• 03/27/2019 4:00 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    Today marks the return of ACRA's CRM Industry Salary Survey! If you run your own CRM company or head up a CRM division within a large corporation, you may have received an invitation to participate - but why is it important to do so?

    Plainly stating, it is the best way for us to get a wide snapshot on the state of the industry at a national level.

    ACRA has conducted the salary survey multiple times over the years, with the most recent in 2013. The surveys have maintained a primary focus on regional patterns of annual sales, business practices, and wage and benefit packages. The independently collected and analyzed results provide essential longitudinal information on the state of the CRM industry. These data help substantiate industry trends over the long term, and no other organization collects this information specifically for CRM.

    Both member and non-member firms are encouraged and needed to participate, and anyone who completes the survey will receive the summary of results. The information you share will NOT be tied to your name or any other personally identifying information, so you don't have to worry about any of your financial data being shared with others.

    CRM professionals are extremely busy, and we know that your time is valuable. We hope you are able to take the time to complete this important survey - doing so will help improve your access to the industry information you need.

    If you run your own firm or CRM division and did NOT receive an invitation to complete the survey:

    • Check your junk/spam folder
    • If not in your spam, contact us to receive your own personalized link.

  • 03/22/2019 2:27 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    Readers can now find relevant news items compiled all in one place! In our CRM Firms in the News series, we feature recent mentions of ACRA member firms and their projects across the country. Was your firm recently featured in a news article or on social media? Send it to us to be included in our next volume of the series!

    • Staff from ACRA member firm Brockington and Associates are featured in this piece detailing how swamp skirmishes helped determine the outcome of the Revolutionary War: "The war in the North had been fought to a stalemate. The British thought they could win by solidifying their hold on the “loyalist” South before marching north from there. It might have worked if the skirmishes led by “Swamp Fox” Francis Marion and others hadn’t disrupted the movement up the river of reinforcements, food and ammunition." Read more in The Post and Courier.
    • "Placemaking is all the rage in economic development these days as companies and talented workers are navigating to locations that offer more than cubicle space." Read about how moving their headquarters led Commonwealth Heritage Group, Inc. to attract more qualified talent in this piece from Crain's Detroit Business.

  • 03/21/2019 3:04 PM | Deleted user

    Have you been thinking about ways to become a leader in the CRM industry? Now is the chance - join fellow CRM consultants to advocate for our industry at ACRA’s CRM Day on Capitol Hill May 16-17.

    Not sure what CRM Day entails? Join us on April 3rd at 3pm Eastern for a 30 minute webinar to learn more about why today’s political climate makes your advocacy so critical and what you can expect if you join us in May. Learn about the top policy threats to CRM, opportunities for growing federal support for our industry, and why it’s critical that you help educate lawmakers about your work.

    ACRA Executive Director Amanda Stratton and ACRA Chief Lobbyist Marion Werkheiser will discuss how to make the most of your visit to Capitol Hill.

    This webinar is free and open only to ACRA members. Join us to learn why it is so important you are with us in DC in May!

    Register Now

  • 03/19/2019 12:16 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    This post is authored by Michelle Wurtz Penton, Operations Manager of the Environmental Services Group at Versar, Inc. and Sarah Herr, President of Desert Archaeology. Michelle and Sarah nominated Duane for this award.

    It is with pleasure that we announce that ACRA Past President Duane E. Peter, RPA (DP Heritage Consulting) is the recipient of the 2019 SAA Award for Excellence in Cultural Resource Management. Duane has been involved in cultural resource management for over 40 years and is known for his quiet considerate manner and steadfast commitment to both archaeological resources and the wide variety of people he works with. He built the cultural resources program at Geo-Marine, Inc. (now Versar, Inc.) that has overseen work in 45 states. He promoted the development of innovative and cutting-edge research techniques, including photogrammetry, 3D laser scanning, predictive modeling and remote sensing. Duane built a CRM program known for excellence and quality research in the Great Basin, Southwest, Southeast, Great Plains, and East coast. Duane’s has mentored numerous students and young professionals, many of whom have gone to take state or federal positions, climb the ranks in CRM firms, or who excel in various technical/specialty fields.

