Frequently Asked Questions regarding the CDC Director’s Commissioned Corps Policy Advisory Committee (CCPAC)
In the midst of the U.S. Public Health Service (PHS) Commissioned Corps (CC) transformation, Dr. Gerberding recognizes the importance of CDC/ATSDR officers’ input on issues that affect their ability to carry out the Department and Agency missions. On May 5, 2004, Dr. Gerberding proactively sought a forum for officers to provide timely, comprehensive and accurate feedback through the formation of the CCPAC.
No. In 2003, Dr. Gerberding convened the “The Emergency Task Force on the Proposed Transformation of the USPHS Commissioned Corps” to gather and summarize comments and concerns about draft promotion policies and access to health care providers for Atlanta-based officers. This task force completed its mission and is no longer functioning.
The CCPAC is charged with helping the Director to assess and manage issues arising from the evolving relationship of CDC/ATSDR and the CC. Some recent examples include CDC/ATSDR opinion on CC issues such as promotion, recruitment/retention, deployment and communication.
The CCPAC does not supplant the role of CCPB. All CC personnel issues should continue to be directed to the CCPB (e.g., enrollment of a newborn into DEERS or CC training for officers stationed overseas). CCPAC members are not experts on CC rules and regulations, rather CCPAC members should be viewed as a conduit to the CDC/ATSDR OD on issues involving officers. The CCPAC role is advisory to ensure that Dr. Gerberding is informed and equipped to represent our unique needs as CDC/ATSDR officers.
In developing the advice for Dr. Gerberding, the CCPAC primarily considers the needs of and benefits for the agencies; although the needs and benefits for the Corps and CDC/ATSDR officers are considered during the groups deliberations. CCPAC is not an officer advocacy group per se. The Commissioned Officers Association of the USPHS (COA) is the primary officer advocacy group. When appropriate, CCPAC works with the COA Atlanta Branch. However, CCPAC does not duplicate COA’s officer advocacy function.
The CDC and ATSDR representatives to the Surgeon General’s Professional Advisory Committee (SGPAC) serve as the Chair and the Vice-Chair respectively.
The chair and vice-chair of the CCPAC and their two alternates to the SGPAC serve as the CCPAC’s executive committee.
The CCPAC charter members were selected from a pool of self-nominated volunteers and do not formally represent their assigned CIOs, rank or category. Officers serve as CCPAC members at the pleasure of the Director, but in general, are chosen based on recommendation of the Chair and Vice Chair according to the following criteria:
- Demonstrated level of knowledge/interest in CC affairs.
- Diversity of rank, category, geographic location, race/ethnicity and gender in order to achieve broad representation.
A member’s term is 3 calendar years from the date of appointment. However, to avoid excessive turnover, the charter members will end their term in a staggered fashion. Therefore charter members will serve one to three years, as determined by lot. Subsequent members will serve 3 calendar years from the date of appointment.
The committee meets every 3rd Friday of the month from 1:30-4:30pm. Between meetings, members often conduct conference calls or attend additional meetings to make progress on pressing issues.
In order to ensure a manageable group size for discussion and decisions, the CCPAC business meetings are not held in public forums. However, the committee members are available to meet with officers individually or in groups and will invite officers as needed to present issues or provide expertise to the group. The committee has conducted a brown bag discussion group and plans to hold more in the future.
While Dr. Gerberding acknowledges the committee member’s diversity, membership is not intended to be proportional across all variables. Officers are selected for their enthusiasm, candor and willingness to participate above and beyond their routine duties.
No. Officers are selected for their input on broad CC issues. There are ample opportunities for CDC/ATSDR officers to raise specific concerns with regards to categorical, rank or CIO issues. For example, the Professional Advisory Committees and Chief Professional Officers are specifically designed to address categorical issues across all DHHS agencies. The Junior Officer Group is a forum to raise the issues which pertain irrespective of category. And the usual chain of command is the most appropriate place to raise CIO specific issues that affect both civil servants and CC officers.
