The movement to establish a national voluntary accreditation program for public health agencies has gained momentum in recent years parallel to an increase in the number and complexity of demands on public health departments. In this special issue of the Journal of Public Health Management & Practice, authors comment on the potential of such a program as well as present issues related to its implementation, for instance the legal underpinnings of accreditation. The issue highlights support for national voluntary accreditation from the Exploring Accreditation Steering Committee of 25 public health experts, as well as from states in a national peer group representing various accreditation and assessment models (the Multi-State Learning Collaborative).
Anticipated benefits reported in this issue include both setting a benchmark for consistent standards for public health services and creating a platform for quality improvement. Less obvious benefits discussed are: improved staff morale, collaboration and coordination built on better awareness of other accredited agencies' activities, and more efficient exchange of information. Moreover, the issue highlights the possibility that a national voluntary accreditation program for public health agencies can form the basis of regional arrangements useful for sharing resources, increasing efficiency, and broadening effectiveness.
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