Bringing Localities Together: Roundtable Highlights Success of Virginia Municipal Committee

Erin Donovan, ACEC/MW Virginia Municipal Committee Chair, shares the highlights of the recent Virginia municipal government roundtable event.

On February 16, 2021, the Virginia Municipality Committee provided a roundtable event that was attended by over 35 committee members. The event included 11 panelists including four locality representatives. The esteemed panel included:
  • Rob Stalzer, City Manager, City of Fairfax
  • Renee LaFollette, Director, Department of Public Works and Capital Projects, Town of Leesburg
  • Mike Gallagher, Public Works Director, Town of Vienna
  • Richard Smith, Senior Civil Engineer, Town of Herndon
The locality leads who have been spearheading outreach with these localities each moderated a topic with a variety of questions for each representative as well as a general Q&A session to conclude the roundtable. The main topics of discussion included capital program outlooks, challenges and successes in program delivery, and insights on doing business with localities. 

Matt Martin of Stantec led the discussion on capital program outlook. The panelists were asked about the impacts of COVID-19 on short- and long-term outlooks. In general, there were only limited effects, and the localities are pushing ahead with capital programs as planned. The locality representatives also discussed upcoming RFPs and opportunities for consultants to keep an eye out for in the next 6-12 months. 

Nancy Connor of HDR, Inc. moderated the discussion on challenges and successes in program delivery. The localities are focused on making processes virtual and have embraced the virtual world during the pandemic. There were challenges with moving all staff to a telecommuting environment, but overall they have been successful in creating an efficient working environment. There was consensus that some form of telecommuting will be present in the post pandemic world but that there will be opportunity for in person collaboration again where it makes sense, as well as face to face networking and training for new employees. 

Paul Hoffman of Brudis & Associates, Inc. led the discussion on insights on doing business with localities. The localities are focusing on improving their website capabilities so that they can convey information to consultants and the public. Meeting with potential and new clients was also a topic of discussion. Many are only conducting virtual meetings and opportunities are often limited since they are short staffed, but most are open to meeting new potential consultants. DBE and SWaM participation were also discussed with the panelists. The goals are set for projects with federal funding but are not always prescriptive with state and locally funded projects. It is important for consultants in any capacity to be aware of the locality standards and specifications when competing for project designs, as well to be more efficient once awarded the contract. 

Several questions were asked by our attendees that were addressed in a wrap up Q&A session moderated by Adam Marolf of AGES, Inc.. These included how ACEC can assist the localities in doing business, sharing insights on working with respective County departments on advancing projects, effects of COVID on contractor pricing, and other ways to introduce consultants to localities aside from face-to-face meetings. 

Thanks to all of our panelists as well as John McDowell of RK&K, our Vice Chair, who organized the event. It was a success and a model for future roundtables with other locality contacts. If you're interested in learning more about the ACEC/MW Virginia Municipal Committee or its efforts, please contact ACEC/MW.

Erin Donovan is Director of Engineering at T3 Design, a woman-owned engineering consulting firm located in Fairfax, Virginia. Erin earned a B.S. in Civil Engineering from The Catholic University of American in Washington, DC and a M.S. in Civil Engineering from Virginia Tech. Erin is responsible for managing a staff of engineers with a business practice that includes Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia. Erin has been active in many professional organizations including holding leadership roles in ASCE and TRB as well as WTS-DC. Erin is an ACEC/MW member and currently serves as Chair of the Virginia Municipal Committee.


By: Paul Hoffman
On: 03/07/2021 20:07:09
Erin, Thank for the shout out for moderating.

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