- What are Intergovernmental Personnel Agreements (IPAs) or Memoranda of Agreements (MOAs)?
An IPA is an agreement that is entered with IHS that will allow a federal civil service employee to be assigned to the GPTCHB. A MOA is a similar agreement for federal commissioned personnel to be assigned to the GPTCHB. In both cases, the employee retains his or her federal employment status, including compensation, insurance and retirement benefits.
- Are there other IHS facilities with IPA or MOA staff?
Yes. It is quite common for tribes to retain federal employees as IPA or MOA staff when they assume operations of IHS programs. MOA staff are fairly easy to spot in tribally run facilities as they continue to wear the commissioned corps uniform.
- What is the effective time frame for an IPA, under GPTCHB? Can IPAs be extended, after the initial IPA?
The length of an IPA is two years, with the initial IPA estimated to begin effective February 1, 2019. IPAs may be extended indefinitely as long as the employee and the GPTCHB are in agreement to continue the relationship and there are no conduct or performance issues needing resolution.
- Will IPAs and MOAs be covered by the FTCA/Tort?
The Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) covers all Federal employees, including those under IPAs and MOAs. It also covers all Tribal direct hires who are performing services under the Self-Governance Compact. The templates used for these agreements are Federal templates, and although it is mentioned in one and not the other, does not affect the applicability of the FTCA.
- I have been with IHS for 20 years and I don’t know if I am IPA or MOA?
Federal civil service employees are employed by the Indian Health Service and are assigned to a tribe with an Intergovernmental Personnel Agreement (IPA). Commissioned Officers are employed by the Public Health Service and are assigned to a tribe with a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA.)
- How are IPA/MOA staff paid?
Any federal personnel assigned to the GPTCHB under IPAs or MOAs continue to receive their paychecks and all benefits from the federal agency – in this case, IHS. The GPTCHB will be invoiced by IHS for IPA/MOA staff and will reimburse the agency for these costs.
- Will the IHS employees still be covered under unions that are currently in effect?
The GPTCHB does not interact with employee unions. However, any IPA or MOA staff who retain federal employment may remain members of a union for purposes of interacting with the federal government.
- I am a member of a federal employee union. How will my rights be affected?
The GPTCHB does not interact with employee unions. However, any IPA or MOA staff who retain federal status may remain members of a union for purposes of interacting with the federal government.
- Who can I contact with questions about this transition?
You can contact the GPTCHB’s staff directly by email for questions at [email protected]
- Will current GPTCHB employees be affected?
The GPTCHB currently has a number of employees providing Health and related services under existing tribal programs. These employees will continue to be needed to deliver these vital programs and services. All existing tribal employees’ employment, including compensation and benefits levels will not be reduced as a result of this project.
- What kind of job security do IHS employees have?
The GPTCHB has agreed to provide an Intergovernmental Personnel Act (IPA) or Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) to eligible IHS employees at the Rapid City Service Unit. Additional information regarding this process will be provided directly to affected employees, as it comes available, prior to the GPTCHB’s assumption of the Sioux San Hospital.
- What will happen to current IHS employees if the GPTCHB assumes operations?
To maintain stability in staffing of any PSFAs assumed, the GPTCHB, to the greatest extent feasible, will offer the opportunity to continue employment to all current and eligible IHS employees, using Intergovernmental Personnel Agreements, Memoranda of Agreements, or direct hire employment. The GPTCHB will be conducting several meetings with current IHS employees to discuss employee options and provide real-time information regarding compacting progress. Transparency is of the utmost importance in this process, and the GPTCHB is committed to ensuring IHS employees are treated with value and respect as we move forward together.
- Does the GPTCHB wish to retain all of the existing federal staff?
Yes. The GPTCHB highly values the existing IHS staff, and a high priority has been placed on retaining all federal staff that have been serving in health programs benefiting the GPTCHB’s citizens.
