IAAO recognizes governmental units and individuals involved with assessment that integrate best practices in the workplace.
This challenging and rigorous program is a self-conducted evaluation of specific, accepted, assessment administration and
appraisal practices as defined in the IAAO publication Assessment Practices: Self-Evaluation Guide. Interested
jurisdictions should review all of the materials below and direct questions to email@example.com.
Congratulations to the entire staff of the following assessment offices on the achievement of the IAAO Certificate of Excellence in
Assessment Administration! Click on a name to see details.
In 2012, Washington County, Arkansas Assessor’s Office became the first jurisdiction in that state to earn the CEAA.
Former IAAO President Debra Asbury was pleased that a jurisdiction from her state succeeded in the program during her
presidency and hopes that other will follow in their footsteps. Washington County wanted to participate
primarily to find ways to improve their services to the citizens of the county. Besides making the decision
to enter the program, the most difficult part of the process was sorting through the mountain of data,
deciding what was relevant and to what degree.
Washington County had 6 primary contributors with input from 8 other staff members over an 8-month
period requiring nearly 1,800 hours of work on their submission. The major change they would have made
in retrospect was to have one author write the entire submission. They assigned individual chapters to
team members based upon their areas of expertise and this was a good idea for the context of the question,
but due to different writing styles this created a choppy look and read. Eventually, they did assign one author
and thus created a much more professional document.
The best advice they have for interested jurisdictions is to take your time, establish a well-defined
structure for the project, have only one writer but multiple reviewers, and remember that you can never
contact your mentor enough. The sense of teamwork that came out of this project made the whole undertaking
worth the effort. They had to work together as never before which built cohesiveness that would have been impossible to achieve otherwise.
The first jurisdiction to receive the CEAA, the Alachua County, Florida, Property Appraiser’s Office, believed that its business processes were exceptional and wanted to be the first certificate recipient in 2004. They recertified in 2010.
To achieve this goal, four point people from various departments were selected: the Chief Deputy Property
Appraiser, the Executive Director of Administration, the Executive Director of Valuation, and the Information
Technology Director. These four representatives made the commitment to complete the self-evaluation with their
respective staff members in the shortest time possible. The process ended up taking three weeks of focused,
dedicated effort, plus many overtime hours. Glenda Walrath, IT Director, said, “In retrospect, we should have
broken the project down in greater detail and assigned it to the responsible departments. In fact, when we
worked on our five-year resubmission, we did that, and it was much more manageable”. The Alachua County Property
Appraiser’s Office encourages jurisdictions that are interested in pursuing the certificate to give themselves
enough time to go through the exercise carefully, and advises that, if they discover a process that does not
meet or exceed the requirements, to use the Assessment Practices: Self-Evaluation Guide to assist in improving
those areas. Walrath also advises, “In addition, have one person handle the administrative tasks of formatting
and tracking the exhibits included in the document. Also, use your most knowledgeable staff to manage the
self-assessment exercise”. The Alachua County office considers the CEAA recognition to be confirmation that
it is a leader in the industry, along with the benefit that the journey itself created a strong team environment
among the staff members who participated.
In 2011, Clay County became the sixth county in Florida to earn the certificate. Led by Roger Suggs, AAS, Property
Appraiser, a team of ten people researched and prepared their submission in a little more than three months.
Suggs said he knew that attaining the certificate would be a rigorous and challenging task, but he didn’t
anticipate how the project would unite his office personnel and help them discover a new respect for the
contribution of all departments. His recommendation to other interested jurisdictions is, “Don’t be
intimidated by the process. Listen to your mentor and implement his advice. It isn’t supposed to be easy,
but be honest and thorough, and the rest will happen.”
Hillsborough County, Florida Property Appraiser's Office earned their CEAA in 2014 and is the 11th Florida jurisdiction with the certificate. Hillsborough County
Property Appraiser Bob Henriquez began his tenure in January 2013 by challenging
the organization to re-think and re-invent its vision and re-invigorate a staff in transition.
