Board approves restructuring of APWA's Technical Committees

The APWA Board of Directors has approved a change in the organizational structure that will result in providing more continuity in the committees dealing with the various functional areas of public works. The board approved changing the name of the group of committees from Professional/Educational/Technical (P/E/T) Committees to Technical Committees. The move is intended to provide concise committee titles that reflect the board's expectations for these committees.

In making the changes, the board defined APWA's Technical Committees as the "centers of expertise" for the assigned subject areas. The board defined the primary purpose for the Technical Committees as providing direction and oversight to programs, services and products within the technical area of expertise in support of the strategic plan and APWA goals and objectives. The individual's qualification for appointment to the committees will continue to be a "highly knowledgeable subject matter expert" in the specific area of committee responsibility.

Technical Committees will continue to provide assistance in support of policy issues and help identify emerging technical issues affecting public policy; however, the board has assigned primary responsibility for government affairs/advocacy to the Government Affairs Committee (GAC). Technical Committees may propose new policy statements and revisions to existing policy statements, subject to review and approval of the GAC.

The board increased the size of the Technical Committees from five (5) members to six (6) members and provided staggered multi-year terms to provide continuity. The term of appointment will be two years and a committee member may be reappointed to two additional two-year terms, but in no case shall they serve more than six years consecutively. The terms will overlap in order to provide a minimum of two potential vacancies each year.

The board noted that during the transition period, it may be necessary to adjust the terms of appointment for some committee members in order to achieve the staggered rotation of terms. Staff will work with the president-elect and chairs of the Technical Committees to make the transition appointments to the committees.

In making the changes, the board established a term for the chair of one year. An individual member may serve as committee chair for no more than two years of their potential six-year term on the committee. The chair of each committee and any potential vacancies shall be appointed by the president-elect of APWA.

The appointment of the chair and new or continuing members will occur during April each year, whenever possible. By making the appointments earlier in the year it should allow sufficient time for new members to budget and prepare to be present at the Congress meeting of the committee. If a vacancy occurs on the current committee between Congress meetings, the president will appoint a replacement after consultation with the appropriate at-large director and the committee chair.

The at-large director responsible for each committee was identified the lead person responsible for the identification and recruitment of new members. Whenever possible, the at-large director will solicit input on vacancies from the current committee chair. Recommendations are to be made to the president-elect during March of each year. The committees will serve until Congress each year. The actual change of committee members will take place at the individual committee's discretion at some time during the Congress meeting and will include all members on the current committee and will include all new appointments.

Committees are encouraged to hold monthly meetings at the call of the chair by telephone conference call. The board encouraged each of the Technical Committees to use subcommittees and task forces to accomplish their annual work activities.

The board reaffirmed that Technical Committees are not independent, separate entities and nor do they have independent budgets. Chapters are encouraged to appoint liaisons to the committees in order to facilitate communication between the chapters and the committees.

The basic committee names and areas of expertise remain unchanged:

  • Emergency Management
  • Engineering and Technology
  • Facilities and Grounds
  • Fleet Services
  • Leadership and Management
  • One-Call
  • Solid Waste
  • Transportation
  • Utility and Public Rights-of-Way
  • Water Resources

Public Works and Emergency Management

Karen D. Bloodworth
Professional Development Program Manager
APWA Kansas City office

The APWA Emergency Management Technical Committee has several exciting projects underway. APWA has signed a joint partnership agreement with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in the form of a Memorandum of Understanding. Other projects include a fact sheet entitled "The Essential Role of Public Works in Emergency Planning and Response," along with the development of a FEMA/APWA training program that targets public works officials.

After several months of collaboration, FEMA and APWA have completed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that is designed to "promote greater understanding and coordination of emergency management programs, such as mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery carried out by emergency services personnel, including public works emergency officials, in communities across America." Through cooperation and information exchange FEMA and APWA will accomplish the following key objectives.

  • Cooperate to educate the American public and other agencies in the significance of mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery.

  • Cooperate in efforts to understand the needs of local public works emergency professionals and how to best prepare them to serve the community.

  • Strive to serve the needs of mutual constituents through programs that promote community emergency preparedness.

  • Support awareness and participation in the areas of education and training to increase the effectiveness and efficiency of the technologies available to meet the present and future needs of emergency professionals.

  • Support awareness and participation in FEMA's disaster education programs and seek to identify and address the needs of public works practitioners to optimize the effectiveness of this training.
We are very excited about the opportunities presented by this three-year agreement and look forward to developing effective programs and services to assist our members. The complete Memorandum of Understanding can be found at under "Hot Topics."

The idea of a "fact sheet" that describes the essential role of public works in emergency planning and response first surfaced at our mid-winter Technical Committee meetings last February. It was agreed that the document should be short with clear, concise information that targets both the public and non-public sector communities, including elected and appointed officials.

Since that time the Emergency Management Technical Committee members and APWA staff have worked to develop the document. Information was gathered through research and interviews with public works professionals involved in disaster planning and response. One interviewee, Public Works Director Paul Brum, summed it up by stating, "The first and last man there will be public works; first with barricades, heavy equipment, and lights, and last with debris removal and recovery." The results of this effort provide a consistent message that should be useful in helping others understand the vital role public works plays in emergency planning and response. To view the fact sheet in a printable format visit and select "Hot Topics."

The third project is the development of a pilot training project with FEMA and APWA that would bring public works directors and key management staff in engineering and utilities together. This proposed week-long course will be specifically tailored to public works and focus on awareness, planning and recovery using the Incident Command System and Stafford documentation process. FEMA has responded favorably to our "training concept paper." We are scheduling planning and development meetings that will provide dates, location, instructors, content and other pertinent information. We will keep you informed as plans develop.

The role of public works officials charged with the protection of our public infrastructure and facilities is more critical now than at any time in our history. Your Emergency Management Technical Committee is pleased to have been a part of these important initiatives and looks forward to the development of future favorable projects on behalf of public works.


Leadership and Management Committee studying core competencies

What are the core competencies that an individual should possess if they are to successfully lead a major public works organization? This question is one that APWA's Leadership and Management Committee has been studying for the past few months. The committee is trying to determine the competencies that are essential to an individual's success as a manager and leader of a governmental agency or department responsible for planning, building, operating, and maintaining public works infrastructure and services.

After reviewing the core competencies identified by many other professional and trade organizations and private industry, the committee developed a list of 62 possible core competencies in five categories including technical, managerial, individual behavioral, organizational, and leadership. A survey containing the list of competencies has been mailed to a random sample of APWA's members to obtain input on the priority public works professionals place on the various knowledge, skills, and abilities. The responses from the survey provided by our members will be used to validate and establish the competencies and provide information on which competencies are judged to be most important. A similar survey mailing is planned to elected and appointed officials to gain their perspective and identify potential differences in priority between our members and their bosses—which should be both interesting and informative.

The committee plans to use the survey results to help guide their work plan for the next few years. Once the core competencies have been identified and prioritized, the committee will be able to identify products, services, and resources currently available to assist our members in improving their competencies. Where resources do not exist, the committee will be able to recommend development of new products and services that can be produced by APWA, or through our many partners. The committee members also plan to use the results of the core competency survey to write a series of articles for the APWA Reporter.

For more information about the core competency survey or the other activities of the Leadership and Management Committee, contact the committee's chair, Steve Magnusen, Director of Public Works, Village of Libertyville, Illinois, at (847) 918-2016 or at