By Katie Weiler
No one can predict the future, but experts can take an educated guess.
That's why we asked the American Public Works Association's (APWA) Top Ten Public Works Leaders of the Year to identify what will most influence the profession over the next few years. Answers range from environmental regulations to social media, but a common thread runs through all: doing (even) more with less.
APWA has honored members from across the United States and Canada for the past 52 years. Each of the Top Ten Leaders will be recognized during the awards ceremony held Aug. 26 – 29 as part of the APWA 2012 International Public Works Congress & Exposition in Anaheim, Calif.
“These exceptional professionals have been selected by a committee of peers for their career-long professionalism, expertise, service, and personal dedication to improving the quality of life in the communities they serve,” says APWA executive director Peter King.
Game changer: Aging infrastructure
WILLIAM D. (DOUG) BROWN, PE
DIRECTOR OF PUBLIC WORKS
- OVERLAND PARK, KAN.
Even with the long-disputed federal transportation bill finally being passed in July, finding the money to fix aging infrastructure will be an ongoing challenge for local jurisdictions.
“The economy significantly constrained government's ability to build infrastructure while exacerbating the problem of maintaining what we already own,” explains Doug Brown. “The political and economic environments bode ill for our ability to gain funding to maintain existing infrastructure.”
Despite this, last year Overland Park raised taxes in large part to fund its street-maintenance needs. Brown believes the push to reduce federal and state spending is driving the funding burden down to local governments and their constituents. He has four suggestions for responding to this reality:
Lead with integrity
- Use the “communications explosion” to educate residents and elected officials about the role infrastructure plays in economic health and quality of life.
- Take full advantage of opportunities — technological or otherwise — to work more efficiently and cost-effectively.
- Make public works a profession that attracts and develops quality leaders for the future.