Final Recommendations for a Voluntary National Accreditation Program for State and Local Health Departments

The current article presented recommendations from the Steering Committee (SC) of the Exploring Accreditation Project. The project began work in 2004 on the feasibility of establishing a national public health accreditation program. Project workgroups explored governance, standards development, financing and incentives, and evaluation.

Key Findings:

  • The SC recommended a not-for-profit entity administer the national public health accreditation program. The SC proposed considering applicant eligibility to the program broadly and maintaining relationships with organizations operating under current public health performance initiatives.
  • The SC did not specify standards for the national public health accreditation program but delineated 11 domains (e.g., working with communities and enforcement of public health law and policy) in which health departments at various levels would be measured. Standards developed for the program would exist within each of the 11 domains.
  • SC recommendations in the area of financing included finding an array of funders for initial development, covering operation of the program with fees from applicants and agencies along with resources from other funders, and ensuring that fees for accreditation are kept affordable.
  • The SC recommended positive incentives be used in the accreditation program in areas such as quality improvement and recognition of a public health department's work.
  • The SC recommendations also included program evaluation and plans for research by the organization being accredited.