• 04/05/2021 5:55 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    From the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP):

    The Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP) today released a report presenting the findings of the Leveraging Federal Historic Buildings Working Group, which spent the last year identifying ways to advance utilization of the nation’s historic federal buildings through outleasing.

    The Working Group focused on the leasing and use by nonfederal partners of federal historic buildings not needed in the near term by federal agencies, known as “outleasing.” The buildings that were the focus of this report are those that are included or eligible for inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places.

    The Working Group assessed the status of outleasing, identified obstacles to increased outleasing, and developed recommendations for overcoming those obstacles. The three major recommendations—foster interagency coordination and administrative efficiencies; expand marketing and education; and, incentivize outleasing policies—are each accompanied by a series of action items. The ACHP will carry out these items to implement the report’s recommendations in cooperation with federal and nonfederal preservation partners over the coming months. The report also highlights agency outleasing successes nationwide.

    “The ACHP’s Leveraging Federal Historic Buildings Working Group developed a blueprint for how the agency can assist federal agencies in making productive use of their underutilized historic buildings,” ACHP Vice Chairman Rick Gonzalez said. “Outleasing gives new life to these buildings, improving public access, contributing to local economies, and even transferring maintenance and capital improvement costs to partners in certain circumstances. This report serves to advance the ACHP’s larger mission of promoting the preservation, enhancement, and sustainable use of the nation’s diverse historic resources.”

    Former ACHP Chairman Aimee Jorjani established the Working Group in late 2019. It includes representatives from six key federal agencies that manage significant and complex property holdings (General Services Administration, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, National Park Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs [VA], and U.S. Postal Service) as well as leadership from two nonfederal preservation stakeholders (National Conference of State Historic Preservation Officers and National Trust for Historic Preservation), which are ACHP members.

    Accompanying the release of the report, Vice Chairman Gonzalez spoke with an agency representative and business leaders in the ACHP’s podcast Preservation Perspectives to highlight a successful public-private outleasing partnership at the VA Medical Center in Leavenworth, Kansas, where they have adaptively reused 38 buildings within a VA-owned National Historic Landmark.

    The ACHP encourages federal agencies that own such buildings, private entities that may benefit from leasing them, and any stakeholder interested in the use and retention of such buildings to read this report and support the recommended actions that will help facilitate the leasing of these important buildings.

    Go to the Leveraging Federal Historic Buildings web page to learn more.

  • 04/02/2021 10:11 AM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    From the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP):

    Revised National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) regulations from the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) went into effect on September 14, 2020. While the relationship between NEPA and Section 106 reviews remains fundamentally the same, the ACHP developed this Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) flow chart in coordination with CEQ to serve as a reference for how the two reviews align. It includes updated NEPA citations and definitions of key terms in NEPA and Section 106.

    This chart serves as a supplement to NEPA and NHPA: A Handbook for Integrating NEPA and Section 106 (Handbook), jointly developed by CEQ and the ACHP in 2013. More thorough updates to the Handbook will be carried out in the future. For additional information on NEPA and Section 106 review integration, please visit the ACHP's website: https://www.achp.gov/integrating_nepa_106.

  • 04/01/2021 3:01 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    CRM Virtual Advocacy Week
    April 19-23

    ACRA members across the country will be meeting with their members of Congress during the week of April 19 to discuss the most pressing CRM issues. Will you join us?

    There is still time to sign up for CRM Virtual Advocacy Week, but you need to do so soon to participate! You won't even need to leave your desk - all meetings will be happening over video conference.

    ACRA will arrange your meetings and provide training beforehand. Meetings will be scheduled throughout the week to accommodate your schedule and those of congressional offices.

    Just because you can't make it to DC doesn't mean that you can't make an impact. ACRA needs time to get your meetings scheduled, so sign up now here before it is too late!

  • 03/31/2021 2:34 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    Editor’s note: All of us at ACRA were sad to learn that Nellie Longsworth passed away recently. Nellie was a champion in the historic preservation field, and was an integral part of growing ACRA’s presence in Washington, D.C. Below is a message remembering Nellie written by some of ACRA’s co-founders: Chuck Niquette, Loretta Neumann, and Tom Wheaton. It is followed by an afterword from current ACRA President Nathan Boyless.

    Remembering Nellie Longsworth
    March 29, 1933 – March 1, 2021

    ACRA co-founder Loretta Neumann introduced Nellie Longsworth to ACRA at the first national conference in the Fall of 1995 in Washington, D.C. Nellie was the founder and executive director of Preservation Action (PA), a preservation advocacy group that worked with all branches of the federal government to promote historic preservation. Under Nellie’s leadership, PA’s support and efforts were critical to the passage of Rep. John Seiberling’s 1980 amendments to the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA), which included so many important additions to the law. The Amendments, among other things, codified the federal historic preservation program, included the first specific programs addressing archaeology in the Act, included new authorizations to bolster state historic preservation programs and, again for the first time, include local communities through the certified local government programs.

