A minute with... Phil Mann


A minute with... Phil Mann, assistant public works director, Gainesville, Fla.

Mann served as president of the Institute of Transportation Engineer’s District 10 in 2005 and was ITE’s “Transportation Professional of the Year” in 2006. He is APWA’s representative to the SAFECOM Emergency Response Council.

Name three projects of which you are most proud.

1) Gainesville/Alachua County Traffic Management System - $ 18.2 million project to implement a county-wide Traffic Management System maintained and operated by the city. It is a regional partnership including the Florida Department of Transportation, the University of Florida, Alachua County and Gainesville.

2) I am proud of my role in ensuring that the department complies with the National Incident Management System (NIMS), and proud of the implementation of Incident Command System Structure (ICS) in Gainesville.

3) Development and deployment of traffic control plans for Ben Hill Griffin Stadium at the University of Florida, which hosts 90,000 plus fans on game days. Public Works staff worked with the University of Florida Police Department, Gainesville Police Department, Alachua County Sheriff’s Office and the Florida Highway Patrol to coordinate traffic signals along major corridors leading to and from the stadium. By controlling traffic signals remotely with a computer, it allowed the law enforcement agencies to utilize approximately 50 officers in other law enforcement activities. This became the precursor for what is today the University of Florida Game Day Unified Command Team.

Do you have any personal, proven methods for approaching municipal challenges?

You have to build positive working relationships outside the department you work in. It is critical to building positive working relationships with the other departments when “times are good”. These relationships will aid you when your municipality or department is challenged.

Second, utilize the Project Management Principals, develop a plan and a charter for projects, challenges or programs.  If you a have a written charter that clearly defines the issue, lists the powers of authority of the various staff involved and lists the expected deliverable, then everyone is clear on what the expectation is for the issue.  Then, a project plan can be developed to guide your from concept to construction to completion.

Finally, maintain your flexibility. I keep “Gumby” on my desk to remind me to be flexible. Municipal government is about being flexible. Priorities change on an annual, monthly, weekly and sometimes daily basis and you have to be flexible to survive.

One way in which you’d change the world?

Can’t we all just get along?  Too much time is spent turf-guarding and knocking ideas because they are someone else’s ideas. If we could all get along, we’d accomplish so many more things and live in even better communities.

A fact about you people might be surprised to learn?

I am a second-generation public works employee.  My mother worked her entire career for the Alleghany County, Va., Public Works Department.

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