Academic journal article The Public Manager

Certified Public Managers Program: A History; Modeled after the Certified Public Accountant Experience, Which Features State Societies and a National Organization, the Certified Public Manager Certification Is Available Today in 25 States and the District of Columbia

Academic journal article The Public Manager

Certified Public Managers Program: A History; Modeled after the Certified Public Accountant Experience, Which Features State Societies and a National Organization, the Certified Public Manager Certification Is Available Today in 25 States and the District of Columbia

Article excerpt

Imbued with the philosophy that well-trained public managers provide better service to the public, a small band of Georgia educators and state officials in the mid-1970s formed the genesis of what is now the Certified Public Managers (CPM) program.

Twenty-five years later, these programs continue to offer professional development opportunities for many public administrators and managers throughout the United States. Today, they are available in 25 states and the District of Columbia. The primary participants are federal, state, and local public employees, but, in some states, representatives of nonprofit and tribal organizations may be eligible to enroll in CPM programs customized to meet their needs. At the state level, the appropriate departments of universities and the training divisions of governments manage the programs, which must have gubernatorial endorsement. The latter also helps to ensure that concomitant state resources are available. The universities, through their public administration departments, provide a measure of continuity so that the CPM programs are unaffected by the whims of political change.

How are CPM programs structured, and why are they so popular? The programs are designed to fulfill the need for public manager training in a variety of ways. Public managers receive certification after they have successfully completed an extensive program involving 300 hours of classroom training and workshops, examinations, and demonstration of managerial abilities through completion of an individual project. Usually, training takes place over 14 to 16 months. The curriculum must address four areas of learning: general administration and organization, technical and quantitative methods, analytical decision making, and human relations skills. Students in certain CPM programs can also transfer credit hours toward a traditional degree program. Certain institutions provide courses online.

Certified Public Accountant Model

How did CPM come about? Georgia, like many states, experienced tremendous growth in programs and services in the 1970s. The state government needed to staff more and more positions, particularly at the lower levels, with individuals who had extensive training and possessed a degree of professionalism. These employees often had neither the time nor the resources to complete an advanced academic degree, which was also not really necessary to perform their particular jobs or advance to higher ones. In addition, it had become increasingly obvious that the training programs offered by the university system and the Georgia State Merit System over-lapped.

At the University of Georgia's Institute of Government, Kenneth Henning had extensive background as an instructor and curriculum designer in public administration programs. He and Douglas Wilson, from the Georgia State Merit System, met to explore ways to integrate and upgrade management training. Henning felt that the certified public accountant model provided features, such as state societies and a national organization, that could be of benefit to a CPM certification.

Henning, Wilson, and their cohorts desired a program that would achieve national recognition and gain a degree of professionalism for state officials. Armed with these goals, they developed the following guidelines:

* A CPM program should be specifically developed for state government and recognized by the state awarding the certification.

* It must be professional in focus, job related, with a high level of academic preparation.

* The program should require competency examinations and a continuous relationship with its graduates.

* And finally, a board with official and broad representation must oversee the program.

Going Nationwide

In the lean fiscal year of 1976-77, Georgia Governor George Busbee recommended to the state legislature only one new program for funding: the CPM program. …

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