March 31, 2016
On March 14, the Environmental Protection Agency asked for comment on a proposed rule (Accidental Release Prevention Requirements: Risk Management Programs Under the Clean Air Act) that would require PEs as part of the audit team in third-party certifications. This action is in response to catastrophic chemical facility incidents in the US, including an explosion at a fertilizer facility in West, Texas, on April 17, 2013, that killed 15 people. The EPA's goal is to ensure the involvement of "competent auditors that also have an ethical obligation to perform unbiased work" in the interest of protecting the public health, safety, and welfare.
March 21, 2016
On March 18, NSPE submitted a letter to Louisiana Senate Commerce, Consumer Protection, and International Affairs Committee Chairman Danny Martiny to oppose Louisiana S.B. 59 and asked him to withdraw the legislation. The bill, if enacted, would waive the FE exam for certain out-of-state PEs, weakening Louisiana’s licensure requirements and undermining the process that has been in place for four decades. In the letter to Martiny, NSPE President Tim Austin, P.E., F.NSPE, explains that in order to earn a PE license one must graduate from an accredited four-year engineering program, pass the Fundamentals of Engineering exam and the Principles and Practice of Engineering Exam, and earn four years of experience under the supervision of a licensed PE. “The FE exam is the first step in the licensure process. Therefore, passage of such legislation would seriously undermine a critical foundation of professional engineering practice,” Austin wrote.
March 4, 2016
On March 2, NSPE Vice President Tom Roberts, P.E., F.NSPE, testified before a Kansas House subcommittee on the importance of protecting and promoting the continued use of qualifications-based selection in Kansas. In response to an audit recommendation suggesting that the state move away from QBS, Roberts, a former president of the Kansas Society of Professional Engineers, testified on the tremendous value of using the QBS method.
February 18, 2016
On February 11, NSPE President Tim Austin, P.E., F.NSPE, sent a letter to Kansas state legislators in response to a report claiming that the Kansas Department of Transportation could save money by eliminating qualifications-based selection in the department’s procurement of architectural and engineering services. NSPE strongly opposes efforts to erode QBS. In his letter to state legislators, Austin clearly established that QBS protects the public health, safety, and welfare. He also noted that QBS protects taxpayers, benefits small firms, and promotes technical innovation. Read the full letter.
February 11, 2016
Embracing its Grand Challenge to foster ethical innovation, NSPE has been working on multiple fronts to promote and protect the public health, safety, and welfare in the development and deployment of autonomous vehicle technologies. The Society is taking action to give professional engineers a leading voice in ensuring that the same attention to safety and reliability that went into the built transportation infrastructure is incorporated into autonomous vehicles and smart transportation systems. NSPE has been collaborating with the California Department of Motor Vehicles, which has been tasked with developing the nation’s first deployment regulations (including both functional operations and behavioral competencies for autonomous vehicles). NSPE has been at the forefront, participating in recent stakeholder meetings in Sacramento, Los Angeles, and Washington, DC. The Society has provided formal written input to the California DMV urging a comprehensive and informed approach.
February 2, 2016
On February 1, NSPE President Tim Austin, P.E., F.NSPE, called on Michigan legislators to support Michigan House Bill 5238, the Local Government Professional Services Selection Act. If enacted, the legislation will set procedures for local governments to procure architectural, engineering, and land surveying services using a qualifications-based selection process. NSPE believes qualified professional engineers should be selected to perform all engineering services on the basis of design ability, experience, integrity, and other key professional factors—rather than price.
NSPE has expressed concern about Oklahoma legislation that would amend the state’s engineering licensure law to permit a structural engineering designation for structural engineers. This change, the Society says, would undermine the existing process for licensing professional engineers in Oklahoma and possibly other jurisdictions.
In a letter to the chair of the Oklahoma engineering licensure board, NSPE President Tim Austin, P.E., F.NSPE, explained that continued recognition of PE licensure as the defining qualification for practice is critical to guaranteeing the trust and protection of the public. He also noted the defeat of a motion in August that would have protected the structural engineer title and restricted SE practice in the model law published by the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying.
January 27, 2016
The National Society of Professional Engineers joins the nation in concern over the ongoing and dire water quality crisis in Flint, Michigan, and we await more details about the disaster. The licensed professional engineer’s foremost responsibility is to practice in a manner that protects the public health, safety, and welfare. We offer our support and resources to the City of Flint and the State of Michigan to gain a better understanding of the circumstances involved so they can be avoided in the future.
January 19, 2016
The federal government has announced major new initiatives toward automated vehicle development and safety, a top NSPE policy priority.
President Obama’s fiscal year 2017 budget proposal includes a 10-year, almost $4 billion investment in pilot projects for the development and adoption of safe vehicle automation. In addition, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has updated its policy guidance, including commitments to work with industry and other stakeholders to develop best-practice guidance on the safe deployment and operation of fully autonomous vehicles and develop a model state policy that offers a path to a consistent national policy—both within six months.
December 15, 2015
In a House Committee on Natural Resources hearing on the Department of the Interior’s role in the Animas River spill, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell indicated support for strengthening engineering standards in her agency. The spill was caused by a blowout at the Gold King Mine in Colorado. At the December 9 hearing, Rep. Bruce Westerman, P.E.