NSPE, Alaska Society Challenge Agency’s View of the Professional Engineer

Thursday, April 14, 2016

On April 13, the National Society of Professional Engineers and Alaska Society of Professional Engineers submitted a joint letter regarding comments made by the Rural Utilities Service, an agency of the Department of Agriculture, as part of its final rule for Section 306D Water Systems for Rural and Native Villages in Alaska. NSPE and ASPE recognize that the rule in question is final. However, the substance of the rule challenges the value and integrity of the licensed professional engineer (PE) in such a way that a response was necessary to clarify the role that PEs can and do play in helping rural villages. NSPE and ASPE therefore submitted further comment.

In response to the rule’s unfounded and inaccurate remarks challenging the integrity and judgment of professional engineers, NSPE President Tim Austin, P.E., F.NSPE, and ASPE President Angela Smith, P.E., stated: “Regardless of position or employer, ALL PEs are held to the same high standard of ethical behavior and are subject to the same penalties if they violate those standards. Ultimately, RUS and professional engineers, publicly or privately employed, share a common purpose: to protect the public health, safety, and welfare, in this instance by determining whether Alaskan rural villages need new sanitation systems to provide basic but essential services such as clean water infrastructure. NSPE asks RUS to reconsider its comments, not only as it applies in this particular instance, but in similar situations across the United States.”

As an immediate result of this letter, the Rural Utilities Service has contacted its engineering department to review. Read the full letter from Austin and Smith.