There is an impending onerous Board Rule that in application either harasses
SE Firms or endangers those who aspire to become SE's in California.
Last December, I informed this list that there is a proposed amendment to
the Calif PE Board's Rule 411 that will require every licensed engineer in
the office who worked on the design of a project to stamp and sign each
drawing sheet that he or she had any "responsible charge" contribution to.
If more than one engineer contributed to what is shown on a given sheet,
each person would have to sign and stamp that sheet.
As the proposal now stands (in defiance of adverse testimony the Board
received from many list members last December) all persons stamping will
have to do so "in a manner such that all work can be clearly attributed to
the licensee(s) in responsible charge of the work."
"When signing and sealing documents containing work done by, or under the
responsible charge of two or more licensees, the signature and seal of each
licensee in responsible charge shall be placed on the documents with a
notation describing the work done under each licensee's responsible charge."
There is no way to know what "clearly" means in this usage: clear to whom?
Who is the judge of whether the manner and notations are clear enough?
Failing to satisfy makes one a violator and subject to disciplinary action.
Many responses to this proposal appeared, most objecting to the burdensome
hassle, uselessness, and probable futility of describing who did what,
accurately and "clearly" enough. Most also indicated that ordinarily, only a
principal of the firm stamps and signs the firm's work products, after
reviewing the work of engineers further down the firm's heirarchy, even
though those engineers were in responsible charge during most of the design
Certainly, if this Rule 411 amendment is finally adopted in its present
form, all SE firms will find incentive to circumvent the risks and
annoyances in this multiple-signing rule by denying that any person but one
at the top is in responsible charge of preparing the documents. Others who
contributed would be deemed subordinates who assisted the signing principal.
The downside to that gambit is that civil engineers in structural firms are
compelled by Rule 426.11 to show three years of "professional practice in
responsible charge of structural engineering projects" in order to apply to
be licensed as structural engineers. But if only the SE firm's principal
signs as being in responsible charge, the PE Board can claim that the civil
engineer was not practicing in a qualifying way, as his or her stamp and
signature did not appear to so indicate. Further, a firm principal who
supplies a reference to the Board that the civil engineer was in responsible
charge risks disciplinary action for not telling the truth, or
alternatively, for not having the documents signed and stamped by all those
in responsible charge.
Those who want to see the text of this rule proposal should immediately
phone Nancy Eissler at the Calif PE Board at (916) 263-2241 (her desk) or
(916) 263-2222 (office receptionist) or Fax 916-263-2246, and request to be
faxed a copy of the Jun 20, 2000 Notice of Availability of Modified Text for
You may state your objections to this Rule 411 in writing to the Board
office, attn Nancy Eissler, but they must be received by 5pm on Wed July 5,
2000. Faxes are acceptable.
Definitions of "responsible charge" are in the PE Act at sec 6703, and in
Board Rule 404.1, which can be read via http://www.dca.ca.gov/pels
As an aside, I have received from one of our list members a copy of a June
27 letter from this same Nancy Eissler which indicates she alone is
responsible for interpreting the PE Act to find that that ALL civil
engineering documents, no matter how preliminary, must be signed by the
person in responsible charge of their preparation. In a legal brief on
another matter the Board filed with Superior Court, the Board claims that no
interpretation or committment by a Board staffer is binding absent express
Charles O. Greenlaw SE Sacramento CA