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ast Reviewed: October 16, 2008
Last Modified: December 8, 2005
Content Source:
Office of the Chief of Public Health Practice (OCPHP), Public Health Systems Performance Program (PHSPP)

State and Local Public Health Agency Accreditation

Current Initiatives

  • Public Health Accreditation Board – CDC is supporting, in partnership with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the implementation of a voluntary national accreditation system and the development of the new Public Health Accreditation Board (PHAB). A four-year, peer-driven developmental phase is underway, which will include the development of standards and measures for state and local health departments, the assessment process for individual applicants, and the assessment process to determine recognition / approval of existing state-based accreditation programs. After an 18-month beta test of the standards and processes, national accreditation is scheduled to be formally launched in early 2011. For more information, visit http://www.phaboard.org

    The work of PHAB brings to life the recommendations of “Exploring Accreditation” project, co-funded by CDC and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), a 14-month effort to explore the components of a model voluntary national accreditation system. The Association of State and Territorial Health Officials and the National Association of County and City Health Officials served as the co-conveners of a 25-member Steering Committee and its related work groups. The Steering Committee reached a consensus decision in August 2006 that a national voluntary accreditation program for state and local public health departments is both feasible and desirable, and that implementation should proceed. The recommendations are available through both a summary report (http://www.phaboard.org/Documents/finalrec.pdf) and full report (http://www.phaboard.org/Documents/FullReport.pdf).

  • Supporting State and Local Preparations for Accreditation - CDC is supporting ASTHO and NACCHO in their efforts to inform and help to prepare state and local health departments for accreditation. Tools such as the National Public Health Performance Standards assessment instruments and the NACCHO Operational Definition of a Functional Local Health Department are two examples of relevant and valuable preparatory tools for accreditation. See the following websites for more information about resources, tools, current issues being explored, and other relevant information:
    • NACCHO Accreditation and QI webpage - NACCHO offers a clearinghouse of resources to assist local health departments (LHDs) in positioning themselves to become accredited, including a self-assessment tools for accreditation preparation, quality improvement resources and tools, archived issues of the “AccreditNATION e-newsletter, and information about current demonstration site activities in the field. (http://www.naccho.org/topics/infrastructure/
    • ASTHO Accreditation and Performance Standards webpage – ASTHO provides information about accreditation preparation tools, current activities in states, the work of the NPHPSP, and other information on its website for state health departments. (http://www.astho.org/?template=public_health_systems.html)

  • Accreditation Research – CDC, in partnership with the National Network of Public Health Institutes, has funded several research projects to explore key issues in public health agency accreditation. Selected through a competitive review process, the following projects have been supported through two cycles of a NNPHI-managed open request for proposals. Links to findings and final reports will be added as they are made available.
    • North Carolina Institute for Public Health - “Systematic Research on Incentives for Public Health Accreditation”
    • Michigan Public Health Institute - “Examining the Costs of Preparing and Applying for Accreditation: Developing Cost Measures”
    • The National Opinion Research Center, Walsh Center for Rural Analysis – “Challenges and Opportunities for Rural Health Departments Seeking Accreditation”

  • Multi-State Learning Collaborative - The National Network of Public Health Institutes and the Public Health Leadership Society, with funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, have been supporting a Multi-State Learning Collaborative (MLC) since 2005. This parallel effort to the development of a national accreditation program brings together innovative states implementing agency performance and capacity assessment, accreditation programs, and quality improvement initiatives to further current efforts and add to the public health knowledge base. The MLC is now a community of practice consisting of 16 lead states in public health quality improvement. For more information, visit http://www.nnphi.org/mlc
Resources to Learn More
  • Public Health Grand Rounds Satellite Broadcast and Webcast: “Standards, Accreditation, and Improvement – Raising the Bar of Public Health Performance” – in May 2008, a Public Health Grand Rounds broadcast program will provide information about national and state efforts in accreditation and improvement as well as provide some on-the-ground insight into what accreditation can mean for a local health department. To learn more about viewing the program, visit http://publichealthgrandrounds.unc.edu/

  • Journal of Public Health Management and Practice, Accreditation special edition - this special edition is focused on public health accreditation. The issue includes commentaries and articles about the Exploring Accreditation initiative, CDC’s perspective on voluntary accreditation, the role of the NPHPSP, the Operational Definition, current state-based efforts and more. (Journal of Public Health Management and Practice, Accreditation special edition)

  • National Public Health Performance Standards Program - The National Public Health Performance Standards Program (NPHPSP) is a partnership effort to improve the practice of public health and the performance of public health systems. The NPHPSP state and local public health system and governance assessment instruments, given their use of optimal level standards and the focus on the public health system, are not suited to serve as the standards for agency accreditation. However, the NPHPSP has been identified by the Exploring Accreditation project as an important building block for the development of standards for the national agency accreditation program. Also, the program can offer much in preparing the state and local levels for participation in a future voluntary accreditation system. For more information about the NPHPSP including links to the instruments and other resources, visit http://www.cdc.gov/od/ocphp/nphpsp/

  • Other accreditation resources and publications – visit http://www.phaboard.org/pubsreports.html for other selected publications and reports related to public health agency accreditation.
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