    Outside of the daily CRM responsibilities, Duane is very active in public outreach. In coordination with local historic preservation groups he established the Annual Plano Archaeology Fair. The event offered budding “junior archaeologists” an opportunity to participate in a mock excavation while learning proper excavation techniques and basic archaeological concepts from professionally trained archaeologists. The event ran for 14 years and served the youth of Plano, Texas and the surrounding metroplex. In 2007, the City of Plano Heritage Commission presented Duane and his team the Excellence in Preservation Award for their role in providing the youth of Plano with a unique opportunity to participate in an archaeological excavation and to become acquainted with potential career paths through its annual archaeology fair. In 2013, the Annual Plano Archaeology Fair also received ACRA’s Public Service Award.

    Duane directed “high profile” award winning projects such as the Freedman’s Cemetery project, in Dallas, Texas. The project included conducting osteological analyses, oral histories and archival research to complete technical reporting, but beyond the compliance expectation the work supported development of a museum exhibit, curricula materials, a concept for a book for the public, and the development of a masterplan for future education. In 2001, Geo-Marine received the E. Mott Davis Award for Excellence in Public Outreach from the Council of Texas Archeologists for educating the public about the history of Dallas’ African American community through studies from the Freedman’s Cemetery Project.

    Duane was a founding member of ACRA, and he has served on the Board of Directors and Executive Committee. He is currently the Immediate Past President, having finished a three‐year term serving as President of the organization. During his term as President, Duane developed a strategic plan for strengthening the CRM industry, and assisted with establishment of the Coalition for American Heritage. Duane was also integral to the development of ACRA’s internship guidelines and is currently working to promote synergy between the Academy and the CRM industry.

    Duane will be presented the 2019 SAA Award for Excellence in Cultural Resource Management at the 84th Annual Meeting in Albuquerque. The Society’s Annual Business Meeting and Awards Presentation will be held at 5:00 pm on Friday April 12, 2019 in 290 Kiva Auditorium.

    Congratulations to Duane!

  • 03/15/2019 3:00 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    CRM professionals are a highly trained group in terms of technical services, which is needed to effectively serve your clients. However, many practitioners may not be as well versed in the business skills that help firms large and small become successful.

    One of those critical skills is negotiation and conflict management - but why is it particularly important to CRM? Anyone who is a part of a CRM firm, from an entry-level employee to a CEO, needs these skills to:

    • Build stronger relationships with both other employees and clients

      Working relationships can be irreparably damaged when conflicts are managed poorly. If you and your fellow employees equip yourselves with conflict management skills, you will be able to better resolve these conflicts respectfully. This can in turn increase collaboration and team unity.
    • Effectively use problem solving for tough negotiations

      Whether you are negotiating with a potential client or embarking on the Section 106 consultation process, you will likely run into situations where one or more of the parties don't agree. Conflict management and negotiation skills can help you get over these hurdles swiftly, allowing you to move to the next step - and potentially freeing up some time to bring in even more business!
    • Provide better customer service - contrary to the saying, the customer isn't always right.

      A common saying in the business world is that the customer is always right. However, as many of you have probably encountered, this isn't always the case - especially when it comes to the technical aspects of your projects. In these situations, strong conflict management skills are necessary to navigate the situation while still maintaining your high level customer service for clients.

    ACRA's latest webinar, The Art of Negotiation and Conflict Management, will prepare you for greater business success in this area. Join us on March 21, 2019 at 2:00 pm Eastern to gain more insight into this skill that is vital to the business world (and beyond!).

    Expert provider Anna Schneider of Heritage Business International holds both an M.A. in anthropology and an M.B.A. in business administration, and will give specific examples on how to apply these skills to your everyday work in the CRM industry.

    Whether you are new to the industry or consider negotiation an integral part of your daily tasks, the Art of Negotiation and Conflict Management will give you fresh ideas for improving your skill base.

    Register today!

  • 03/14/2019 7:45 AM | Kerri Barile

    Have an idea for a session for our 2019 conference in Spokane? Submit a proposal! The best programs come from our members, and we are seeking participants to join us in planning our next event. Session topics can range from running a business to technical best practices and include a single speaker or a panel. See the ACRA 2019 Conference webpage for more information. Proposals are due March 15th so don't delay!

    Questions? Email the Conference Chair, Kerri Barile, at kbarile@dovetailcrg.com. We are looking forward to getting you involved!

