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The NIGP Pathways program has proven that there are better, multiple ways to deliver learning and competency development to professionals and to recognize the achievement of skills and competencies of those professionals through credentialing options.
Members have told us they want learning that is:
Members also want pathways that guide them on their current career path and prepare them for their aspirational career goals.
Members have also told us that they want similar choices in the way their achievements are publicly recognized through a variety of credentialing options. They want:
We believe that offering a choice of new credentials… digital badges, certificates, designations, specializations… in addition to professional certification provides maximum flexibility and access to professionals who are hungry for recognition.
We have also spoken with CPOs, CFOs, senior administrators, and elected officials. Here’s what we heard:
By listening to the critical voices of our members and their bosses, we have constructed new, innovative ways to deliver learning and new, publicly-facing ways to recognize those professionals who have demonstrated their knowledge, skill, and competency. Members and public agency managers have spoken. They want:
We heard you!
NIGP’s educational programs continue to grow. Between 2016 and 2018, classroom education participation grew by 9%, online learning grew by 31%, and overall student counts grew by 7%. NIGP’s Webinar program participation has grown 46% year-over-year and the Institute’s newest virtual conference offering – VCon – attracted over 1,500 attendees for the first three events.
Conversely, professional certification among NIGP members is down. In 2016, 24% of the NIGP membership reported that they had a CPPO and/or CPPB designation. By 2019, that number fell to 21% - even though the percentage of members with an associates or bachelors + degree increased slightly. This means that, despite NIGP’s dedicated sponsorship of the UPPCC program since the late 1970s, 79% of NIGP’s membership is either ineligible to earn the CPPO or CPPB designation (or) hasn’t found value in achieving it. The fact that 9 out of 10 UPPCC certificants is a NIGP member is equally concerning.
Further, the number of new applicants seeking professional certification has declined since the peak in 2014 when the UPPCC changed its eligibility requirements and required degrees. Overall new applications have declined 42% since the 2014 peak; a 44% decline in new CPPB applicants and a 36% decline in new CPPO applicants. Over the last three-year period, the UPPCC has averaged 265 new CPPB applications and 115 new CPPO applications each year.
And a recent survey of public procurement practitioners revealed that even those who are currently certified are interested in another credential (51%). This percentage intensifies to 74% of those professionals under 40 years of age.
We want public procurement professionals to re-imagine learning. NIGP’s traditional model of classroom training served us well in the past. And, in fact, adults maximize their learning experience when there are opportunities to network with colleagues and employ group discussions and activities. NIGP is not abandoning the classroom; rather, we are augmenting it with more choices to learn online… at your own pace and in your own space… literally anywhere, anytime, anyway. These options provide greater access to professionals who cannot be out of the office and/or who cannot travel and/or those who need flexibility to ensure a positive life/work balance.
Re-imagining learning also means aligning learning to the specific skills and competencies you need today. There is no need to take a comprehensive list of training courses … just take exactly what you need based on the roles you serve in the public sector. This is laser-focused learning.
Thirty-three competency modules are contained within the Public Procurement Competency Framework (PPCF). The framework draws from a significant, well-respected research study conducted by Public Spend Forum (PSF) on behalf of a grant provided by the Volcker Alliance. In partnership with PSF, NIGP expanded the framework to incorporate both the technical knowledge required of public procurement professionals and the soft skills and ancillary competencies needed to be successful in the workplace.
The framework is organized with seven major focus areas: strategy, policy and legislation; planning and analysis; sourcing and solicitation, contract administration, leadership, and business principles.
Multiple competency modules fall within each of these seven focus areas. For example, the focus area on strategy contains three competency modules: mission and benefit, transformation and vision creation, and social responsibility alignment. Each module stands alone and represents knowledge and skill development for a specific competency.
Each competency module will have a collection of assessment-based learning activities focused on building the necessary knowledge, skills, and abilities. These activities could include reading assignments, case studies, videos, interactions between students and the instructor, experiential activities, etc. These combined activities constitute a learning module.
