The National CPM Program: Expansion of a Model Certification Program in Texas and across the United States Holds Promise for Public-Sector Work-Forces around the World

By Balanoff, Howard R.; Balanoff, Marilyn K. | The Public Manager, Fall 2008 | Go to article overview

The National CPM Program: Expansion of a Model Certification Program in Texas and across the United States Holds Promise for Public-Sector Work-Forces around the World


Balanoff, Howard R., Balanoff, Marilyn K., The Public Manager


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The Certified Public Manager (CPM) program in the United States is a nationally recognized professional development program. It is designed for federal, state, and local government managers, but the skills, knowledge, and competencies taught are also 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 federal, state, and local government employees. It is a comprehensive course of study through which public managers can acquire and apply the best practices and theory to their management behaviors and strategies using prescribed sets of professional standards, often referred to as "competencies."

The curriculum uses theory as the foundation and applies it to practical problems facing the participants, their agencies and departments, and the citizens. Those who complete the program earn a nationally trademarked designation of CPM.

The CPM program has been operating in the United States since 1979. It began in Georgia as a certification program for public managers in Georgia's state government. Initially, it spread throughout the southern states (Louisiana, Mississippi, and Arkansas) and eventually to all regions in the country.

By 1995, the CPM program had expanded throughout the United States, encompassing federal, local, and nonprofit and non-governmental employees. By 1996, the Graduate School, 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 federal, state, and nonprofit employees. By 2008, thirty-seven CPM programs, including Washington, DC, and the federal government (through the Graduate School, USDA), were operating in the United States. Some of the newest CPM programs are in California and New York.

National CPM Consortium

CPM programs in the United States operate under the umbrella of the National CPM Consortium. Formed in 1979, this consortium establishes and preserves standards for the CPM designation. It monitors and accredits all CPM programs in the United States. Only accredited programs are authorized to award the CPM designation, which is trademarked by the consortium and its member programs. Accredited CPM programs are reviewed and reaccredited every five years for continued compliance with national CPM standards.

The purpose of the consortium is to promote the CPM programs. It provides and monitors accreditation standards, facilitates program development, encourages innovation, and develops linkages with programs and organizations with similar values and interests.

The National CPM Consortium Council comprises seventy-four members. Each CPM program is authorized to send up to two representatives to the council. One of the representatives is the state CPM program director, who designates the states second member. The consortium is a "loose" confederation of various CPM programs, which allows for variation and creativity in the development of individual programs. The one thing that all programs have in common is that they all conform to the general standards and competencies set by the National CPM Consortium.

The consortium authorizes one organization per state to deliver the accredited CPM program. CPM applicants go through a series of steps to reach full membership in the consortium. The first step for a new member is associate membership, which indicates that the applicant is willing to develop a new CPM program. Active membership is the next step, which occurs when a new member begins to offer a CPM program. The final step is full membership, which occurs after the new member successfully passes a peer review evaluation and is initially accredited by the consortium.

Additional information on the consortium, including officers, standards, and accreditation proceedings, is available on the CPM Web site at www. …

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