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NCPTT Strategic Plan
DRAFT Outline
March 19, 2007

  1. IntroductionThe purpose of the NCPTT strategic plan is to create a guidance document that assists management in making sound choices about the use of National Park Service resources towards meeting the Center’s legislated mission. The strategic plan offers a shared vision and a roadmap for achieving that vision. NCPTT undertook the task of revising and drafting a new strategic plan in Fiscal Year 2007. Staff began the strategic planning process by reviewing past efforts to create a strategic plan for the Center. This effort included reviewing notes and outlines created in the 2003 NCPTT staff retreat, along with the Office of Technology Assessment report on preservation technology, NCPTT’s enabling legislation, and the Center’s mission statement. Staff also studied the Center’s role within the National Park Service Cultural Resources Division and pondered its relationship to the National Park Service strategic plan. A staff retreat was held August 21-23, 2007 in Natchez, Ms., to elucidate key elements within the new strategic plan.While many things have changed at NCPTT since 2003, the legislated mandates and the mission statement have not changed. This plan, grounded in our legislation and mission, will provide the framework within which programmatic and financial decisions can be made in the coming years. Individual staff work plans will detail annual tasks and responsibilities that will ensure progress in implementing the strategies listed in the plan.
  2. Background of NCPTT
    1. Founding of the Center
      1. Office of Technology Assessment ReportNCPTT has its beginnings in “Technologies for Prehistoric and Historic Preservation,” the Office of Technology Assessment, U.S. Congress published in September 1986. This report was requested by the House Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs to assess preservation technologies and their use by federal agencies in the implementation of laws relating to prehistoric and historic preservation. Among the major findings of this report was the need for:
        • Training in the use of technologies,
        • Studying ways to apply known technologies to preservation problems,
        • Improving information sharing and coordination,
        • Finding the appropriate fit of technologies to preservation problems,
        • Reducing the costs of new technologies, and
        • Developing standards for the application of new technologies.

        The report cited the critical need to establish a federally funded institution as a mechanism to coordinate research, disseminate information and provide training about new technologies in preservation.

      2. National Historic Preservation Act Amendments of 1992 (Title XL of Public Law 102-575 [October 30, 1992])16 U.S.C. 470×-2, Sec. 403NCPTT was established by an act of U.S. Congress with the National Historic Preservation Act Amendments of 1992. In Sections 403 through 407 of this public law, legislators established the National Center within the Department of Interior on the campus of Northwestern State University of Louisiana in Natchitoches, La. The amendments defined the National Center’s purposes, established the Preservation Technology and Training advisory board, created the Preservation Technology and Training Grants program, provided governance regarding grants awards, acceptance of funds, and authorized Federal appropriations.
      3. Establishment of the CenterBeginning in July 1993, the National Park Service, the Secretary of the Interior and Northwestern State University of Louisiana began efforts to implement the purposes of the legislation. The first acting Executive Director of NCPTT was E. Blaine Cliver, Chief of the Preservation Assistance Division, NPS. The Center and its advisory board were organized throughout 1993 and 1994. In April 1994, a symposium was held on the Center’s overall mission and proposed research, training, and information management activities.Charter members of the PTT Board were Elizabeth A. Lyon, Robert Melnick, Neville Agnew, Nicholas Gianopulos, Jon Gibson, Alferdteen Harrison, James Huhta, James Judge, F. Blair Reeves, Carolyn Rose, Frank E. Sanchis, III, and Patti Jo Watson.In 1994, NCPTT initiated its PTT Grants program and awarded over $500,000 through 15 grants. Grants ranged from studies of woody plants in historic landscapes, to energy performance of wood windows. Nine grants funded research efforts while six grants supported training activities.Beginning in October 1994 the Center was staffed. John Robbins, a preservation architect, was hired as NCPTT’s Executive Director. Other founding staff members included Mary S. Carroll, Frances Gale, Mark Gilberg, Ellen Kish, and Mary F. Striegel. Over the course of the next seven years, the staff implemented NCPTT’s mission through three components – research, training, and information management. The work focused on innovative practical solutions to current preservation and conservation questions.