Working in conjunction with the strategic planning process, their office entered the CEAA program
as an additional means of thoroughly taking stock of current procedures and practices. As a result of
the successful completion, the CEAA has been added to their strategic plan, which guides the
operations of the office. The staff plans to use it as a framework to ensure they are meeting their
strategic goals and objectives for continuous improvement and best practices within the
The Hillsborough County staff recommends that jurisdictions preparing a CEAA submission allow themselves
enough time to complete it. They had set themselves a challenging timeline and found
that although they were able to meet the deadline, “the process required extraordinary leadership
and a close-knit team. In order to give our office more time to work on the final report, and
avoid extra weekends and evenings in the office, it would have been beneficial to start the process
earlier in the year.”
In 2008, the Lee County Property Appraiser's Office earned the CEAA. They perceived the certificate program as an
opportunity to perform an in-depth review of current business practices and evaluate those findings according to the standards
of IAAO. Jacquelyn Mabry, who works in Training & Special Projects at the Lee County Property Appraiser's Office said, "One
of our most valuable lessons was that in assessment administration there are many options and choices in creating sound
business practices and there is no harm in critiquing our own practices. Through critiquing, we can only move forward in a
more appropriate direction."
In retrospect, the Lee County office would have spent more time in the planning stages. For a short time, many
departments and employees were involved, thus creating many different templates, voices, and tones. This necessitated a
revamp of the plan to assign one person to create one voice and one cohesive submission.
In 2012, Leon County, Florida Property Appraiser’s Office became the 11th jurisdiction to earn the certificate since
the inception of the program, and the 8th jurisdiction in Florida to earn the certificate. Leon was already
undergoing an office realignment in response to market changes and simultaneously preparing for a new CAMA
system. What better opportunity to conduct an evaluation of office processes than to enter the CEAA program?
Leon County's advice to others is to identify the key person in your office for each chapter topic and give
them 30-60 days to rough in responses to the submission. Those rough responses can be polished by one person
assigned to compile the overall submission. This approach took approximately one year to complete the entire
Their greatest benefits were the boosted pride of the staff from the successful process and the
recognition from their peers at the annual conference. An added benefit is that the self-evaluation helps
to identify office processes that need changes, and management staff can implement them as needed.
In 2012, Orange County, Florida Property Appraiser’s Office contributed to their state’s overwhelming lead
in the number of certified jurisdictions. They have already undertaken a self-review to root out
“institutionalized” processes that were not required by law and could thus provide budgetary savings.
The CEAA program provided the formal structure for an agency-wide review of internal practices and procedures.
Their certificate offers confirmation to the citizens of Orange County and the public at large of their
professionalism and best practices. For any interested jurisdiction, they advise you to take the project
very seriously by setting a goal to learn from it and be a better agency because of the process.
The Osceola County, Florida, Property Appraiser’s Office earned their CEAA in 2010. They took a hint from the Seminole County office when
newly elected Property Appraiser Katrina S. Scarborough decided to use the CEAA vehicle to review office
procedures and processes to determine whether the office was following best practices. She also wanted the
office to work together to achieve a worthy goal that would represent a testament to the employees for their
dedication and hard work in servicing the public. As the office’s motto states, “The best PA office, because
we care”. According to Scarborough, “While we have always been confident in our knowledge and processes, it
was nice to see just how closely we follow the best practices in assessment, in accordance with the certificate
program. It made everyone think about the steps in the management and appraisal process to see if there were
any areas for improvement”. The office counted it as an advantage to know that it was doing things right. By
analyzing everything and identifying areas for improvement, the entire office gained a boost in confidence.
As a newly elected property appraiser, Scarborough found that public confidence in what the office is doing
is a very valuable commodity. She recommends having a good mentor to assist with the certificate program,
regardless of whether you’re newly elected or not.
The State of Florida has more certified jurisdictions than any other state, which includes the
Pinellas County Property Appraiser’s Office, which earned the CEAA in 2011. It is the seventh county in Florida to receive the certificate,
challenging other states to catch up with these overachievers. Led by Pam Dubov, CAE, Property Appraiser,
the Pinellas County office staff organized ten primary writers who compiled the submission by gathering
data from every department. It was an office-wide project. “We thought this would be a great way to
showcase the hard work and commitment of our staff,” said Dubov, “and to show our constituents that we
strive for excellence every day....and to ensure that we were using the best possible practices in all
areas.” With the potential chaos inherent in such an undertaking, Dubov recommends assigning one person
(or team) to coordinate and organize all participants, collect and compile all the chapters, and keep the
timeline on track. “We also recommend reading the Assessment Practices Self-Evaluation Guide all the way
through before embarking on the excellence journey as it will give you a good idea of the road ahead!”