    Congress enacted the first historic preservation tax credits in 1976, the first federal tax incentives for the rehabilitation of historic buildings. Nellie traveled to 20 cities in a two-month period, mobilizing grassroots support and securing revisions to make the tax-credit program even more effective. The bill would not have gotten out of the Conference Committee had Nellie not made a critical phone call to Rep. Seiberling. Nellie knew that Seiberling was close friends with Rep. Charles Vanik, the key subcommittee chairman on the House Ways & Means Committee who had jurisdiction over the bill in the House. As Nellie requested of him, Rep. Seiberling called “Charlie,” who didn’t know anything about historic preservation. In response, Rep. Vanik told Rep. Seiberling that if he (John) thought it was important to keep the tax act provision in the bill, they would—and they did. The House accepted the Senate-approved provisions. This is Nellie Longsworth at her best – Wonder Woman for the national historic preservation program!

    In 1992 she again coordinated efforts to enact the Amendments to the National Historic Preservation Act. In addition, she successfully lobbied for provisions to benefit archaeology and historic preservation in the transportation enhancements programs. Nellie and PA were also integral in the efforts to save the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP) in 1995 – that effort led, of course, by ACRA with Loretta’s staff at CEHP Incorporated working on our behalf.

    A few years later, when Loretta sold her firm to work for President Clinton, Loretta recommended that ACRA engage Nellie as her replacement for our government relations specialist. Nellie proceeded to inaugurate a yearly meet-your-Washington-representative day (now CRM Day on the Hill), including helping members learn how to find offices in the Capitol – no small task!

    Nellie guided many members through the intricacies of how the federal government really works, and also provided members with a Washington update on preservation issues for our newsletter that was better than we had seen from other sources. She successfully fought off proposed changes that would have hobbled Section 106 in 2007 and led the efforts to add archaeology and historic preservation in the Conservation Reserve program of the USDA Farm Bill.

    The Society of Professional Archaeologists (SOPA) established the John F. Seiberling Award in 1986 in the name of Rep. Seiberling for his many legislative efforts in support of historic preservation. For SOPA, and now the Register of Professional Archaeologists (RPA), the award is intended to recognize significant and sustained efforts in the conservation of archeological resources by an individual or group. Seiberling himself received the first award, and Nellie was bestowed with the Seiberling Award in 2010.

    Loretta Neumann, John Seiberling and Nellie at a
    Preservation Action party at Loretta’s house around 1980

    Nellie also became a friend to many ACRA members, touching many lives within the historic preservation community and beyond. Many reported often running into people unrelated to ACRA who knew and had worked with her. She had contacts and life-long friends on both sides of the aisle, and by some unwritten rule we never really talked partisan politics. She was an indispensable addition to ACRA, and gave us a legitimacy at the national level that we might otherwise have lacked. ACRA would not be what it is today without Nellie’s guidance, and we are forever thankful for her efforts on behalf of the organization and the larger CRM community.

    Afterword by ACRA President Nathan Boyless

    While I never had the opportunity to meet Nellie Longsworth, her name and presence are felt every time we gather for the annual ACRA conference or for Board of Directors and Committee business. Her loss strikes at the heart of ACRA and will be felt for many years to come. Join us in celebrating her amazing life and passionate career as remembered by some founders and friends.

  • 03/29/2021 1:50 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    Your Congress in Action is a series that highlights the Capitol Hill news that affects CRM firms the most. Be sure to subscribe to the ACRAsphere to ensure you don't miss an update.

    As the country grapples with multiple emergencies, from the ongoing pandemic to a border crisis and two mass shootings, President Biden remains focused on a more longstanding challenge whose solution has eluded his predecessors: addressing the nation’s dilapidated infrastructure. For the CRM industry, the effort offers both opportunities and risks.

    The White House is preparing to unveil a massive legislative package that could spend as much as $4 trillion on infrastructure, while also addressing climate change and equity. Although the details of the plan are still not set, the plan could include hundreds of billions of dollars for projects to build or repair roads, bridges, rail lines, ports, electric vehicle charging stations, schools, energy efficient houses, schools, rural broadband and more.

