NSPE Gateway to Government Fall 2013
In This Issue of PEG e-News...

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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.

The winners will be honored at a luncheon at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., in February 2014.

Go to the
NSPE Web site to download the Federal Engineer of the Year Award application. Nominations must first be submitted to your agency's point of contact/human resources department for approval. Deadline for submissions is now November 15, 2013.

Check out 2013's top 10 federal engineers and the NSPE/PEG Federal Engineer of the Year, Capt. Richard Gelting, Ph.D., P.E., a senior environmental engineer with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, on the
NSPE Web site.

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NSPE Urges OPM to Require PEs for Professional Engineering Jobs

NSPE President Robert Green, P.E., F.NSPE, has sent a letter to the Office of Personnel Management, strongly urging the agency to require PEs for professional engineering occupations in the federal government. The letter was prompted by a proposed revision that would allow holders of ABET-accredited engineering technology bachelor’s degrees to qualify for professional engineering positions.

Green notes the importance of engineering technologists to the engineering team but explains the term "professional engineer" is protected in all 50 states. The requirements for a professional engineering position in the federal government, however, do not meet the same requirements as in the states.

"In fact, in certain instances, the federal government considers education alone a sufficient qualification for professional engineer status," Green added. "By revising the qualification standards to require only a bachelor’s degree in engineering technology, OPM will be further eroding basic and long-established standards for the professional engineering practice."

Read the complete letter: http://www.nspe.org/resources/PDFs/media/2013/NSPE-letter-to-OPM.pdf [ return to top ]

Employee Motivation Requires A Cross-Generational Approach

Steve Storts
As discussed previously, engineering managers and supervisors in the public workplace can help improve their staff performance by tapping the generational diversity of their employees. To that resolve, management consultants and behaviorists have conducted considerable research into the distinctions and motivational interests of the four generational workforces: the silent generation (also called Traditionalists), baby boomers, generation X, and generation next (also known as millennials, generation Y, and the net generation). Amid those workforce distinctions, however, there can be consensus and shared motivations, particularly in public service.

One of the most effective motivational crossovers is the traditional work retreat. It has, though, experienced a renaissance in recent years. Due to broad agency cost-saving measures and increased public scrutiny, retreats are no longer characterized as expensive weekend excursions in remote locations. Many of today’s organizational retreats have evolved into more scaled-down mini-retreats. Their venues are now hotel meeting rooms, food courts, movie theaters, trade shows, health clubs, restaurant dining rooms, museums, and outdoor amphitheaters. The underlying motivation still exists, however. Get the employed staff out of the office where they are free of distractions and at ease to constructively brainstorm and provide knowledgeable feedback.

Because retreats are an excellent tool for combining both teamwork and individual creativity, the ground rules for mini-retreats remain the same as their traditional counterpart. Managers, supervisors, and team leaders must have a clear understanding up front of what needs to be accomplished. Motivational consultants generally recommend an agenda that focuses on only one or two primary objectives. Equally important, staff members must not be coerced into attending a retreat, nor should participation by all employees be mandatory; it should be optional. A feasible strategy is to invite key employees, in addition to those who will add value to the retreat—as well as implement agency development strategies and projects back in the workplace.

Finally, retreat facilitators should document all action items during the retreat. Activities should never be concluded without summarizing and writing down specific steps that each participant needs to address upon returning to work. The retreat may be the end of one exercise, but it should also lay the groundwork for following exercises. In other words, the retreat is not the end of the planning process; it is the beginning. Employee training and development programs are best implemented through strong leadership and a system of built-in accountability.

Although many organizations are shifting from an individual to a team-based approach to address a diversified workforce, teams may not always be the most practical motivational vehicle for all public agencies, depending upon their size, office location, work hours, and telecommuting policies. Actually, attracting and retaining members of any workforce generation is more of an art than a science, requiring creativity, customization, and sometimes a little innovation. In fact, careful observation of behavioral and motivational traits can be quite effective when staffing an agency.

What someone from the silent generation or a baby boomer values is not necessarily what a younger generational employee favors in the workplace these days. And while there is generally a set of common values shared by all generations at large, what constitutes a motivated work environment can differ greatly among generation Xers, generation nexters, and traditional employees. For instance, younger employees may be less interested in hearing about agency tradition and public responsibility and more attracted to creativity and innovation. They may also be less enthused about rigid organizational policies and more energized in learning about a shift toward flexible work schedules and career development.

As another example, retirement planning or long-term health care may be attractive to baby boomers and some 
generation Xers, but those same motivations will not retain generation nexters in the short term. Also, an informal and relaxed work environment may totally please generation Xers and nexters, but it has no appeal to baby boomers. Motivational gaps always require attention when reviewing employee retention programs. Retaining a generation nexter who may view work as a hobby requires a different approach than holding on to a baby boomer who lives and breathes work for recognition.