      4. Dedication of Lee H. Nelson Hall and ForumOn November 7, 2001, NCPTT dedicated its current facility, Lee H. Nelson Hall located on the campus of Northwestern State University, Natchitoches, La. The building was completed and served as the new offices and laboratories after a long renovation and recovery from a devastating fire. Nearly 200 guests and dignitaries gathered on the south lawn for the building’s formal dedication.Immediately following, NPS held a two-day Forum, “Charting NCPTT’s Role in Preserving America’s Heritage in the 21st Century.” Recognizing the successes of NCPTT’s first decade, forty prominent preservation and conservation professionals from across the country joined NPS leadership to lay the foundation for NCPTT’s second decade. The findings of the forum focused NCPTT on the following concepts:
        • Place first and foremost emphasis on preservation technology research.
        • Focus research on a limited number of topics as defined through research priorities.
        • Create strategic partnerships to leverage resources and carry out projects of mutual interest.
        • Serve the preservation community as a knowledge center and on-line resource.
        • Define NCPTT’s core audiences.
        • Serve as a convener of experts to tackle a variety of preservation problems.
        • Push the envelope in historic preservation education, training, and research through applications of emerging telecommunications and Web-enabled technologies.
    2. Who We Are
      1. NCPTT is a research, technology, and training center of the National Park Service located within the US Department of Interior. NCPTT is part of the NPS Washington Support Office and is under the direction of the Associate Director for Cultural Resources.
    3. Purposes of the CenterSection 403 of Title IV of the National Historic Preservation Act (16 U.S.C. 470×-2) formally established the National Center. In order to give the National Center direction and purpose, Part B of the section lays out these broad tasks:
      1. develop and distribute preservation and conservation skills and technologies for the identification, evaluation, conservation, and interpretation of prehistoric and historic resources;
      2. develop and facilitate training for Federal, State and local resource preservation professionals, cultural resource managers, maintenance personnel, and others working in the preservation field;
      3. take steps to apply preservation technology benefits from ongoing research by other agencies and institutions;Facilitate the transfer of preservation technology among Federal agencies, State and local governments, universities, international organizations, and the private sector
      4. cooperate with related international organizations including, but not limited to the International Council on Monuments and Sites, the International Center for the Study of Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property, and the International Council on Museums.

      The National Center thus is directed by Congress to work with international organizations and others to develop and apply preservation technologies for prehistoric and historic resources, and Congress further instructs the National Center to distribute and train others in the use of those technologies. In short, the mission of the National Center can be pared down to three core areas: research, training, and partnering.

    4. Based on the 2001 dedication and forum, the following recommendations were adopted –
      1. Research PrioritiesNCPTT establishes, evaluates and regularly updates a series of research priorities that direct the work of NCPTT through its in-house and cooperative agreements. The priorities also serve as a filter or rating system for the grants program in order to more effectively direct the center’s work. Between 70-80% of the center’s resources are focused toward research and training targeted by the research priorities. Remaining resources are reserved for opportunities that arise in any given year.
      2. Serving as ConvenerNCPTT serves as a convener by calling together groups of leading authorities on certain preservation technology research topics or issues for discussion, advice, guidance-all possibly resulting in publications of proceedings and/or papers.
      3. Knowledge CenterNCPTT creates, maintains, and regularly modifies a Knowledge Center to keep preservationists and researchers abreast of innovative preservation technology and research. This is primarily a web-based function and incorporates a wide range of media.
      4. Training Develops Out of ResearchNCPTT emphasizes the development of training events drawing from recent advances in research and technology. Efforts are made to maximize technology transfer from both in-house research and research efforts through grants and partnerships.
  3. Mission StatementNCPTT advances the application of science and technology to historic preservation. Working in the fields of archeology, architecture, landscape architecture and materials conservation, the Center accomplishes its mission through training, education, research, technology transfer and partnerships.
  4. Stakeholders
    1. NCPTT serves a broad audience of individuals, institutions, and organizations that preserve cultural resources. Through specific enabling legislation, NCPTT enters into cooperative agreements, project agreements, memorandums of understanding and grants. NCPTT works primarily with preservation groups and organizations, preservation methods research teams and other government agencies working in preservation. NCPTT’s enabling legislation specifically names preservation organizations such as the International Council on Monuments and Sites, the International Center for the Study of Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property, and the International Council on Museums as appropriate partners for The Center. Grants allow The Center an excellent opportunity to support the furthering of preservation technology. The laser spectrometry grant project with Mississippi State University is an example of one such mutually beneficial relationship. (OR, insert the url to the grants web page for folks to see current examples).
    2. The work of NCPTT directly benefits practicing professionals in fields of architecture, landscape architecture, heritage education, archaeology, and materials conservation. Through direct research done at NCPTT, NCPTT grant-supported research and professional affiliations, NCPTT maintains a position unique in the preservation community. NCPTT can both generate new knowledge and assimilate existing knowledge into best practices. These best practices can then be disseminated out to the preservation community at large, empowering preservation professionals with the most current information and most effective techniques. This dissemination can take place through workshops, newsletters, speaking engagements and publications.
  5. Strategic Goals/Objectives/Tasks
      1. Research
        1. Establish and maintain relevant research priorities.NCPTT maintains current research priorities that are re-evaluated every 3-5 years. In December 2007 the following modified research priorities were offered:NCPTT supports and develops innovative preservation technologies that –
          • Preserve cemeteries and places of worship,
          • Safeguard resources from effects of pollution and climate change,
          • Conserve cultural resources of the “recent past”
          • Monitor and evaluate preservation treatments,
          • Protect cultural resources against natural and human threats, and
          • Investigate minimally invasive techniques to inventory and assess cultural resources.
        2. Maintain well equipped research facilities.NCPTT maintains and or adds scientific equipment to its research facilities based on research activities and analytical needs to meet the mission of the center. An emphasis on portable analytical equipment that can be used both in field and laboratory settings are one priority.
        3. Establish program for visiting scholars.While NCPTT operates an annual summer internship program, training for new and mid career preservation professionals and conservation scientist continues to be a national need. NCPTT will establish a visiting scholars program that will allow young professionals and opportunity to work on advanced preservation research problems under the tutelage of the NCPTT staff. The program may include participation on a series of NCPTT training events, development and implementation of a experimental design, or extensive field work.
      2. Training
        1. Develop 5-7 TEL courses per year.The Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL) Network is the mechanism the National Park Service uses to provide thousands of employees with competency-based training at or near their worksite via over 230 receiving stations. TEL courses provide NCPTT an unparalleled opportunity to provide training within the agency. This is an extremely cost-effective way to transfer preservation technology information, while simultaneously increasing our visibility within the service. The latter, in turn, facilitates greater partnership, training, and cooperative opportunities. If each program area at NCPTT can design a TEL course at least once every four years, within five years NCPTT will be able to offer a core TEL curriculum composed of 5-7 courses.
        2. Increase training events by 25 percent.By 2012 NCPTT intends to increase the number of training opportunities offered by 25 percent, so that the National Center may better facilitate the transfer of preservation technologies and benefits. These opportunities will include traditional face-to-face training events, like workshops, as well as more diverse training styles, such as webinars and TEL courses. The increased count of training events will include both the design of novel courses and the repeat offering and refinement of established training events.
        3. Develop a scholarship program for NCPTT training.High quality training is expensive. While Congress directs the National Center to work with professionals in the preservation community, NCPTT training is available to students and young professionals, both of whom may find that the cost of training exceeds their means. By 2012 NCPTT intends to establish a formal scholarship program that will offer fiscal assistance to those in need, so that training is more accessible across economic levels. The program will include mechanisms for on-line application, standards for submission review and evaluation, and uniform feedback/award protocols.
