Just in time for my second post, I’m coming off of a five-day trip to Washington, DC, as part of my role as a program manager for oversight of the federal government’s efforts to develop a repository for high-level radioactive waste and spent nuclear fuel in the southern part of my state (Nevada). This effort has been underway for more than two decades, and as one can imagine, it is controversial and politically sensitive. I’ve been in my position for eight years now, and the Number One lesson I have learned is the “Importance of Credibility.” So much of what we do in local government depends on whether the people we serve, and the stakeholders with which we interact, trust us. Credibility goes beyond “saying what you mean and meaning what you say.” It also means developing a team of people with a strong work ethic, who value integrity and professionalism, and who are willing to stand behind the work they produce, even under intense scrutiny or criticism. Credibility is vital to all public adminstration professionals. We are the ones, of course, on whom elected and appointed officials, as well as the public, depend on to analyze problems, research issues, develop solutions, and tell the truth about what the results and potential consequences are. Building credibility allows you to “tell your story” to a variety of stakeholders, even if they disagree with your position. My travels to DC usually involve 15-20 meetings in a three day period, and I meet with everyone from staff for my own congressional delegation to different agencies within the federal government, to industry representatives, and environmental groups, and sometimes even the media. It gives my team and me a great sense of pride and accomplishment to know that our credibility encourages people to listen to what we have to say, and perhaps to help influence an outcome to a situation or problem. As effective public administrators that’s our job, and sometimes the best we can hope for, after all.
Irene Navis, AICP, Southern Nevada ASPA Chapter President