Wednesday, January 8, 2014

When the market won't meet a requirement - disappearance of the IEEE's Certified Biometrics Professional program

In my industry, a key historical event was the 2009 release of the National Academies of Science report on forensic science. (Quick version: the NAS believes that in most cases, "forensic science" is an oxymoron.) That report included a whole slew of recommendations, including this one:

Laboratory accreditation and individual certification of forensic science professionals should be mandatory, and all forensic science professionals should have access to a certification process. In determining appropriate standards for accreditation and certification, the National Institute of Forensic Science (NIFS) should take into account established and recognized international standards, such as those published by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). No person (public or private) should be allowed to practice in a forensic science discipline or testify as a forensic science professional without certification. Certification requirements should include, at a minimum, written examinations, supervised practice, proficiency testing, continuing education, recertification procedures, adherence to a code of ethics, and effective disciplinary procedures. All laboratories and facilities (public or private) should be accredited, and all forensic science professionals should be certified, when eligible, within a time period established by NIFS.

While these recommendations did not have the force of law, their public nature certainly attracted attention, and in that same year (2009) the IEEE established a Certified Biometrics Professional program. This offered one way for forensic science practitioners to meet the NAS recommendation.

This certification has been offered for several years, but apparently was not as popular as some of the other certifications that the IEEE offers. Therefore, the IEEE has made this announcement:

IEEE has proudly offered the IEEE Certified Biometrics Professional® (CBP) Program since 2009, with more than 1,000 individuals using the educational materials and over 400 biometrics professionals earning the IEEE CBP credential to date. However, the number of candidates pursuing the IEEE CBP credential has been lower than needed to sustain the program into the future. In response to current and expected market conditions, the IEEE Educational Activities Board has voted to discontinue offering the IEEE CBP program.

IEEE will continue to recognize the CBP credential, and individuals who have earned the IEEE CBP credential may continue to list the CBP initials after their names. There will no longer be a certification renewal requirement effective immediately. IEEE will maintain records of examinations taken and will continue to verify IEEE CBP certification for employers who inquire about credentials.

For individuals who are interested in earning the CBP credential before the program is discontinued, IEEE will offer the CBP examination until November 30, 2014. The IEEE CBP examination will be available during two examination administration windows scheduled to be open May 24–June 30 and October 18–November 30, 2014. An examination registration is valid only for the window in which it was purchased. Requests to transfer an examination registration to the next available administration window will not be accepted in 2014.

IEEE will continue to offer the IEEE CBP Learning System through November 30, 2014. However, access to the online tools of the Learning System will expire on December 31, 2014. Sales of the IEEE CBP Learning System will cease after November 30, 2014.

For more information on registering for the IEEE CBP examination or purchasing an IEEE CBP Learning System in 2014, please refer to the IEEE Certification Candidate Bulletin and the FAQs on this Web site.

Now this is not the only certification in town - other entities, such as the IAI, offer certification programs that meet the NAS recommendation.

But it does illustrate that if entity A makes a recommendation, the recommendation is meaningless unless either that entity or another entity offers a way for people to satisfy that recommendation.
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