August 15, 2012
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:
August 8, 2012
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.
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.
July 13, 2012
The NSPE Legislative and Governmental Affairs Committee met at the Annual Meeting in San Diego to discuss the committee's goals for the coming year and determine NSPE's primary public policy agenda for 2012–13. Based on committee discussions, NSPE will focus on the following federal issues:
July 6, 2012
President Obama signed the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21) Act (PL 112-141) into law. The two-year, $118 billion legislation will fund transportation programs until September 2014. The law is the result of an eleventh-hour compromise following a protracted, partisan battle within Congress centered on how to pay for the bill.
June 20, 2012
NSPE Senior Manager of Government Relations Sarah Ogden attended the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee's Science and Space Subcommittee hearing, "Risks, Opportunities and Oversight of Commercial Space." The hearing focused on the role of the commercial space industry in the national space program and its contribution to U.S. competitiveness in the global market. Witnesses represented the private sector, NASA, the Federal Aviation Administration, and the Government Accountability Office. Senators also questioned witnesses on the safety of the commercial space industry and the current moratorium on Federal Aviation Administration regulations governing commercial space flight.
June 19, 2012
Congress agreed to the final version of the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21) Act (H.R. 4348), with the House voting 373–53 and the Senate voting 74–19 in favor of passage. The two-year, $118 billion bill maintains transportation spending at current levels. The bill is expected to be the last major piece of legislation Congress passes before the elections.
June 18, 2012
NSPE Senior Manager of Government Relations Sarah Ogden attended the Atlantic's Next Generation Energy Forum, which focused on the roles of the public and private sector in growing the capacity of alternative energy sources. Speakers included Deputy Secretary of Energy Daniel Poneman, Governor John Hickenlooper (D-CO), and former Environmental Protection Agency Administrator and former White House Office of Energy and Climate Change Policy Director Carol Browner. Panelists of public and private sector leaders also discussed the wind and biofuels industries.
June 14, 2012
NSPE joined the STEM Education Coalition in supporting an amendment that restored $51 million in funding to the Department of Education's Mathematics and Science Partnerships program. The Mathematics and Science Partnerships program is the only program within the Department of Education with the specific goal of improving student performance in math and science by enhancing teachers' subject-matter knowledge and teaching skills. The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies originally cut the Mathematics and Science Partnerships program's 2013 fiscal year funding from its current level of $150 million to $99 million.
June 7, 2012
The Council on Federal Procurement of Architectural and Engineering Services sponsored a forum for federal agency representatives and design professionals regarding A/E procurement issues. Rep. Bill Huizenga (R-MI-2) discussed the Federal Prisons Accountability Act of 2012 (H.R. 3634), which would require the Federal Prison Industries to compete with the private sector for government contracts.