        4. Facilitate preservation trades training.College and graduate school have become almost mandatory parts of education in the U.S. ever since the passage of the G.I. Bill. Consequently fewer and fewer youth enter trades training, and knowledge of the preservation trades has declined precipitously since 1950. This training is essential to the proper maintenance and preservation of many types of cultural resources. NCPTT therefore seeks to partner with other concerned organizations in order to foster the growth of preservation trades training through the development of training for administrators and educators on how to implement preservation trades curricula.
        5. Start a fellowship program.Over the next decade NCPTT will implement a fellowship program whose goal is to provide opportunities for advanced study to exceptional professionals who will use this education to become experts and leaders in the use, development, and application of preservation technology. A short term goal is to identify an acclaimed, established program whose structure may be adapted and modeled to fit NCPTT’s mission. A mid-range goal is to develop a formal course of training and curricular structure into which teaching modules may be fitted. Likewise, another mid-range goal is to integrate the fellowship program into NCPTT’s infrastructure (e.g., office and laboratory standard operating procedures) and into NCPTT’s growing alumni network plan.
      3. Dissemination
        1. Develop Technology Briefs that provide how-to explanations of technical subjects within the Center’s purview.
        2. Develop short-courses in preservation topics that appeal to a large audience and further preservation practices. These courses will benefit from the wealth of data and information available at NCPTT, bringing this information to preservationists that otherwise might remain unaware of innovations in preservation technology.
        3. Create two-directional flows of information between Heritage Education and the other four program areas, Materials Conservation, Historic Landscapes, Architecture and Engineering and Archaeology. Use this information flow to generate appropriate learning material for young learners, while proving the other programs the opportunity to reach an audience they might otherwise have difficulty reaching. Use Heritage Education to support the dissemination of information from the other project areas.
    1. Serve as a Convener
      1. Due to the amount of information held at The Center, both in media and in institutional knowledge, NCPTT is a suitable host to convene subject matter experts in all facets of preservation. NCPTT can serve to define the most pressing preservation issues, bring together those that have significant contributions on the topic, and turn that generated knowledge back out the balance of the preservation community.
      2. NCPTT is able to assess the current state of topic knowledge in a given area of study within preservation. Due to the depth of staff knowledge within The Center, NCPTT is able to determine where information gaps exist, and what type of information would be most appropriate to supplement the body of topic knowledge.
    2. Improve access to information on preservation technology
      1. A Preservation Technology National Conference would provide a platform to feature NCPTT’s ongoing contribution to the field of preservation and foster networking among researchers.
      2. A NCPTT Publication Series would include professionally designed and printed books and white papers, improving NCPTT’s image and the credibility of its research.
      3. NCPTT’s new social media initiative and content management system will allow staff to more easily post information to the web, increasing the Center’s online presence by 60 percent.
      4. NCPTT will identify subjects from its research that are appropriate for the conferences its staff attends and pitch preservation technology sessions to conference organizers.
      5. Create documents on preservation issues for state and government decision makers.
      6. A preservation technology wiki will serve as a collaborative center of research to leverage the efforts of researchers and showcase projects NCPTT has supported.
      7. NCPTT will use online subscriptions services like RSS and e-mail newsletters to provide easy access to its newest information electronically.
    3. Increase awareness of NCPTT’s Services/Resources
      1. Increase and build stronger partnerships with NPS parks and training centers through joint trainings and research activities. Develop a brochure series that specifically target preservation issues within NPS parks and promote NCPTT services and resources at NPS sponsored conferences and workshops.
      2. Increase presence among preservation professionals through trainings and research projects that address preservation topics of interest to a wide audience. Promote NCPTT services and resources at major preservation conferences and workshops.
      3. Increase presence in underserved populations through training and research projects that target preservation issues relevant to these groups.
      4. Increase media presence through the creation of an online newsroom that includes press releases, contact information, background information, training calendar, photo archive, NCPTT notes articles, etc.
