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Ethics in Engineering & the New Alabama Ethics Law by Jim Meads, P.E., President/CEO Sain Associates
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Ethics in Engineering & the New Alabama Ethics Law by Jim Meads, P.E., President/CEO Sain Associates

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Professional Development Session, ALSITE 2011 Annual Meeting

Professional Development Session, ALSITE 2011 Annual Meeting

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  • 1. Ethics in Engineeringand the New Alabama Ethics Law Jim Meads, P.E. President/CEO, Sain Associates, Inc. Professional Development Session ALSITE 2011 Annual Meeting Leadership Development Program
  • 2. Character Your personal credibility / reputation is based on: Competence and character Trust you inspire Right behavior and results Follow through on promisesEthics in Engineering & the New Alabama Ethics Law
  • 3. Character Quotes “When the character of a man is not known, look at his friends.” “Character is revealed through action.” (Aristotle) “Leadership is a potent combination of strategy and character. But if you must be without one, be without the strategy.” (General Norman Schwarzkopf)Ethics in Engineering & the New Alabama Ethics Law
  • 4. What are some of the most common character flaws that employees observe in their leaders?Ethics in Engineering & the New Alabama Ethics Law
  • 5. What are some of the most common GOOD character traits that employees observe in their leaders?Ethics in Engineering & the New Alabama Ethics Law
  • 6. EthicsA principle of right or good conduct; rules or standards governing the conduct of members of a profession.“Doing the right thing at the right time.”An individual issueEthics in Engineering & the New Alabama Ethics Law
  • 7. Ethical Priorities1. Public interest – the public health, safety and welfare will come first;2. Client’s interest – the client will be preferred over the professional’s own interest and those of others;3. Profession’s interest – the profession will be put before the person;4. Personal interests – only when the first three interests have all been satisfied will the professional consider his or her own interest or welfare.Ethics in Engineering & the New Alabama Ethics Law
  • 8. Ethical TestsIs it right? Most of us know the difference between right and wrong, but when push comes to shove, how does this decision make you feel about yourself? Are you proud of yourself for making this decision? Would you like others to know you made the decision you did?Is it balanced? Is it fair to all parties concerned, both in the short-term as well as the long-term? Is this a win- win situation for those directly as well as indirectly involved?Is it legal? In other words, will you be violating any criminal laws, civil laws or company policies by engaging in this activity?Ethics in Engineering & the New Alabama Ethics Law
  • 9. Ethical Tests (continued)• Harm test: Do the benefits outweigh the harms, short term and long term?• Reversibility test: Would I think this choice were good if I traded places?• Colleague test: What would professional colleagues say?• Legality test: Would this choice violate a law or a policy of my employer?• Publicity test: How would this choice look on the front page of a newspaper?• Common practice test: What if everyone behaved in this way?• Wise relative test: What would my wise old aunt or uncle do?Ethics in Engineering & the New Alabama Ethics Law
  • 10. Have you read the Alabama Code of Ethics for P.E.s and Surveyors?Ethics in Engineering & the New Alabama Ethics Law
  • 11. Alabama PE & LS Board Cannon of Ethics Code of Alabama, 1975 § 34-11 Administrative Code, Rules and Regulations 330-X-14 Professional Conduct (Last Amended – January 2011)Ethics in Engineering & the New Alabama Ethics Law
  • 12. Filing a Complaint • Go to the BELS Website home page • It must be in writing and signedEthics in Engineering & the New Alabama Ethics Law
  • 13. Ethics in Engineering & the New Alabama Ethics Law