The modularity of the Framework provides maximum flexibility for both the entry-level professional and the seasoned professional. It also maximizes flexibility for the Chief Procurement Officer who wishes to design a career development path for her/his employees. It’s a menu of choices. It is important to note that some of the individual competency badges have multiple levels such as introductory and advanced. Envision an introduction to market analysis competency as well as advanced market analysis competency … two distinct courses for two levels of learning for two career paths and two competency badges. A key benefit of Pathways is that there are options available for everyone based on where they are in their career and the roles they currently perform (or aspire to perform). The flexibility of the independent competency modules allows each learner to establish her/his own pathway; perhaps in consultation with the procurement director. Maximum flexibility. Maximum choice. Take only those modules that are relevant to the work you do today. And take more modules as your career progresses.
The flexible and customized design of the learning system requires NIGP to repurpose our current content into smaller chunks of modular learning. NIGP has already begun this journey – in partnership with 35 highly-respected, senior-level procurement practitioners who are our Subject Matter Experts.
The NIGP staff has mapped existing content to the Framework. This exercise aligns (“maps”) all existing content to one of the competencies. This exercise also determines where there are gaps in the existing content that need to be built either internally or through third-party partnerships.
Eleven of the 33 modules made their debut in November 2019. The entire Framework will be available online and for a classroom event by June 2020.
Initially these modules will be bundled into related themes and offered as an in-person class. However, as each module is completed, the module will be individually available as an online offering. All 33 competency modules will be available as a learning event by June 2020. Some of the modules will have sufficient content to stand alone as a classroom offering. However, in many cases, we will bundle related content into two and three-day classroom experiences – dependent on demand from our network of chapter affiliates and public agencies who have training contracts with us.
We want you to re-imagine credentialing as a way of receiving public recognition for the accomplishment of knowledge, skills and competencies earned in the NIGP learning system. Learning and credentialing are intertwined – not separate. The purpose of learning is to enhance the performance of professionals in the workplace through acquired competencies. And the purpose of credentialing is to publicly recognize those professionals who have mastered those acquired competencies.
Recognizing that one size does not fit all, NIGP is building a credentialing system that provides three options for public recognition: certificates, specializations, and certifications. Each option will be explained in a separate section within this FAQ.
The reality is that not all professionals are eligible for professional certification – yet they desire to be publicly recognized for their achievements at various stages of their career. The new NIGP credentialing system will offer choices … a range of certificates and specializations as well as a new NIGP certification program expressly for certified procurement professionals: NIGP-CPP.
Flexibility, accessibility, and choice are the tenets of both the new learning system and the new credentialing system.
In June 2018, the NIGP Governing Board determined that the profession needed a variety of credentialing tools to address the unique needs of the profession.
In July 2018, NIGP engaged a highly-respected consulting firm with impeccable credentials for association-based credentialing systems. This firm has guided the NIGP Board and the NIGP Executive team on our project plan; evoking best practices in credentialing consistent with standards of compliance needed to be accredited.
In August 2018, the Board established its guiding principles for the system. During the 2018 Forum in Nashville, the Institute announced that Learning Re-imagined would become available; offering flexible learning as well as badges and certificates.
In September 2018, the NIGP Board formed a highly diversified Credentialing Design Team (CDT). The CDT was comprised of: academic professors, Canadian public officials, state and local CPOs, collegial association executives, current and former Board leaders and presidents, young professionals, mid-level professionals, long standing CPPO and CPPB certificants, and NIGP Instructors.
The charge to the CDT was to assist the Board in two areas: (1) defining the inherent challenges of the existing learning and credentialing programs; and (2) recommending an array of options to consider when building a holistic learning and credentialing program. As the CDT began their work, they identified three major challenges to be addressed in a new credentialing system:
In mid-November 2018, the CDT met in-person to finalize their recommendations.
In late November 2018, the NIGP finalized the recommendations and finalized the credentialing system components.
In February 2019, the NIGP team presented a comprehensive Strategic and Business Plan for the Credentialing System. The NIGP Board adopted the Plan in March 2019.