    In addition to the physical infrastructure provisions, the plan could include a number of social programs, including universal pre-kindergarten, free community college, expanded childcare support and increased subsidies for the Affordable Care Act. To pay for the plan, the White House is considering a number of tax increases, including raising the corporate tax rate from 21 percent to 28 percent and increasing taxes on wealthy investors, although Biden has pledged to not raise taxes on individuals earning under $400,000.

    What does this plan mean for the CRM industry? If the plan is enacted, it would lead to a sizable number of new projects subject to Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act, creating demand for CRM firms. However, the desire to “streamline” regulations could pose problems. Although there is no indication from the White House that the plan would try to exempt projects from Section 106, there are a number of bills before Congress to do just that, particularly for telecommunications and electrical grid projects. ACRA is making clear to policymakers that short-circuiting the Section 106 process does not save time or money, and threatens our nation’s heritage.

    Of course, all of this is moot if the plan cannot pass through Congress. With Democrats holding razor-thin margins in both the House and Senate, Biden has little room for error if he wants to gain support for his plan. To that end, there is talk of splitting the proposal into multiple parts, keeping the infrastructure provisions that may gain bipartisan support separate from the more contentious provisions around climate and social programs. But, as the Democrats-only COVID relief bill that was enacted a few weeks ago showed, getting the two parties to agree is not easy these days. Even if Senate Democrats try to jettison the filibuster, there is no guarantee they can win over the 50 votes they would need to approve legislation with the Vice President’s tiebreaking vote.

    That does not mean that bipartisanship is dead. Congress took steps on two important issues last week that impact businesses, including CRM firms. First, the Senate passed bipartisan legislation last week to extend the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) application deadline from March 31 to May 31. Under the bill, the SBA also will have an additional month, until June 30, to process applications. The bill, which passed the House the week before, now goes to the President for his signature.

    Second, House members took the first steps to address an issue that has been a particular concern to CRM firms. The House Small Business Committee's Subcommittee on Contracting and Infrastructure held a hearing last week on the impact of forgiven PPP loans on firms that seek contracts from federal agencies and state DOTs. Under federal rules, firms that have PPP loans forgiven need to credit the value of the loan back to agencies when they contract for projects, potentially leaving CRM firms in the position of losing money on government contracts. ACRA wrote to the Committee two weeks ago to raise concerns about the problem. 

    At the hearing, lawmakers from both parties expressed a desire to make sure that small businesses that received forgivable loans and contract with federal agencies and/or state DOTs are treated fairly, while ensuring that taxpayers still received good value. Committee members agreed to work on the issue.

    This issue is an example of how advocacy by ACRA and its members can have results. As Congress gets ready to discuss a major infrastructure bill and begin debating budget levels for the upcoming fiscal year, it’s more important than ever for CRM professionals to engage with their lawmakers.

    That’s why ACRA is holding its first-ever Virtual Advocacy Week April 19-23, where CRM professionals can meet via phone or Zoom with their elected representatives to talk about the issues of greatest importance to the industry, including support for Section 106, funding for the Historic Preservation Fund, and policies that help firms recover from the pandemic and economic crisis. ACRA will set up the meetings for you and provide all the information and support you need for a successful engagement.

    If you are interested in taking part in ACRA’s Virtual Advocacy Week, click here to register.

  • 03/25/2021 2:18 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    The deadline to send in your proposals for the 2021 ACRA Conference in Old Town Alexandria is fast approaching. You have just one week left - session ideas are due April 1!

    Whether it is a technical presentation or a discussion panel, we want to hear from you. This year’s conference theme — A Watershed Year: Navigating Change in the CRM Industry — focuses on how the past few years have brought historic changes to not just ACRA, but to the CRM industry overall and the nation at large. From navigating new ways of conducting business in the face of COVID-19 to addressing long-standing diversity issues in the industry, now is the time for CRM firms to come together to bring lasting positive change.

    The Call for Sessions has all of the information you need, but remember that sessions can:

    • Reflect a variety of CRM topics, from business operations to best practices and beyond;
    • Involve an individual speaker, a suite of presenters, or a panel;
    • Revolve around a presentation or an interactive activity;
    • Last between 45 minutes and two hours, depending on the topic.

    Our best sessions come from you - the CRM practitioners working in the industry daily. Click here to learn more about how to submit your ideas, and hurry - you have just one week left!

  • 03/23/2021 2:47 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    A Digital Marketing Primer
    April 8, 2021
    2:00 - 3:30 PM (EDT)
    Register Now

    Members $89 | Students $19 | Non-Members $129

    Marketing has moved online, and digital marketing includes far more than posts on social media. Few CRM firms, though, take full advantage of the effectiveness, targeting, and cost savings that digital marketing (DM) provides over more traditional methods.

