Another Certification Story
Dave recently shared a story about his own experience with a government certification program. Here is a semi-related story of my own (really, my wife’s, but I don’t think she’ll mind me sharing it):
A few months back, Zazzy applied for a professional certification offered by a non-governmental (i.e., private) credentialing center. She had all her affairs in order — met all the requirements and properly documented such per the organization’s standards — and assumed she’d receive her certification shortly. Instead, she received a letter indicating her application was being audited. She was not pleased. Some Googling indicated that the organization flags approximately 20% of applications for auditing. The audit is a fairly simple process: basically, Zazzy had to offer evidence that she took the requisite number of training hours and had worked the requisite number of hours in her specialty. On the initial application, she simply had to state that she met both requirements. Fortunately, Zazzy is a meticulous record keeper and within an evening’s time she had all of the necessary evidence ready to be mailed out.
Still, she was incensed. She alternately wished that they had simply asked for the necessary documentation from the onset of the application process or didn’t bother with the audit process at all.
While I understood her emotional response and the frustration she felt, I explained why the organization did what they did thusly:
1. As a private organization, the strength of their certification is derived from the quality of the people receiving it.
2. As such, it behooves them to take steps to ensure that those who receive it meet a certain standard.
3. One method of doing so is a careful review of candidate applications.
4. However, a very careful review of every candidate’s application is a timely and costly process.
5. Presumably, the organization determined that carefully reviewing approximately 20% of applications is sufficient to ensure the quality of those they bestow certification upon while also managing costs and keeping the certification accessible.
6. Ultimately, it was in her best interest that the organization did what they did. If they never audited anyone, her credential wouldn’t be worth the paper it was written on since anyone could receive it. IF they audited everyone, the credential risks being prohibitively expensive, under utilized, and ultimately of little weight in the field.
Now, there are certainly some assumptions baked into this explanation. But I’m pretty confident it is the right way to look at the situation. And it gave me a better understanding of and appreciation for how a private certification/credentialing organization might function than I had back when Professor Hanley discussed it with regards to his proposed Anti Rent-Seeking Amendment.