  • 03/12/2019 8:00 PM | Deleted user

    Image source 401kcalculator.orgThe Internal Revenue Service recently released new regulations interpreting tax reform provisions with the potential to affect many ACRA businesses. The regulations are good news for CRM firms because they support arguments that CRM firms should be able to use the new 20% pass-through deduction without a cap.

    In December 2017, Congress passed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, 500+ pages of statutory language that the IRS was left to interpret and apply through new regulations. Of particular interest to CRM firms is Section 199A, known as the 20% pass-through deduction. As Burr Neely explained in an email blast to members at the time, Section 199A gives pass-through businesses a 20% deduction, but that deduction phases out after a particular threshold for specialized service trade or businesses (SSTBs).

    Because many CRM firms are organized as pass-through businesses, they stand to be dramatically affected by these regulations depending on whether they are defined as SSTBs:

    • If a business is NOT an SSTB, its income generally IS eligible for the Section 199A Deduction and the deduction is NOT subject to the cap.
    • If a business IS an SSTB, its income generally IS eligible for the Section 199A Deduction. eligible for the deduction, but the deduction is CAPPED after a certain level of income (when the business owner’s taxable income exceeds $157,500; if married filing jointly, $315,000).

    The tax reform bill explicitly excludes architecture and engineering firms from the definition of SSTBs, but includes any trade or business involving the performance of services in several categories, including “consulting” – a broad and vague term.

    While the waters are still a bit murky, the new Section 199A regulations weigh against treating CRM firms as SSTBs – therefore maintaining their eligibility for the Section 199A deduction without a cap. The regulations state that while “consulting” includes “the provision of professional advice and counsel to clients to assist the client in achieving goals and solving problems,” it does not include the performance of services other than advice and counsel, nor does it include consulting that is embedded in, or ancillary to, the sale of goods if there is no separate payment for the consulting services. As a recent article from Forbes (link below) explains, “you are a consultant if you are paid ONLY for providing advice and counsel. To the contrary, if you get paid only upon the ‘consummation of the transaction your services were intended to affect,’ you are NOT a consultant.” The consummation of the transaction your services were intended to affect. In the CRM context, you likely get paid when you perform a CRM investigation or deliver the report. That means that you can argue you are not a consultant under this definition.

    Some examples the IRS provided:

    • Government lobbyists: they provide professional advice and counsel to clients to assist in achieving goals and solving problems, and therefore qualify as SSTBs.
    • Staffing consultant: if the company comes into a workplace, identifies the staffing needs, tells the employer what to do, then gets paid and leaves, the company is a consultant and an SSTB.
    • Staffing consultant: if the company comes into a workplace, identifies the staffing needs, tells the employer what to do, then actually provides the staffing, the company is NOT a consultant and NOT an SSTB: it is paid for providing employees (not just for the advice and counsel).
    • Building contractor: while a building contractor inevitably provides advice and counsel as part of its job, those services are ancillary to its central business (e.g., building a new office space). As long as there is no separate fee for the consulting services, the contractor should not be treated as an SSTB.

    These analyses appear to exclude CRM firms from the definition of an SSTB and preserve their eligibility for the full Section 199A deduction, without a cap – which is great news for ACRA members.

    This blog post is not intended to provide legal advice to any particular company or entity. Be sure to discuss your entity’s specific tax situation with your tax counsel and accountant.

    For more information:

    IRS final rules

    Forbes: IRS Publishes Final Guidance On The 20% Pass-Through Deduction: Putting It All Together

    KPMG: What's New in Tax

    BDO: Tax Reform’s 199a Redefines “Consulting” for Government Contractors

  • 03/07/2019 4:00 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    In January we announced that the call for nominations for the 2019 ACRA Awards is open. The ACRA Awards recognize private and public sector clients of member firms for CRM accomplishments and commitments exceeding those required by various laws and regulations. ACRA Awards also recognize ACRA member firms or employees thereof who have made a long-term and on-going public service commitment to CRM.

    Want a better idea of the projects that have won these awards in the past? Take a look at last year's winners below!

    2018 Industry Award - Private Sector

    Winner: Calpine Corporation, for Cultural Heritage Management at the Garrison Energy Center Project (nominated by RGA, Inc.)

    James Klickovich of Calpine Corporation is presented the Industry Private Sector award at the 2018 ACRA Conference in Cincinnati.

