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Building a Competency-Based Framework

Author: Chris Weiss

One of IFPTI’s flagship accomplishments is the successful application of our Competency-Based Curriculum Development Process in the U.S. and abroad. The IFPTI Process, which was created by Senior Vice President, Dr. Craig Kaml, defines the competencies (knowledge, skills, abilities, and attributes) needed by individuals to effectively perform their jobs. Although the IFPTI Process can be applied to any given profession, the process has served as the cornerstone for food safety regulators within the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). FDA has used this approach to create a National Curriculum Standard (NCS) for food safety regulators. Developing the NCS is key to creating an Integrated Food Safety System (IFSS) across the nation, featuring competent regulatory staff performing comparable work across all jurisdictions.

Members of the IFPTI Leadership Team, including Dr. Kaml and Executive Director Jerry Wojtala, were instrumental in orchestrating a “blueprint” for the NCS.This blueprint took the form of a Competency-based Curriculum Framework, which in its earliest version looked like this:

Recognizing that the IFSS Framework would serve as the foundation for the NCS, The FDA awarded IFPTI a 5-year Cooperative Agreement in 2011, the primary purpose of which was to build out the framework through a series of intensive workshops facilitated by IFPTI. Members of these workshops included individuals from FDA, state regulatory agencies, and a variety of stakeholder organizations, including the Association of Food and Drug Officials, the Association of American Feed Control Officials, the Association of Public Health Laboratories, and the National Environmental Health Association.

During the first 5-year Cooperative Agreement, IFPTI facilitated dozens of workshops, and the IFSS Framework underwent extensive modification and refinement. Currently, the Framework looks like this:

The IFSS Framework is a highly complex, organic tool, and cannot be fully explained in this blog. However, what can be emphasized is that the Framework is competency-based. Essentially, each “box” on the Framework represents a content or topic area in which a food safety regulator must be competent i.e., possessing specific knowledge, skills, abilities, and attributes necessary to successfully perform his or her job. Within each content or topic area is a set of competency statements, which explain what the food safety regulator should be able “to do” or “know” based on his or her professional level and regulatory program.

Much of IFPTI’s work on the National Curriculum Standard can be seen on the INCS, an online system that houses the IFSS Curriculum Framework: