NSPE's Gateway to Private Practice May 2007 

Professional Liability/Risk Management Brief — Project Records Retention
Richard B. Garber, Vice President A/E/C Risk Management Services, Victor O. Schinnerer & Company, Inc.

Proper management and retention of project records does not mean saving everything. Systems must be efficient and procedures clear and simple so that the records retention process does not interfere with other administrative functions of an office. 

Keep Permanent Project Records

An effective records retention policy should be in writing and should:

  • Identify records by category;
  • Describe the length of time for retention;
  • Designate the method of storage and destruction; and
  • Establish a protocol for determining if documents not easily categorized are to be retained or destroyed.

Firms should determine what they consider to be permanent project records. Every project has temporary documents—those used to develop final instruments of service. These documents include report drafts, handwritten logs and diaries, rough calculations, and draft sketches. Temporary documents should be discarded when a superseding document is created or when the project is closed.

Permanent documents include interim documents that are provided as milestone submittals or contract deliverables. This category should also include all final documents, project correspondence, meeting memoranda and minutes, internal memoranda, logs, journals, and calendars. Handwritten telephone memoranda or site visit notes are considered final if they are not superseded by typed versions.

Professional services agreements, contract drafts, and any subsequent modifications should be maintained as well. In many instances, the final contract terms can be clarified by looking at what each party proposed, what objections were recorded, and what compromises were reached.

Firms also need to develop a timetable for when specific types of documents should be destroyed. It is essential that the destruction system is logical and that firms keep to the schedule.

Preserve Special Project Records

Priority should be given to saving files for those projects in which new building products, systems, or methods of application were used. Documents indicating that professional services, recommendations, and judgments were in accordance with the applicable standard of care and the professional services contract are basic to the retention process. Also, firms should retain files for any project that suffered an unusual number of design, construction, personality, or financial problems.

Determine the Retention Period

Establishing a disposal date for records is ultimately a business decision of the firm. One of the main factors to consider is the length of the statutes of repose in the states governing projects. Keeping project records for at least one year past the longest applicable statute of repose is prudent. Government projects may include detailed record-keeping obligations, and various federal, state, and local agencies have established rules that govern record keeping. Firms may also be committed by contract to retain project records for a specific amount of time for the client.

Maintain Records Retention Procedures

Firms should develop procedures based on the firm's specific needs and abilities to enforce those procedures over time. A sound records management and retention policy adds to the credibility of the firm should questions arise concerning a possible lack of documentation on a specific project. Such a policy often leads to reduced exposure or to the early resolution of disputes. Retaining well-prepared project records may even provide the firm with the ability to turn a possible claim into an opportunity to provide additional services to a former client.

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

Visit the Liability pages of the NSPE Web site for more information on:

Model Document Retention Policy 
Word document

Document Retention Guidelines
PDF document, prepared for NSPE Professional Engineers in Private Practice Division, Professional Liability Committee, March 2005.

PEPP Celebrates 50th Anniversary with Gala Event

Please join us for the

PEPP 50th Anniversary Gala 
July 26,
Denver Marriott City Center Hotel

Enjoy a black tie optional reception, dinner, awards presentation, and dancing as we celebrate 50 years of PEPP dedication to providing NSPE members benefits from standard contract documents, continuing education programs, politcal advocacy, professional liability products, networking, and more.  

Tickets price: $75, ala carte.

Visit the NSPE Web page, and click on the "Denver" icon to register.

[ return to top ]

Five Easy Ways to Increase Productivity
Herbert M. Cannon

1. Get More Work
Nothing gets the troops more focused than a huge backlog of work.

2. Hold People Accountable
Be sure to communicate clear deadlines and quality expectations to your employees, then hold them accountable for making it happen.

3. Reduce Meeting Time
Most of us spend far too much time in regularly recurring meetings. If the meeting is no longer needed cancel the meeting. If the meeting is held every week, try holding it every other week. Eliminate your attendance at the meeting, or cut the meeting time in half.

4. Invest in Training
What good is the best computer equipment or the best software if you don’t know how to use it? Consider hiring a CADD manager that spends ½ time on projects and ½ time on project work.

5. Delegate Tasks to Lower Paid Employees
When it is appropriate, push tasks to lower paid employees. Isn’t it silly to have someone at a $200 per hour billing rate working on a $75 per hour task? Even if the $75 per hour person takes twice as long we still come out ahead.


Herbert M. Cannon, President of AEC Management Solutions, Inc. and Publisher of AEC Managing Partner Newsletter, is a management consultant, seminar provider, and speaker exclusive to the A/E industry. He is available to speak at company meetings and conferences. For more information, contact Herb via e-mail or visit his website.

