The United States Congress recently passed the 2016 National Defense Authorization Act. This provides policies and authorizations for 2016 but no budgetary appropriations, which is done with subsequent legislation. While these Acts and related ones happen all the time, they rarely have direct impact on the field of testing and assessment.
This one is different.
There is one Section that specifically addresses a major portion of the testing industry. Section 559 of the 2016 NDAA (full text below) requires that all Professional Certifications obtained by members of the armed forces must be accredited by an independent third party. For a discussion on the difference between certification and accreditation, read this post, but here’s more on this specific Act.
What does this mean for military certifications?
The US Military spends a lot of money to help its people gain relevant skills within the military as well as for transferring their skills to the civilian world. If you work on information technology in the military, you probably want one of those many certifications. If you work as a medical assistant, you probably want a certification. If you are soon to exit the military and need to find a job, a certification is obviously beneficial. The government will pay for these before you leave. This of course is all good – we want to facilitate members of the military with a smooth transition to civilian life as well as a well-paying job that they like.
Of course, the private sector saw an opportunity. There was nothing to stop anyone from sitting in their basement, writing 50 test questions on medical assisting, and putting them up on a website as a certification… and charging the US Govt hundreds of dollars each. The legislation below is intended to stop that. An independent third party must come in and give your certification a stamp of approval that it has been built according to generally accepted standards. This is of course quite reasonable. The only disconcerting piece is that the timeline is 3 years – meaning that fly-by-night operations can still keep going for now.
Who are these third parties? There are really two:
Want to learn more about accreditation?
Do you have a certification program that you are looking to get accredited, for this or any other reason? We specialize in helping groups like yours. Just fill out the contact form below and one of our consultants will get in touch with you and explain more about what is needed.
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Section 2015 of title 10, United States Code, as amended by section 551 of the Carl Levin and Howard P. “Buck” McKeon National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2015 (Public Law 113–291; 128 Stat. 3376), is further amended—
(1) by redesignating subsections (c) and (d) as subsections (d) and (e), respectively; and
(2) by inserting after subsection (b) the following new subsection (c):
“(c) Quality Assurance Of Certification Programs And Standards.— (1) Commencing not later than three years after the date of the enactment of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2016, each Secretary concerned shall ensure that any credentialing program used in connection with the program under subsection (a) is accredited by an accreditation body that meets the requirements specified in paragraph (2).
“(A) be an independent body that has in place mechanisms to ensure objectivity and impartiality in its accreditation activities;
“(B) meet a recognized national or international standard that directs its policy and procedures regarding accreditation;
“(C) apply a recognized national or international certification standard in making its accreditation decisions regarding certification bodies and programs;
“(D) conduct on-site visits, as applicable, to verify the documents and records submitted by credentialing bodies for accreditation;
“(E) have in place policies and procedures to ensure due process when addressing complaints and appeals regarding its accreditation activities;
“(F) conduct regular training to ensure consistent and reliable decisions among reviewers conducting accreditations; and
“(G) meet such other criteria as the Secretary concerned considers appropriate in order to ensure quality in its accreditation activities.”.
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