The APWA national, chapter, DCS and self-assessment websites will be down for system maintenance and upgrades from 11:00pm central time Friday, August 29th to approximately 12:00am central time, Saturday August 30th.

Homeland Security Task Force

Brian Usher, Task Force Chair
Director of Public Works and Engineering
City of Zion, Illinois
Member, APWA Emergency Management Committee

APWA President Marty Manning created the Homeland Security Task Force in order to review and address the impacts that have affected our industry in the post-September 11, 2001 atmosphere. The task force was convened September 22, 2002 at the International Public Works Congress and Exposition in Kansas City, Missouri.

The task force is comprised of representatives from each of APWA’s Technical Committees. In this way the entire spectrum of interests within the organization can be included in discussions and research.

At its inaugural meeting the task force established the following goals to help measure the progress made. These goals were:

  1. Become a conduit for homeland security issues for APWA members and the public works profession.

  2. Examine and define homeland security funding issues relative to public works activities.

  3. Advocate for public works inclusion in national discussions on homeland security involving infrastructure and other public works issues.
The task force has completed activities in all the above goals. After only six months these accomplishments include the following:

Goal #1: Become a conduit for homeland security issues for APWA members and the public works profession.

  • Created a letter to chapters from President Manning encouraging chapter advocacy with state and local emergency management leaders. The dollars flowing from the federal programs will be funneled through the state emergency management structures, and now is the time to make contacts with those folks and let them know that public works is an essential part of any emergency management scenario.

  • Created a sample letter of introduction from chapter leaders to the state and county emergency management leadership outlining what APWA is and how it can interact with them to reach public works officials in the chapter in a timely, efficient manner.

  • Advocated utilizing FEMA “train the trainer” courses to provide our chapters with emergency management-related training at the local level.

  • Advocated further contact with FEMA regarding partnering on training and integration of APWA in issues related to infrastructure.

  • Suggested polling membership through chapters or committees to determine what additional training may be needed for our membership.

  • Identified the need for a homeland security presence on the APWA web page and outlined what that information should contain. It is important that this page include links to information not only related to APWA, but related information.
Goal #2: Examine and define homeland security funding issues relative to public works.
  • Created a letter for distribution by President Manning encouraging chapter leaders to begin advocating public works inclusion in statewide emergency management activities.

  • Created a sample introductory letter to be utilized by chapter leaders for sending to state emergency management officials.

  • The D.C. office agreed to monitor funding and legislative activities related to homeland security, and to keep chapters abreast of activities of interest.

  • Advocated for protection of data developed in community threat assessments so that sensitive data is protected.
Goal #3: Advocate for public works inclusion in national discussions on homeland security involving infrastructure and other public works issues.
  • APWA, through the Memorandum of Understanding with FEMA, has been invited to participate in numerous activities and meetings relating to homeland security. Through attendance at these activities APWA is attaining recognition of the role our profession plays in a national scope. These include representation on the Homeland Security Advisory Committee (Judith Mueller) and the Citizen Corps (Richard Ridings).
The Homeland Security Task Force has worked to identify issues and concerns which affect the public works community in light of the emphasis on homeland security. The issues identified during the task force’s operation will be clarified in a final report to President Manning which will be issued later this spring.

Brian Usher can be reached at (847) 746-4064 or at brianu@zion.il.us.