 [ return to top ]

Give the Gift of Wisdom to Graduating Young Engineers


Former PEPP Chair, and incoming NSPE President, Bernie Berson has a passion for the engineering as a career and is an enthusiatisc supporter of young engineers.  He was instrumental in creating the successful PEPP YEAC, the NSPE Young Engineers Council, and has served as  Mentor Task Force Chair.  He has joined with former PEI Chair and NSPE member Doug Benner to provide wisdom on what young engineers need to know as they transition from an academic environment to the professional world. 

College engineering programs focus primarily on the technical skills and requirements of a career in engineering, devoting little time to real-world matters of employment, on-the-job performance, project management, leadership, ethics, licensure, project delivery systems, and professional liability.  This is a great gift for the graduating young engineers in you life.

Career Success in Engineering
Bernard R. Berson, Douglas E. Benner / Pages: 336
Price: NSPE Member $16.00 / Nonmember $19.95
Product #: 7510

 [ return to top ]

NEW! NSPE Provides On-Demand, Online Courses

Online Courses Available for immediate electronic download:

Building Information Modeling

What does it take to reduce building costs in ways that do not compromise the relationships you need to do the project?

Can we drive all aspects of a project from a single database?

It appears that we can coordinate all information, drawings and approvals. This seems great so why don’t we all use it now?

What are the commercial and legal aspects that will help BIM achieve its potential to deliver projects on time, within budget, and without conflicts?

What Is a BIM Process?

First, it's significantly more than transferring electronic versions of paper documents. It's more than pretty 3D renderings with construction documents as a separate function. It's about information use, reuse, and exchange, of which electronic documents are just a single component. When integrated 3D and2D model-based technology is linked with information, design firms have a faster, higher-quality, richer design process. Risk is reduced, design intent is maintained, quality control is streamlined, communication is clearer, and higher analytic tools are more accessible.

Lower-level tasks, such as drafting, view coordination, document generation, and schedule creation, are automated. Drawings that represent different views of the same building object are automatically updated when modified. We finally can harness the power of computers in a real value-added design process that doesn't just mimic drafting.

Presenter: Mani Subramanian, CCM / Length: 90 minutes
Electronic Download Price: NSPE Member $119 / Nonmember $149
Product #: ONL-001

Identification & Monitoring of Construction Components

The environment in which engineers in construction operate has changed significantly over the years. New technology, rising equipment costs, levels of security, and competitive pressure are a few of the complex issues facing the construction industry. We must remain knowledgeable of new trends and be equipped to present proactive and creative solutions to our clients, if we are to maintain the competitive edge in this global economy.

Identifying and monitoring construction components at today’s worksite involve:
Solving the case of the disappearing tools, trucks and materials
RFID – Goodbye bar code technology and hello RFID
GPS – More than your OnStar systems. This tells heavy equipment where to go and how to work—with and without operators.
Dr. Hohberger will discuss the latest developments in technology and how it will change the way you think of traditional construction.

Presenter: Clive P. Hohberger, Ph.D,
Electronic Download Price: NSPE Member $119 / Nonmember $149
Product #: ONL-003

Through the Roof: Predicting & Controlling Escalating Construction Costs

As you struggle to control costs, have you wondered:
-Where are the costs moving faster than ever before, such as copper, cement and gasoline?
-What are indicators for further shifts and dramatic jumps in materials costs—what’s likely to be the next cost punch in the nose?
-What innovations have been around awhile and working well, such as the Proctor & Gamble model rooms?
-What are the technology and information management breakthroughs that can lower the risk and stress of projecting costs accurately and finishing the job without economic stalls?

Presenter: Michael Kennedy, Principal Stantec Consulting, Inc.
Electronic Download Price: NSPE Member $119/ Nonmember $149
Product #: ONL-008

Understanding and Using Engineering and Construction Contract Documents-Funding Agency Edition

Learn best practices to better use the ONLY pre-approved construction and engineering services contract documents for use on water and wastewater projects financed by the USDA/Rural Utilities Service.

