The city public works department maintains and improves city infrastructure. Public works directors wear many hats, so they must have broad-based knowledge spanning construction management, electrical engineering and municipal planning. A bachelor's degree in civil engineering or public administration prepares you for a management career in public works. Many public works departments promote from within to fill vacant director positions.
The director manages all department operations. This entails setting the department’s policies, procedures, goals, priorities and objectives. The director monitors and evaluates the condition, function, performance and efficiency of community infrastructure, including roads, traffic control devices and signs, sidewalks, parks and solid waste and drainage systems. The director works with other city departments, outside agencies and elected officials to identify necessary infrastructural improvements. The director also plays a lead role in developing short- and long-term construction plans, including estimating project costs and identifying ways to pay for projects.
Public works directors oversee staffing and scheduling for all areas of the department. They appoint supervisors and select, train and motivate employees. Directors monitor and review employee work performance and departmental work efficiency and effectiveness. Directors also enforce safety requirements based on the guidelines set by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Directors may take disciplinary action to ensure that employees follow departmental policies and procedures.
Manage Department Finances
Municipalities rely on public works directors to provide an annual departmental budget. Directors work collaboratively with other city departments and elected officials to identify spending priorities. The director's budget provides estimates for the department's expected staffing, material and supply costs. Directors monitor the budget throughout the fiscal year and make adjustments by reallocating funds when necessary to cover surpluses or to meet changing departmental needs. They also oversee the budget for specific projects.
Major construction projects are under the tutelage of the public works director. The director works with outside agencies to schedule projects and coordinate efforts, and provide technical engineering expertise. The director helps with planning and completing projects, and deals with problems that crop up during construction. The director also monitors a project's progress to ensure timely completion and keeps the city up-to-date on its progress. Searching for grant money to help the department cover project costs is another director duty.
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