2017-2018 APWA President is William “Bo” Mills, PWLF. Bo has spent his entire career with the City of Germantown, Tennessee holding numerous positions within the Public Works Department. Bo has served as department director since 2004 and continues to build on his 31 year career with the City.
American Infrastructure: What were some highlights for APWA in 2017? And what will APWA be focusing on in 2018?
William Mills: 2017 marked APWA’s 80th Anniversary – no doubt the association has come a long way since 1937, but it has also come a long way in just one year. In February of 2017, the APWA Board of Directors approved a robust new strategic plan to include a new vision of “Advancing Quality of Life For All” and a new mission statement:
“Support those who operate, improve, and maintain public works and infrastructure through advocacy, education, and member engagement.”
Knowing how much of an impact individual stories can have on policy decisions at the national level, our Advocacy team implemented a new system to gather our members’ stories so they can be shared with lawmakers. Additionally, they worked with the US House of Representatives to establish a new Congressional Caucus on Public Works and Infrastructure that allows members of Congress to learn about and consider important issues that APWA members deal with every day.
During 2017, APWA focused on enhancing and nurturing partnerships among our APWA Board of Directors, CPWA Board of Directors, APWA Staff, Council of Chapter Delegates, 63 Chapters, 95 Branches, and our members. Building on the success of those efforts in 2017, these groups will continue to work together in 2018 to fulfil the APWA vision and mission through advocacy, education, and member engagement efforts.
Of note, this March, the APWA Board of Directors is coming in to Washington D.C. to spend a day and a half advocating for public works and conducting a Board of Directors meeting for another day and a half. This is the first time in many years that the APWA Board has taken such strong role in advocating and increasing our presence in Washington. We feel our presence on the Hill is stronger than ever and we want to reinforce this position through our visits, education and collaboration. We strive to be the subject matter experts for legislators, as it pertains to public works and infrastructure.
AI: How is APWA working with local and state governments to provide education, accreditation, and certifications to individuals and agencies seeking the best practices to maintain and keep the country’s infrastructure “running”?
WM: With a wealth of leadership, management and technical resources, APWA’s Education and Credentialing offers extensive professional development opportunities through timely publications, eLearning courses, Click, Listen and Learn webinars, on-line and face-to-face chapter certificate programs, conferences, and credentials. APWA also has 16 chapter led Public Works Institutes which offer a wide range of training and professional development to members. We strive to keep public works professionals up-to-date on trends and emerging issues with activities open to members and non-members.
The APWA Accreditation Program assists public works agencies in developing and enhancing their Infrastructure Asset Management Systems. A well-developed and run asset management system has policies, objectives, inventories, inspection and condition assessment components. Having such systems in place helps to maximize the financial and quality-of-life values a community receives from its infrastructure by promoting preventative and timely maintenance and appropriate budgeting for eventual replacements.
APWA certification provides a strong benefit to the public works industry and ultimately to our communities by providing recognized hiring and promotion standards that lead to an improved workforce and improved delivery of services. APWA currently offers three certification programs: Certified Public Fleet Professional (CPFP); Certified Public Infrastructure Inspector (CPII); and Certified Stormwater Manager (CSM).
APWA has several volunteer committees to assist in the management of the association and its work. The most substantial of these are the Technical Committees that deal with specific public works areas. APWA Technical Committees are the “centers of expertise” for the assigned subject areas, and their primary purpose is to provide 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.
AI: In terms of infrastructure, what is APWA hoping to see from the Trump administration in the near future?
WM: In the 115th Congress, APWA is focused on four policy priorities:
1. Infrastructure financing and funding;
2. Providing for transportation infrastructure;
3. Supporting water resiliency;
4. Recognizing and supporting emergency management and response.
Currently, there is much buzz in the news about President Trump’s infrastructure “priorities” that White House officials have said will likely be revealed around the State of the Union address on January 30. The White House plan is expected to call for $200 billion of direct federal investment over 10 years as incentive to spur an additional $800 billion in funding and financing from states, municipalities, and the private sector. The major hurdle is finding the funding source for the federal investment because it would need to be offset by spending reductions elsewhere. APWA welcomes the Administration’s interest in comprehensive infrastructure legislation and looks forward to seeing the full priorities in the coming weeks.