    In advance of the project, Calpine Corporation sponsored an Intensive-level historic architectural survey and various phases of archaeological surveys, including a robust and far-reaching public outreach effort associated with the archaeological data recovery. Calpine Corporation took a proactive stance in cultural resource management by funding this work without any requirement to comply with Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act or other local, state, or federal regulations that necessitate consideration of project impacts on historical and archaeological resources. Through generous support and funding, Calpine Corporation sponsored the archaeological identification, evaluation, and recordation of a 1770s to 1820s free African American tenancy associated with the Cooper family. As a private sector energy company, Calpine Corporation has set a high bar in its support of cultural resource management.

    2018 Industry Award - Public Sector

    Winner: City of Wilmington, for Cultural Heritage Management associated with the Brandywine Raceway Rehabilitation (nominated by Commonwealth Heritage Group)

    Don Weir of Commonwealth Heritage Group accepts the 2018 Industry Award - Public Sector on behalf of the City of Wilmington.

    The City of Wilmington planned to rehabilitate Brandywine Raceway, the main conduit of fresh water for the city’s public water system, and determined that there would be an adverse impact on the Brandywine Village Historic District. The City seized upon the opportunity to broaden the scope of historical documentation to address the entire public water system, including the raceway. This scope expansion was an entirely voluntary and altruist act, and from the start, the historical documentation was conceived as an engaging book, accessible to readers of all ages.

    Need further inspiration? Check out the rest of the previous award winners, and make sure to submit your nominations by FRIDAY, APRIL 26, 2019 at 5:00 PM EDT. Awards will be presented during the ACRA Conference October 24-27, 2019, in Spokane, Washington.

  • 03/05/2019 1:16 PM | Duane Peter

    As noted in the ACRA February Monthly Member Update (MMU), the ACRA Board approved the white paper, Digital Data Curation and Access:  Why You and Your Organization Should be Involved (Peter et al. 2019). The ACRA 2018 conference session and board meeting indicated that the subject of data sharing and synthesis efforts was received with a degree of skepticism on the part of some CRM professionals.  There was obvious concern regarding the logistics of data sharing and synthesis studies.  Nevertheless, the ACRA board realized that increased communication between our industry and the academy is essential for the future of our profession and our ability to address the grand questions (Kintigh et al. 2014).  The detailed logistics of achieving data sharing and digital curation for the advancement of archaeological synthesis remain to be determined. 

    The concepts of archaeological synthesis, data sharing, and digital curation are not new to our profession, but if we are to address the grand questions as Kintigh et al. (2014) and Altschul et al. (2018) advocate, we must rethink our research strategies and how data access affects the process.  As Altschul et al. (2018) note, archaeologists must do more than analyze and interpret data on a project-by-project basis.  Synthesis of large databases must be accomplished and transformed into scientific knowledge of value to society.  The need to address the pressing social issues of today requires an interdisciplinary approach using the domains of anthropology and other social and natural sciences.  As Altschul et al. (2018) note, past interdisciplinary efforts have been costly, multi-year efforts in which the team had to find, transform, and analyze large complex data sets on its own.  The Coalition for Archaeological Synthesis (CfAS) was created to provide institutionalized support for collaborative synthesis research. 

    CfAS is using a model for collaborative research that was previously designed by the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis.  Under this model 8-12 people from multiple disciplines are funded for a two-to-three-year period to address complex problems. This team meets 3-4 times during that period.  Some personnel within the CRM industry question how this model is feasible when they are expected to be billable throughout most of the year.  I would note that  most researchers within the CRM industry spend hundreds of hours each year conducting research that is outside the expectations of the average single project. This effort is usually incorporated into subsequent projects, but the level of effort is far beyond the normal hours of the work year. Our industry has been proactive in recent years by incorporating synthesis studies as an integral part of mitigation studies; nevertheless, we likely need to rethink the temporal and spatial scale of our synthesis efforts and include other relevant disciplines. 

    Of course, large synthesis studies need access to multiple data sets from multiple regions and the academy obviously wants access to the voluminous data sets collected by the CRM industry. To ease the level of effort, CfAS is promoting the curation of digital data in a responsible digital data repository, specifically, tDAR.  The curation of both current and legacy data is encouraged. This need has raised a variety of concerns within the CRM industry.  One reaction is:  “Why can’t they go to the State Historic Preservation Office files or the state archives like we do?” Unfortunately, such an approach is not cost-effective for either the academy or our industry when a large portion of the nation does not maintain digital access to site forms, reports, or primary data sets.  Our industry, the academy, and our clients would benefit from multiple databases from multiple regions, and multiple time periods being curated in one location. 

