Procurement of Top-Grade Professional Personnel
Although the number involved is quite small, the Army Medical Service has experienced difficulty in procuring and retaining capable medical scientists to fill positions in several important fields of its research and development program. At the beginning of fiscal year 1958 there were seven such positions. Six had been made available under the provisions of Public Law 313, 80th Congress, approved 21 July 1947, and one supergrade (GS-16) under the Classification Act of 1949.
Recent scientific developments have exerted considerable influence on research and development activities throughout the Defense Department and created additional needs in the Army Medical Service for scientists of exceptionally high caliber. Based on current plans and foreseeable program needs, The Surgeon General requested that the number of Public Law 313 positions be increased to eleven. Inasmuch as the ceiling for positions under Public Law 313 is only 120 for the entire Defense Department, elaborate and time-consuming justifications
must be made to obtain the required spaces. Procuring and holding qualified personnel to fill these positions, even at the higher salary ($12,500 to $19,000), has been difficult because private industry and research organizations pay much more. Both the Administration and various Members of Congress realize that the present ceiling is inadequate and have advocated either raising it or removing the restrictions altogether. Some additional Public Law 313 and supergrade space authorizations are included in the new pay raise bill for classified employees, signed by the President on 20 June 1958. It is hoped that the elaborate procedures for obtaining administrative approval of such spaces and personnel actions within the Department of Defense will be simplified.
Because of the competition with higher salaries paid outside the Government, the Civil Service Commission during the past year authorized increases in the in-hiring rates for personnel in certain professional and scientific categories in which scarcities exist. These include all professional engineer positions (except engineer technicians), architects, physicists, electronic researchers, chemists, metallurgists, technologists (rubber and plastic), landscape architects, and mathematical statisticians. Though the pay raise adjustments that were made were beneficial to this specific group, inequities have arisen as a result of the exclusion of a related group in the same locality or installation. Also, they are restrictive in that an individual initially employed at the top of the grade has no further periodic step increases available to him.
The Army Medical Service employs approximately 100 biological scientists, principally bacteriologists, who work closely with medical officers and others in the research program for whom higher rates of pay were approved. Despite a strong representation for a similar salary adjustment for these biological scientists, it is believed that the request may not be approved since the shortage in this category is not as critical as it was in that of engineers.
A request has also been made for increased minimum pay for industrial hygienists because of the difficulty experienced by the Army Environmental Health Laboratory in filling this type of position either by civilian or military personnel.
A new procedure has been initiated to reduce the volume of paperwork and correspondence required in reappointing annually some 1,600 civilian consultants throughout the United States at both class II and I installations whose terms of appointment expire at the end of
each fiscal year. Instead of submitting a Standard Form 52 to The Surgeon General requesting appointment of each individual consultant, the installations and commands are now required to submit forms only on those individuals not being reappointed.
Civilian employees in the Army Medical Service as of 30 June 1958 numbered 9,748, of whom 681 were in the OTSG and 9,067 in class II installations and activities.
Suggestions and Incentive Awards
Employees submitted suggestions that resulted in an estimated first-year savings to the Army Medical Service of more than $158,000. The number of suggestions received increased from 2,015 in fiscal year 1957 to 2,545, and 755 were adopted, as compared to 578 the previous year. Awards amounting to $7,504 were paid to those whose suggestions were adopted.
The Army Medical Service presented 2,416 recognition awards, including 369 for sustained superior performance, 39 special act or service awards, 126 outstanding performance ratings, and 1,882 written commendations.