The National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) Section 112 and the Section 106 regulations, at §800.2(a)(1), require agencies responsible for protecting historic properties to ensure that all actions taken by their employees or contractors meet professional standards as determined by the Secretary of the Interior.
The latest version of the Secretary of the Interior Professional Qualifications Standards was published in 1983. These standards apply to each statutorily-identified discipline as it is practiced in historic preservation nationwide. Five disciplines were addressed in 1983 according to the statutory provisions then in place. Amendments to NHPA added more disciplines to be considered, and updates of the original standards need to be accomplished. These standards do not apply to entry level positions. Rather, they outline the minimum education, experience, and products that together provide an assurance that the program and project manager, applicant, employee, consultant, or advisor will be able to perform competently on the job and be respected within the larger historic preservation community.
Status of the Secretary of the Interior Professional Qualifications Standards
A revised version of the 1983 Standards was proposed in 1997. However, this revision was never finalized. The Department of the Interior’s Federal Preservation Officer located in the Office of Acquisition and Property Management is presently working to revise the Secretary of the Interior Professional Qualifications Standards. Therefore, the 1983 Secretary of the Interior’s Professional Qualifications Standards remain valid and should be used until superseded with the revised standards. Please check back with this site for periodic updates.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the Secretary's Professional Qualification Standards?
The Secretary of the Interior is charged with developing standards and guidance for the practice of historic preservation under the National Historic Preservation Act. The Professional Qualification Standards are one part of the Secretary's Standards and Guidelines for Archeology and Historic Preservation.
The protection and preservation of this nation's significant historic and cultural properties depends upon the participation of all our citizens. However, certain decisions affecting these properties need to be made by individuals meeting nationally recognized credentials in order to secure the credibility of historic preservation within the larger public arena at the federal, state, and local levels, as well as in the private sector.
The Secretary of the Interior's Professional Qualification Standards describe in terms of academic attainment, training, and experience minimum professional standards for a number of professional disciplines routinely practicing in historic preservation today. They describe the minimum education and experience which, in the opinion of the Secretary of the Interior, qualifies select individuals to produce professionally credible and competent work within both the historic preservation arena and in the larger public arena nationwide.
These Standards are, in most cases, advisory in nature. They are not requirements for practicing historic preservation except where they are made requirements by Federal, State, Tribal or local government regulations or procedures or by private organization personnel rules.
How are the Standards used?
The Standards are designed to be a tool to help recognize the minimum expertise generally necessary for performing professionally credible historic preservation work. The Standards are not designed to identify the best or ideal person for any position. The effective application of the Standards will require the development of a detailed job description containing additional information to suit a particular situation and need. These Standards do not apply to “entry-level'' applicants or to preeminent professionals in the field. Rather, they outline the minimum education and experience and products that together provide an assurance that the applicant, employee, consultant, or advisor will be able to perform competently on the job and be respected within the larger historic preservation community.
Why are the Standards being revised?
The practice of historic preservation has evolved and matured since the Standards were first established. Revisions are necessary because the1983 Standards are out-of-date, do not include many disciplines important in the practice of historic preservation, and provide no guidance on their use and interpretation. This absence of national guidance has often resulted in confusion and inconsistency in the application of the Standards by Federal, State, Tribal, and local government agencies and other organizations and individuals. In addition, Congress amended the National Historic Preservation Act in 1992, calling for the revision of the existing professional qualifications standards and the establishment of standards for additional disciplines.
What are the goals of the revision project?
It is important that Tribal, State and local governments have the flexibility to respond to their needs by expanding expertise from among the broad spectrum of professional disciplines working in historic preservation. Revision of the Secretary's Professional Qualification Standards will update and expand the context of contemporary historic preservation thinking and practice and incorporate areas of expertise that are critical in daily historic preservation practice. The revised Standards will provide guidance on recognizing appropriate skills and experience necessary for credible historic preservation outcomes.
How are the Standards being revised?
The proposed revision will be based on decades of feedback on the use of the 1983 Standards and several previous efforts to revise the Standards. Please check back with this site for periodic updates.
For more information, please contact DOIHistoricPreservation@ios.doi.gov