Professional Engineers Convince Panel of Licensure’s Value

November/December 2015

Professional Engineers Convince Panel of Licensure’s Value


As the result of extensive advocacy efforts by the Indiana Society of Professional Engineers and NSPE, the Indiana Job Creation Commission recently rescinded its troubling recommendation to eliminate licensure of the professional engineer.

The JCC, which was created in 2014 to examine the licensing of all of the state’s professional boards, released its draft report on June 17, recommending elimination of the PE license in Indiana. ISPE and NSPE organized a swift, coordinated response to urge the JCC and Indiana Governor Mike Pence to reverse the recommendation.

ISPE sent a letter to the JCC Chairman Nick Rhoad and Governor Pence’s office on June 19, urging them to remove the recommendation. At ISPE’s request NSPE sent a letter addressing both the state and national implications of such a recommendation and urged that the decision not only be reversed but that the final report submitted to the governor’s office on July 1 reflect these changes.

NSPE’s letter focused on two core tenets. First, and foremost, the licensure of professional engineers in Indiana, and in every state, is vital for the protection of the public health, safety, and welfare. Professional engineers design and administer the construction of bridges, tunnels, buildings, waste-water treatment facilities, plants, factories, processing centers, and many other public and private development projects. The PE license demonstrates an engineer’s commitment to the highest standards of engineering practice and ethical conduct and shows that the individual has the proper education, experience, and qualifications to provide these engineering services to the public.

The JCC had recommended that a system of voluntary self-certification be considered. Most unfortunately, history reveals that self-regulation is tantamount to no regulation at all. Licensure of engineers, in fact, in all states was driven by instances in which citizens were killed or injured and property damaged due to errors and omissions committed by individuals who practiced engineering without the proper education, experience, qualifications, and ethics.

The second core tenet addressed the economic and business implications of such a recommendation. Professional engineers and engineering firms have invested countless hours and many millions of dollars to pursue and maintain engineering licensure in Indiana and in other states and territories. Eliminating engineering licensure would have a profoundly negative effect on the ability of Indiana engineers and the businesses they lead to carry out their work. In brief, such a proposal would stunt economic growth.

The governor’s office immediately responded to NSPE’s letter stating that it opposed the JCC’s recommendation to eliminate engineering licensure. The final report was amended but still stated that there would be further consideration of the licensure of engineers. A public hearing to address this issue further was held on August 20. NSPE submitted additional comments strongly urging that the decision be rescinded as part of the meeting’s formal record. ISPE Immediate Past President Scott Haraburda, P.E., testified at the hearing and the JCC rescinded its recommendation.

This is an important victory for professional engineers. Across the nation, NSPE and its state societies emphasize the tremendous value of engineering licensure. At the same time, events such as these are an absolutely critical reminder to all states to remain vigilant against efforts to compromise or eliminate professional engineering licensure. NSPE has been actively monitoring developments around the country and stands ready, willing, and able to collaborate with state societies to oppose any such efforts.

To learn more about NSPE’s latest advocacy news, including updates on regulations, legislation, and state action, please visit the Issues and Advocacy webpage of the NSPE website.

Arielle Eiser is NSPE’s senior government relations manager.

NSPE Urges EPA to Require PEs for Landfill Audits

On September 14, NSPE submitted a public comment to the Environmental Protection Agency commending the agency for proposing additional safety measures requiring a PE to prepare site-specific gas collection and control system plans as part of the proposed rule Emission Guidelines and Compliance Times for Municipal Solid Waste Landfills.

In public comments on the proposed rule, NSPE also asserted that the landfill auditing process is best performed by licensed professional engineers. After all, as acknowledged in this very proposed rule, licensed professional engineers are uniquely qualified to perform the underlying compliance work. Therefore, it makes the most sense that the professional best qualified to review such work would also be a licensed professional engineer.

The EPA is considering allowing self-audits of such facilities instead of requiring independent third-party audits. NSPE strongly encouraged EPA to maintain the current system of independent third-party audits, a proven method that works and provides the best protection of the public health, safety, and welfare. However, should the EPA allow a self-auditing process, NSPE stated that the report must be prepared by a licensed professional engineer.