Knowing what motivates the range of talent and experience of a diversified workforce is a vital tool for engineering managers and supervisors, in addition to having the flexibility to adapt any recruiting and retention efforts to individual generational workers within their agency. Choice, access, and personalization can be very powerful motivators. Remember, though, there are core motivational values that remain cross-generational. Some of these include:

  • Meaningful Work. Employees want to believe they are contributing to something beyond themselves, perhaps a greater good, and that they are succeeding in their mission. 
  • Job Flexibility. Whether to care for young children, aging parents or relatives, or to pursue additional educational opportunities, flexibility is of value to all workforce generations. 
  • Workplace Respect. Respect among employees and management cannot be overstated, whether it means appreciating diverse opinions, having the right to challenge the status quo, or showing appreciation for talent and ideas. 
  • Teamwork. Being part of what an agency is trying to accomplish, as well as feeling accepted as a valued team member, crosses all age groups. 
  • Peer Recognition. Being recognized or praised for performance in front of peers is a reward that appeals to everyone. 

Results of recent employee training programs and survey questionnaires reveal some of the more attractive motivational cornerstones, such as improving safety and security practices in the workplace, giving employees as much control over their jobs as possible, and providing upgraded equipment and systems to keep pace with a rapidly changing, competitive workplace. Other motivators include avenues for maintaining technical and professional competence and fast-track programs of career development that allow younger employees to advance into management leadership roles more quickly.

Moreover, management consultants have found that helping employees design their jobs to be as rewarding as possible and fostering teamwork rather than a hierarchy lead to better overall performance, in addition to rethinking the bottom-line value of rigid workplace rules and regulations for creative employees. For example, allowing employees to telecommute some of the time, where applicable, and encouraging employees to talk freely, use social media properly, and engage in sponsored leisure or recreational activities, are considered excellent motivational vehicles in the public workplace.

Of course, the motivational importance of equitable salary policies, employee feedback, and job performance recognition cannot be overstated, either. Among the continuous advancements in technology, which always draw the brightest spotlight these days, the contributions of public employees should never be regarded as merely routine. 

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Fall Ethics Forum

Each webinar is only $99 for NSPE members. For more information and to register, please visit the NSPE Web site.

Ethics Forum: A Conversation about Conflicts of Interest with Vendors and Colleagues

Join NSPE Deputy Executive Director and General Counsel Arthur Schwartz and a panel of engineering ethics experts for a one hour discussion on issues relating to serving as a consultant to a redevelopment authority, loans from contractors, spouse as vendor, opinions of engineering experts, and other issues.

Participants will be able to pose questions to the panelists, be provided with written handout materials and will be able to participate in a post webinar quiz, as required by state engineering licensure boards.

October 23, 12:30–1:30 p.m. (E.D.T.)

Ethics Forum: A Conversation about Conflicts of Interest and the Public

Join NSPE Deputy Executive Director and General Counsel Arthur Schwartz and a panel of engineering ethics experts for a one hour discussion on issues relating to community service, design and construction of a house in a flood zone, serving as the chairman of a home owners association, serving on a hospital board, and other issues.

Participants will be able to pose questions to the panelists, be provided with written handout materials and will be able to participate in a post webinar quiz, as required by state engineering licensure boards.

November 20, 12:30–1:30 p.m. (E.S.T.)  [ return to top ]

SEC Approves Final Municipal Advisor Registration Rule

In a victory for the engineering community, the SEC announced that engineers do not have to register if they provide engineering advice such as feasibility studies and cash flow analysis and similar activities related to engineering aspects of a project. On September 18th, the Securities and Exchange Commission unanimously approved the final municipal advisor registration rule which, pursuant to the Dodd-Frank Act of 2010, requires municipal advisers to permanently register with the SEC. The final rule clarifies the law's engineering exemption, which exempts engineers providing "engineering advice" from the municipal advisor definition. 

However, this exemption does not apply to activities in which an engineer provides advice regarding municipal financial products or the issuance of municipal securities. For example, an engineer that is engaged by a municipal entity or obligated person to prepare revenue projections to support the structure of an issuance of municipal securities would be providing advice outside the scope of the engineering exclusion and therefore would be engaging in municipal advisory activity. However, an engineer could advise a municipal entity about whether a project could be safely or reliably completed with the available funds and provide engineering advice about other alternative projects, cost estimates, or funding schedules without engaging in municipal advisory activity. Furthermore, an engineering company that informs a municipal entity or obligated person of potential tax savings, discounts, or rebates on supplies would be acting within the scope of the engineering exclusion. Read the SEC's full ruling, as it pertains to the engineering exemption.  [ return to top ]

201314 PEG Executive Board Contact Information

For a complete list of PEG Executive Board Officers, please visit the PEG Web site. [ return to top ]

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