to take appropriate action when informed by DPSE that an employee’s background investigation will be adjudicated as unfavorable. Each supervisor and manager must work with the DPSE and their servicing IHS Human Resources office to initiate the appropriate removal or termination action based on an employee’s failure to meet a condition of initial employment or continued employment. If the supervisor or manager fails to take prompt action as required, upper-level management will intervene. This could result in disciplinary action against the supervisor or manager.

Effective communication and cooperation among all parties is crucial to Agency compliance with Federal regulations that require employees to meet all conditions of employment. We must all work together to ensure that every IHS employee possess sufficient suitability and adhere to the background investigation and personnel security requirements.

Effective Date

This SGM becomes effective on the date signed.

/Elizabeth A. Fowler/
Elizabeth A. Fowler
Acting Director
Indian Health Service