Success comes from within
Dwayne Kalynchuk, P.Eng.
I've often heard it said that the mark of a good leader is to surround himself or herself with well-qualified staff that can carry out the work assignments and make everyone look good. That way, the leader need not be an expert in every area but know how to select staff that produce the best in their field so that, combined, success is guaranteed.
APWA is fortunate to have many experts in each of the areas of interest among our membership. Utilizing these members and, indeed, their expertise, is a major goal for your leadership at the national level. Along with the many other committees, the members appointed to serve on the nine Technical Committees help to create the work product that leads to successful programs and materials for our membership.
Throughout the year, some fifty-four individuals serve on the nine Technical Committees. Some of you may remember when these groups were called "Institutes" or "PETs." Whatever the name, the purpose has been the same—providing input from the practitioners working actively in the field to the national level. Guiding the efforts of each committee is one of our five elected At-Large Directors who represent the committees on the APWA Board of Directors. A staff liaison, a member of the Technical Services Department, rounds out the committee structure.
Well, you say. So what? What does that mean to me? What have they done for me lately? The answer to those questions is: a lot.
Throughout this current year, a wide variety of programs, projects, and publications have gotten their start within the Technical Committees. These are our "idea" people. Because they are working alongside you, they know firsthand what training, education, publications, and issues are important to you. When these ideas are verbalized and suggestions are made for implementing a product, other departments within APWA take the project and complete the process. Sometimes it may appear that nothing comes from the committees, but if you scratch the surface of a Click, Listen, and Learn, or a new publication, or a potential certification, or articles for the APWA Reporter, you'll find that one of the nine groups often brought this topic to light and encouraged its development to meet the needs of their peers.
The Emergency Management Committee, along with the Homeland Security Subcommittee and other members, have made great strides this year in assuring that public works is recognized for "First Responder" designation at the federal level. The work continues to ensure that local agencies, along with our police and fire partners, will be eligible to receive grants for training and equipment.
Should the "body of knowledge" for engineers be increased? Should Public Works Directors be required to be engineers? Is the new technology offered to agencies really worth the expense? These are issues that members of the Engineering and Technology Committee monitor on a regular basis. Compiling responses from the APWA membership provides input to the Government Affairs Committee as they develop policies and positions representative of our membership.
Public works facilities usually are not built as frequently as other city facilities. The members of the Facilities and Grounds Committee developed a great new publication to help you consider all your needs, not just for now but into the future, as you design and construct a corporate yard. The new publication is called Getting It Right! A Guide to Planning and Constructing Public Works Yards.
Operating and maintaining public fleets is a growing enterprise. The Fleet Services Committee has been reviewing the need for a "certified fleet manager" program for public works departments. The work is continuing in the coming year as members of the committee consider the needs and benefits for such a program for our members.
The Leadership and Management Committee members have spent the past year determining, with your help, what the Core Competencies for Public Works Leaders should be. They have defined them and given direction for attaining the "Baker's Dozen" through monthly articles in the APWA Reporter. Coming soon will be Core Competencies for Public Works Managers.
With the increasing number of landfill closures and escalating costs for disposal, members of the Solid Waste Management Committee have produced a publication entitled Beneficial Landfill Reuse. Need a new golf course, park, or greenhouse? Detailing the needs for good preparation for disposal of debris from any kind of emergency, natural or man-made, continues to be under review and development.
Should APWA members be involved in supporting the Smart Growth concept? Does transportation planning enter into the mix? Do we need more capacity or better operation of our existing roads and bridges? The Transportation Committee considers these issues, along with other forms of transportation including transit, bikes and pedestrians, and work zone safety issues.
Members of the Utilities and Public Right-of-Way Committee are actively seeking ways to protect the public right-of-way, either through monitoring the usages allowed, protecting from unnecessary destruction/construction, or improving methods used for construction work.
Will North America always have adequate water to supply our ever-growing needs? Can we expect to continue to use pure water for projects where reclaimed water could be equally as beneficial? What about vulnerability to our water and wastewater systems, as well as dealing with new regulations on stormwater control? A new publication was written by the Water Resources Management Committee entitled Financing Stormwater Utilities to assist local agencies in providing a valid funding mechanism for their stormwater expenses.
Need I say more? The success of the American Public Works Association definitely comes from within. Share your thoughts and concerns with your peers serving on these committees. You, too, have a major stake in the success of public works.