Game changer: Dealing with uncertainty


Peggy Keppler, PE, PLS, has served as Eugene's public works engineering development review manager since 2002. She started with the city in 1990 as a part-time aide to the construction inspector; then was hired full time in 1996 as a civil engineer. She currently supervises a nine-person review team and is responsible for land-use review of public-works-related issues. Photo: APWA



Like many communities, the City of Eugene struggles to prepare for future needs — not because infrastructure managers don't have the ability, but because they can't define the future, according to Peggy Keppler.

“How do we prepare our budgets, assign our workforces, and complete our responsibilities in this realm of uncertainty?” she asks. “We can't just sit back and wait for a new ‘norm.' Programs and infrastructure must be operated and maintained in the meantime.”

She believes that success lies in understanding your operation.

“Our vision is ‘making people's lives better through the services we provide,'” she says. “This gives me pride n my work as well as perspective on our operations. It's easy to get absorbed in the daily grind when things are going well, much less in times of uncertainty. If we go into self-preservation mode, we lose sight of the important long-term effects of our role.”

Keppler defines “knowing the facts” as quantifying operational scope and understanding processes and procedures.

“If you don't have a clear indication of your agency's status, the APWA Accreditation program can guide you in collecting and documenting responsibilities,” she says. “Understanding what needs to be done and how to do it allows you to reduce redundancies, improve effectiveness, and clarify budget needs.”