Although CCPAC members are not authorized decision-makers, the committee grapples with issues related to the CC transformation on behalf of all CDC/ATSDR officers. While addressing the particular policy situations that Dr. Gerberding has asked us to review, we attempt to incorporate these cross cutting themes to the benefit of the officers we represent. For example, the committee discusses emerging themes (e.g., disruptiveness of serving two “masters” [agency vs. CC] regarding deployment). Because the committee is advisory without direct authority, we encourage all officers to also voice concerns through other mechanisms, such as categorical PACs, the categorical CPO, or the agency liaison.
Since our inaugural meeting in June 2004 the committee has provided input to Dr. Gerberding on the following topics:
- PHS transformation. Two members of the executive committee participated in 9 day-long meetings in Washington D.C. to formulate options for the transformation. The options were sent to each agency as a decision memo. Generally, the agencies and operating divisions were supportive of the overall goal of the issues. They did, however, ask for clarification and additional information regarding some of the specific issues.
- Deployment credit for CDC/ATSDR officers. The Office of Force Readiness and Deployment (OFRD), Office of the Surgeon General, has included CDC/ATSDR deployed officers on the award nominations for every deployment that has included both OFRD and CDC/ATSDR agency deployments.
- Streamlining deployment call-up. The committee is providing input to ensure that CDC/ATSDR officers do not get caught between competing Agency and Corps requests.
- OFRD Immunization requirements. The committee submitted a proposal to modify the current OFRD immunizations requirements to realign them with current the current Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommendation and CDC/ATSDR guidelines for international deployment. This proposal was approved by the CDC/ATSDR Medical Advisory Board on February 10, 2005. This proposal is also currently under review at DHHS and if adopted would affect all CC officers.
- Overseas assignment issues. The committee has been facilitating changes which improved reimbursement for dependent tuition costs and minimized some training barriers for our overseas officers.
- Improving the number of CDC/ATSDR officers who meet readiness standards. The committee worked closely with CCPB to facilitate officers’ ability to meet readiness standards and optimize promotion candidacy (e.g., 1:1 readiness “check-up” clinics)
- Improve communication. There are ongoing efforts to establish a communication stream between CDC/ATSDR officers and the OD. In the fall of 2004 two members of the CCPAC held a brown bag to assess officer’s most pressing concerns; the committee has partnered with CCPB and created a CCPAC informative webpage on our committee (see http://www.cdc.gov/od/occp/). The committee recognizes these efforts are only first steps and welcomes officer input to further improve the process.
- Agency comments on 6th precept. The committee submitted comments on a recent 6th precept proposal which would provide promotion credit to officers serving in isolated, hardship or hazardous duty positions. CDC recommended dropping the 6th precept, as did the overwhelming majority of other agencies. Although it is important to give officers credit for serving in these positions, the existing precepts are established mechanisms to more easily and fairly credit officers for this contribution. For example, the Hazardous Duty Award and the Isolated Hardship Award reflect an officer’s contribution to these assignments.
- Award board representation. The committee is currently developing a recommendation for Dr. Gerberding on how representation for CC awards committees and other groups should be revised in response to the agency reorganization. This recommendation will address the perceived disproportional representation among CIOs, particularly those with large numbers of officers.
The committee is drafting a white paper for Dr. Gerberding entitled, “Transforming the Public Health Service Commissioned Corps: CDC/ATSDR Perspective”. In this document we describe the attributes of the PHS officers assigned to CDC/ATSDR and the unique public health perspective that we bring to the table. In a forthright manner we outline our needs and offer ways to enhance our CDC/ATSDR effectiveness and value to the agency. Some of the topics include leadership, training, visibility and most importantly optimizing esprit de corps. We will be scheduling brown bag sessions to discuss our proposal with officers around CDC/ATSDR.
The CCPAC addresses a wide variety of CC issues through formation of subcommittees. We recognize that there are limited “elected” forums for CDC/ATSDR officers to participate in CC issues. Officers who are not currently on the CCPAC are welcome to participate in subcommittees and are invited to submit their nomination to replace current CCPAC members who will be rotating off the committee. Please contact any of the CCPAC members for additional information.
OD-CCPB sends out newsletters from the CCPAC via email
to all CC officers assigned to CDC/ATSDR. Look for updates on the CCPAC meeting
informative internet site .