*IF* everyone exercised due diligence, both in the letter and spirit of our
practice, none of this would be an issue. I agree, outsourcing CAN work, but
within reasonable limitations. I feel it should not be seen as simple solution
or an "of course we should" response in every practice.
Personally, I would not use it at the expense of using US-based engineers or
designers, simply because I want these jobs to stay in the US. The "scrap metal
to Pearl Harbor bombs" allegory was regarding the job we sub out today might be
the job our clients give to these same overseas firms in the future. The
rationale? "If these guys were good enough for the local engineer to use and got
good results, why shouldn't we go to them directly?" You don't think they will
publish their client list (with local engineers on it) and market to appropriate
potential clients, especially after they get at least one member of their firm
to get the proper P.E. or other certification? Isn't that the same business
practice many firms use in the US? I'm not saying this is unethical. It's good
business, actually. Just don't be surprised when someone makes you a target of
their business plan.
Conversely, I have hired firms in Europe to handle jobs local to their area,
partly for practical "local knowledge" issues and partly for the good will of
not taking local work away. Fair is fair. Perhaps I'm more sensitive to these
issues because I've done a fair number of failure analyses in which a root
cause for design error was these long-distance subcontrator miscommunications.
Anytime we delegate or otherwise sub out work, we have to remember an old
military adage: "You can usually delegate work, you can sometimes delegate
authority, but you can NEVER delegate responsibility." Unfortunately, too many
people (including engineers) waffle and crawfish once its THEIR hand caught in
some sort of trap, especially once the lawyers and insurance companies become
involved. It's a rare individual, especially outside the military, that will
stand up and say, "yes, that was my mistake...I was the person in charge and
everything done under my watch is my responsibility." Its an admirable
quality, but its far better for everyone, including the public, if those in
charge take those extra steps in the beginning to avoid the necessity of such
choices later on.
Bart Kemper, P.E.
hans boge wrote:
> If my seal is going on the drawings or the spec. I
> make sure the work suits my local conditions here, or I make sure that the
> engineer I've hired for the foreign work I need to get completed, is fully
> of aware of my concerns and design intent. With email, there is simply no
> excuse for lack of communication anymore.
> If I outsource a job, and it gets screwed up, I damage my reputation but
> more importantly the safety and quality of product is the issue. If I
> choose to outsource, I make sure the job doesn't get screwed up.
> >I'm not saying its impossible to use overseas/out of state resources
> >just that the most common reasons for doing so (money) directly competes
> >the extra effort (time=money) required to provide the same reliability as
> an "in
> >house" job, thereby creating a potentially dangerous conflict of
> >Bart Kemper, P.E.
> Just remember competition forces creativity and will result in a better and
> safer end product to society. As we see dangers in design we improve them,
> just look at the amount of new code that has come out in seismic design
> alone over the past 10 years. Building envelope and fire safety issues have
> also improved tremendously. Code upgrades are primarily reactive in my view
> and so they had their developments had hiccups too. I'm confident that as
> ethical engineers we will find ways ... to regulate it or throw it out all
> Hans E. Boge, P. Eng.
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