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Board for Correction Case No. 193-97


Board for Correction Case No. 193-97

111.00 Awards - Award meritorious service medal

Recommendation of the Board for Correction on Appeal of: xxxxx xxxxxxxx, Case Number 193-97

I. Xxxxxx's Appeal for Relief:

Officer asked the Board to order the Public Health Service (PHS) to award him the Meritorious Service Medal (MSM).

II. Summary of Xxxxxx's Arguments and Documentation:

He contended that:

  1. His supervisor, the late xxxxxxxxxxxx, nominated him for the MSM for his work in bringing to publication the book xxxxxx xx xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx." The nomination was approved by the Awards Board of the Xxxxxx xx xxxx xxxxx xx xxxxx xxxxx in the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and then by the FDA Awards Board.
  2. Some weeks later he learned that the nomination had not been forwarded to the next higher approval level, the Awards Board of the Commissioned Corps of the Public Health Service, as required by the "Instructions for Completing the Commissioned Corps Individual Honor Award Nomination Record" ("Instructions") , but was being held for further review by the FDA Awards Board.
  3. The concerns of the FDA Awards Board were stated in a memorandum dated Xxxxxxxxx, 1994. After receiving a copy of the memorandum on Xxxxxxxxx, 1994, he discussed its contents with xxx xxxx, the xxxx xxxxxx xxxxxxxx. The memorandum contended that the work recognized by the MSM nomination had already been rewarded by receipt of the Distinguished Service Medal (DSM) . Xxxxx was given one copy of the two books which led to the nominations: xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx (for which the DSM was awarded) and xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx (for which the MSM was proposed.
  4. Xxxxx concluded that there had been no "dual recognition," that the two books were separate projects, each worthy of recognition on their own merits, and that there was nothing of a substantive nature in the objections raised in the xxxxxx, 1994 memorandum. Xxxxx was the only person other than the nominator in the entire awards process and subsequent appeals to show enough interest to personally examine the two books in question. She prepared a memorandum to this effect to the FDA Awards Board over the signature of xxxxxxxxx, xxxx, who had earlier signed off on the approval of the MSM nomination by the XXXXX Awards Board. The memorandum was personally endorsed in the presence of two witnesses. Xxxxxxx said on Xxxxxxx x, 1995 that she never saw the memorandum.
  5. On Xxxxxxx x, 1995,xxxxxxxxxxxx said that he personally blocked processing of the MSM nomination and that he did so because he considered me to have been guilty of "ethical misconduct" making me unworthy to receive such a high honor. Although Xxxxxxx declined to put his charges in writing and submit them through proper channels, his decision regarding the MSM nomination was vigorously defended by everyone to whom an appeal was made as well as some who supported him. 
  6. It is desirable that the Board obtain from appropriate PHS officials written explanations of: (a) why procedures set forth in the "Instructions" were not followed by the FDA Awards Board, (b) why unsubstantiated and irrelevant arguments in the memorandum of Xxxxxxxxx, 1994 were allowed to stand, and (c) why no rebuttal was given to the statement by xxxxxxxxxxx (who nominated him for the DSM) on Xxxxxxx xx, 1995. Xxxxxxxxxxxx said: "I find it incredulous that anyone can retroactively say that this award (the DSM) was presented as a "career wrap" when the nomination clearly states that this award was for "a single prodigious achievement."
  7. It is also desirable that the Board obtain from appropriate PHS officials written explanations of: (a) why no action was taken against Xxxxxxx for making unfounded accusations against him and for improperly interfering with the awards nomination process as set forth in the "Instructions," (b) why no action was taken against xxxxxxxx for providing him with a fraudulent version of the document requested under the Freedom of Information Act, and (c) why all of the officials in the highest levels of PHS and FDA to whom this matter was brought went to such great lengths to support the highly dubious actions of Xxxxxxx. This brought no credit to PHS while at the same time going to equally great lengths to deny to him recognition for work that for many years to come will bring honor and respect to FDA and to PHS.

III. Summary of Division of Commissioned Personnel's Arguments and Documentation:

DCP argued that:

  1. Xxxxxx failed to provide evidence that a material error or injustice exists in his record. He seeks the MSM covering the same time-frame during which he received the DSM, the highest PHS Commissioned Corps award granted to officers. The FDA correctly found that this was contrary to policy and denied the request.
  2. Section H.l, INSTRUCTION 1, Subchapter CC27.1 of the Commissioned Corps Personnel Manual states: ". . . [A] previous award may serve as a part of a more senior subsequent award based upon significantly greater achievement over a longer period of service. Since Xxxxxx received the highest PHS award available to commissioned officers, he is not eligible for a junior level award covering the same time-frame.

IV. Board Action on Xxxxxx's Appeal:

Date of Board Meetinq: xxxxxx, 1998

Members of the Board:

Board Staff:

Norman E. Prince,
Staff Director
Program Support Center Executive Director Board for Correction of

Joseph H. Autry, M. D.
Chairperson of the Board and Acting Deputy Director
Center for Substance Abuse Prevention, SAMHSA

PHS Commissioned Corps Records


Thomas E. White, Ph. D.
Human Resources Service Executive Secretary Board for Correction of PHS Commissioned Corps Records


Findinqs, Conclusions and Recommendation:


  1. The period covered by the DSM was from 1976 to 1991.
  2. The period covered by the proposed MSM also was from 1976 to 1991.
  3. Commissioned corps policy did not allow an officer to receive more than one individual honor award during a given award cycle and it did not allow an officer to be recognized twice for the same activities (except for a rare occasion where he/she was being put in for a higher award showing continued exceptional work in the officer's area of expertise--a career wrap) .
  4. The officer did not have an absolute right to the MSM award. Granting the award was discretionary subject to the next higher approval level, the Commissioned Corps Awards Board.


The record did not convince the Board members that Xxxxxx sustained an injury or an injustice from not receiving the MSM award that justified correcting his record or that compelled them to take action beyond that by FDA. The award was discretionary on the part of PHS management. In awarding him the DSM, they gave him the highest recognition an officer could receive.

Recommendation and Correction to the Record:

The Board members found no basis for granting the relief Xxxxxx requested. They recommended that his appeal be denied.

We certify that this recommendation reflects the views and actions taken by the Board members on Xxxxxx's appeal and that they have concurred in the recommendation.

We certify, further, that the Case Record, shown as an Attachment, contains all of the documentation received on Xxxxxx's appeal; and in addition to applicable statutes, regulations and policies, it was considered by the Board members in arriving at the recommendation.

Finally, we certify that a quorum was present on xxxxx, 1998 when the Board members considered Xxxxxx's appeal.

If you approve, please sign below.

Reviewed and Approved:

I hereby (x) approve ( ) disapprove the recommendation of the Board members on the appeal of Xxxxxx received and considered in accordance with Section 221a(a) (12) of the Public Health Service Act (P.L. 96-76 as amended) and 42 U.S.C. 213a(a) (12), extending to the commissioned corps the provisions of 10 U.S.C. 1552. This recommendation requires no correction to his record.

Anyone wishing to obtain an un-redacted copy of any of the decisions should submit a request for the un-redacted decision under the federal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Such requests should be directed to the PHS FOIA Office, Parklawn Building, Room 17 A-46, 5600 Fishers Lane, Rockville, MD 20857; telephone 301-443-5252; fax 301-443-0925.