Academic journal article Public Administration Quarterly

THE HISTORY OF THE CERTIFIED PUBLIC MANAGER: How the Application of Management Principles Contributed to Success and Sustained Growth over a Three Decade Organizational Journey

Academic journal article Public Administration Quarterly

THE HISTORY OF THE CERTIFIED PUBLIC MANAGER: How the Application of Management Principles Contributed to Success and Sustained Growth over a Three Decade Organizational Journey

Article excerpt


This history describes the birth of the Certified Public Manager concept, the establishment of the Society concept in Georgia, and the transfer of the model to other states. It also details the formation of the National Certified Public Manager Consortium as the higher education instructional and program standards organization, and the formation of the American Academy of Certified Public Managers as the national association of State CPM Societies and their professional members. In addition, Mr. Henning identifies major management concerns as the organizational process evolved and the strategies that were successful in their resolution.


This is the story of an organizational journey. While, here and there, it focuses on some individuals and organizational entities, it also provides the opportunity to observe some of the principles of management in practice and demonstrates their validity.

While we often think of organizations as inherently stable, Chester Barnard, the former President of the New Jersey Bell Telephone Company, hypothesized the opposite. In his classic management book The Functions of the Executive, he suggested that successful cooperation of people in organizations is abnormal and that failure of organizations is highly likely. He further suggested that while organizations of all sorts are everywhere, what is observed are "the successful survivors among innumerable failures." (Barnard 1948)

That the Certified Public Manager Organization, from its genesis to the present, has not only survived but has expanded and developed for nearly three decades, is a substantial achievement. - Kenneth K. Henning


In the early-1970s, the Service Division of the University of Georgia recognized that the state's government was beginning to be significantly affected by accelerating change increasingly characteristic of the American society. Along with the rest of the country, the state was experiencing the effects of rapid population growth, an almost explosive growth in information and knowledge, significant new social legislation and rapidly altering social values.

During this time, the Institute of Government and the Center for Continuing Education of the University of Georgia, and the Georgia Merit System, independently, and in some instances, collaboratively, had offered management training to agencies of Georgia state government (Henning and Wilson 1979).

In early 1974, representatives of the University of Georgia's Institute of Government and Center for Continuing Education and the Georgia State Merit System of Personnel Administration initiated a series of informal meetings to explore ways of broadening and focusing their individual and collaborative efforts to assist Georgia state government in meeting the challenges of a rapidly changing state and society (Henning and Wilson 1979).

Specifically, Ken Henning, Senior Management Development Associate in Governmental Training at the University of Georgia, and Douglas Wilson, Assistant Division Director on the Georgia State Merit System's Training Division, began to meet informally to brainstorm ways to enhance the educational efforts of both organizations for the benefit of Georgia State government. It was quickly agreed that management in state government needed to become more professional. During these meetings, the two reviewed the broad outline of the impact of rapid change on the public service suggested by Chapman and Cleaveland in their 1973 study conducted for the National Academy of Pubic Administration (Chapman and Cleaveland 1973). This article was an indication of support for the project. The authors anticipated that public managers would:

* Be required to develop and implement new standards for effectiveness, efficiency, and accountability;

* Be required to make more decisions in open meetings and, therefore, be subjected to broader and more varied participation as well as more substantial and diverse external evaluation and intervention;

* See more actions taken by their agencies and therefore be subjected to legal challenges and judicial review and intervention;

* Need to implement more widespread and effective collaboration between and among agencies at all levels of government and between the public and private sectors (Henning and Wilson 1979). …

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