The Center for Public Safety Excellence (CPSE) is proud to announce that it is offering the professional credential of Public Information Officer (PIO), the sixth designation available through the Commission on Professional Credentialing (CPC). This designation provides recognition of the importance of PIOs as a part of both emergency and daily operations in communicating valuable information to the public.

In January 2022, CPSE’s Commission on Professional Credentialing® (CPC®) began an effort to develop a new professional designation for public information officers in response to a request from the National Information Officers Association (NIOA). Based on survey results from NIOA members, the CPSE Board of Directors unanimously approved the development of the designation to highlight the importance of the PIO profession.

Reflecting on this effort, Jeff Pomeranz, president of the CPSE Board of Directors and city manager in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, shared, “Each of us working in or close to government understand the critical role public information officers play following an emergency. The CPSE Board was eager to approve and move forward the development of this new professional credential, which we are proud to announce as our sixth professional credential.” Other designations include Chief Fire Officer (CFO), Chief EMS Officer (CEMSO), Chief Training Officer (CTO), Fire Marshal (FM), and Fire Officer (FO).

Following eight months of focused development and beta testing, CPC will begin offering the Public Information Officer (PIO) effective November 2022. This credential is available to individuals who are employed as public information officers for governmental or quasi-governmental entities or are volunteers for a federal, state, local or tribal government agency.

Thinking back on this process, Toni Washington, CFO, CPC chair and fire chief of the City of Decatur Fire Rescue, said, “The Public Information Officer plays a vital role in the world today and is at the forefront of all major incidents. The PIO designation gives visibility to a profession that is well deserving of a professional credential. Thank you to the CPSE Board, CPC commissioners, staff, and many volunteers that made this idea a reality.”


A cross functional team worked behind the scenes to bring the new credential to fruition. Members of the team included CPSE staff, a project manager, CPC commissioners, new and existing volunteers serving as peer reviewers, and a dedicated 13-member technical working group. This group consisted of public information experts and fire service professionals from the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom and was divided into three subcommittees: eligibility, technical competencies, and beta testers and reviewers. The team was eager to meet the established project timelines and, successfully, met or exceeded each of milestone making the PIO credential a reality.


September 2021 CPC reviews NIOA proposal and forwards to CPSE Board of Directors
December 2021 CPSE Board of Directors approves project funding for development of new PIO credential
February 2022 Project Manager is selected to oversee development
March 2022 PIO committee established
Spring 2022 First draft of application, including eligibility requirements and technical competencies, created
July 2022 Beta testers selected and PIO application reviewers selected trained
August 2022 First set of beta test applications received
September 2022 First set of beta test applicants reviewed and recommended for designation
November 2022 Official rollout of the PIO designation

The application is now available to download from CPSE and outlines the full eligibility requirements, including the cost and process for applying.