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Public Fleet Professional Certification: What's In Your Tool Belt?

Written by James Inglese

Remember when being a public fleet manager meant merely providing high-quality repair service at the lowest cost? Well, times have changed. The responsibilities of today’s public fleet manager have increased tenfold.

The role has expanded to include the complex issues of asset and risk management, assessment and evaluation of fuel alternatives and energy sources, and the increasing demands of environmental stewardship – and all this in addition to providing high-quality repair service at the lowest cost. This is truly an enterprising endeavor considering the current economic straits burdening most municipalities.

To support the needs of the ever-increasing role of the fleet professional, the American Public Works Association has developed the Certified Public Fleet Professional accreditation program, CPFP. This certification process is designed specifically for fleet professionals who oversee or administer fleet services either within, or for a public fleet entity. Through this innovative and comprehensive program, APWA has established a new standard of excellence.

“The purpose of the CPFP is to promote excellence in fleet management by advancing the fleet professionals’ knowledge and practice to benefit communities through quality services,” Executive Director Peter B. King said. “Employers then have confidence that these professionals have the knowledge, skills and training that will benefit their agency, and keep it moving in an ever-changing environment.”

Intended for both the seasoned veterans and the incoming public fleet managers, the CPFP professional development initiative provides a means of formally verifying and recognizing public works agencies who maintain the compliance requirements based on the recommended practices set forth in the Public Management Practices Manual. Since its inception in 2006, a total of 99 United States and Canadian fleet professionals have received the CPFP certification.

The CPFP certification exams, administered during the annual APWA International Congress and Exposition, provide a means for professional development, education and training for public works fleet professionals. Expand your network of professional colleagues, rejuvenate your drive and initiative, and become the kind of leader public works needs for tomorrow’s fleet. Stock your tool belt with the necessary tools to enable you to make a positive difference in your agency and fleet division.

CPFP Eligibility Application Process

Participation in the certification program is voluntary and open to anyone meeting the eligibility requirements. Membership in APWA is not required. The APWA CPFP Council reserves the right to ask applicants to furnish such information and/or make such inquiries as may be deemed appropriate to identify the nature and extent of the applicant’s education, experience, competency or moral character.

The Public Fleet Professional Certification system includes an eligibility application process, a multiple choice test, and a recertification application process. To demonstrate eligibility, candidates must submit an application documenting compliance with completion of one of the education and work experience pathways.

These combinations include: 1) high school graduation or equivalent and nine years of relevant work experience within the last 11 years, 2) Associate’s degree or equivalent trade school certificate and seven years of relevant work experience within the last nine years, 3) Bachelor’s degree and five years of relevant work experience within the last seven years and 4) Master’s or Doctoral degree and three years of relevant work experience within the last five years.

Relevant work experience is that performed in the role of a fleet professional defined as one who supervises, manages, oversees or administers fleet services a minimum of 50 percent of their weekly activity within a public fleet entity. The candidate must also sign an agreement to adhere to the APWA Standards of Professional Conduct, affirm no history of felony convictions related to the practice of public fleet management, and pay the current application fee.

After being determined eligible, candidates must take a multiple-choice timed exam. Candidates have a 24-month window within which they must successfully pass the exam. Should a candidate not successfully complete all requirements within this window, he or she will be required to reinitiate the certification application process and pay associated fees. The window begins upon eligibility application approval.

Eight Topic Areas

The certification examination includes eight major topics: Operations, General Management and Business, Asset Management, Financial Management, Human Resource Management, Risk Management, Environmental Management, Information Management and Technology Systems.

One important tool of Fleet Management Operations is utilizing an established fleet management information system that will collect data, costs, parts, labor, contracts, etc. In order to collect the data, the system must interface with a fuel management system. The fleet management system will provide a means for the fleet manger to analyze costs and establish performance measures through the work order history, i.e., downtime, shop rate comparisons and productivity.
General Management and Business involves strategic business planning and the promotion of a service based culture that is sensitive and responsive to the needs of the organization and customers. It includes the establishment of performance indicators and the practice of benchmarking to achieve goals.

Research in asset acquisition and purchase timing is an important tool in determining the right vehicle or piece of equipment for the appropriate utilization. Conversely, the fleet manager must determine the appropriate disposal method, i.e., trade-in, sealed bid, auction, salvage, advertisement and the timing.

The Financial Management topic includes budget development, justification for expenditures, and revenue projections. It involves managing the fleet recovery policies, programs and procedures that include fleet operational purchases, vehicle replacement specification, and funding and record keeping.

Human Resource Management is important to identify staffing requirements to meet the goals and the objectives of the fleet. It involves the development and adherence to employee performance standards, identifying employee training needs, and establishing clear and concise policies and procedures.

Risk Management includes workplace management safety policies and procedures to ensure employee safety and reduce injuries. It also involves various aspects of tracking and coordinating vehicle damages, contract and regulatory compliance.

Environmental Management deals with local, state and federal regulations to protect the work and the public environments. It involves shop best practices that include energy-efficient and environment-friendly practices. Information Management and Technology Systems are vital tools in order to analyze data as a decision support tool in today’s fleet management.

Recertification

After successful completion of the exam, candidates become certified for a period of five years. Prior to the end of the five-year period, Certified Public Fleet Professionals must complete a minimum of 100 units/hours of professional development or successful completion of the examination for recertification and have completed three years of relevant work experience within that five-year period. Professional development units/hours are specifically defined in the Candidate Handbook, Certification Guide and APWA’s website.

The Certified Public Fleet Professional examination is administered in paper-and-pencil and computer-based formats. Paper-and-pencil exams are delivered annually at APWA’s International Congress and Exposition. Computer-based exam blocks are offered several times annually at over 170 Assessment Centers geographically distributed throughout the United States. Assessment Center locations, detailed maps and directions are available on the website, as are dates and locations for the CPFP examination.

James A. Inglese, CPFP, is the Fleet Services Manager for the City of Naperville, Ill. He may be reached at IngleseJ@naperville.il.us.

Published in Police Fleet Manager, Mar/Apr 2012

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