  • 14. Good Ideas (Questions) Before Filing a Complaint• Did Bobby break a law or the Code of Ethics? – Or does it just look shady? – Or did he just make me mad?• Exactly what did Bobby do? (which Cannon?)• Is this a criminal or civil court issue?• Watch your words. If you are not sure, use qualifying words like “appears to be . . .”Ethics in Engineering & the New Alabama Ethics Law
  • 15. of r ds ns R eco Actio d B oarEthics in Engineering & the New Alabama Ethics Law
  • 16. Ethics in Engineering & the New Alabama Ethics Law
  • 17. Enforcement Activity 2009-10 Complaints & Investigations (as of 7/19/10)Complaints Received: 34 Investigations Closed: 73Professional Engineer (15) Formal Disciplinary Action (36)Competency (4) Consent Order (25)Unethical Conduct (11) Hearing Order (11)Professional Land Surveyor (5) Informal Disciplinary Action (10)Competency (2) Letter of Caution (9)Unethical Conduct (3) Letter of Reprimand (1)Examination Applicant (2) No Action Taken (27)Un-licensed Engineering (11)Un-licensed Surveying (1)Ethics in Engineering & the New Alabama Ethics Law
  • 18. Enforcement Activity FY 2009-10 Informal Enforcement ActionInvestigation closed informally with letter of caution or reprimand• PLS survey created a property line dispute between land owners leading to civil litigation and filing of 3 complaints.• PE initially failed to respond to the Board after being notified of random audit of continuing professional competency.• PE requested license be changed to inactive after selection for random audit of continuing professional competency.• PE disciplined by another state in which he had a PE license.• PE disciplined by another state in which he had a PLS license.• Unlicensed individual included “PE” in correspondence relative to a project in Alabama.Ethics in Engineering & the New Alabama Ethics Law
  • 19. Why Ethics?• Protection to the public• Standards of practice• Honesty/Integrity – sleep well at night What is Ethics?• The gray area• What we do when no one is looking• A way to get in big trouble if we do not understand and follow the conceptsEthics in Engineering & the New Alabama Ethics Law
  • 20. Professional Ethics• Most states have ethical requirements specified in their law or code – Licensure Law – General State Law• Alabama Licensees attest that they will abide by the Code of Ethics• Ethics violations can result in reprimand, censure, fining, or even the loss of license• There is a national registry of infractions which can be accessed by all jurisdictionsEthics in Engineering & the New Alabama Ethics Law
  • 21. Ethics in Engineering & the New Alabama Ethics Law
  • 22. Nobody likes small print. Let’s just summarize it.Ethics in Engineering & the New Alabama Ethics Law
  • 23. REMEMBER The following slides offer a condensed version of a carefully written document, with legal implications. Many phrases were omitted to fit this presentation into the time available for this session. READ IT YOURSELF!Ethics in Engineering & the New Alabama Ethics Law
  • 24. Alabama PE & LS Board, Cannon of Ethics OUTLINE of § 330-X-14, Professional Conduct• 14.01 Preamble• 14.02 Conflict of Interest (Cannon I)• 14.03 Qualified - Ed or Experience (Cannon II)• 14.04 Confidences of Clients/Employers (Cannon III)• 14.05 Practice (Cannon IV)• 14.06 Ethics (Cannon V)• 14.07 Responsibility for Conduct• 14.08 ConvictionEthics in Engineering & the New Alabama Ethics Law
  • 25. Case Study – Preamble (1)The Preamble to the Alabama Code of Ethics says“In order to meet the intent of the Code…, tosafeguard the __________ of the public...”Which ones below are not a correct answer(s)?Life, Health, Property, Economic Prosperity,Welfare, None of the AboveEthics in Engineering & the New Alabama Ethics Law
  • 26. Case Study – Preamble (2)The Preamble indicates… “to establish andmaintain a high standard of ________ … in theprofessions of engineering and land surveying.”Which of the following is not a correct answer(s)?Leadership, Integrity, Skills, Practice,None of the aboveEthics in Engineering & the New Alabama Ethics Law
  • 27. 14.01 Preamble(1) …safeguard the life, health, property, and welfare of public… establish and maintain a high standard of integrity, skills, and practice… binding on each person holding PE, PLS, interns, holders of CAs…(2) …persons licenses or certified… must know Rules of Prof Conduct … must understand them… practice of engineering or land surveying is a privilege…Ethics in Engineering & the New Alabama Ethics Law