In April 2019, NIGP hired its Director of Certification who has decades of experience developing non-profit-based certification programs.
In May 2019, NIGP announced its plans for a comprehensive credentialing system.
In June 2019, the NIGP Certification Commission was appointed to set policies and practices related to the NIGP-CPP credential.
In August 2019, NIGP hosted a Pathways Pavilion at the NIGP Forum in Austin to inform members on the structure and benefits of the Pathways program. The first NIGP certificates were issued to individuals who successfully completed the Strategy and Policy Core Certificate program or the Procurement Technology specialization.
In September, the Practice Analysis study was concluded; providing statistical research that informed the NIGP Certification Commission on policies such as eligibility and exam content.
In December 2019, the Commission announced sweeping policies on NIGP-CPP eligibility requirements, exam content and test specifications, test format and delivery, and re-certification provisions.
Absolutely. The purpose, products, governance structure, policies and practices … literally everything contained in the credentialing system … has been reviewed by our credentialing consulting firm.
This is ultimately a decision on the NIGP Governing Board based on cost and perceived value. However, it is logical for us to seek third party accreditation of our credentialing system; just as we have sought, and earned, third party accreditation of our educational program from the International Association for Continuing Education and Training (IACET).
Organizations can seek accreditation of their credentialing systems one year after the program is operational. It should be noted that NIGP’s credentialing system has been designed to meet the compliance requirements of ANSI’s ISO 17024 standard. The principal of NIGP’s credentialing consulting firm is an assessor for ANSI's Personnel Certification Accreditation Program. We hired the best to bring you the best!
The introduction of the NIGP-CPP program does not alter NIGP’s long-standing relationship with the Universal Public Procurement Certification Council; and this has been communicated to the UPPCC and our colleagues at NASPO.
NIGP will continue to appoint three professionals to the UPPCC Board of Directors. NIGP will continue to offer foundational content that aligns with the UPPCC Body of Knowledge. It will continue to develop and offer new content that guides the professional in life-long learning which qualifies for re- certification points, and NIGP will continue to offer a wide range of certification preparation tools – from study guides to flashcards – from self-assessments to the prep courses available online and in-person.
The UPPCC certifications provide an optional pathway to attain the NIGP-CPP; and the NIGP-CPP offers public procurement practitioners choice – not a mandate - in the marketplace.
It is our hope that the UPPCC will continue to support the certification and re-certification process for current CPPOs and CPPBs in the foreseeable future. Professionals who endured the rigors of the CPPO and/or CPPB examination deserve to continue to maintain the credential with pride and honor. NIGP’s intent is to offer choices for all professionals; including those with a current professional certification. This is what our members have requested. It is important to understand, however, that the UPPCC holds the intellectual property rights to the CPPO and CPPB brands as an asset; so, while NIGP is hopeful that the Council will continue to certify and recertify CPPOs and CPPBs, this is a decision to be made by the UPPCC Board of Directors.
There are five essential reasons:
The first four modules were bundled into a 2-day course on Strategy and Policy which was first offered as a pre-Forum seminar at the 2019 Austin Forum and is available through Chapter Hosted education or directly to public agencies through a contract training arrangement. Participants taking this course and successfully passing the assessment earned the first Strategy and Policy Certification. (To learn more, see the specific section on Certificates).
The next series of seven modules were bundled into two additional certificate programs: Planning and Analysis and Sourcing and Contracting. Both certificates were released Fall 2019 and are available through Chapter Hosted Education or directly to public agencies through a contract training arrangement.
The fourth certificate on Warehousing will be available in January 2020.
All remaining modules will be available by June 2020.
The Institute also introduced its first Specialization - a three-day course on Technology Procurements – as a pre-Forum seminar at the 2019 Austin Forum.
The launch of the NIGP-CPP has a longer lead time (available late Spring 2020) for a few reasons:
NIGP will continue to offer the in-person two and three-day foundational and specialty courses through the network of NIGP Chapter Affiliates and Contract Training in the foreseeable future. As the market continues to request these courses, NIGP will happily continue to deliver them.