In 2012, Sarasota County, Florida Property Appraiser’s Office became the tenth jurisdiction from the state of Florida
to earn the CEAA. They recently underwent many procedural changes in their office that have resulted in a
high-quality work product and improved taxpayer service. To quantify their progress, they wanted to analyze
all of their processes to identify strengths and weaknesses, and the CEAA is a very comprehensive evaluation
tool with a vast amount of information required for the submission.
The process took them about seven months, during which Sarasota County found a deeper appreciation and
understanding of the expertise and knowledge held and shared by the members of the staff team. They also
learned that it is important to self-assess to implement best practices and ensure that the agency stays
on top of industry standards. To interested jurisdictions, Sarasota recommends using the mentor early and
developing strong top to bottom commitment among the staff.
Seminole County, Florida Property Appraiser’s Office recertified their CEAA in 2012 which was originally
earned in 2005 when they were the second jurisdiction to become certified. They recommend that all
certified jurisdictions review the requirements for recertification as soon as the CEAA is earned
so that you can track employee’s education, legislative changes, and major operation changes over
the next five years. This will make the recertification process much easier when the time comes.
The recertification process involves submitting four chapters of the jurisdiction’s choosing, a
summary of legislative changes, and a summary of employee continuing education.
Ada County, Idaho Assessor’s Office in 2012 became the first jurisdiction in that state to earn the CEAA, but
hopefully more will follow suit. Ada wanted an independent evaluation to benchmark their processes
against industry best practices. Over the years, they have taken several steps to evaluate their
operations to ensure the highest level of service. But the achievement of the CEAA provides the independent
validation that they are meeting or exceeding industry standards and continually enhancing their service.
The evaluation process brought attention to some areas of weakness that allowed them to improve upon
procedures and yielded the greatest benefit to their jurisdiction. Employees that are typically focused
on their own areas of responsibility had the opportunity to work with management on the evaluation which
produced a greater level of understanding by everyone. The culmination of this project has made the Ada
County Assessor’s Office a better place to work as well as raised the level of service provided to their
IAAO is pleased to recertify the third jurisdiction to ever receive the CEAA, the Johnson County,
Kansas, Appraiser’s Office. They originally earned the certificate in 2005, and in 2011 they completed
the requirements of continuing commitment to superior assessment administration. Led by Paul Welcome, CAE,
Property Appraiser, the Johnson County staff have demonstrated consistent utilization of best practices.
In 2013, Carteret County, North Carolina Tax Department became the first jurisdiction in North Carolina to earn this distinction.
The Tax Administrator put together a team of
eight people to conduct the self-evaluation, which took a full 12 months to complete. The most difficult part was
maintaining the commitment to follow through. The level of detail needed to answer the questions satisfactorily
required research and analysis, which turned out to be a valuable teaching tool for all the staff.
Carl Tilghman, Tax Administrator says, “I have always known that we have a competent and effective appraisal staff,
and I wanted them to get the recognition they deserve. What I did not realize was the tremendous educational benefit
our staff would receive from the research and analysis required to complete the submission. God has blessed our county
with some truly dedicated and talented people to provide this vital public service.” Carteret County is proof that
even smaller jurisdictions can have quality mass appraisals and be a leader for all of the counties in their state.
City of Regina
In 2013, the City of Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada Assessment, Tax, and Real Estate Department became the first jurisdiction
in Canada to earn the CEAA. Two of the corporate values of the City of Regina are to be
“Performance Driven” and “Accountable and Focused on Excellence.” The CEAA dovetails perfectly with these two
corporate values and is the only avenue available to an assessment jurisdiction to be objectively recognized in
attaining these goals.
