Colorado Public Works Journal, Fall/Winter 2019

Fall/Winter 2019 53 APWA INSIGHTS Jay Goldie The importance of Accreditation in Public Works We, as public works professionals, have a duty and responsibility to be accountable to our citizens. Politics aside, it is apparent that many Americans have become cynical of government at all levels and the demand for accountability and transparency continues to grow especially in public works. Most every task we perform is undertaken front and center of the community. In public works, one of the best tools we have to mitigate the negative criticism and demonstrate our professionalism is accreditation through the American Public Works Association (APWA). The purpose of the accreditation program is to provide a means of formally verifying and recognizing public works agencies for compli- ance with the recommended practices. These practices are set forth in the Public Works Management Practices Manual. It is a voluntary, self-motivated approach to objectively evaluate, verify and recognize compliance with the recommended, nationally accepted management practices. The objectives of the accreditation program are to: • Create incentives for an organization to self-improve and encourage the raising of standards • Offer a voluntary evaluation program rather than a government- regulated action • Recognize well managed organizations and provide motivation to maintain and improve performance • Improve public works delivery of services • Increase professionalism • Instill pride among agency staff, elected officials and local community The first step in pursuing accreditation is the self-assessment process. This is accomplished by utilizing the Public Works Manage- ment Practices Manual and is a valuable tool for determining how an agency's policies, procedures and practices compare to recom- mended practices identified by nationally recognized experts in the field of public works. Agencies can use the recommended practices contained in the manual as a model for developing or improving existing practices to enhance performance, increase productivity, and to strengthen employee morale. The self-assessment process will give you the insight you need to improve your operations and meet the requirements for accredita- tion. The program is designed to be flexible and agencies only need to comply with practices that are performed by public works. Every agency is different and the APWA accreditation program takes this into consideration. An agency can also choose to simply use the self-assessment as a tool for improvement if they choose not to pursue full accreditation. Benefits of Accreditation include: • Improve effectiveness • Promote staff and community pride • Clarify budget needs • Identify operation and management needs • Enhance professional image • Promote teamwork and staff development • Encourage interdepartmental coordination • Identify duplication and wasted effort • Promote public awareness • Improve communication Before beginning the self-assessment process, it is recommended that you first visit with one or more of the agencies that have completed the accreditation process. There are nine agencies in Colorado that have achieved accreditation (Arapahoe County, Arvada, Aurora, Castle Rock, Centennial, Cherry Hills Village, Golden, Greeley, and Lafayette). These agencies can provide you with insight on the process and help you avoid making the same mistakes they encountered on their journey. These agencies can be a great resource to draw from throughout the entire accreditation process. You will also want to attend or host an accreditation work- shop put on by the APWA. For more information about hosting or attending a workshop, contact the APWA Accreditation staff at or 800-848-2792. We are all aware of the importance of the public works functions within our communities. Public works departments deal with numer- ous issues that are vitally important to public safety and public health and it is extremely important that we get this message across. By becoming accredited, agencies have documented they are well managed, well run and accountable to the taxpayers. Ask any accredited agency and they would welcome an external review from the cynics to demonstrate their competency. All agencies no matter their size can benefit from accreditation. If interested, please contact me to discuss the process. The author is CPM Deputy City Manager/Public Works Director City of Cherry Hills Village at 303.783.2731 or