Based on the strong acceptance within the public sector real estate community for the concept of a public sector real estate professional certification, the researcher recommended next steps designed to continue to advance the definition of and ultimate implementation of a public sector real estate certification program. These next steps include:
Establishing a multidisciplinary stakeholder group to oversee the recommended next steps.
Developing a detailed curriculum for the certification program.
Defining a multi-year implementation strategy and supporting detailed work plan.
Establishing a marketing program to present the concept of the certification program and the results of this study to various groups critical to the success of the program including members of the public sector real estate community, national professional organizations and educational institutions.
A multidisciplinary stakeholder group should be established to oversee the other recommended next steps. This stakeholder group should include a mix of individuals who perform various functions within public sector real estate such as appraisal, acquisition, and relocation. It should also include representative of the various constituencies and stakeholders (Federal Agencies, State Agencies, Local Public Agencies, private sector real estate agencies, professional associations and educational providers) who will be critical to successfully implementing a certification program. In addition, since there was limited Local Public Agency input into Phase I, it is strongly recommended that at least one of the stakeholders be a representative of the realty function at a medium to large Local Public Agency. This Local Public Agency participation is critical given the large number of public sector real estate professionals who work for Local Public Agencies.
This stakeholder group should operate under the leadership of FHWA, as the Lead Agency for the Uniform Act, for at least the intermediate term while an approach for administering the program is finalized.
This stakeholder group will be responsible for reviewing the proposed certification curriculum and the associated implementation strategy/plan. This group should also act as champions or change agents for this effort, including assisting with execution of the stakeholder and public outreach programs.
This recommendation involves taking the general outline of the certification program established based on the findings of the Phase I study and developing a complete outline of the curriculum and other requirements for a proposed certification program.
The working assumptions to be utilized in developing this detailed curriculum include:
The potential certification program will require demonstration of a general level of understanding and competency of a number of skill areas integral to public sector real estate as identified in the market needs study and focus groups.
The potential certification program will consist of education and work experience requirements of at least 12 months, as well as an independently administered capstone examination.
The certification will be administered by an independent foundation chartered by numerous stakeholder groups involved in the public sector real estate community. This assumption is based on suggestions received from focus group participants to utilize an independent foundation and some potential legal and policy issues if FHWA directly oversees the certification program. It is assumed in the interim, however, that FHWA will continue to lead the immediate next steps while the specific composition and structure of an independent group is finalized and a plan for implementing this organization is established and initiated.
The detailed curriculum being developed under this recommendation will include the following elements:
Definition of specific courses or skill competencies to be required.
Definition of which courses/skills will be required versus which ones may be electives from which a certain number of courses or hours should be selected.
Specification of the number of course hours to be required.
Development of specifications and course hour or credit hour requirements for each course or skill element.
Definition of the work experience requirements.
Specification of the general framework for the capstone examination including form, style, test length and method of administration.
Establishment of guidelines for exempting or waiving experienced personnel based on work experience during an initial transition period.
It is envisioned that this curriculum will be developed in a collaborative manner, leveraging the insights and experience of the stakeholder team described in Section IV.A above. Work steps will include:
Group discussion or interviews with stakeholder team members to further define requirements.
Development of a draft curriculum by the consultant assisting FHWA based on the identified requirements.
Review and discussion of the draft curriculum by the stakeholder team. This review can take place remotely through collaboration software and/or in on-site workshops.
Updating and finalizing the work products by the consultant based on input received from the stakeholder team.
This recommendation involves developing a three to five year implementation strategy and supporting detailed plan for launching the proposed certification program based on the completed curriculum design. Some elements of the implementation strategy could include:
Defining recommended goals that could be phased-in at the Federal, State or Local level concerning the percentage of the Agency's program being executed by certified professionals.
Developing recommended language for use by public sector agencies in making potential updates to job descriptions in order to establish being a certification holder as either a requirement or a highly desired attribute for various public sector real estate positions.
Defining a detailed schedule for launching the certification program including:
Finalizing the definition of and establishing the organizational entity to manage the certification program.
Establishing and implementing the mechanics of a transition period for current, experienced public real estate professionals to grandfather in for many of the certification requirements.
Providing education providers with sufficient time to update existing courses to meet certification requirements.
Providing education providers with sufficient time to design and rollout new course offerings needed to support the certification program.
Developing and initiating the first capstone examination
This recommendation involves developing a marketing program to present the findings from Phase I and the preliminary plans for defining and implementing the certification program to a number of stakeholders, organizations and other groups who will be critical to the success of a certification program.
This marketing program is envisioned to consist of the following components:
Stakeholder outreach effort.
Public outreach effort.
Each of these elements is described briefly below.
This communication program should include:
A one-page brochure describing the proposed certification program and highlighting the findings of the Phase I study, which can be posted on the FHWA Office of Real Estate Services web site and linked to by other interested parties.
Implementation of a web page on the FHWA Office of Real Estate Services web site to provide general information and frequently asked questions about the proposed certification. The content on this web site should be developed initially based on information in the Phase I study and then updated at the completion of the curriculum definition activity and the detailed implementation strategy and plan.
Development of one or more articles on the proposed certification and the results of the Phase I study for professional journals of interest to the public real estate community (Appraisal Institute, IRWA, etc.)
A stakeholder outreach program should be designed to generate interest and support for the initiative. Elements of this effort would include:
Briefings for members of the Interagency Coordination group and other leaders of the Federal real estate community.
Several scheduled web-based presentations for the public sector real estate community generally on the findings of the Phase I study and the concept of the potential certification program.
One-on-one meetings with key leaders of public sector real estate professional associations including IRWA, Appraisal Institute, the American Association of State Highway Transportation Officials (AASHTO) Subcommittee on Right-of-Way and Utilities and others.
Meetings with leaders of real estate educational associations to build interest in the higher education community in providing courses needed for the certification program.
Follow-up meetings with the key leadership of a short list of potential higher education partners.
Presentation to national meetings of key industry associations such as IRWA, Appraisal Institute and AASHTO.
A public outreach program should have the following components:
Awareness meetings with leaders of the National Association of Realtors and other similar industry organizations.
Presentations to two to three state licensing boards and/or the national meeting of the real estate licensing board association to gauge interest in allowing courses under the proposed certification to be counted towards general licensing requirements.
Development of a "careers package" including the brochure on the certification program and several one-page case studies illustrating the work opportunities in public sector real estate. This information should be designed to sell the advantages of a career in public sector real estate, emphasize the forthcoming certification program, and be packaged for distribution to, and use by high school guidance counselors and career counseling centers at universities and community colleges.