With many individuals working in an assessment jurisdiction, each performing their assigned tasks and responsibilities,
it’s easy to develop a narrow focus within one’s area. Responding to the questions posed in the CEAA served to broaden
Regina’s focus and provided a thorough understanding of all the tasks that are undertaken by numerous people and
departments to produce a complete and high quality assessment product. The City of Regina benefitted in three ways
from completing the CEAA program:
- A more thorough understanding and appreciation for the work that each and every staff person does.
- A strong sense of pride in the work and product of the assessment branch and the administrative
groups that support the assessment function.
- A clear understanding of the areas in which they need to improve.
In 2012, Davidson County, Tennessee Assessor’s Office became the first jurisdiction in that state to earn the CEAA.
They initially entered the program because they recognized that having the IAAO, the preeminent authority on
assessment administration, independently and objectively determine that they are meeting standards and best
practices in the appraisal profession will enhance the public trust. Nineteen staff members were directly involved
with writing the submission, a process which took precisely 358 days from start to finish. In retrospect,
Davidson County would have applied sooner for the program to get an earlier start.
The most valuable thing Davidson County learned about its jurisdiction is that assessment administration,
in all its facets, must be, at its core, about providing high-quality service to the taxpayers and property
owners of the county. They recommend focusing on organization on the front end of the project as it is a
significant and complex undertaking and not to procrastinate so as to meet the one-year deadline.
Dallas Central Appraisal District
In 2013 Dallas County, Texas Central Appraisal District became the 19th jurisdiction to earn the certificate since
the inception of the program, and the 3rd jurisdiction in Texas. Dallas CAD recognizes IAAO as the lighthouse
for our industry with regard to establishing best practices to ensure fairness, equity and professionalism.
To have IAAO independently and objectively determine that the Dallas CAD is meeting appraisal standards and
best practices is paramount. Being a strong supporter of IAAO, it was extremely important for Dallas CAD to
achieve the IAAO Certificate of Excellence for validation that the Dallas CAD is conforming to best practices.
In 2010, Dallas CAD successfully completed a Methods and Assistance Program (MAP) performance audit review
conducted by the Property Tax Assistance Division of the Texas State Comptroller’s Office which required a
comparable level of materials and documentation thus facilitating the development and completion of the IAAO
Certificate of Excellence submission. Due to this recent review, it made this task more plausible.
The most important recommendation Dallas CAD would give to other jurisdictions is to properly document
practices and processes and to be as transparent as possible. Rick Kuehler, Director of Administration says
to “explain in your own words how your organization conducts business. Tell your story, be proud of it, and
make the necessary changes in your practices and processes to move your organization forward.”
El Paso Central Appraisal District
El Paso Central Appraisal District (EPCAD) had just completed a comprehensive audit, and exceeded in all
categories. The CEAA they earned in 2012 would confirm internationally this level of excellence they strive for while
also being an opportunity to help them identify opportunities to improve. It would further serve to demonstrate
their continued commitment in gaining public trust. The Texas Property Tax Division’s direction of applying all
IAAO standards as a matter of law or rule in the near future was further motivation to proceed towards the CEAA.
The process began when Ms. Dinah Kilgore, Executive Director/Chief Appraiser attended the 2011 IAAO conference
in Phoenix, AZ. After meeting with recipients of the CEAA, her excitement for this designation was passed on to
her management staff. That excitement grew and the staff was able to complete the process and submit all
documentation by April 2012. Ms. Kilgore would like to take this opportunity to express her thanks to her entire
staff of 140.
For EPCAD, it was a confirmation of their level of dedication to superior performances and service to the
public that meant the most. It sent a positive message to their Board of Directors and citizens that EPCAD is
committed to a very high level of performance and adherence to the high standards of assessment administration.
Another benefit is the power of recognition of their employees. They see that their efforts and hard work are
being noticed by their peers in this business. They can also see they are bringing a positive spin to a negative
subject (taxes) to their community. This in turn is giving them the drive and excitement to continue to excel and
lead into the future.
EPCAD’s advice for being successful is to plan, plan, plan. Here are a few points they recommend:
- Give yourself plenty of time.
- Get a copy of the Assessment Practices Self-Evaluation Guide and review it before taking
on the submission for the CEAA. This will help in identifying some of your strengths and weaknesses.
- Set up a committee to keep track of time tables and chapter completions.
