NSPE Gateway to Government Fall 2011
In This Issue of PEG e-News...

Coordination, Training Are Key to Emergency Preparedness

Steve Storts

It goes without saying that the American populace entrusts public agencies to prepare for and manage any disaster that arises—natural or man-made. What is not widely known is how local and state governments actually address emergency preparedness. What types of events do they prepare for? How do they plan for disasters? What approaches do they take? Not surprising, the answers to these questions and others are as diverse as the public agencies themselves that serve communities across the United States.

In California for instance, Caltrans’ Office of Emergency Management, headed by Professional Engineer Herby Lissade, prepares for 16 of the 17 recognized Federal Emergency Management Agency disaster types—all but hurricanes. Recent emergency responses this year have included the Japan tsunami in March and the September power outage in southern California. These are in addition to annual wild fires, snow and ice storms, mudslides, sand and wind storms, and flooding. 

Kentucky’s Lexington-Fayette County Division of Emergency Management prepares mostly for weather events and large mass casualties. “I have worked floods, snow storms, ice storms, tornadoes, a plane crash, an anthrax scare, hazardous materials spills, H1N1 influenza outbreaks, and handled National Disaster Medical System evacuees,” says Pat Dugger, director of emergency management.

Anthony Broom, emergency coordination officer for the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT), has addressed wild fires, tropical storms, H1N1 influenza, cold weather events, floods, Operation Haiti Relief, the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, and freeze events.

And at the national defense level, Michael Hackler, emergency manager for the U.S. Air Force Air Mobility Command at Scott Air Force Base near St. Louis, provides oversight, guidance, and support to all AMC installations. “Our main focus is on the physical effects of natural disasters, major accidents, and the terrorist use of chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear material,” he explains. During 2011, his team has responded to several hurricanes, tornadoes, and radiation hazards from Japan’s Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear power plant.

FDOT’s emergency response functions during activation fall under the more traditional responsibilities: providing and coordinating available resources of member agencies to support basic emergency transportation needs—air, ground, rail, and water—and public works and engineering transportation needs during any declared emergency or disaster. Broom emphasizes that in preparing for emergencies, even those that may never occur, “reviewing plans and testing are key factors to promote success,” and he notes the importance of having pre-established baselines for success and treating every emergency situation as a high priority.

For Dugger, emergency preparedness in Lexington-Fayette County takes on a more personal, one-on-one approach. “We are responsible for providing preparedness information and training to the community and first responders,” she points out. “We publish brochures, newspaper and magazine articles; maintain a Web site, Twitter, and Facebook accounts; and appear regularly on radio and television programs to promote emergency awareness and preparedness. Our theme for this year is: Be Aware, Get a Kit, Make a Plan.”

In preparing for the unexpected, Lissade touts Caltrans’ participation in the California Emergency Management Agency’s annual Golden Guardian Exercise Series—the largest statewide training exercise program of its kind in the country—aimed at coordinating prevention, preparation, response, and recovery mechanisms of city, county, and state governmental entities as well as private and volunteer organizations.

On a more local scale, Andrew Bencomo, deputy chief of operations for the Las Cruces Fire Department, says his team maintains emergency preparedness by conducting “table-top exercises” on a regular basis. “Prioritizing possible events comes by taking input from various personnel and agencies and then evaluating what would be the most likely event to occur that we have the least experience with, and then determining what the impact might be to our community should they occur,” he explains.

The role of engineering in emergency management and response is still at the forefront of many agencies. “Caltrans engineers recently formed Haiti Engineering, a nonprofit organization, to help respond to the Haiti earthquake,” Lissade notes. “Many of the engineers and professionals at Caltrans and other state agencies have learned valuable lessons through participating with this nonprofit [and others]. This helps us stay in good practice for events that may occur in California.”

Bencomo adds, “Having a perspective outside of traditional emergency responders can open up new ideas and out-of-the-box thinking.” He cites the importance of engineering in designing safety and seismic restraint systems in public buildings and other types of structures such as bridges and roadways, in addition to the design of safety equipment and personal protective gear that emergency responders use daily.

The construction of buildings to make them more disaster-resistant in a cost-effective manner remains one of the most challenging objectives for today’s engineers, says Dugger. And from a post-disaster perspective, Hackler emphasizes engineering’s vital role in gathering and analyzing basic information before planning and implementing any recovery operation.

Although technological advancements in emergency communication systems and the use of social media such as Twitter and Facebook have greatly assisted in emergency preparedness, Hackler contends that personal responsibility cannot be overrated. “Everyone knows being prepared is important,” he says, “but most believe the work should be done for them. Preparing yourself and your family isn’t difficult or time consuming.”

 

 

NSPE/PEG Federal Engineer of the Year Award

The Federal Engineer of the Year is selected by a panel of judges established by NSPE-PEG who consider engineering achievements, education, continuing education, professional/technical society activities, NSPE membership, awards, honors, and civic and humanitarian activities. Candidates are nominated by their employing federal agency. The agency must employ at least 50 engineers worldwide.

All agency winners, including the 2012 NSPE/PEG Federal Engineer of the Year, will be honored at a luncheon at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., on February 23, 2012.

Tickets for the event will go on sale in January. Visit www.nspe.org/FEYA for more information on the 2012 Federal Engineer of the Year Award, and to check out last year's top 10 federal engineers and NSPE/PEG Federal Engineer of the Year Vincent P. Sobash, P.E., from the Naval Facilities Engineering Command.



