Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs
Thursday, September 12, 2019

Behm connects finance, policy to support clean water

Andrew Behm Andrew Behm

Since graduating from the La Follette School, Andrew Behm (MPA ’15) has moved between the private and public sectors, but his work has always involved helping municipalities pay the bills. His new position as a capital finance officer at the Wisconsin Department of Administration (DOA) is in the same vein.

Now, though, Behm is assisting the state with one of its most serious issues – water quality – reviewing municipal finances on loan applications for the Clean Water Fund and Safe Drinking Water Fund. The two programs provide financial assistance for projects focused on improving wastewater and stormwater infrastructure as well as drinking water.

“While I was in private consulting, I was working with local governments, so I think to a large degree I’m continuing to do similar work of engaging with local governments,” Behm said.

Behm came to the La Follette School after working as a consultant on utility projects. The technical expertise and softer skills he learned in graduate school have allowed him to transition into a critical role with the state.

“The process of governments, decision-making and public management have really been valuable in my work with local governments,” he said. “When you see something that’s not working, you also need to understand the language to understand if and how it can be changed.”

The La Follette School’s breadth of coursework also gave Behm a better understanding of communities’ needs and how to develop problem statements and solutions for them. In addition, the School’s smaller cohort and emphasis on practical team projects for real clients gave Behm experience navigating the occasional friction of large groups.

“This position makes unique use of my experience with an accounting firms, engineers, local governments, and the policy questions that the La Follette School provided,” Behm said.

- written by Jackson Parr