Richard Howard
Richard Howard

Public Works Director
Orlando, Fla.
Employees: 538
Population Served: 275,000
Budget: $218 million

Leading the charge on important stormwater management projects has been Rick Howard's claim to fame in the public works arena.

Howard led the Southeast Lakes Basic Stormwater Management Project, one of the first regional approaches to stormwater management. The City of Orlando recognized the need for a comprehensive solution to manage stormwater in the Southeast Lakes Basin and a plan was developed that better manages the flow of surface water between the lakes during both wet and dry periods, and reduces flood levels across the basin.

Howard’s responsibilities as public works director includes managing the Public Works Department with more than 460 professionals and annual operating and capital expenditures of $190 million. The department focuses on providing a quality, sustainable environment, and delivering superior public services.

Howard is no stranger to dealing with unhappy residents. “Some are angry at a situation that has been ignored, handled improperly, or has persisted,” he says. It’s best to resolve the issue right away, without passing the person along to someone else.

The department hired a public outreach coordinator to get the word out about projects that might adversely affect the public. This effort has helped minimize the number of “no one told me” complaints.

“Now our complaints are fewer, our relationships with our elected officials is stronger and there is a feeling of greater trust in our services,” says Howard.