    The import of legacy data into tDAR definitely presents challenges for the CRM industry.  First, the industry does not own the data.  Clients and agencies would need to approve such curation. Secondly, personnel time and money are needed to gather legacy data, and finally, legacy data may be in an outdated medium.  Admittedly, much of the data currently held by tDAR is legacy data; however, that is largely due to a very few enlightened agency individuals who have been willing to fund the collection of legacy data.

    Another issue is the emotional and psychological baggage of the divide that existed between the academy and our industry for a number of years. CRM industry personnel were frequently viewed as second-class citizens within the profession and not capable of the same level of research practiced by the academy. Unfortunately, remnants of this divide remain; consequently, some CRM researchers are reluctant to share and are wary that their contributions would not be acknowledged.  I believe that increased communication between the academy and our industry can overcome these fears. 

    I firmly believe that our industry has come of age; however, we need to be aware of the challenges before us.  Our clients want more for less and we must demonstrate our relevance to society if our industry is to survive.  Therefore, we need to discard any historic baggage and collaborate with the academy to provide synthesis studies that demonstrate the relevance of our profession.  Having digital data from thousands of projects in one or a few institutions that will provide access for the future will provide the following efficiencies:

    v Reduction of time and travel in conducting background research,

    v Better knowledge of previously collected data will reduce the collection of redundant data,

    v Reduction of some of the need for costly mitigation; and

    v Enhanced understanding of the social and environmental dynamics that have contributed to the present human condition.


    The achievement of such efficiencies and the use of those data in ways that the public sees as benefits will satisfy the goals envisioned by the creators of the NHPA, ARPA, and associated regulations.  Our industry could develop its own competitive structure for synthesis studies, but I feel that such an approach would be counterproductive; let’s invest in a strategy that benefits the entire profession.

    If you have a different perspective or support archaeological synthesis, data sharing, and digital curation, please use ACRASphere to share your ideas. 


    References Cited

    Altschul, Jeffrey H., Keith W. Kintigh, Terry H. Klein, William H. Doelle, Kelley A. Hays-Gilpin, Sarah A. Herr, Timothy A. Kohler, Barbara J. Mills, Lindsay M. Montgomery, Margaret C. Nelson, Scott G. Ortman, John N. Parker, Matthew A. Peeples, and Jeremy A. Sabloff

    2018     Fostering Collaborative Synthetic Research in Archaeology. Advances in Archaeological Practice 6(1): 19-29.  DOI:10.1017/aap.2017.31

    Kintigh, Keith W., Jeffrey H. Altschul, Mary C. Beaudry, Robert D. Drennan, Ann P. Kinzig, Timothy A. Kohler, W. Fredrick Limp, Herbert D.G. Maschner, William K. Michener, Timothy R. Pauketat, Peter Peregrine, Jeremy A. Sabloff, Tony J. Wilkinson, Henry T. Wright, and Melinda A. Zeder

    2014     Grand Challenges for Archaeology.  American Antiquity 79(1): 5-24

  • 03/01/2019 8:00 AM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    Readers can now find relevant news items compiled all in one place! In our CRM Firms in the News series, we feature recent mentions of ACRA member firms and their projects across the country. Was your firm recently featured in a news article or on social media? Send it to us to be included in our next volume of the series!

    • In our last volume we featured a story about the creation of a scholarship at the University of Mary Washington funded by Dovetail Cultural Resource Group. A new piece in Fredericksburg Today goes into further detail about the scholarship and Dovetail's connection to and support of UMW. Learn more about this unique way of giving back to the community (and potentially your alma mater!).
    • A regional airport in Arkansas received its place on the National Register thanks in part to the work of ACRA member firm Cultural Resource Analysts, Inc. Read more about the firm started the process a year and a half ago in the El Dorado News-Times.
    • "Genealogy meets Archaeology:" Many of our firms donate their valuable time to pro bono opportunities in addition to contract work. Staff from ACRA member firm Open Range Archaeology, LLC are donating their time and resources to help improve the records for Ninnekah Community Cemetery in Grady County, Oklahoma. Read more about how they are using grand penetrating radar to help their community on this project in the Express-Star.

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