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Happenings on the Hill

1. The House Ways and Means Committee approved H.R. 674, which would repeal a requirement set forth in the Tax Increase Prevention and Reconciliation Act of 2005 (PL 109-222) that federal, state, and local governments must withhold 3% of all payments to engineering firms and other vendors as tax. If the requirement is not repealed, the tax will take effect on January 1, 2013. The bill next will move to the House floor for consideration.

NSPE joined members of the Government Withholding Relief Coalition in sending letters to House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI-4) supporting H.R. 674. Read NSPE's letter here. NSPE is a member of the Government Withholding Relief Coalition, a group of more than 140 organizations that share the goal of repealing the 3% withholding law.

The Withholding Tax Relief Act (S. 164) in Senate Republicans' "Real American Jobs Act" also contains a repeal of the 3% withholding tax. Supporters of H.R. 674 hope strong bipartisan passage of the House bill will spur similar Senate action.

2. NSPE attended the Alliance to Save Energy's annual Summit on Capitol Hill, "Driving Energy Efficiency as the 'Next Big Thing". Panels of government and private-sector representatives from across the globe discussed issues including how governments are investing in energy efficiency, implementation and finance of energy efficiency technologies, and the connection between water conservation and energy efficiency.

Among the speakers were General Services Administrator Martha Johnson, Department of the Navy Assistant Secretary for Energy, Installation and Environment Jackalyne Pfannenstiel, Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE), Rep. Brian Bilbray (R-CA-50), New York Power Authority Acting President and CEO Gil Quiniones, IHS Cambridge Energy Research Associates cofounder and Chairman Daniel Yergin, Best Buy Senior Vice President and General Manager of New Business Customer Solutions Group Neil McPhail, Coca-Cola Co. Director of Energy Management and Climate Protection Bryan Jacob, and Citigroup Global Markets Director Alfred Griffin.


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A Field Guide For Inspection of Sewerage and Drainage Construction

An inspector plays a crucial role in any construction project. The job demands knowledge, awareness, keen observation skills, and the ability to deal with contractors and project owners. A Field Guide For Inspection of Sewerage and Drainage Construction, published by the Professional Engineers in Construction, provides the inspector with the necessary knowledge to inspect sewerage and drainage construction projects.

The guide, specifically written to advance the mission of high-quality construction standards, provides a series of proven policies, established procedures and techniques, and helpful resources including inspection checklists that are applicable to construction projects on any size or scale.

NSPE members can download the guide at
http://www.nspe.org/fieldguide for $9.95 and nonmembers can purchase the guide for $19.95.
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Feds: Expect Less Money for Government Construction

In order to win government construction contracts, federal agency officials have given contractors and A/E firms a few tips.

Agencies, especially NAVFAC, are looking for the best safety records possible. That safety scrutiny will extend to subcontractors. NAVFAC will also expand their upper limit of domestic multiple-award contracts to $10 million. Worldwide MACs will be limited to $50 million.

Firms working with the Corps of Engineers and the Army should expect more repurposing projects, not necessarily new construction projects, due to the Defense Base Closure and Realignment Commission and budget constraints. The branch will be looking for value, not treating resources like a commodity.

The agency heads reminded attendees that Congress and the White House ultimately decide what money is spent, not the agencies themselves. That’s why groups like ASCE are lobbying on things like infrastructure spending.

For the full article, see the October 2011 Edition of PE magazine.
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Get a Head Start on Your Fall Education

NSPE’s fall Webinar lineup covers everything from ethics to career development. Check out the list below to find the course you are looking for and fulfill your PDH requirements. Visit the NSPE Web site for the full course description.

Ethics

Whistleblowing: What Are the PE’s Obligations to Report Misconduct?
November 9, 2011, 12:30–1:30 p.m. (E.S.T.) 1 PDH
$149 / $99 Member Price 


Business Development

IT Solutions for AEC Professionals
November 3, 2011, 12:30–1:30 p.m. (E.S.T.) 1 PDH
$149 / $99 Member Price

Harnessing the Power of Change
November 15, 2011, 12:30–1:30 p.m. (E.S.T.) 1 PDH
$149 / $99 Member Price

How to Conduct Effective Meetings
November 29, 2011, 12:30–1:30 p.m. (E.S.T.) 1 PDH
$149 / $99 Member Price

Strategic Planning
December 13, 12:30 p.m. – 1:30 p.m. (E.S.T.) 1 PDH
$149 / $99 Member Price


Technical

Designing for High Winds
November 1, 2011, 12:30–1:30 p.m. (E.S.T.) 1 PDH
$149 / $99 Member Price


Career Development

Career Transitions
November 10, 2011, 12:30 p.m. – 1:30 p.m. (E.S.T.), 1 PDH
$49 / $25 Member Price

Visit the NSPE Web site for all other Web seminar Listings.


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201112 PEG Executive Board Contact Information

Chair
David Alan Janover, P.E.

Chair-Elect
Kirankumar Topudurti, Ph.D., P.E.

Secretary
Scott Wolf, P.E., PLS

Immediate Past-Chair
Sandra Knight, P.E., F.NSPE, F.ASCE

Northeastern Region Vice Chair
VACANT

Southeastern Region Vice Chair
Bill Bowie, PE

Central Region Vice Chair
VACANT

Southwest Region Vice Chair
Mark Dubbin, P.E.

Western & Pacific Region Vice Chair
VACANT

North Central Region Vice Chair
Donald Neumann, P.E.

Young Engineer Representative
D. Scott Wolf, P.E., PLS

HOD Representative
Sandra Knight, P.E., F.NSPE, F.ASCE


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