August 15, 2012
Final Drilling Safety Rule Requires Extensive PE Oversight
NSPE achieved a victory when the Department of the Interior's Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement issued a final rule that makes permanent the additional safety measures authorized in the wake of the 2010 BP oil spill. The rule requires professional engineers to be more involved in the design and certification of offshore oil wells. NSPE General Counsel Arthur Schwartz commented before the Chemical Safety Board in 2010 that professional engineers should supervise all engineering design, operations, and maintenance of offshore oil wells.
Specifically, the new rule stipulates that:
- PEs must be involved in the well casing and cementing design process;
- PEs must certify that well casings and cementing are appropriate for expected wellbore conditions;
- PEs must certify well abandonment designs and procedures; and
- PEs must certify that well designs include two independent barriers in the center wellbore and all annuli.
The rule also requires independent third parties to conduct blowout preventer inspections. These third parties must be licensed professional engineers, professional engineering firms, or technical classification societies.
August 8, 2012
NSPE Attends White House Briefing on Budget Sequestration
NSPE Senior Manager of Government Relations Sarah Ogden attended a White House teleconference with Office of Science and Technology Policy Director John Holdren, Office of Public Engagement Director Jon Carson, and Office of Management and Budget Executive Associate Director Robert Gordon on the potential impacts of budget sequestration on science and technology funding.
Budget sequestration—an automatic reduction of federal spending—will be triggered in January 2013 if Congress fails to approve a deficit-reduction bill with at least $1.2 trillion in cuts. The sequester is set to last from FY2013 through FY2021 and, if enacted, will have a profound impact on research and development and STEM education funding. It could also affect funding for government contracts.
Corps of Engineers Issues Updated Design-Build Guidelines
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has released updated guidelines on the use of single-step design-build. In response to outcry from the design community, the guidelines emphasize that the two-phase selection procedure is the only design-build contracting method authorized for civil works and for work the Corps performs for other agencies. The guidelines also stress that two-step design-build remains the preferred method for military construction, although single-step design-build may be used for some military construction projects under certain conditions.
Unlike two-phase design-build, single-step design-build does not involve short-listing, so firms invest significant time and resources pursuing contracts but have a much smaller chance of winning the work. The expense of single-step competitions prevents many contractors and designers from competing.
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