During the early 1980s, the coordinators of the Arkansas Master of Public Administration (MPA) programs identified a need for professional development in Arkansas public agencies. In 1984, they founded APAC (Arkansas Public Administration Consortium). APAC is dedicated to improving the quality of public services in Arkansas. This work is accomplished through public administration education and management training for public and nonprofit organizations. Consortium members include the University of Arkansas Little Rock (UA Little Rock), the University of Arkansas (UA), and Arkansas State University (ASU).
Startup funding was provided by the University of Arkansas System Office in 1984. The Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration (DF&A) continued the funding in 1985. Today, APAC is funded by DF&A, program fees, and in-kind support from Consortium members.
The first program developed by APAC was the Arkansas Certified Public Manager® (CPM) program. It is a nationally accredited, comprehensive management development program. It is specifically designed to develop leaders in organizations with a public purpose. The first class of Arkansas CPM participants was held in May 1985. In March of 1990, then Governor Bill Clinton formally requested active status for the program. The Arkansas CPM program was accredited by the National Certified Public Manager® Consortium in 1991. It has been re-accredited in 1996, 2001, 2006, 2011, and 2016. In June 2004, Governor Mike Huckabee sent a letter to the governors of the states that did not offer the CPM Program. In this letter, he emphasized how the Arkansas CPM Program was such a benefit to the state. He encouraged them to consider developing a CPM Program in their own states. The Arkansas CPM program continues to be a core program for APAC.
The next training developed in 1985 was the Certified Volunteer Manager (CVM) program. This program teaches managers of volunteer programs how to effectively lead their volunteer staff. It was created in partnership with the Arkansas Office of Community Engagement. It was the first of its kind in the country and continues to serve as a model. In 2006, the program reached a milestone with more than 500 graduates.
Since 1999, the Arkansas Chapter of the American Planning Association has partnered with APAC to offer Planning Official Trainings. These trainings help Planning Commissions serve their communities. They focus on knowledgeable planning, ethical leadership, effective relationships with city officials, and skilled meeting management. In 2014, these trainings were evaluated against national standards and the Certified Arkansas Planning Official (CARPO) program was added. Individuals that successfully complete three Planning Official Trainings (101, 201, and 301) and a Capstone Home Study receive the CARPO designation.
From 2001 until 2005, APAC worked with the Arkansas Department of Workforce Services to offer a Certified Employment Manager program. The training emphasized the credentials necessary to earn certification with NAWDAP. NAWDAP endorsed APAC’s program until it developed its on training criteria. Arkansas was the last state to hold this recognition.
APAC offered its newest training, the Certified Group Facilitator program, for the first time in the summer of 2017. It equips participants to effectively design, manage, and lead groups to meet desired goals. A team of experienced facilitators recognized the need for more experienced facilitators in the state. This group worked for over a year to develop the training. The planning team included Ron Copeland, Judith Faust, Mary Dillard, Carla Sparks, Sherry Walker, and Freeman McKindra.
Additional APAC Work
Over the years, APAC has provided local government training in a mutual effort with the Arkansas Municipal League, the Association of Arkansas Counties, and Cooperative Extension Services. In addition, four Arkansas county associations looked to APAC for continuing education development. They include the County Judges’ Association, the Association of County Clerks, the Circuit Clerks Association, and the County Treasurers’ Association.