The Secretary of the Interior Professional Qualifications Standards have not been updated since 1983. But with growing talk of updates on the horizon, an ACRA Task Force has identified nine principles that should guide any changes.

The Standards describe minimum professional standards in terms of academic attainment, training, and experience for a number of professional disciplines routinely practicing in historic preservation today. In recent years, the Interior Department has raised the possibility of proposing updates. These discussions come at a time when the CRM industry is facing workforce shortages, and when there is significant debate within the professions that comprise CRM about whether the Standards’ educational requirements should be changed.

The Standards are of critical importance to the cultural resource management (CRM) industry, as they delineate the minimum qualifications required for many of the undertakings upon which such firms work, and may impact hiring decisions these firms make. Although there is a diversity of opinion within the industry about the Standards, there is little doubt that ACRA, as the voice of the CRM industry in the United States, needs to have a voice on changes to the Standards.

In spring 2023, the ACRA Board of Directors authorized the formation of a Task Force to explore how ACRA can best represent its member firms in any future debate about, or proposed changes to, the Professional Qualifications Standards. ACRA invited members to apply to the Task Force in late spring, and the Task Force was selected in May 2023. The Task Force met virtually on a monthly basis during the summer of 2023, and developed a set of principles which it shared with the ACRA Board and at the ACRA Conference in Indianapolis.

The principles are intended as a broad framework that will guide ACRA’s positions on any changes that Interior proposes. ACRA also will share the principles with other preservation-related organizations as discussions around the Standards continue.

ACRA’s Board welcomes feedback from ACRA members about the principles, which you can share here. The Board plans to consider feedback it receives to further refines the principles.