NSPE's Gateway to Private Practice June 2005 

PEPP Awaits Outcomes of the NSPE Future Directions Task Force

In the words of the famous baseball philosopher, Yogi Berra:

"When you come to a fork in the roadtake it!"

This quote seems appropriate in light of the upcoming Annual Meeting and the long-awaited report of the Future Directions Task Force (FDTF). I am sure we all await the recommendations that will be made by the FDTF and hope that their hard work yields a better, stronger, and more vibrant NSPE organization with increased membership and an environment in which active and healthy Practice Divisions can flourish.

For more current information on the Future Directions Task Force's Action Plan, review attachment 5.1 to the July 2005 NSPE Board of Directors' Agenda in the members only section of the NSPE Web site.

The Summer issue of PEPP Talk (July/August) will certainly relate to all PEPP members the recommendations of the FDTF as presented at the Annual Meeting of NSPE.


Coming Soon: A Guide to Enhancing Professional Development

After a year of hard work, the PEPP Young Engineer Advisory Council is about to release "A Guide to Enhancing Professional Development: From College Student to Company Principal."  Information on how to order the guide will be in future editions of PEPP Talk. Previously  the committee has produced, "Mentoring Guidelines for Small, Medium and Large Size Firms," "Strategies for Member Attraction and Retention," "How-to Manual for Seminars, Socials and Ceremonies."

As the committee continues to evolve, new members are needed to join the work of previous young engineers. The 2005-06 year promises to be another challenge, as the group will attempt to identify an area of need and work on creating a product to fill that need for NSPE. The new year begins in July, but with so much work to be done, new members are always welcome. The PEPP Executive Board offers financial support in attending the committee functions.

If you are interested in participating in the PEPP-YEAC or need more information, please contact Eric West, P.E.

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Members to Join in PEPP Activities at the NSPE Annual Convention

As we all look ahead to the celebration of our Nation’s birthday on July 4, your NSPE-PEPP leaders are focusing on the upcoming meeting of the PEPP Product and Services Committee in Green Bay, Wisconsin, on July 67, and the Annual Meeting of NSPE in Chicago, Illinois on July 712.

NSPE 2005 Annual Convention Chicago, July 7–12

For a calendar of events, agendas for meetings, registration, as well as descriptions of all convention sessions and activities, go online and click on the "Chicago" icon found on the NSPE Web site. Here is a list of the PEPP events at the convention:

Thursday, July 7

  • 7:00 10:00 p.m. PEPP Dinner at Harry Caray's

Friday, July 8

  • 12:00 5:00 p.m. NSPE Legacy Golf Tournament

Saturday, July 9

  • 8:00 a.m. 2:00 p.m. PEPP Executive Board Meeting and Board of Governors Meeting

Sunday, July 10

  • 10:00 a.m. 2:00 p.m. PEPP Council of Principals (presentations on personal liability, performance evaluations, and open session discussion) FREE Session.

To register, make hotel reservations, or learn more about what the convention has to offer, access the convention Web site through the "Chicago" icon.

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NSPE Posts 'For The Client' Articles on Web site

The latest article in this series, "Should the Engineer be Listed as an Additional Insured," and all past articles are now available in a printer-friendly PDF format on the NSPE Web sitePEPP selects experts at the top of their field, including representatives of NSPE's commended liability insurance provider Victor O. Schinnerer & Company Inc., to address important liability concepts that both clients and consulting engineers should know. This is a great resource for all.

Many thanks to Art Schwartz, deputy executive director, and Dave Siegel, publications director, for their efforts in making this feature available to NSPE-PEPP members.

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Web Seminars Available from NSPE 2005 Annual Convention

Live From Chicago—NSPE Web Seminars

Thursday, July 7
9:30 11:00 a.m. EDT
Dispute Avoidance and Resolution 
American Arbitration Association

2:30 4:00 p.m. EDT
Development Trust and Commitment in Project Teams
Robert Newbold, NEWBOLD! Consulting

Friday, July 8
11:30 a.m. 1:00 p.m. EDT
Professionalism Under Stress: Choosing the Harder Right
C. H. "Stretch" Dunn, Dyson Leadership Institute

2:30 4:00 p.m. EDT
Process Safety Management
Bruce Vaughen, Ph.D., P.E., DuPont

Enroll online with C2Ed and register for the NSPE "Live From Chicago" seminars. The more you buy, the more you save: purchase one seminar connection at $199, purchase a one-day pass for $299, or purchase a two-day pass for $499. Invite as many colleagues to view the program as you can accommodate for one low price! The seminar is broadcast entirely online and consists of streaming audio and PowerPoint features.

