44 FR 40876, July 13, 1979, unless otherwise noted.
Section 5948 of title 5, United States Code, authorizes the payment of allowances to certain eligible Federal physicians who enter into service agreements with their agencies. These allowances are paid only to categories of physicians for which the agency is experiencing recruitment and retention problems and are fixed at the minimum amounts necessary to deal with such problems. The President has delegated regulatory responsibility for this program to the Director of OPM, acting in consultation with the Office of Management and Budget. This part contains the regulations, criteria and conditions which the Director of OPM, in consultation with the Director of the Office of Management and Budget, has prescribed for the administration of the physicians' comparability allowance program. This part supplements and implements 5 U.S.C. 5948 and should be read together with that section of law.
[69 FR 27817, May 17, 2004]
(a) This program covers individuals employed as physicians under the Federal pay systems listed in 5 U.S.C. 5948(g)(1), except as provided in 5 U.S.C. 5948(b). For the purposes of this part, an individual is employed as a physician only if he or she is serving in a position the duties and responsibilities of which could not be satisfactorily performed by an incumbent who is not a physician.
(b) Section 5948(b) of title 5, United States Code, prohibits the payment of physicians' comparability allowances to certain physicians, including physicians who are reemployed annuitants. For the purpose of applying this prohibition, reemployed annuitant means an individual who is receiving or has title to and has applied for an annuity under any retirement program of the Government of the United States, or the government of the District of Columbia, on the basis of service as a civilian employee.
(c) Physicians employed and paid under title 38, United States Code, and Commissioned Corps officers of the Public Health Service under title 42, United States Code, are not eligible for physicians' comparability allowances.
(a) The head of each agency must determine categories of physician positions for which there is a significant recruitment and retention problem, and physicians' comparability allowances may be paid only to physicians serving in positions in such categories.
(b) In determining categories of physician positions, the head of each agency must, as a minimum, establish as separate categories the following types of positions:
(1) Positions primarily involving the practice of medicine or direct service to patients, involving the performance of diagnostic, preventive, or therapeutic services to patients in hospitals, clinics, public health programs, diagnostic centers, and similar settings, but not including positions described in paragraph (b)(3) of this section;
(2) Positions primarily involving the conduct of medical research and experimental work, including the conduct of medical work pertaining to food, drugs, cosmetics, and devices (or the review or evaluation of such medical research and experimental work), or the identification of causes or sources of disease or disease outbreaks;
(3) Positions primarily involving the evaluation of physical fitness, or the provision of initial treatment of on-the-job illness or injury, or the performance of preemployment examinations, preventive health screenings, or fitness-for-duty examinations; and
(4) Positions not described by paragraph (b) (1), (2), or (3) of this section, including positions involving disability evaluation and rating, the performance of medicolegal autopsies, training activities, or the administration of medical and health programs, including the administration of patient care or medical research and experimental programs.
(c) The agency head may establish as separate categories any additional subdivisions of these four categories of positions, based on any factors the agency head determines relevant. These may include such factors as the location, grade or level, and medical specialization of the positions, and the level of qualifications sought by the agency for physicians in the category.
The head of each agency may determine that a significant recruitment and retention problem exists for each category of physician position established under § 595.103 only if the following conditions are met with respect to the category:
(a) Such evidence as vacant positions, an unacceptably high turnover rate, or other positive evidence indicates that the agency is unable to recruit and retain physicians for the category;
(b) The qualification requirements being used as a basis for considering candidates for the vacant positions in the category do not exceed the qualifications that are actually necessary for successful performance of the work of the positions in the category;
(c) The agency has made efforts to recruit qualified candidates for any vacant positions in the category and to retain physicians presently employed in positions in the category; and
(d) A sufficient number of qualified candidates is not available to fill the existing vacancies in the category at the rate of pay the agency may offer if no comparability allowance is paid.
(a) The amount of the comparability allowance payable for each category of physician positions established under § 595.103 must be the minimum amount necessary to deal with the recruitment and retention problem identified under § 595.104 for that category of positions. In determining this amount, the agency head must consider the relative earnings, responsibilities, expenses, workload, working conditions, conditions of employment, and personnel benefits for physicians in each category and for comparable physicians inside and outside the Federal Government.
(b) Agencies may not pay a physicians' comparability allowance in excess of $14,000 annually to a physician with 24 months or less of service as a Government physician. Agencies may not pay a physicians' comparability allowance in excess of $30,000 annually to a physician with more than 24 months of service as a Government physician.
(c) In determining length of service as a Government physician, agencies must exclude periods of leave without pay. However, agencies may credit any prior service as a Government physician, including -
(1) Prior service as a physician under sections 7401 and 7405 of title 38, United States Code; and
(2) Prior active service as a medical officer in the Commissioned Corps of the Public Health Service under title II of the Public Health Service Act (42 U.S.C. chapter 6A).
(d) A physician who is employed on a regularly scheduled part-time basis of half-time or more is eligible to receive a physicians' comparability allowance, but any such allowance must be prorated according to the proportion of the physicians' work schedule to full-time employment. A physician who is employed on less than a half-time or intermittent basis is excluded from the physicians' comparability allowance program.
(e) A physician who is serving with the Government under a loan repayment program must have the amount of any loan being repaid deducted from any physicians' comparability allowance for which he or she is eligible and may receive only that portion of such allowance which exceeds the amount of the loan being repaid during the period of employment required by the service agreement under the student loan repayment program.
Each service agreement entered into by an agency and a physician under the comparability allowance program must prescribe the terms under which the agreement may be terminated and the amount of allowance, if any, required to be refunded by the physician for each reason for termination. In the case of each service agreement covering a period of service of more than 1 year, the service agreement must include a provision that, if the physician completes more than 1 year of service pursuant to the agreement, but fails to complete the full period of service specified in the agreement either voluntarily or because of misconduct by the physician, the physician must refund the amount of allowance he or she has received under the agreement for the 26 weeks of service immediately preceding the termination (or for a longer period, if specified in the agreement).
[69 FR 27818, May 17, 2004]
(a) An agency may not enter into any service agreement under 5 U.S.C. 5948 until the agency's plan for implementing the physicians' comparability allowance program has been submitted to and approved by the Office of Management and Budget in accordance with this section and such instructions as the Office of Management and Budget may prescribe.
(b) The agency must submit to the Office of Management and Budget a complete description of its plan for implementing the physicians' comparability allowance program, including the following:
(1) An identification of the categories of physician positions the agency has established under § 595.103, and of the basis for such categories;
(2) An explanation of the determination that a recruitment and retention problem exists for each such category, in accordance with the criteria in § 595.104; and
(3) An explanation of the basis for the amount of comparability allowance determined necessary for each category of physician position under § 595.105.
(c) The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) will review each agency's plan for implementing the physicians' comparability allowance program and determine whether the plan is consistent with 5 U.S.C. 5948 and the requirements of this part. The Office of Management and Budget will advise the agency within 45 calendar days after receipt of the plan as to whether the plan is consistent with 5 U.S.C. 5948 and this part or what changes need to be made.