International Idea Exchange

International Affairs Committee activities report

Ben Yazici, P.E.
City Manager
City of Sammamish, Washington

The mission of the International Affairs Committee of the American Public Works Association is to enhance the quality and efficiency with which public works infrastructure and services are provided around the world by facilitating the development and exchange of ideas, information, and technology among persons professionally involved in the delivery of such facilities and services.

APWA believes that most public works professionals are aware of the potential benefits of foreign practices and also feels that we have responsibility to share our knowledge and experience with other countries. It is the charge of this Committee to find appropriate mechanisms to increase the benefits to all APWA members resulting from international programs and individual activities. This is achieved largely through the initiative and participation of our membership who have volunteered to work on the Committee and its task forces.

It has been a very busy and productive year for the International Affairs Committee. Hopefully you have read the international articles in ten of the last eleven issues of the APWA Reporter. We have provided you with relevant information on a range of topics in these articles, including features on public works conferences in Australia, Mexico, and Slovakia; volunteer disaster relief opportunities for engineers and other public works professionals; traffic management and asset management practices in Australia; and a snapshot of public works challenges facing professionals in Mexico.

Monthly conference calls of the Committee and the work of its task forces have resulted in creative planning and successful achievements for our partnerships with the Institute of Public Works Engineering Australia, the Asociacion de Municipios de Mexico, and the Slovak Public Works Association. Some of the more significant achievements of these partnerships include:

  • Board and member participation at each of the three associations' major conferences.
  • Continued work on pairing of cities and fostering exchange of professionals.
  • Exploration of participation by foreign members in videoconferences and/or other APWA training programs.

The Committee also worked hard with various speakers to prepare several international educational sessions and roundtable sessions for this year's Congress in Philadelphia. If you are at Congress this year, please consider attending these sessions. If you can't make it to Congress, but are interested in a program or discussion that was held, please contact me following Congress.

  • "Context-Sensitive Highway Design Standards - International Overview"
  • "Worldwide Examples of Walkable Communities"
  • "How do Small Communities Manage the Disaster Recovery Cycle?"
  • "Partnering Opportunities Between APWA & Other Countries" (Roundtable Session)
  • "Marketing Your Services & Products in Mexico" (Roundtable Session)

The Committee is working on a couple of proposals with other national organizations for our membership to be involved in international technical trips to aid countries with relief following natural disasters or to aid countries recovering from major infrastructure failure. Announcements will be made soon about the possibilities for our membership. The Committee has also proposed alternative criteria for the Jennings Randolph Fund, established with the Eisenhower Institute, to provide our members with grant possibilities to present public works papers at other countries' conferences with a study tour as an extension of the presentation.

One of the Committee's most enjoyable experiences is to meet with representatives from other countries at our annual Congress. At the 2000 Congress in Louisville, we had approximately 30 people attend our Committee meeting. It is very encouraging to visit with people from all over the world at what is now a truly international Congress.

The International Affairs Committee is anxious to hear from you. Please let us know if there is a particular international program on which you would like us to work or a particular international public works issue you would like to hear about in an article in the APWA Reporter. Or let us know if you are interested in some form of international relief work or study tour. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact any of members of the IAC or attend one of our international sessions in Philadelphia.

Members of the 2000-2001 International Affairs Committee are as follows:

  • Ben Yazici, Chair; City Manager, City of Sammamish, WA
  • Chris Champion, Chief Executive Officer, Institute of Public Works Engineering Australia
  • Bernardo Garcia, Director of Public Works, Hillsborough County, FL
  • Ken Haag, President, Haag Consulting, Huntley, MT
  • Robert Kass, Public Works Director, City of Campbell, CA
  • Board Liaison: Larry Lux, President, Lux Advisors, Ltd, Plainfield, IL
  • Staff: Kaye Sullivan, Deputy Executive Director, APWA, Kansas City, MO;

Ben Yazici can be reached at (425) 836-7925 or at