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In order to fully test the accreditation program in advance of its launch in 2011, PHAB will conduct a beta test starting in the fall of 2009. The beta test will implement the accreditation process with selected health departments. Through the test, we will evaluate the program and identify improvements that should be made in order to adopt an accreditation process that is logical, practical, and promotes continuous quality improvement in health departments. 
To ensure that the beta test gathers comprehensive, robust information for improvement of the accreditation program, PHAB will select health departments from across the country that capture the variation in our nation's public health system in terms of size, structure, governance, and degree of preparedness for accreditation. The public health departments that participate in the beta test process will play a critical role in shaping and refining the accreditation program before the national launch in 2011.
PHAB will contract with an evaluation expert to gather and analyze feedback from participants in the beta test. The evaluation will examine the accreditation program from the perspectives of the applicants, PHAB staff and board, site visitors, and PHAB's partner organizations.
A successful national public health accreditation program will be a reality in 2011, and the beta test is an important milestone in getting us there. With health department partners, this process will help us move closer to an accreditation program that strengthens our nation's public health departments and helps improve the health of our communities.
Kaye Bender, PhD, RN, FAAN
PHAB President & CEO

Health Departments Invited to Partner with PHAB

PHAB has issued a Letter of Invitation to health departments to apply to partner with PHAB on the beta test. From applications received, PHAB will select 29 local, state and tribal departments of varying sizes, structures, capacities and locations to participate in a beta test program.

Selected public health departments will go through the entire accreditation process - including applying for accreditation, providing documentation and hosting a site visit. As part of the beta test, sites will be asked to provide comprehensive feedback on the accreditation process and areas for improvement.
Sites will receive funding to compensate for the time invested in providing feedback and reporting and for implementing quality improvement activities. With support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, funding will be provided to each health department that participates in the beta test to support the departments' time and effort associated with the evaluation process and quality improvement activity. This funding will be administered to local health departments through a contract with the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) and to state, territorial and tribal health departments through a contract with the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO).
Throughout the beta test process, participating health departments will have the opportunity to receive hands-on technical assistance from national public health organizations, collaborate with and learn from other health departments by sharing knowledge and best practices, attend trainings, and engage in quality improvement practices that aim to advance the quality and performance of their services.
Applications from health departments must be received by PHAB no later than 5:30 ET, August 14, 2009. Health departments will be notified of the list of selected departments no later than September 18, 2009. Click here to view the Letter of Invitation and learn more about the Beta Test.

Beta Test Evaluator Sought

PHAB seeks a qualified evaluation contractor to: (1) design and conduct a process evaluation of the beta test and evaluate costs and time; (2) gather real time data; (3) analyze data and draw conclusions; and (4) submit interim and final reports of findings and recommendations for improvements on a phased basis to PHAB. PHAB has issued a request for proposals for the evaluation of the beta test.
In order to be considered for this project, applicants must be able to demonstrate significant experience with the conduct of program evaluation in general, and
beta testing and other formative evaluation techniques, specifically. Those with knowledge of accreditation are encouraged to apply. Knowledge of governmental public health departments is desired.
Proposals for the evaluation of the beta test must be received by PHAB no later than 5:00 ET, July 31, 2009. Applicants will be notified of PHAB's selection on or before August 31, 2009.