Presenters: Benjamin Shuman, P.E., USDA/RUS, Hugh Anderson, Esq., Akerman Senterfit Wickwire Gavin, PC
Electronic Download Price: NSPE Member $119 / Nonmember $149
Product #: ONL-006

[ return to top ]


PEPP Home Page
Archived Newsletters
Contact PEPP
Printer Friendly
Forward to a Friend


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

Adcomm Engineering Co.
Administrative Controls Management
Alan W. Kramer, P.E Consulting Engineers
Almost Home, Inc.
Anderson Engineering, Inc.
Antioch International, Inc.
Baer Engineering and Environmental Consulting, Inc.
Bain Medina Bain, Inc.
Barkely Consulting Engineers, Inc.
Barry Issett & Associates, Inc.
Bartel, Rudolf & Associates
Basic Systems, Inc.
BBFM Engineers
Becht Engineering
Bernard R. Berson, L.S.
Booth & Associates, Inc.
Borton-Lawson Engineering, Inc.
C. Allan Bamforth, Jr., Engineer-Surveyor, Ltd.
Civil Design Group
Cobb, Fendley & Associates, Inc.
Commonwealth Associates, Inc
Consolidated Consulting Corporation
Cosgrove Computer Systems, Inc.
Cowen & Associates
Cowhey Gudmundson, Ledet. LTD. 
CRW Engineering Group LLC
Davy Engineering Co.
Design Alaska, Inc
Dusable, Inc.
Elite Engineering Services Inc.
Elrod & Company, LLC
Engineering Enterprises, Inc.
Enrique Ruiz & Associates
Exponential Engineering Company
Forcier Aldrich & Associates
Foth Companies
GAI Consultants, Inc.
Gannett Fleming, Inc.
Gredell Engineering Resources, Inc.
GZA GeoEnvironmental
H.F. Lenz Company
H2L  Consulting Engineers
Hayes, Seay, Mattern & Mattern, Inc.
Hibbeln Engineering Company, L.L.C.
Horner & Shifrin
Hull & Associates, Inc.
IntertechAssociates, Inc.
J&Y Engineering Services, Inc.
Jahnke & Jahnke Associates, Inc.
JK Consulting
Key Engineering, Inc.
Klingner & Associates, PC
Lechner Associates, Inc.
Liebergott Engineering Company
Live Oak Associates, Inc.
Lumos and Associates Inc.
Marlin Engineering, Inc.
Martinez, Wright, and Mendez, Inc.
McGuire Engineers
McMahon Associates, Inc.
Michael Baker Corporation
Michael Ernst P.E, P.A.
Mueser Rutledge Consulting Engineers
Nave Newell
OPW Engineering, LLC
Palmerton & Parrish, Inc.
Parsons Brinckerhoff Construction Services
Pedersen & Pedersen, Inc.
Power Engineers, Inc.
Providence Engineering Corporation
PSA - Dewberry, Inc.
R.L. Millies& Associates, Inc.
R.S. Scott Associates, Inc.
Ramey Kemp & Associates, Inc.
RBA Engineers, Inc.
Red Pencil, Limited
Reitz Consulting
RFS Consulting, Inc.
Richard W. Rauseo, P.E.
Ridge & Associates, Inc.
RJR Engineering P.C.
Roth Hill Engineering Partners
Rowe Incorporated
Safety Consulting Engineers, Inc.
Schkeeper Inc.
Schoor Depalma
SKG Engineers
Soils & Engineering Services, Inc.
SSOE, Inc.
Sterling Engineering Co. Inc.
Steven B. Kushnick, P.E., Inc.
Steven Feller, P.E. Inc.
Storm Technologies Inc.
Strang Inc
TFC Architects & engineers
The Newton Engineering Group, P.C.
Tri-State Engineering
TVG Environmental, Inc
Tyndall Engineering and Design, PA
Uzun & Case Engineers, LLC
Van Note-Harvey Associates, P.C.
Wantman Group
WSB & Associates, Inc.

PEPP thanks
the following companies
for sponsoring
the 2007 CFO Roundtable


PEPP 2006-2007 Executive Board

Steve Theno, P.E.
Anchorage, AK

Kevin Skibiski, P.E., F.NSPE
Springfield, MO

Pete Koval, P.E.
Syracuse, NY

Immediate Past Chair
Larry Britt, P.E.
Oxford, MS

Vice Chair, Northeast Region
Randy Rakoczynski, P.E.
Buffalo, NY

Vice Chair, Southeast Region
Dan Dawson, P.E.
Wilmington, NC

Vice Chair, Central Region
Mark Davy, P.E.
La Crosse, WI

Vice Chair, North Central Region 
Kevin Nelson, P.E.
Bismark, ND

Vice Chair, Southwest Region
Eric West, P.E.
Midland, TX

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

Young Engineer Representative
Dawn Edgell, P.E.
Chicago, IL

SSEC Representative
Pat Christians
Birmingham, AL

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


For more information or to contact us directly, please visit www.nspe.org.
TO UPDATE YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS, please reply to this e-mail (pepp@nspe.org) with your full name and nine-digits.
To unsubscribe to future editions of PEPP Talk, please click