    Join us on April 8 at 2:00 pm EDT for A Digital Marketing Primer, our first webinar of 2021 that will give a wide overview of marketing online. This presentation will be informative even to those experienced in digital marketing - even if you already utilize some online marketing tactics, you may be missing key audiences.

    This presentation provides an overview of the nine major DM topics:

    • Organic search
    • Paid search
    • Search engine optimization
    • Website optimization
    • Content marketing
    • Email marketing
    • Display & video advertising
    • Social media marketing
    • DM analytics

    The presentation will discuss the place where each of these can be most effectively used in both in-bound and out-bound marketing and the stages of the CRM client buyer’s journey.

    As always, in addition to reduced pricing, ACRA member firms enjoy a firm-wide registration fee - once one person pays for a spot, all other firms employees can register for no additional cost.

    We expect spaces to fill up quick, so register NOW to reserve your spot!

    Register for A Digital Marketing Primer Now

  • 03/19/2021 2:52 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    employability by Vectors Market from the Noun ProjectDid you know that being an ACRA member gets you access to more than just conference, continuing education, and networking? Our benefit spotlight series focuses on some of the benefits you may not be aware of. Next up: the ACRA job board.

    The ACRA job board is beneficial for employers and job hunters alike! As ACRA is a national organization, employers are able to reach a wider network of candidates, and those looking for positions are able to see opportunities they may have otherwise missed.

    Each submitted job is also circulated on ACRA's social media properties to allow for greater reach (and thus a larger pool of qualified candidates!). 

    But what is the membership benefit aspect of the job board? It is that ACRA member firms are able to post for FREE! There is no limit to the number of positions posted throughout the year.

    Even for non-member firms, government agencies, and other entities looking to recruit from the CRM community, the rates for posting are extremely reasonable (contact us for more information if you are looking to post).

    The ACRA job board can help firms attract talent and connect job seekers with the right position for them. You can see current open positions on the job board here, and if you are not a member firm, join now to access free posting benefits!

  • 03/15/2021 2:04 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    Your Congress in Action is a series that highlights the Capitol Hill news that affects CRM firms the most. Be sure to subscribe to the ACRAsphere to ensure you don't miss an update.

    As the country marks the one-year anniversary of the pandemic lockdown this month, Congress and the White House are taking large and, some say, costly steps to help the economy recover.

    Last Thursday, President Biden signed into law a massive $1.9 trillion COVID relief bill, following Congressional passage earlier in the week. The bill includes:

    • Stimulus checks of $1,400 for individuals making under $75,000 and $2,800 for married couples making under $150,000. Individuals making less than $80,000 or married couples making below $160,000 will get smaller checks.
    • Additional $300-a-week federal bonus in unemployment benefits through September 6.
    • Increased child tax credit (currently $2,000) to $3,600 per child under 6 and $3,000 for children ages 6 to 17, which the IRS will send out to eligible recipients in regular installments.
    • Increased childcare tax credit, which can cover up to half the cost of childcare expenses, to $4,000 per child and $8,000 total.
    • $14 billion to distribute and administer vaccinations, $48 billion for testing and contact tracing and $50 billion for FEMA relief.
    • $350 billion for state and local governments ($220 billion for states, territories and tribal governments and $130 billion for metropolitan cities, localities and counties).
    • Loan assistance for "socially disadvantaged" farmers and ranchers who belong to groups that have faced ethnic or racial discrimination.
    • $22 billion in rental assistance, $5 billion in homelessness aid and nearly $10 billion to help homeowners pay mortgages.
    • $1.7 billion for Amtrak, $135 million for the National Endowment for the Arts, $135 million for the National Endowment for the Humanities and $175 million for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
    • $125 billion to help K-12 schools open, with some of the funding targeted at measures that address learning loss since the start of the pandemic.
    • $39 billion for childcare providers and $40 billion for higher education, half of which is reserved for financial aid for students.
    • Increased subsidies for customers who buy insurance through Obamacare, lowering premiums across the board and outright eliminating them on benchmark plans for people making under 150 percent of the federal poverty level.
    • Provisions that allow people who left jobs during the pandemic and want to maintain their existing employer insurance to have 100 percent of their premiums subsidized through COBRA.
    • $28.6 billion in grants for restaurants.

    Democrats have hailed the package for not just addressing the economic dislocation caused by the pandemic, but taking concrete steps to address persistent poverty. A Columbia University study estimated that the overall changes could cut child poverty by half. Republicans criticized the bill for being a progressive wish-list of spending unrelated to COVID that will explode the national debt and risk overheating the economy, leading to inflation. No matter which side you are on, there’s no doubt the bill will be a major talking point for both sides until the next election.

