Direct Assistance—Assigning CDC Staff to State, Tribal, Local, and Territorial Health Agencies

At CDC, direct assistance (DA) is a financial assistance mechanism that is primarily used to support payroll and travel expenses of CDC employees assigned to state, tribal, local, and territorial (STLT) health agencies that are recipients of grants and cooperative agreements. Most legislative authorities that provide financial assistance to STLT health agencies allow for the use of DA.

Here are some of the most common questions about direct assistance.

Q: Which programs are eligible for DA?

A: The following legislation authorizes use of DA: Social Security Act, Title V, 45 CFR 96 (for VFC only); continuing Appropriations Act, 2011 (P.L. 111-242); 48 CFR 17.504(c) within the PHS Act provide DA in Sections 308 in support of grants and cooperative agreements made under:

  • Sections 304, General Authority Respecting Research, Evaluation, and Demonstration in Health Statistics, Health Services and Health Care Technology Assessment
  • Sections 306, National Center for Health Statistics
  • Sections 307, International Cooperation
  • Sections 317, Project Grants for Preventive Health Services
  • Sections 318, Infertility and Sexually Transmitted Diseases
  • Section 1507 in support of grants under Section 1501 of Title 15, Preventive Health Measures with Respect to Breast and Cervical Cancers
  • 42 U.S. Code § 300w–2 – Payments under Preventive Health and Health Services Block Grant Allotments to States
Q: How do I request DA personnel?

A: To request DA assignees, include the following in your request

  1. Number of assignees requested
  2. Description of positions, proposed duties, and supervisory responsibilities
  3. Ability or inability to hire locally with financial assistance
  4. Justification for request
  5. Organizational chart and name of intended supervisor
  6. Opportunities for training, education, and work experiences for assignees
  7. Description of assignee’s access to computer equipment for communication with CDC (e.g., personal computer at home, personal computer at workstation, shared computer at workstation on-site, shared computer at a central office)
  8. A signed Agreement to Detail form
Q: What types of DA personnel can I request?

A: There are many types of positions that a STLT grant recipient can request based on the program need and project scope. The functions and role of the DA assignee must be consistent with the funding directives and program guidance outlined in the grant.

Two examples of DA personnel are:

  • Public Health Advisors (PHAs) can serve as CDC’s liaison in the state, responsible for providing on-site program technical assistance, guidance and coordination, state or local liaison, and quality assurance oversight in support of the project area’s public health program activities.
      PHAs can:
    • Build partnerships with other agencies and stakeholders
    • Provide technical guidance and assistance in review, evaluation, and oversight of the administration and management of the cooperative agreement and grant programs
    • Provide substantive and strategic program advice and assistance to the host agency and is responsible for carrying of significant program activities in state and local settings
    • Conduct program evaluation to review, analyze, and apply programmatic data and report on activities
  • Epidemiologists can serve as a CDC point of contact to the host agency to plan, coordinate, lead, and implement grant activities to improve epidemiologic capacity and public health preparedness activities.
      Epidemiologists can:
    • Build partnerships with other agencies and stakeholders
    • Provide epidemiologic consultation and leadership for surveillance systems
    • Provide expertise for the design of epidemiological investigations, conducting studies, analyzing data, and publishing findings
    • Develop and implement workforce training and education related to epidemiology
Q: How much will DA personnel cost?

A: Funding for the salary and benefits, travel expenses, and other costs related to DA assignees is reflected in the grant award and comprises part of the total award, although these costs are paid directly by CDC. Personnel assigned to STLT agencies through the DA mechanism are managed by their CDC program supervisors but receive daily guidance and direction from the grantee agency that is hosting them.

Q: How long will the process take?

A: The time it takes from receiving a request to the placement of an assignee varies. In the case of a replacement of a DA assignee of the same grade and job series as a federal FTE, then the process is generally shorter: 30–90 days.

If it is a first-time request, or is for a new DA position, then there will be a job classification process and announcement, and that takes more time from request to placement. Other time-limiting factors include availability of financial assistance funds and timing of the request relative to the funding period. In general, STLT grant recipients should expect a wait of 90–180 days for a new or recurring request.

Q: Does the grant recipient have influence on the selection or hiring of DA personnel?

A: When a DA assignee is requested, CDC approving and hiring officials work together with the requesting state or local officials to ensure the best personnel fit. CDC cannot guarantee, however, that a specific candidate will be hired through federal personnel processes. Non-federal personnel cannot be an official part of the hiring process per guidelines from the US Government Office of Personnel Management.

Q: Who will supervise the DA personnel?

A: Employees on DA are managed and supervised by a CDC supervisor and retain the rights of a CDC employee. A representative of the grantee/host agency will provide daily guidance and direction to the DA assignee, and will give input to the CDC supervisor on the assignee’s performance, which includes career and career-conditional federal employees, Title 42 Senior Service Fellows/Distinguished Consultants, and Commissioned Corps Officers. DA personnel are permitted to supervise federal, state, and local health department staff, and they are covered by the same rights and responsibilities as federal employees in headquarters assignments.

Since CDC staff are assigned by request of the grantee/host agency, however, the personnel and bargaining unit policies of the grantee/host agency should be considered in determining what supervisory role, if any, the assignee will have.

Q: What happens if the DA assignee is no longer needed?

A: Expiration or cancellation of DA assignment is governed by the terms of the hiring option selected, stipulations in the Memorandum of Agreement, and availability of funds. Term appointments will have a mandatory expiration date with no guarantee or expectation of renewal or extension.

If either the CDC program or the DA recipient determines the need to cancel the appointment of the DA assignee, then a request must be made in writing and is subject to the terms of the hiring or employment mechanism used. Reasons for cancellation of the assignment may be indicated by either the CDC program placing the individual or by the host agency receiving the placement.

Q: In what funding cycle will a DA request take effect?

A: The request can become effective as soon as the redirection of funds request is processed through CDC’s Procurement and Grants Office (PGO). This can be done at any time during the funding cycle, and it can be made effective at any time that is agreed to by the CDC program official and the STLT requesting official.

Q: How do I begin the DA request process?

A: STLT grant recipients should first contact their respective CDC program consultant or project officer to begin the DA request process.

For More Information

If you are a public health professional at a state, tribal, local, or territorial health department and have questions or need help initiating a request for a CDC field assignee, please contact us.

If you are a member of the general public, please direct all inquiries to CDC-INFO at 1-800-CDC-INFO (1-800-232-4636) or use the online form.