The state Department of Health will work toward voluntary federal accreditation with the help of two current and former Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center contractors.

Public health accreditation is one requirement attached to a $300,000 federal grant DOH received in September. The Public Health Accreditation Board is a new project designed to recognize state and local health departments for doing a good job while giving them an incentive to improve.

To apply, the DOH bought a $20,000 "web-based score card" program to keep track of its compliance, will pay a $47,700 application fee and is finalizing three contracts for consultants to help with the process. In addition, DOH will pay the University of New Mexico $16,000 to teach results-based accountability and $45,000 to teach public health management.

Former Christus contractor Mark Freedman will earn $15,000 to conduct two trainings; current Christus contractor Cathy Armijo Etre will get $5,400 to teach results-based accountability. Another $40,000 contract is also in the works.

"Forty-seven thousand is pretty expensive, actually," Tres Schnell, director of the DOH Office of Training, Evaluation and Performance Management, says of the application fee. "Clearly, it might not be the greatest time to come up with that, but the department's committed to it."