ASK ANN

In addition to this column, members are welcome to post their questions in the general forum area of the APWA website at www.apwa.net. There, other members have the opportunity to post their answers directly. We also retrieve those questions with broad appeal for "Ask Ann."

"I have seen several announcements about a Self-Assessment Workshop. What is Self-Assessment and what happens at the Workshop?"

Self-Assessment is a tool for improving public works operations and management. The program was designed by members of APWA as a key part of an overall program to enhance the effectiveness of agencies and their competencies in the public works field. It is designed to provide guidance and technical resources for agency managers as they seek to evaluate and upgrade the performance of their own agency. With more than 140 Management Practices by which to measure your agency's effectiveness, the program is very comprehensive and allows for internal review which will, hopefully, lead to improved practices and services within the agency.

Four Self-Assessment Workshops are scheduled this year, the first of which was held prior to Congress in Kansas City in September. Upcoming Workshops will be held in Texas, Washington, and Minnesota. Agencies who have participated in the past give good marks to the program and the benefits they received from the internal review.

"Are Self-Assessment and Accreditation the same thing?"

No, they are not. While the programs complement each other, they are separate. The Self-Assessment program allows for the agency to review their management practices against a set of widely accepted practices. When the agency has completed their review, they will, hopefully, make appropriate changes in areas where weakness was found.

Accreditation is the final step towards self-improvement. Once an agency has completed the Self-Assessment review, they may decide to apply to become an "Accredited Agency." This process requires the agency to comply with each of the 140-plus management practices, to provide documentation that all appropriate to the agency's operations have been met, and a team of evaluators visits the agency and reviews the documentation. When all practices have been satisfactorily met, the agency is presented with a plaque at a Council or Commission meeting. While the plaque is a nice reminder that the Agency is accredited, the best acknowledgement is the sense of accomplishment the staff in the agency feel in knowing they have upgraded their department policies and procedures in accordance with management practices recognized throughout the association.

A detailed description of the Self-Assessment and Accreditation Programs can be found on the APWA website at: www.apwa.net/About/Accreditation/?mode=Accreditation.

"I'm getting ready to update my résumé and I am wondering if you have any tips about what to avoid?"

With the Baby Boomers getting ready for retirement, many of us may be refreshing our résumés in the hope of moving up the leadership ladder. One new quirk to applying for positions that many of us "old timers" may not have used before, is applying on-line. While it may seem too strange to be true, the e-mail address you list for return information can set a pretty solid tone for your chances. One we received in the office recently was whiskeyisgood@yahoo.com. If you haven't figured it out yet, "whiskey is good" might not give the most professional reference to the candidate! "Good-time Charley," "Party Girl," and "Lazy Daisy" might not be winners, either. Use good common sense. Think about what others will read into that address before you hit the Send button! It could make a big impression but not the kind you hoped for!

"A colleague has suggested that I make a contribution to the PWHS Endowment Fund. What is this fund and how will the money be used?"

Good question! Many of our members may not know what "PWHS" is, much less the endowment fund. The mission of the Public Works Historical Society (PWHS) is to enhance the planning and management of public works programs, and to promote public understanding and appreciation of the role of public works in the growth and development of civilization. The Society accomplishes this mission through the collection, preservation, and dissemination of public works history. The PWHS Endowment Fund was established for the sole purpose of funding selected award programs, publishing projects and special events as they relate to the historical preservation of the public works environment and the PWHS Strategic Plan. All contributions made will be identified as part of the permanent endowment and will not be exhausted at any point. Contributions to the fund will qualify as a charitable deduction for the donor and can certainly help out when it's time to file those income tax returns! For more information, contact the PWHS staff (pwhs@apwa.net) or call 800-848-APWA.

"I've seen pictures of the APWA mascot, P.W. Paws, attending local chapter events. How can I get him to come visit us?"

Glad you asked. P.W. Paws is available for rental to local chapters or agencies. He's proven to be a real attention-getter since most of us don't have nine-foot-tall orange tigers wearing a hardhat and reflective vest roaming the streets of our cities! Contact his "handler" Jon Dilley at APWA Headquarters at jdilley@apwa.net or 800-848-APWA.

Ask Ann...

Questions are welcome.

Please address all inquiries to:

Ann Daniels
Director of Technical Services
APWA, 2345 Grand Blvd.
Suite 500
Kansas City, MO 64108-2625
Fax questions to (816) 472-0405
E-mail: adaniels@apwa.net