  • 28. Canon I - Conflict of Interest• Shall avoid conflicts of interest with the client or employer; if unavoidable immediately tell client/ employer of any business association, interest, or circumstances which might influence professional judgments, decisions or practices• Shall not solicit or accept any gratuity or material benefit of valueEthics in Engineering & the New Alabama Ethics Law
  • 29. Canon I - Conflict of Interest (continued)• Shall not solicit or accept engineering or land surveying contract from a governmental body if firm’s Principal or Officer serves as a member or employee• In public service, shall not participate in considerations on services offered or provided by licensee and licensee’s associatesEthics in Engineering & the New Alabama Ethics Law
  • 30. Canon II - Qualifications • Shall practice in only fields in which qualified by education or experience • Shall not seal or sign any document dealing with subject matter in which the licensee is not qualified to form a dependable judgment • As expert witness… shall be completely objective and truthful… based on knowledge of facts…Ethics in Engineering & the New Alabama Ethics Law
  • 31. Canon III Client and Employer Confidences• Shall not reveal a confidence or private information regarding licensee’s client or employer, current or former• Shall not use confidences to the disadvantage of client or employer• Shall not use confidences of client for the advantage of a third personEthics in Engineering & the New Alabama Ethics Law
  • 32. Canon III (continued) Client and Employer ConfidencesMay disclose private info…• With consent• Required by law• To prove legal relationship with client• To defend self• If probable danger to publicEthics in Engineering & the New Alabama Ethics Law
  • 33. Canon IV - Practice• …not offer, promise or pay… political contribution, commission, gift, etc … as inducement to receive work…• Shall not do self laudatory advertising• Shall not make or publish…statement of his qualifications which is misleading• Shall not supplant another licensee in an ongoing project• Shall report all violations of the Code of Ethics to the BoardEthics in Engineering & the New Alabama Ethics Law
  • 34. Canon IV – Practice (continued)• Shall not participate in fee determination procedures - bidding• Shall perform work in accordance with approved standards of practice• …completely objective and truthful, include all relevant/pertinent info in reports, statements, etc.• Issue no statements or criticisms on public policy which are inspired or paid for by an interested party, unless prefaced by comments explicitly identifying self and the relationshipEthics in Engineering & the New Alabama Ethics Law
  • 35. Canon V – Ethics Largest of the Canons• Do not violate any provision of Alabama Code dealing with engineering or land surveying, or the Board’s Administrative Code• Do not plan… to evade Code or Admin Regulations• …exercise care to prevent partners... from violating…Code or Regulations• Do not engage in illegal conduct… involving dishonestyEthics in Engineering & the New Alabama Ethics Law
  • 36. Canon V – Ethics (continued)• Do not discredit the profession of engineering or land surveying.• You are responsible for protection of your seal, signature, and identification• Can’t practice where not licensed• Must notify the board office of change of address/employment within 30 daysEthics in Engineering & the New Alabama Ethics Law
  • 37. Canon V - Ethics (continued)• Shall not permit professional identification (seal, etc.) to be used by an unauthorized individual• Shall not aid or abet any unlicensed person to practice engineering/surveying• Shall not place their seal on a document unless its prepared under the licensee’s direct control and supervisionEthics in Engineering & the New Alabama Ethics Law
  • 38. Questions to Ask Before . . .• Did Bobby reveal confidential information?• Did Bobby lower his price to compete for work?• Did Bobby offer things to induce the county official to give him work?• Did Bobby solicit a gratuity?• Did Bobby accept goods and services?• Did Bobby bid (or fail to bid) on engineering work?• Was Bobby an officer on a government board?Ethics in Engineering & the New Alabama Ethics Law