- Will contract employees remain and will they be offered a Tribal direct hire position or ability to re-negotiate contracts?
Contractors are not eligible for IPA, and the GPTCHB will handle these on a case-by-case basis. The GPTCHB may either continue a contract relationship or make an offer for Tribal direct hire position, depending upon the need for the services. The intention of the GPTCHB is that all employees be retained to the extent possible.
- For Physicians who choose Tribal direct hire, will they have to go through the application process?
No. An employee choosing a Tribal direct hire offer will not be required to go through an application process. The GPTCHB’s effort is to make the transition for employees as seamless as possible.
- When will more information be available about my employment options?
The GPTCHB will be conducting several meetings with current IHS employees to discuss employee options and provide real-time information regarding compacting progress. Transparency is of the utmost importance in this process, and the GPTCHB is committed to ensuring IHS employees are treated with value and respect as we move forward together. More detailed information will be available as it becomes available.
- How will I know if I am eligible for an IPA or MOA position?
IHS decides which employees are eligible for an IPA or MOA position in accordance with its own internal policies, but most IHS employees are generally eligible for these opportunities. You may not be eligible if: (1) you are a federal employee holding a time-limited, temporary or term appointment; or (2) your current summary performance ratings are less than fully satisfactory and/or unacceptable. For more information, contact your IHS Human Resources contact or review the IHS Personnel Aspects of the ISDEAA Handbook.
- I applied for a job at IHS and was offered a position. Does this mean the offer is only temporary?
No. All eligible federal employees holding positions that are to be transferred to the GPTCHB will be offered the option to retain their federal employment status.
- Must I be a federal employee for a certain length of time before I qualify for an IPA or MOA?
No. There is no length of federal employment required to become an IPA or MOA. Special purpose IPA assignments may be made for full-time, part-time, and intermittent employees serving under career or conditional (competitive or equivalent accepted) appointments.
- How long can someone be in an IPA or MOA position?
There is no time limit on how long a federal employee may remain in an IPA or MOA position.
- Will there be one-on-one meetings with affected employees?
Yes. The IHS and the GPTCHB will coordinate on dates so that employees may have the opportunity to meet with representatives from both organizations.
- During individual employee sessions will there be specific compensation and benefit details, to assist employees in determining whether to take a Tribal direct dire position or remain IPA?
Yes, in individual sessions, HR staff can answer any questions on pay and benefits and make estimates of pay deductions for optional benefits.
- Will IHS employees retain their federal employment or change to Tribal employees?
Whether to accept an IPA or MOA is an option for employees who are eligible for such agreements. Employees who do not accept an IPA or MOA and who are eligible for Tribal direct hire may choose to work directly for the GPTCHB. Those who accept an IPA or MOA will maintain their federal employment and continue to receive Federal benefits. Direct hires will be Tribal employees and receive benefits similar to other Tribal employees. While assigned to the GPTCHB under the IPA or MOA, the federal employee will work at the direction of a tribal supervisor, just as other tribal employees do, and adhere to applicable GPTCHB policies.
- Will federal personnel also have the option to become a Tribal direct hire employee?
Yes. Existing federal staff holding positions that are to be transferred to the GPTCHB will have the option to transfer to a Tribal direct hire. A Tribal direct hire position can be attractive to certain employees, depending on their career goals and federal tenure. For example, a federal employee eligible for retirement may wish to consider retiring from federal employment to begin receiving retirement benefits, and then become a Tribal direct hire employee.
- Do I have to be AI/AN to accept direct hire?
No. Regardless of tribal affiliation, all employees to be transferred to the GPTCHB will have the option to accept a Tribal direct hire position.
- If I am hired directly by the GPTCHB, can I become an IPA or MOA staff member?
No. Only federal employees are eligible for an IPA or MOA positions.
- Will we lose our years of service with the Government?
For IPA or MOA employees, there will be no change in years of service. During the planning process, the GPTCHB will evaluate options for the treatment under tribal policy of the tenure of federal employees who continue working at the Sioux San Hospital as Tribal direct hires.
