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SOPA Vote Favors ROPA Proposal

Bill Lipe and Keith Kintigh

The Society of Professional Archaeologists (SOPA), in a recent membership vote, accepted the proposal to establish the Register of Professional Archaeologists (ROPA). The proposal anticipates that ROPA will be an independent entity, with joint sponsorship by SAA, the Society for Historical Archaeology (SHA), and the Archaeological Institute of America (AIA). The next step is for the SAA and SHA memberships to consider the proposal, in votes scheduled for early fall 1997. If both organizations approve, ROPA will be established and SOPA will become inactive. The AIA Council will then consider (probably in December) whether AIA will become the third sponsor. An open forum on this proposal was held at the 1996 SAA annual meeting in New Orleans. Background information appears in SAA Bulletin 14(2):2 and 13(3):6-9; 14-15.

The ROPA concept was initiated in 1994 at a joint meeting of the SAA and SOPA ethics committees, and the current proposal was prepared by a joint SAA-SHA-AIA task force. ROPA is one response to the growing concern within archaeology about ethics, professional standards, and public accountability. The Register would list those archaeologists who support professionalism through their voluntary agreement to abide by ROPA's explicit code of ethics and standards of research performance, and to participate in a peer-administered grievance process should their professional work or behavior receive a credible challenge. Initially, the ROPA code of ethics, standards, and grievance procedures would be those currently maintained by SOPA.

If ROPA is established, the sponsoring organizations would strongly encourage their professional members to become Registered Professional Archaeologists (RPAs). However, ROPA would have its own board and budget, and would operate independently of the sponsoring organizations. It would be suported primarily by application fees and annual fees paid by the RPAs. Each sponsoring organization would also contribute to the ROPA budget and would name one member to the ROPA board. Administrative support for ROPA would be provided by a small central office, the structure and location of which would be determined by the ROPA board. The SOPA newsletter would be discontinued, and an "RPA News" colunn would appear in the member newsletters of the sponsoring societies.

An article presenting the details of the current proposal for SAA sponsorship of ROPA, and discussing its implications, will appear in the June 1997 issue of SAA Bulletin.

Bill Lipe and Keith Kintigh are SAA representatives on the ROPA task force.

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