- Pair your strongest writers with your technical people to create the responses in the most complete
and concise manner.
- Where multiple departments have input to a response have them formulate the answer in committee
and then add data that applies only to their individual department.
- Have one lead writer who will compile all entries/chapters into a presentable document for review by the committee.
EPCAD invites more jurisdictions from Texas and around the world to enter the program because the more
jurisdictions that succeed, the more prestige is gained for all certificate recipients. A rising tide
raises all ships.
Harris County Appraisal District
In 2014, Harris County, Texas Appraisal District became the sixth jurisdiction from the state of Texas to earn the CEAA.
The district decided to pursue the CEAA
because “the new chief appraiser felt it was a good opportunity for a rigorous review of the strengths and weaknesses
of the organization. While completing the CEAA report, we learned that our district consistently utilizes the best
appraisal and assessment practices in the industry." Earning the CEAA has allowed them to assure their taxpayers that
they are “getting the best return on their dollars.” In addition, the process assisted the district in framing its strategic
plan for the future of the office.
HCAD assigned specific tasks to 12 key staff members to complete the submission. Other
staff provided additional support as needed. The process took the core team about 5 months to complete. When asked
what challenges they faced in preparing the submission the staff replied, “the most difficult part of the process was ensuring
the report flowed cohesively since many writers were involved.”
Taylor Central Appraisal District
In 2012, Taylor Central Appraisal District became the first jurisdiction in Texas to earn the certificate.
It was a long road for Taylor CAD spanning a two-year time frame due to the challenges of workloads and rigor
of the program. They advise others to enter the program early and do not wait until the spring to get started.
Writing the submission takes a coordinated effort of many staff over several months, and the grading process
can also take a couple of months. The grading must be completed by the time the Executive Board meets in July
for the jurisdiction to receive the certificate at the annual conference.
Taylor CAD boasts of using the certificate as a tool to train new employees and to give all employees
a better understanding of their processes. The icing on the cake is the message to the general public
that our district is professional and recognized by the leading assessment organization for our best practices.
Wichita Central Appraisal District
Wichita County, Texas Central Appraisal District earned their CEAA in 2013. They felt that while they were already providing above average service
to Wichita County, achieving CEAA status would give the entire staff the confidence to know that all of the implemented
changes over the previous years did in fact elevate the quality of their product. The CEAA process is similar to the
Methods and Assistance Program (MAP) conducted by the Texas state Comptroller’s Office, however this is not a pass
or fail, but rather a self-evaluation.
Being competitive in a friendly way, other appraisal districts in Texas have achieved this recognition, and
Wichita CAD wanted to be in this elite group of assessment offices. They had a total of eight staff assigned
to the program. Each senior appraiser was responsible for the chapter pertaining to their responsibilities:
residential, commercial, land, and personal property as well as the cartographer on mapping. The other chapters
were completed by executive management. Although they spent approximately five months on it, Chief Appraiser,
Eddie Trigg says “We would have started the process in August or September when staff isn’t as engaged in the
January 1st assessment date and the production of values for appraisal notices.”
Wichita CAD’s best advice for candidates is to request a mentor early on in the process as he/she can help you
get started on the right track. Don’t get over whelmed by the size of the project, break it down by chapter. Look
within; many times your assessment office is performing a process without realizing how it relates to IAAO Standards.
Williamson Central Appraisal District
In 2013, Williamson County, Texas Central Appraisal District contributed to their state’s burgeoning number of
certified jurisdictions by being the 4th to earn it. Williamson CAD wanted to analyze their current policies
and procedures to ensure they were meeting IAAO standards. The self-analysis the CEAA process provides allowed
them to have confidence they are providing the highest levels of appraisal and service to our citizens and taxing
Williamson CAD had a total of 10 people involved in the process including both managers and directors and spent
approximately four months from start to finish. The most valuable learning experience for them was the complete
overview, and in some cases, overhaul of their procedures. “Everyone has the intent to keep procedures up-to-date
with current processes, however most do not follow through with it,” said Alvin Lankford, Chief Appraiser. “That
was the case in our office, and this process gave us the chance to “catch up” on the changes. We have incredible
City of Alexandria
In 2012, the City of Alexandria, Virginia Department of Real Estate Assessments became the 19th jurisdiction to
receive the certificate since the inception of the program in 2004. They completed the grueling process
of self-evaluation and submitted the final project for grading in just 4 short months. The greatest
benefit to Alexandria was the rigorous process itself, which involved a high level of objectivity and
teamwork to complete. They gained knowledge of both the areas where they excelled and the areas where
improvement was needed.