- If I retire, will there be an opportunity for me to come back as a part time employee?
If the position is vacated and full-time effort is still necessary, the GPTCHB will likely fill the position as a full-time position. However, the GPTCHB will consider on a case-by-case basis, as retention of all employees is a high priority.
- Will current duties change?
For the vast majority of staff, there will be little change in job duties, whether an IPA, MOA or a Tribal direct hire. Additionally, all IPA, MOA and Tribal direct hire employees will work under a GPTCHB job description.
- For employees currently working for Great Plains Area Office, what would duties be as a tribal employee?
Administrative support, similar in nature as currently. There may be some changes due to additional health services designed by the GPTCHB, or from application of GPTCHB administrative policy.
- Who will be my supervisor if I am assigned under an IPA or MOA to the GPTCHB?
IPAs and MOAs assigned to the GPTCHB are directed by the GPTCHB in their day-to-day activities. On a daily basis, an IPA/MOA (federal) employee may be supervised by a GPTCHB employee, or a GPTCHB employee may be supervised by an IPA/MOA employee, as determined by the GPTCHB’s organizational structure.
Each IPA and MOA is also assigned a federal supervisor, for purposes of reviewing and approving all federal personnel actions, such as timekeeping. This supervisor is assigned by the IHS Great Plains Area to process any necessary federal personnel action during the course of the assignment.
- I am thinking of entering an IPA and am a front-line supervisor. Will I be the tribal supervisor?
Yes. Most supervisor/reporting relationships will remain the same.
- As a supervisor, will I be supervised by a Tribal direct hire employee?
Maybe. An employee will be supervised by the employee type (Tribal direct hire, IPA, or MOA) of the individual that holds the position the employee is reporting to.
- If I become an IPA or MOA, who determines my schedule?
Once programs are assumed by the GPTCHB, hours of operation and work schedules for all staff (including IPA and MOA staff) will be directed by the GPTCHB.
- Will pay change?
For IPA and MOA employees, pay will remain unchanged. For offers as Tribal direct hire, offers will be made in accordance with the GPTCHB’s Human Resources policy and salary schedule.
- Will the pay stay the same? Will grade increases still be there if available?
IPA and MOA employees will be paid according to the same federal pay scale and will remain eligible to receive increases in wages, just as if they had continued to work in a federally operated service unit. While the GPTCHB has not approved the salary schedules for tribal employees at the Sioux San Hospital, the GPTCHB expects that salaries will be competitive. Any increases for a Tribal direct hire would be in accordance with GPTCHB’s policy.
- Can a position be reviewed if an employee thinks their current pay does not compensate for duties and responsibilities?
As a Tribal employee, position review may occur in accordance with the GPTCHB policy. However, it is not expected that initial offers will encompass a new position review.
- For Tribal direct hires, are there Exempt employees who are not permitted overtime pay? What professions are they?
Any position that meets the legal criteria for exemption from overtime will not receive overtime pay. Overtime will only be paid to non-exempt, hourly employees.
- How will pay date be impacted by transition? IHS pay period ends on a Saturday.
For IPAs and MOAs, the pay date is unaffected. For employees electing a Tribal direct hire position, the pay date will coincide with the GPTCHB’s pay schedule.
- How can I find out about the GPTCHB’s benefits?
The GPTCHB will be conducting several meetings with current IHS employees to discuss employee options. You can also contact the GPTCHB’s Human Resources Department with specific questions at (605) 721-7552.
- As a Tribal Direct Hire, what federal benefits can I keep?
Tribal direct hires will receive Tribal benefits rather than Federal benefits. For questions about the Tribal benefits package, please contact the GPTCHB’s Human Resources Department at (605) 721-7552.
- Will any of the current incentives be available through direct hire?
For Tribal direct hire positions, wages, benefits, holiday pay, leave, etc. are provided in accordance with the GPTCHB policy.
