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Cal.PE Board under fire at Legislature

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California's P.E and L.S. Board is on the hot seat at the State Legislature.

The standing Joint Legislative Sunset Review Committee turns its attention
to the PE Board at 9:30 AM Tues Nov 30, 1999, in Room 3191 of the State Capitol.

The 15 issues the committee demands answers to may be viewed in Word 97 on
the committee's website,

Click on Publications, scroll down to Board for Professional Engineers and
Land Surveyors, then click on "Background Paper For Hearing". There are 22
pages of nicely printable text in this rather stridently critical document.

Among the staff concerns are why California continues to use home-grown
S.E.and L.S. examinations, rather than the ubiquitous NCEES exams.
Information is known by the Legislature that serious irregularities in the
writing, grading, cut-score setting, and appeals handling have occurred in
recent years, in both of these California- unique exams.

Another issue indicates that "overlap" in practice areas among various
branches should be expressly permitted by law, and draft legislation to
implement this is in this Background Paper. A practical result would be that
PE's in other, non- C.E. branches, including "Title" branches, could perform
structural engineering work when such is incidental or supplementary to work
in their own branch, and if personally competent. The Board would be
precluded from adopting regulations in this matter.

A definition of Negligence is proposed that would not excuse error or
mistake, even if only monetary loss would only potentially result in the

The Board's use of "policy resolutions" that amount to illegal,
"underground" regulations is exposed, including one that declares that plan
checking is professional engineering practice.

An issue unfortunately removed from the Draft paper of two weeks ago dealt
with "the Board only taking disciplinary action against those who own single
person firms or small firms." It was noted that "the Board is controlled by
those representing large civil and structural engineering firms..."
Elsewhere the Board is under fire for investigating too few complaints and
revoking too few licenses. (I wonder what kind of licensee is easiest to
prevail against, when the Board has to show its enforcement energies.) 

Political involvement by the Board against a public sector engineers' ballot
initiative, and for a private sector engineers' ballot initiative, is

The Legislature appears to be serious. At the end on pg 22, committee staff
says, "The Joint Committee and the Department [of Consumer Affairs] should
give serious consideration to either eliminating this Board or
reconstituting its membership if the Board will not be able to adequately
resolve the issues presented in this background paper."

Funny, how unappreciative and destructive of established, venerated,
hard-working engineering institutions that modern-day critics have become. 

Charles O. Greenlaw  SE   Sacramento CA