Six of 12 Indian Health Service area directors in 'acting' capacity

Organizational chart for the Indian Health Service. Source: Fiscal Year 2017 Budget Justification

The Indian Health Service faces recruitment and retention challenges, officials said at a hearing on Capitol Hill last week, a situation that extends to the agency's leadership positions.

Six of the 12 area offices are led by directors in an "acting" capacity, according to a budget justification document released on Tuesday. The list includes the Albuquerque, Billings, Great Plains, Navajo, Oklahoma City and Phoenix regions, which collectively serve the overwhelming majority of tribal members.

But the leadership void doesn't stop there. According to the agency's organizational chart, five of the eight senior office directors at the IHS headquarters in Rockville, Maryland, are held by people in "acting" capacities.

The IHS itself is being led by principal deputy director Robert McSwain, a member of the North Fork Rancheria of Mono Indians, rather than a director following the departure of Yvette Roubideaux exactly a year ago. With less than a year left in the administration of President Barack Obama, the situation isn't likely to change until 2017, when his successor comes on board.

The IHS employs more than 15,000 people, including 2,504 nurses, 737 physicians, 462 engineers, 132 sanitarians, 747 pharmacists, and 271 dentists, according to the budget justification.

FY2017 Indian Health Service Budget Documents:
Budget Request | Budget Justification | HHS Budget In Brief

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