Call C2Ed for information on corporate discounts for multiple connections in separate company offices: 866-464-2233.

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Professional Liability/Risk Management Brief
By Richard B. Garber, Vice President A/E/C Risk Management Services Victor O. Schinnerer & Company

Financial and risk management considerations suggest that it is not a good policy to perform services in the absence of a written professional service agreement. For one reason or another, however, design professionals frequently decide to provide services prior to execution of a formal written agreement. In those cases, firms should keep a record of the arrangements they have made with the client. This can take the form of a so-called commitment letter, sometimes referred to as a letter of intent. The content may vary somewhat depending on the stage and content of prior communication with the client.

If the client has serious reservations about either the proposed scope of services or the proposed compensation, it would be wise to refrain from performing services until these reservations can be further addressed and resolved.

On the other hand, if the scope of services and the basis of compensation have been proposed and essentially agreed upon, pending negotiation of the terms and conditions, a letter authorizing the design professional to begin with services on that basis for a limited period of time could be executed. If only a few terms and conditions are in controversy, those might be expressly identified as open for further discussion while all others are deemed to apply to the services performed under the letter agreement.

If the proposal only includes a scope of services and does not comprehensively address compensation, it may be possible to obtain authorization to proceed, whereby compensation would be based on time expended at the firm’s normal billing rates, at a multiple of salary, or on some other basis.

In either event, it is advisable to include a time limit for the authorization contained in the commitment letter. That provides an incentive to negotiate and execute the formal agreement promptly. If no specific scope of services has ever been proposed, it may still be possible to begin with compensation on a time-and-expense basis.

Statements concerning legal matters should be understood to be general observations based solely on our experience as risk consultants and may not be relied upon as legal advice, which we are not authorized to provide. All such matters should be reviewed with a qualified advisor.

Victor O. Schinnerer & Company Inc. is managing underwriter for the CNA/Schinnerer Professional Liability Insurance Program commended by NSPE-PEPP since 1957.

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As we await the report of the FDTF at the upcoming NSPE Annual Meeting in Chicago, Illinois, PEPP members can rest assured that with current PEPP Chair Fred Palmerton serving as the Practice Division vice president representative to the NSPE Board of Directors, and Bob Miller (former PEPP chair) stepping into the position of NSPE president-elect, and Russ Devick (former PEPP chair) moving into the position of NSPE treasurer, the voice of our Practice Division will be heard loud and clear as NSPE begins the transformation that will result from the implementation of the recommendations of FDTF.


Randolph W. Rakoczynski, P.E., F.NSPE

Vice Chairman, Northeast Region

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Contact the PEPP Executive Board

2004-05 PEPP Executive Board

Fred Palmerton, P.E.
Springfield, MO

Larry Britt, P.E.
Oxford, MS

Immediate Past Chair
John Parisi, P.E.
Green Bay, WI

Steve Theno, P.E.
Anchorage, AK

Vice Chairman, Northeast Region
Randolph Rakoczynski, P.E.
Buffalo, NY

Vice Chairman, Southeast Region
Phil Gee, P.E.
Vicksburg, MS

Vice Chairman, Central Region

Vice Chairman, North Central Region
Kevin Skibiski, P.E.
Springfield, MO

Vice Chairman, Southwest Region
Mark Martin, P.E.
Fayetteville, AR

Vice Chairman, Western and Pacific Region
Steven Dyrnes, P.E.
Portland, OR

Young Engineer Representative
Andrea Martinez
Tampa, FL

SSEC Representative
Pat Christians
Birmingham, AL

PEPP Staff
Kim Granados
1420 King Street
Alexandria, VA 22314
tel: 703-684-2857
fax: 703-836-4875

PEPP Homepage

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A useful Web site for many of our PEPP members is

The Civil Engineering Portal provided by this Web site gives a wealth of great information on the many fields of practice that make up today’s civil engineering discipline.

PEPP is still taking registrations for the 2005 listings. 

With almost 3,000 web hits in the month of February, shouldn't you be listed?

Join your colleagues and competitors, list your firm on the NSPE Web site and link more business to your future.

Join PEPP in Chicago!

July 7-12


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