City of Hampton
In 2011, the City of Hampton, Virginia, Assessor’s Office became the first city assessor's office to earn the certificate since the program began in 2004.
Led by Brian Gordineer, AAS, the office completed the grueling process
of self-evaluation and submitted the final project for grading in just three short months. “Our team had been working for two years on team building, process analysis and re-engineering,” said Gordineer, “and the positive efforts and productive outcomes needed to be validated by an objective measure. In completing the submission
there were several activities that the team had not previously considered, and we adopted
these new beneficial practices.”
Not only is Hampton the first city to ever earn the certificate, but it is also the first jurisdiction
in the state of Virginia to receive the CEAA.
City of Portsmouth
The City of Portsmouth, Virginia Assessor's Office earned their CEAA in 2014, making them the third jurisdiction in the state of Virginia with the certificate. Over the past several years the Portsmouth Assessor’s Office has instituted a number of improvements to more closely reflect IAAO assessment administration standards. Preparing a submission for the CEAA program afforded the office the perfect opportunity to closely review not only policies and procedures but also the staff’s overall knowledge and understanding of mass appraisal.
The submission process and the submission itself served as an outstanding learning tool for the
entire staff. Furthermore, they were better able to understand the importance of keeping pace
with today’s technology. This process gave them increased confidence in the recent decision
to advance the technology in their office. Earning the certificate provides
the taxpayers with the knowledge and assurance that the Portsmouth Assessor’s Office is operating
at the highest level of industry standards.
The Portsmouth Assessor’s Office wants potential candidates to know that IAAO provides all
necessary materials and instructions that are needed to be successful. In addition, each submitter
is provided with a mentor and “this particular tool is invaluable and should be used
with the understanding that the mentor is available to answer questions and assist with potential
problems and most important –the mentor wants the submitter to be successful.”
King County, Washington Department of Assessments Office recertified its CEAA in 2014;
it was originally earned in 2008. The recertification process involves updating four chapters
of the original submission, summarizing legislative changes since the original
submission, and providing an inventory of employee continuing education during the period of certification.
Completing the recertification made King County aware of how much technology has changed for
assessors since the original submission. Staff members also noted that the process of completing a CEAA
submission has improved since 2008.
They believe the third party validation from the certificate helps to build confidence in
property owners, elected leaders, and taxing jurisdiction partners that the office is following
best practices in assessing property. For King County, earning
the confidence of the taxpayers is important because the property tax constitutes 45 percent
of the county’s General Fund revenue.
This process has taught King County staff that there are many similarities among assessment
operations in different jurisdictions despite differences in legal frameworks. They also
learned that it is important to review processes and procedures on a regular basis to ensure
best practices have not changed. Their successful resubmission demonstrates that their
policies, procedures, and business processes continue to match best practices for the industry.
Thurston County, Washington Assessor's Office was the first to earn the CEAA in 2014, and the second jurisdiction
from the state of Washington since the program began in 2004. The Thurston County staff undertook
the challenge in order to demonstrate not only to themselves, but also to other offices and the public that they have developed
a model assessment administration process. The entire office contributed to the submission, with approximately half
participating directly by writing or editing. By involving everyone, the office said that employees gained “a better
understanding of the [assessment] process as a whole and more of an appreciation for the work of others in the office.
It provides validation that we are doing everything possible to achieve fairness and equity in the property tax system.”
The office staff suggests that current and future CEAA candidates select only a few writers to prepare the
submission. A small number of writers creates a unified writing style throughout the document, and facilitates the
final document editing process. The office also recommend strong time management strategies, such as setting intermediate goals and
maintaining measurements of overall progress.
More than ever, IAAO is encouraging its members to integrate best practices into the workplace. We are confident that the example set by these offices will inspire others to pursue a documented program of excellence in assessment administration.