As mentioned in this FAQ, NIGP will also bundle a series of competency modules into one, two or three-day courses for those who enjoy the option of an in-person/classroom experience. Some of these bundled competencies will result in a Certificate; adding to the value of the learning experience. The same scenario applies to the NIGP Specialization offerings. The bottom line: NIGP Chapters will continue to reap the benefit of hosting an expanded number of in-person learning programs while continuing to earn rebates.
We are using the Pathways Microsite to capture questions or comments – so please use that function to post your thoughts.
Communications will be especially important in the next 6-8 months as decisions are made by the NIGP Certification Commission. We will broadcast all updates as they come available so keep monitoring your NIGP links including NForm and our social media feeds.
If you wish to speak to someone at the NIGP offices, here are four references:
Strategy, policy and governance
Rick Grimm, Chief Executive Officer
Learning and content
Todd Slater, Chief Content Officer
Certification and NIGP-CPP
Diane Daly, Director of Certification
Marketing and Communications
Fareshta Touhami, Director of Marketing
Specializations are one of three distinct offerings within the NIGP Credentialing System
In many professions, a professional initially learns and practices the foundational aspects of the profession and then specializes in a specific discipline and skill through advanced learning and education to practice within a particular purpose or area of knowledge. As an example, in medicine, physicians specialize in areas such as sports medicine or oncology.
Within the public procurement network, specializations are specific learning programs that are focused on emerging competencies that are valuable to public procurement professionals based on the roles they play within the public entity. Specializations stand apart from the certificate and designation program and are not designed to be stacked or combined with any other learning program.
Specializations address the need for life-long learning by offering advanced knowledge and skill development within a specific procurement specialty. Since these are optional learning programs that target a very specific procurement function, the learning is laser-focused and concentrated.
Specializations are a value to seasoned professionals who are seeking specialized learning to either enhance their overall learning portfolio or prepare them for new roles within the public entity. Specializations are also a value to CPOs and public service managers who seek advanced level competencies to specific employee groups.
Like the other NIGP credentialing system offerings, specializations include a public recognition that validates advanced knowledge and competency and distinguishes the professional as having expertise in a specific procurement function.
Our NIGP Content Team continually assesses member needs based on research analysis and member feedback.
A key function of an educational program is to anticipate what knowledge, skills and competencies are needed today and in the near future and to build learning events that prepare public procurement professionals to successfully perform those competencies. Those learning events may be developed by NIGP’s Content Team in partnership with subject matter experts and/or third-party educational providers with expertise in the specialization.
Our Content Team will engage the NIGP Content Management Committee in the decision-making process since the Committee is responsible for issuing the Specializations to individuals once they complete the learning program and successfully pass the assessment.
The Content Management Committee, in partnership with the NIGP Content Team, will determine whether baseline knowledge contained within one or more competency modules of the Public Procurement Competency Framework is required before an individual can register for a Specialization.
Yes. At the conclusion of the learning event there will be an assessment to ensure that you can apply the learning and competency. You need to successfully complete the assessment in order to earn the specialization.
The Specialization is displayed as a digital badge that is issued by Content Management Committee directly to your profile in Aspire – NIGP’s Learning Management System.
Yes, you are able to print specialization certificates directly from your profile on Aspire – NIGP’s Learning Management System.
NIGP intends to offer one new specialization every year.
The first specializations concentrate on Technology Procurement (available since August 2019) and Construction Procurement (available since September 2020).
We will continue to offer all specializations until the market demand is no longer sustainable.
Specialization courses are offered in-person and virutally. NIGP Chapter affiliates may wish to make this offering available to their members as a chapter-hosted seminar. Regardless of the venue, participants who take the course and pass the assessment earn the Specialization.
Each specialization has its unique attributes that require intensive learning and multiple hours of engagement and study. Pricing is based on the number of hours needed to achieve the learning results – just as we currently charge different rates depending on whether the course is for 8 hours, 16 hours, or 24 hours.
Yes, they are good for 3 years.