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The ASPA, CPM Connection: Delivering Quality Professional Development Programs and Educational Services to the Public Sector

Howard R. Balanoff

The purpose of this article is to identify and discuss the history, structure and function of the National Certified Public Manager (CPM) Consortium. Over a period of 30 + years, the National CPM Consortium has provided quality professional development and educational programs to the public and not for profit sectors. Recently the National CPM Consortium and ASPA are recognizing the benefit of collaboration and cooperation between these two organizations.

An additional goal of this article is to illustrate how ASPA and CPM collaboration and cooperation occurring in Texas is quickly becoming the “cooperative” model for ASPA and CPM Programs across the United States.

The National Certified Public Manager (CPM) Program
The National Certified Public Manager (CPM) Program has been operating in the United States for about 30 years. The Program began in 1979 in Georgia as a certification program for public managers in Georgia’s State Government. Initially it spread throughout the Southern States (i.e. Louisiana, Mississippi, and Arkansas) and eventually to all regions in the United States.

By 1995, the CPM Program had not only expanded throughout the United States (i.e. New Jersey, Texas, Arizona, Washington, DC, etc.) but it also encompassed local, federal and not-for profit (NGO) employees. By 1996, the Graduate School of the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) was delivering a CPM Program to federal employees and the Texas CPM Program was training significant numbers of local government employees, in addition to serving state, federal and not-for-profit employees. By 2009 about forty (40) Programs including the City of Washington, DC, and the U.S. Federal Government (though the Graduate School) were all operating CPM Programs. The CPM Program had also spread to California, Massachusetts and New York.

The Certified Public Manager (CPM) Program is a nationally recognized professional development program for supervisors and managers in both government and the nonprofit sector.

The CPM program is designed for federal, state and local government managers. The skills, knowledge and competencies taught through the CPM Program also are relevant for managers and supervisors in the nonprofit sector.

The CPM Program’s primary goal is to improve the performance of public sector managers and the organizational performance of state, local and federal government employees. It is a comprehensive course of study by which public managers can acquire and apply the best practices and theory to their management behaviors and strategies using prescribed sets of professional standards which are often referred to as “competencies.” The curriculum uses theory as the foundation and applies it to practical problems facing the participant, their agency/department, and the citizens. Those who complete the program earn a national trademarked designation of “Certified Public Manager.”

The National CPM Consortium
Certified Public Manager Programs in the United Sates operate under the umbrella of the National Certified Public Manager (CPM) Consortium. The National Certified Public Manager® Consortium establishes and preserves standards for the Certified Public Manager® designation. The National Certified Public Manager Consortium also monitors and accredits all CPM programs in the US. Only accredited CPM Programs are authorized to award the CPM designation which is trademarked to the National CPM Consortium and its member Programs. Accredited CPM Programs are reviewed and re-accredited every 5 years for continued compliance with national CPM standards.

Linking ASPA TO CPM is ASPA’s Section on Certified Public Management
In 2007, ASPA created the Section on Certified Public Management (SCPM) www.aspaonline.org/scpm/ Currently, 500 ASPA members (many are alumni, faculty and students of CPM Programs around the country) are enrolled in ASPA’s CPM Section.

ASPA’s CPM Section is open to CPM alumni, students faculty etc. and to all ASPA members (whether or not they are affiliated with CPM) that are interested in the concepts, principles and practices of certified public management. The goal of the ASPA Section is to promote the professional development and training of public and not for profit managers in the ethical values and technical competencies associated with outstanding public service.

ASPA’s Section for Certified Public Management has adopted as its journal the practitioner oriented, The Public Manager www.thepublicmanager.org . The Public Manager along with ASPA’s CPM Section and the CPM Program are engaged in a number of cooperative projects and programs at ASPA and CPM regional and national conferences.

A major goal of the CPM Section is to create and encourage professional development and continuing education programs through the activities of the ASPA CPM Section. The CPM Section also encourages cooperation and linkages with and between local ASPA Chapters and CPM Programs throughout the country. Another goal of the CPM Section is to promote the growth and establishment of CPM Programs in states that are not currently members of the CPM Consortium.

The Texas Model of ASPA and CPM Cooperation
The linkages between ASPA and CPM are highly developed in the State of Texas. CPM participants in Texas are provided with ASPA membership while in the CPM Program. ASPA materials and publications are then used as educational materials in the classroom. In addition, CPM participants are encouraged to participate in local ASPA Chapter activities such as “Public Service Recognition Week”. CPM students and alumni are also encouraged to join ASPA Sections that may be of professional interest to them.

Many ASPA members and CPM participants and alumni attend the annual Texas ASPA and CPM Conference and William P. Hobby Distinguished Lecture which normally brings together about 200 CPM students, alumni and ASPA members. ASPA Chapters from all across Texas participate in preparing and hosting this conference by sponsoring panels and presentations of their members. The next scheduled Texas ASPA/CPM Conference is February 12, 2010. For additional conference information go to www.txstate.edu/cpm.

Another example of collaboration and cooperation between ASPA and CPM that started with the June 15, 2009, Texas CPM Graduation was the delivery to the 54 Texas CPM Graduates of a certificate of completion which was signed by ASPA’s Executive Director, the Chair of ASPA’s CPM Section and the Director of the Texas CPM Program. This certificate which was in addition to their regular CPM Graduation Certificate, confirmed their graduation from the Texas CPM Program.

On December 7, 2009, 70 Texas CPM students once again received their CPM graduation diplomas and also received ASPA CPM Certificates which confirmed their graduation from the CPM Program. In Nebraska on December 4th graduates of the Nebraska CPM Program also received ASPA Certificates confirming their graduation from the State of Nebraska CPM Program.

A benefit of this 2nd (ASPA) certificate meant that ASPA would register and record the CPM Certification designations (State and Date of Graduation) on file in an ASPA database. This is a major benefit for persons that are alumni of CPM Programs that would elect to continue their membership in ASPA and ASPA’s CPM Section. It would allow employers to verify that persons have completed the Certified Public Manager (CPM) Program.

Next Steps for ASPA and CPM
In an effort to promote higher quality professional development and educational services for the public sector, CPM Programs around the country are being encouraged to follow the Texas model and work to more closely tie their state and local CPM Programs into a closer relationship with ASPA. In addition ASPA’s executive leadership is committed to exploring ways in which CPM students, alumni and faculty can be added as ASPA members to help build and strengthen ASPA Chapters and Sections. Both organizations realize that closer ties between ASPA and CPM definitely promote a win–win environment for ASPA, CPM and the public service.

ASPA’s Task Force for Professional Development and Training is currently exploring ways in which CPM and ASPA can cooperate in the future. On Saturday April 10, 2009, ASPA’s Section for Certified Public Management will hold a strategic planning session at the ASPA Annual Conference in San José to promote additional cooperation between ASPA and CPM.

For additional information about CPM go to the National CPM Consortium website which is www.cpmconsortium.com and the Texas CPM website which is www.txstate.edu/cpm You can also contact Howard Balanoff at [email protected]

ASPA member Howard Balanoff is professor and chair of The William P. Hobby Center for Public Service at Texas State University. Email: [email protected]

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