Columbia Public Works Department is an accredited agency by the American Public Works Association (APWA). The Department has been accredited since February 2001 and at that time was the fifth agency in North America to achieve national accreditation.
The accreditation is based on meeting national standards for management practices for all of the department's areas of responsibility. Due to the broad range of services provided by Columbia, there were more than 450 individual management practices applicable to this department. These practices include employee training, safety programs, emergency response plans, operation performance measurements, public communication and outreach, project planning and monitoring as well as the evaluation of departmental capabilities and efficiencies in each work unit. The cornerstone of the process is the departmental Mission Statement that sets forth the agency's vision and goals.
The department is re-evaluated every three years by a trained team of reviewers from APWA to assure the best management practices are being maintained and the city is in compliance with any new or substantially revised practices that have been adopted since the previous review. In the spring of 2012, Columbia Public Works was re-accredited by the APWA.
The accreditation process involves employees at all levels in the department and crosses departmental boundaries in areas of human resources, risk management, finances and law.
Accreditation encourages agencies to implement or improve existing procedures and practices which results in more efficient and higher quality service to customers. The opportunity to directly network with other agencies and to benefit from their experiences is a valuable educational resource. The accreditation process builds teamwork among different divisions and it creates an awareness among employees of the value of the service they provide.