- Will Leave benefits transition over?
For employees transitioning to Tribal direct hires, IHS will payout accrued annual leave according to Federal policy. However, during the planning process, the GPTCHB will evaluate options for leave accrual under tribal policy for federal employees who continue working at the Hospital as tribal direct hires.
- What will happen to the leave balance? Will we still get the same hours that we would with the Government?
IPA and MOA employees will receive annual leave according to Federal policy. During the planning process, the GPTCHB will evaluate options for leave accrual under tribal policy for federal employees who continue working at the Hospital as tribal direct hires.
- Will IHS be closed during Tribal Holidays? If not, do IPA employees get holiday pay?
The IHS will continue to observe Federal, not Tribal holidays. All operations assumed by the GPTCHB will observe Tribal holidays. IPAs will continue to receive holiday pay on the Federal schedule. IPAs will not receive holiday pay on the Tribal holiday schedule.
- Will health programs, clinics or the Sioux San Hospital be closed on Holidays?
Not necessarily. Patient care areas may remain open on a Holiday to meet patient care needs.
- If an IPA works on the GPTCHB’s holidays is there any special pay?
No. The employee will be compensated in accordance with the Federal schedule.
- Would we lose our retirement? What about the life insurance/medical insurance?
For IPA or MOA employees, benefits will stay the same. Employees hired by the GPTCHB will receive the same benefits as other Tribal employees.
- Can an employee opt out from medical insurance?
For IPAs and MOAs, the Federal benefits and associated rules will remain the same. Tribal direct hire employees cannot opt out of medical insurance with the GPTCHB.
- If the Health Benefit premium amount is higher than what I currently pay; is the GPTCHB going to offer an incentive for coverage?
Although the GPTCHB has made some exceptions for the transition, the health benefits applicable to all GPTCHB employees (including premiums) will be applicable to Tribal direct hires from IHS.
- Is converting to an IPA a qualifying event for purpose of a change in benefits?
- Will employees who are electing IPAs and MOAs be asked to sign a “Release of Information”?
Yes. The GPTCHB will be constructing personnel records on all employees, including those assigned under IPAs and MOAs. A Release of Information will allow information to be shared to construct that record and avoid having the employee to provide this information again. Further, it will allow the GPTCHB to accept the Federal background check information without having to perform an entirely new background check.
- What are the timelines for the employee agreements? When will employee offers be ready for review?
Upon receipt of release of information forms the IHS will prepare the requisite information that will allow the GPTCHB to prepare a specific offer for the employee. IPA or MOA agreements would later be developed depending upon the employee’s decision
- Can an employee be dismissed by GPTCHB?
The GPTCHB cannot terminate Federal employees. However, should there be performance or conduct issues, the GPTCHB can initiate the federal disciplinary process, recommend reassignment or provide notice to terminate an IPA/MOA agreement. For Tribal direct hires, terminations must comply with the GPTCHB’s Human Resources Policy.
- Will all IHS employees have to go through a Reduction in Force (RIF)?
Employees should consult with IHS Human Resources staff regarding a reduction in force. IHS will determine whether a reduction in force is necessary and a 60-day notice is required if IHS determines a RIF is necessary.
- Is there a 30, 60 or 90 day advance notice to terminate an IPA or RIF?
There is a 60-day requirement for notice if there is no other assignment available. An IPA appointment is for a 2-year period. The GPTCHB intends to extend IPAs indefinitely at the option of the employee unless there are performance and/or conduct issues. A Reduction in Force (RIF) would only be necessary if the employee did not choose the IPA.
- Does the manual states that there is a 30-day notice for termination of IPA? Can it be longer than 30 days?
The Manual says 30 days for termination, but the employee and the GPTCHB can negotiate a longer time period.
- How are Commissioned Officers deployed?
Voluntary deployments are approved by the GPTCHB then by the Area Office.