ASK ANN

"I thought APWA used to have a 'Code of Ethics' but I can't find it on the website. Is it still there?"

Yes, it is and you're right, it's harder to find than before. You were probably used to seeing it at the bottom of the home page and it's now been moved to www.apwa.net/About where you can scroll to the bottom of the page and find listed "Standards of Professional Conduct." Sounds better than Code of Ethics anyway.

I'm happy to know you were looking for it. We can never be too concerned about the professional conduct for ourselves and our departments. If you haven't reviewed it lately, check it out.

"What exactly is a 'green-building program'? Do you know of any in place I could talk to?"

This is your lucky day! Not only do I have a clue what it is but I know someone you can contact and a way you can ask others for comments, too. Don't you love it when a plan comes together? Green-building programs have been around for several years and began as an effort by architects and environmentalists to encourage use of more energy-efficient and environmentally-friendly building materials and systems. It has been slow to take off but seems to be gaining in popularity and usage.

The Jackson County, MO Public Works Department has begun a green-building program which refers to a wide variety of measures to make homes and other buildings healthier, safer, more comfortable, more durable, more energy efficient and environmentally responsible. Their program is an incentive-based, voluntary initiative to residents and developers who are building new homes in unincorporated Jackson County. Permit rebates are given to owners after meeting certain guidelines and achieving a minimum number of points related to energy efficiency, indoor air quality and natural resources reduction. Inspectors from the Public Works Department determine the final points achieved by the home, and one of four certification ratings is given and the appropriate permit rebate is determined which can be up to 50 percent of the permit fee. If you're interested in learning more about their program contact Jennifer Berry at (816) 881-4530. I'm certain there are many others and you could ask for that information on the infoNOW Communities.

"What's the deal with having to 'create an account' to be able to register for workshops, purchase something from the bookstore, or get into infoNOW Communities?"

I know, I know. Just about the time you figure out the answers they change the questions! Modern technology is a wonderful thing and APWA strives to keep the latest options open to our members to expedite their service and to streamline the operations involved to allow for that improvement. The log-in process has been in place for several months now (Clue: If you didn't know this, shame on you for not using our website more frequently!) and is a simple one-time registration process. The following link will give you easy directions for logging in: /DR/index.asp?ID=83.

"I recently heard some risk management people talking about 'Enterprise Risk Management.' What is it ?"

Actually, according to risk managers, enterprise risk management expands the focus of risk management to address all aspects of risk that may affect an organization's ability to achieve its objectives. It seeks to develop an organization that can take advantage of opportunities and can act quickly and effectively to minimize the adverse consequences of unexpected challenges. Some of the more important features include: ERM seeks to address all risks, not just prevent or control bad things but also enhance the prospects of good things; top managers and elected officials set the policies that drive the program since they are the ones held accountable for its effectiveness; risk management is practiced throughout the organization, not just by a risk management department; ERM breaks down the silos in which risk has historically been addressed; an individual or a team of individuals addresses technical issues requiring special knowledge; and the performance is measured by its success in directly improving the satisfaction of organizational performance objectives. It's way too complicated to cover here but you might want to contact Claire Reiss, Deputy Executive Director and general counsel for the Public Entity Risk Institute, Fairfax, VA at Claire@riskinstitute.org or Peter Young, professor at the University of St. Thomas and the European Institute for Risk Management, Minneapolis, MN at pcyoung@stthomas.edu.

"Our department is working through the Self Assessment process using the Public Works Management Practices Manual and we are finding that we are actually doing most of the things required by the Manual. However, we are finding we have a lot of 'head knowledge' about how we do things but not a lot is written down. Is this pretty common or are we really behind?"

Nope, you sound right on target! As we conduct the Self Assessment workshops and monitor agencies as they progress through the program leading to Accreditation, we've found the norm is that an agency is already doing between 75 and 80 percent of the practices. That's a good thing. The downside is that only about 50 percent of the material is committed to writing, and then much of that is scattered between many divisions and offices and not readily available when needed.

One of the greatest benefits of Self Assessment is compiling the information you have, reviewing it with those on your staff who actually do the things you're saying you do, deciding what you're doing right and then how you can do things better, and putting that down in a format easily read and understood by anyone coming into the department to work. Just remember, the program does not expect nor encourage you to throw out everything you have in place and start over. It encourages you to review your processes and then compile them in a format that everyone can work from.

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) 472-1610
E-mail:
adaniels@apwa.net