  • 39. Case Studies• (02-2) Signing and Sealing of Work --- Making Changes• (06-12) Political Contributions – Fundraising BBQ• (07-1) Conflict of Interest State Engineer – Village RoadEthics in Engineering & the New Alabama Ethics Law
  • 40. Individual’s Responsibilities• Know your licensing law – Stay current – If local procedures conflict, state law rules• Keep current• If not qualified to do it – you are not qualified to supervise non-licensees• Do not offer until you are licensedEthics in Engineering & the New Alabama Ethics Law
  • 41. Recommendations• Answer correspondence from the board• Have written contracts that include scope of services• Communicate with peers and competitors• Maintain records of continuing education• Protect your seal and electronic signatures• Remember. . . what happens in Alabama does not necessarily stay in AlabamaEthics in Engineering & the New Alabama Ethics Law
  • 42. 2010 Amendments to the Alabama Ethics Law • Special Session • December 8-16, 2010 • SB 14 • Effective March 16, 2011Ethics in Engineering & the New Alabama Ethics Law
  • 43. ‘Unclear’ New Law Frustrates Alabama Ethics Commission Thursday, February 3, 2011 Birmingham News“Members of the Alabama Ethics Commission said Wednesday that portions of the state’s new ethics law are vague and confusing.”Ethics in Engineering & the New Alabama Ethics Law
  • 44. Ethics in Engineering & the New Alabama Ethics Law
  • 45. Code of Alabama, 1975 Code of Ethics Sections 36-25-1 through 36-25-30Definitions:• Public Employee• Public Official• Thing of ValueEthics in Engineering & the New Alabama Ethics Law
  • 46. New Definitions• Economic Development Function• Educational Function• Principal Redefined• Widely Attended EventEthics in Engineering & the New Alabama Ethics Law
  • 47. Code of Ethics – Section 7• Old law“No person shall offer or give to a public official or public employee or a member of the household of a public employee (or public official) and none of the aforementioned shall solicit or receive a thing of value for the purpose of influencing official action.”→Requires offer or solicitationEthics in Engineering & the New Alabama Ethics Law
  • 48. Removed and Replaced by Section 36-25-7(a)“. . . shall solicit or receive anything for the purposeof influencing official action regardless of whetheror not the thing solicited or received is a thing ofvalue”Ethics in Engineering & the New Alabama Ethics Law
  • 49. Section 36-25-1(33)(b)Eighteen (18) Exceptions - As long as no particularcourse of action is required as a condition to thereceipt thereof. (see handout)Ethics in Engineering & the New Alabama Ethics Law
  • 50. Ethics Commission Advisory Opinion No. 2011-01“Public officials/public employees may notparticipate in strictly social events (unless they payfor their participation just as the general publicwould) such as golf tournaments, unless the eventis part of an educational function, widely attendedevent or economic development function, etc., andis not and cannot reasonably be perceived as asubterfuge for a purely social recreational orentertainment function.”Ethics in Engineering & the New Alabama Ethics Law
  • 51. Advisory Opinion No. 2011-02Company employees who regularly are involved insales do not have to register as lobbyists beforemaking sales calls to a state agency.Ethics in Engineering & the New Alabama Ethics Law
  • 52. Advisory Opinion No. 2011-05 “During the course of a project, a member of the Alabama Road Builders Association may provide a meal for ALDOT personnel to discuss problems or issues that have arisen during a specific project . . . , as this would be a work session under the Alabama Ethics Law.Ethics in Engineering & the New Alabama Ethics Law
  • 53. Resources• www.bels.alabama.gov• www.niee.org National Institute for Engineering Ethics• www.asce.org• www.ite.org• www.ncees.org Contains links to all state licensing boards• www.murdough.ttu.edu Murdough Center for Engineering Professionalism, Texas Tech University• www.ethics.alabama.govEthics in Engineering & the New Alabama Ethics Law
  • 54. Ethics in Engineering & the New Alabama Ethics Law