      5. Develop an NCPTT alumni program that fosters an ongoing relationships between current and former NCPTT colleagues and interns. Support the program through activities such as an e-mail newsletter and a blog.
    4. Effective administration of NCPTT’s programs and activities
      1. Explore strategies to create a greener officeNCPTT will develop a ‘green team’ charged with improving the environmental performance of Lee H. Nelson Hall and office operations. The team will investigate strategies to reduce energy consumption and reduce office waste by implementing recycling and /or composting programs. The team may seek consultation with energy efficiency and other “green” experts.
      2. Assess cost effective alternatives to travel
        1. Investigate alternatives to face-to-face professional meetings/trainings.NCPTT will evaluate and establish alternative means to convene professionals and disseminate information. These activities may include a wide range of internet social media such as blogs, internet networking, visual communications, podcasts, vodcasts, RSS web feeds, internet seminars, and others. NCPTT will also look at web-based meetings and satellite video connections.
        2. Evaluate alternatives to biannual PTT board meetings.Due to rising fuel and travel costs, as well as ever tightening federal travel restrictions, NCPTT must investigate economical ways to host board meetings. Cost cutting actions may include purchase of non-refundable tickets, careful consideration and selection of locations, and streamlined meeting agendas. Additionally, NCPTT may limit face-to-face PTT Board meetings to once a year and/or substitute web-based meetings for one meeting a year.
      3. Devise an IT strategic plan
        1. Develop an intranet system to track all cooperative agreements, grants, training, and related materials from 1994 to present.
        2. Manage and maintain security, data storage and disaster recovery of all NCPTT electronic data.
        3. Continue to provide NCPTT staff and surrounding offices with technologically advanced training environment.
        4. Maintain cutting edge electronic tools for staff to enhance their productivity.
      4. Improve administration
        1. Facilitate inter-programmatic cooperation by facilitating interaction between staff and by assisting with contractors, contracting staff, cooperative agreements, purchasing, etc.
        2. Increase training opportunities for NCPTT staff to keep them abreast of emerging preservation technology applications and current on professional standards.
        3. Keep up to date on evolving contracting guidelines and other pertinent administrative regulations.
      5. Improve PTT Grants [how? - more detail]NCPTT will undertake a thorough review of PTT Grants program towards streamlining the grants process to make it more efficient for applicants and grants managers. Working as a team, grants managers, marketing and database developers will clarify and refine the entire process from initial planning through grants management to create one unified, coherent, and easy to use system. Staff will carefully review the success of research priorities in focusing proposals, and work to improve their effectiveness.
      6. Support the development of a Cooperative AssociationThe National Center has an immediate need to ally itself with a non-profit friends group that can provide flexibility and support in conducting NCPTT programs, especially in sectors of operations that are difficult to do within the federal government. To this end community and national leaders in preservation incorporated Friends of NCPTT on October 23, 2007. NCPTT has identified several short-term plans for cooperating with the newly formed Cooperative Association.
        1. Identify the immediate needs of NCPTT.NCPTT will work closely with the Friends of NCPTT to help them identify in detail the areas in which the fulfillment of the National Center’s Congressional mission is difficult to achieve given the restrictions placed on federal activities. Historically NCPTT has faced significant difficulties in handling funds for training events, such as receiving tuition, paying external instructors, and arranging food service. It also has faced similar administrative difficulties concerning the distribution of printed publications.
        2. Partner with the Friends of NCPTT, Inc. in mutual ventures.Beyond immediate administrative needs, in the next five years NCPTT will work with the Cooperative Association to identify common goals that can best be achieved through mutual effort. NCPTT intends to make staff expertise available as necessary and proper to achieve this goal. One ten-year goal is to identify staffing positions that would compliment those currently filled at NCPTT, so that NCPTT can better address the needs of the preservation community. Another is to identify specific opportunities that can be achieved only through a capital campaign, such as infrastructural development enabling NCPTT to achieve its function as an information clearinghouse, as called for Congressionally and as part of the Preserve America outcomes.

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