LITTLE ELM — The completion of an arduous assessment process that included a meticulous review of compliance with over 350 best practices in the field of public works has resulted in the conferring of full accreditation for the Little Elm Public Works Department. Official presentation of the accreditation occurred at the council meeting on March 20.


Using the rigorous standards contained in the Public Works Management Practices Manual, developed and maintained by the American Public Works Association (APWA), a team of APWA-trained evaluators visited Little Elm’s Public Works Department in December and pored over records, processes, procedures and other documents, eventually deeming the department worthy of the prestigious designation.


“The on-site evaluation was actually the end of a fairly long process,” says Kevin Mattingly, Public Works Director. “The accreditation process began many months ago with a thorough and complete self-assessment conducted in-house, well in advance of the evaluation team’s arrival. We basically examined ourselves with a very critical eye in manticipation of the formal evaluation.”


Preparing for and obtaining accreditation gives public works departments the motivation to raise their standards of service and implement self-improvement activities. Seeking accreditation provides an industry-standard evaluation and education process and recognizes good performance, providing motivation to maintain and improve performance at all levels of the organization.


“Putting our department and employees through this process allows us to see where we’re doing well, and where we need to improve,” said Mattingly. “The process increases our level of professionalism and instills a sense of pride among our staff. It also tells the community that we are operating at a level that meets very rigorous standards.”


The accreditation team carefully reviewed 20 chapters of Public Works Department documents divided into 360 practices and policies as well as the Town’s practices in Human Resources, Finance, IT and Emergency Response Management, among others.


The APWA evaluation team expressed total satisfaction with the areas they surveyed, commenting to local officials that the Little Elm Public Works Department met or exceeded many of the standards in the national organization’s manual. Specifically, the department was recognized for having four Model Practices, including the strategic plan; comprehensive information on human resources; the Hazard Mitigation Action Plan; and planning for emergency response.


Official APWA accreditation was conferred on Dec. 21. Little Elm was one of only 12 departments nationally obtaining the designation in 2017, and the only one in Texas during that time frame. There are only ten Public Works Departments in Texas and 135 in the nation with this accreditation.