    With the COVID relief bill enacted, the capital’s attention is turning to the question of what’s next on Biden's agenda. Although infrastructure is widely believed to be the next big legislative push, there is some speculation that the crisis at the Mexican border may push Congressional Democrats to take up Biden's immigration plan next. However, it is not clear if the plan - which focuses on providing a pathway to citizenship for undocumented people and addressing the root causes of migration - will even have enough support in the Democratic-controlled House at this point, much less the Senate.

    Infrastructure might not be much easier. Despite the near-universal belief that infrastructure is a “bipartisan” issue, there are plenty of areas of disagreement between the parties, from the overall price tag to how (and whether) to address the climate crisis. Democrats want the bill to invest anywhere between $2 trillion and $4 trillion in infrastructure. But they will have to make a difficult choice: work with Republicans to advance a bipartisan bill (which would likely mean it will spend less), or rely solely on Democratic votes to push the bill through the Senate. But Democratic Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) has thrown cold water on that idea, saying he wants a bill that has backing from both parties. If Democrats try to go it alone in the evenly divided 50-50 Senate, they can’t afford to lose Manchin’s vote. Either way, the word is that House Democrats may unveil a bill, or at least a framework, by early April.

    Despite the partisan tensions, there are examples of the two parties working together to address the economic challenges. Last week, House and Senate lawmakers reached a bipartisan agreement to extend the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) for two months beyond the current March 31 expiration date. The deal, which the House may vote on this week, would delay the PPP's loan application deadline to May 31 and give the Small Business Administration authority to continue processing pending applications for 30 days after that date.

    Even as Congress extends the PPP program, they must contend with some of its unintended consequences. In the last Your Congress in Action, we noted that ACRA has raised concerns with lawmakers about how taking PPP loans affects how much firms can be paid on federal government contracts. The government has interpreted a provision in federal procurement rules to mean that PPP recipients whose loans are forgiven must credit the value of the loan back to the government when they contract with federal agencies. This could force many small firms to choose between accepting PPP loans and seeking government contracts. Several representatives have told ACRA they agree this is a problem and have promised to look into solutions.

    This is an issue that came to ACRA’s attention through its Small Business Committee, and is just one example of how ACRA uses its advocacy tools to address issues that affect the CRM industry. It’s also a reminder that, despite the partisan battling on Capitol Hill, citizens can make a difference when they engage with their elected representatives, even during a pandemic.

    To that end, we invite you to sign up for ACRA’s first-ever Virtual Advocacy Week, April 19-24. ACRA will help you set up virtual meetings with your federal representatives to educate them on CRM and how they can help the industry move forward. For more information, click here.

  • 03/12/2021 2:05 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    ACRA is celebrating the work of its member firms through this new series highlighting 2020 projects. To be featured, submit your project here.

    The Lost City of DeMille
    Applied EarthWorks, Inc.

    Applied EarthWorks, Inc (Æ) Historical Archaeology staff, under the direction of M. Colleen Hamilton, M.A., RPA, completed excavations at the Cecil B. DeMille’s 1923 silent movie set for the prologue of the classic film The Ten Commandments. The data recovery excavations at Lost City were not the typical cultural resource management project. Rather, the work was performed in cooperation with the Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes Center, the County of Santa Barbara, and featured in Peter Brosnan’s documentary film The Lost City of DeMille. Brosnan’s production debuted at the Santa Barbara Film Festival in 2016 and won multiple awards at the Archaeology Channel International Film Festival in 2018. Media coverage following the 2012, 2014, and 2016 field excavation performed by Æ attracted international attention.

    Æ’s investigations at the DeMille’s site focused on the discovery of statuary from the film set including a nearly whole sphinx; one of 20 statues that lined the road into the pharaonic City that DeMille’s recreated at Guadalupe Dunes. The set was designed by Paul Iribe, the father of Art Deco, possibly after an oil painting by Sir Edward John Poynter titled Israel in Egypt. DeMille’s City of the Rameses was set in the Egyptian Desert from which the Israelites fled persecution. The Guadalupe Dunes provided the vast sand dunes reminiscent of desert scenes and has been featured in multiple Hollywood films (The Sheik (1921); Son of the Sheik (1926) and Morocco (1930)). Between 2012 and 2020, Æ staff also searched for Camp DeMille where 2,500 film stars, extras, set workers, cooks, and 3000 livestock resided during the five months it took to build the set and film the movie.

    This project is a fascinating example of conservation by a private entity, with the majority of funding for the project coming from the Dunes Center. Additionally, it brings a new lens to an industry that is still considered relatively new by historical standards. For more information on the project, be sure to view The Lost City of DeMille, available on Amazon

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