Next winter, for the first time in 11 years, Bill Howland won’t be leading the District’s snow response. Howland, the longtime head of the Department of Public Works has resigned.
“I’m not retiring, I’m just resigning,” Howland says. “There’s is no retirement in D.C. anymore.”
It’s not clear what’s behind the exit for Howland, who managed to hang on until now through four mayoral administrations since being appointed by Anthony Williams in 2004. Howland says he decided it was “time to go” after 11 years running the department, and claimed his exit isn’t due to any conflict with Mayor Muriel Bowser.
Howland’s longevity would be remarkable in any position, but it’s especially striking in DPW, where Howland stayed on despite botched snow responses, slow post-snow garbage pickup, last year’s bumbling rollout of new Supercans, and former Council Chairman Kwame Brown‘s Navigatorgate scandal.
Ward 3 Councilmember Mary Cheh defended Howland’s record in the face of DPW’s public mishaps.
“Some of those things were not done at the direction of the director,” Cheh says. “They were done at the direction of the chief executive.”
As the Post covered in a profile last March, some of Howland’s success can be attributed to the fact that new mayors start in January—-meaning that ousting Howland would make DPW leaderless in the middle of winter.
D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson praised Howland as a well-respected department head. After LL tweeted about Howland’s resignation, Howland announced his exit during a Council hearing.
“I don’t think we can accept your departure,” Cheh said.
Photo by Will Sommer
Updated 2:30 p.m.
Correction: Howland has been with DPW for 11 years, not 14.