Career Program 61:
Setting the Standards for Historians, Museum Personnel, and (Now) Archivists Army-wide
On 21 April of 2011, the Army for the first time officially established a Career Program for Historians and Museum Personnel: Career Program (CP) 61. (Archivists were added to the CP as of 17 January 2012 since they were a logical choice for our CP as opposed to the Information Technology CP where they were formerly lodged.) All of this was part of the Civilian Workforce Transformation process started by G-1 a few months back, but it was not certain for some time that we would have our own separate Career Program under that transformation plan. In fact, we came very close to being rolled up underneath the Public Affairs Career Program and I don't need to tell you what damage that would have done to our community!
For many years we have had a Career Field (CF 61) for Historians (0170), Museum curators (1015), Exhibit Specialists (1010), and Museum Technicians/Specialists (1016) but the personnel community had considered our community too small at around 400 members to warrant a full Career Program of our own. However, last year the Army senior leadership directed the G-1 to place all Army civilians into a Career Program if there was a natural fit, and if one did not already exist that was a good match for a particular specialty, to create one. As a result, we have our own CP.
The benefits of the move to a full Career Program are many, but perhaps the most important is that a historian, museum, and archivist CP will ultimately allow our personnel access to the full range of funded professional development opportunities that other career programs have had for years. We can now compete for functional professional development allotments and funds to send our people to civilian schools on a selective basis to take courses and even obtain advanced degrees in our professions. It will open up the entire realm of funded functional training opportunities beyond those for strictly Army leadership, supervisory, or management training. It will have, for the first time, a fully-functioning career intern program for recruiting, developing, and promoting promising new historians, museum personnel and archivist. So what is CP 61 and what will it do for us? And, perhaps more importantly to some, what is CP 61 not going to do?
What is CP 61?
CP 61 will be a centrally funded, centrally managed (but only to a degree), program that will establish professional standards and career maps for historians, museum personnel and archivists across the Army. It will establish the basic criteria for recruiting the highest quality personnel, providing them competitive access to the full range of professional development opportunities (funded courses and schooling, civilian education system courses, research fellowships, a career intern program, developmental assignments, etc.) that will allow us to retain and grow them through the course of a career of ever-increasing professional opportunities from GS-04 up to SES.
What CP 61 is not.
CP 61 will not have a fully-manned personnel office that will manage all vacancies Army-wide in the history, archives and museum world and arbitrarily be able move individuals from slot to slot according to a master plan. The only career-tracked individuals who will have to move to take new slots according to any central plan will be those small handful of career interns who sign up as new-hires with the express purpose of moving to a variety of assignments. They will sign a mobility and service agreement before entering the program and they will move to a variety of career enhancement assignments in their first three years of service. But for most historians, museum personnel and archivists, CP 61 will not direct any moves for the foreseeable future. Thus it will not be analogous either to the much more centrally managed Air Force historian program nor will it be anything like the system in place to manage military officers with moves every three years, required schooling, and little or no choice in assignment.
CP 61 will make vacancies in the history, archives, and museum community more transparent. It will provide more visibility for professional development opportunities along with competitive access to funding. It will provide a clearer picture of career tracks and career opportunities that individuals and their supervisors can match up with their Individual Development Plans (IDPs). And it will set the professional career and development standards for all members of the community.
What will the cost be?
This will not happen without cost. We have never had such a program before and so there is a lot of basic spade work that needs to be done throughout the Army History Program. Working together we will have to develop the standards for each grade level and each type of position, create a multi-tracked career map, establish and enter on a new automated system (Army Career Tracker) every Individual Development Plan (IDP) in the community, match up positions with developmental requirements (both civilian schooling and Army training and education requirements), develop and manage short, mid-, and long-term budgets and place them in the Army Program Objective Memorandum (POM) process, create from scratch a new career Intern program, and then develop systems to review and approve applications for schooling, training, or Internships. It is a long process that will involve active participation from throughout the Army history program. While it will necessarily be guided by CMH since we are the Center of Military History, CMH cannot and will not develop this new CP in a vacuum. Everyone in the field history, archives, and museum program must help refine the characteristics of the program, elaborate the career tracks and maps, revise the Army Civilian Training, Education, and Development Systems (ACTEDS) for historians and museum personnel (key documents for both communities), develop ab initio the ACTEDS for archivists, and help develop the necessary websites, processes, and communications strategies to make it all work.
So how will we create CP 61?
To start with, the Functional Career Chief (FC—the Chief of Military History, Mr. Robert Dalessandro) and the Functional Career Chief’s Representative (FCR—the Chief Historian, i.e. myself) have established a Board of Directors including key personnel from the Center, TRADOC, the Corps of Engineers, and other field representatives. This Board of Directors has created several committees and sub-committees to generate ideas and prepare drafts of key documents to implement the Career Program. These key actions and documents (a new basic Army Historians Orientation course, a revised ACTEDS plans for historians and museum personnel, a new plan for archivists, a career Intern Program guide, and a plan for a better website) will be critical to establishing the program on firm intellectual and practical ground. All of this, along with other key actions such as creating and projecting a budget, fighting for training and development slots, and then actually managing the program, will eventually result in a much stronger and more coherent history, archives, and museum community in the years to come. It is not going too far to say that CP 61 will change the face of the Army history, archives, and museum program as we know it.
This is just the start of the journey. In months ahead, I’ll provide updates on the Career Program’s development at various conferences and in future columns, but you need to be aware of these changes, participate in these committees and sub-committees to the extent possible, provide feedback to whatever products are sent to you for your feedback, and help contribute to the refinement of the new CP. It’s a good thing! And you need to be a part of it.