NSPE's Gateway to Private Practice September 2007 

2007-08 PEPP Chair Reflects and Looks Forward
Kevin Skibiski, P.E., PLS, F.NSPE , PEPP Chair 2007-08

 Greetings, as we embark upon a new fiscal year for NSPE/PEPP, we first need to look back upon last year. Steve Theno, P.E. led us through another successful year. We all need to thank Steve for the time he put in and the effort made to keep us the premier practice area in NSPE. I am sure it has to be a little tougher doing it from Anchorage, Alaska. Thanks Steve.

The year culminated with our huge 50th Anniversary Gala held on July 26 in Denver.  Several past PEPP Chairs where there to help us celebrate the past 50 years and look forward to the future.

At the meeting in Denver, PEPP was well represented in the NSPE Educational Foundation Golf Tournament, which our own Ed Racila coordinated. Dewey Martin (Ed’s boss) was on the winning team with a net score of 60; yours truly and Eric West placed second with a net score of 61. These winning teams made it possible to add another $375 to the Al Miller Scholarship Fund.

We also held a very successful Council of Principals session, with around 50 in attendance. The speakers were Dr. E. Michael Lillibridge on the PeopleMap System, which helps to highlight the possible areas of growth in your work and personal life; and Sandy Blaha, Cindy Gomerdinger, and Anthony King who talked about transitioning your company to the next generation owners. Next year in Portland, we face a very positive dilemma — as these sessions have become more popular and successful, we will need a bigger room to accommodate the number of people wishing to attend!

Shop Drawings and Submittals – Legal AND Engineering Perspectives

NSPE & Construction Claims Advisor proudly present a special Audio Conference:

Shop Drawings and Submittals – Legal AND Engineering Perspectives

September 26, 2007   1:00 - 2:30 pm Eastern Time*


Engineering concerns, contractual issues - what does the law say?

This 90-minute interactive audioconference will help you avoid the potentially devastating claims that can often arise over shop drawings.  Join us to find out:

  • What shop drawings should AND SHOULD NOT show
  • The relationship between shop drawings, other submittals, and field work
  • How drawings are reviewed by architects, engineers AND contractors
  • Claims arising from the shop drawing review process
  • Techniques for minimizing your exposure to possible claims
  • Evolving issues, how Design/Build delivery and Building Information Modeling (BIM) affect the shop drawing process
  • AND MUCH, MUCH MORE!      


Register here today

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NEW 2007 version of EJCDC Construction Contract Documents

Why use documents and language created by someone other than an engineer?
Add these to your risk management arsenal today. 

***NSPE MEMBERS Save 50% on all contract documents****

Construction Related Documents:           

C-990 Construction Related Documents, Full Set (includes all of the following)
Member $700/Nonmember $1,400

C-700 Standard General Conditions of the Construction Contract
Member $100/Nonmember $200

C-800 Guide to the Preparation of Supplementary Conditions
Free download

C-001 Narrative Guide to the 2007 EJCDC Construction Documents
Member $56/Nonmember $112

C-050 Owner’s Instructions Regarding Bidding Procedures & Construction Contract Documents
Member $20/Nonmember $40

C-051 Engineer’s Request for Instructions on Bonds & Insurance
Member $20/Nonmember40

C-052 Owner’s Instructions Concerning Bonds & Insurance for Construction
Member $20/Nonmember $40

C-200 Guide to the Preparation of Instructions to Bidders
Member $56/Nonmember $112

C-410 Suggested Bid Form for Construction Contracts
Member $56/Nonmember $112

C-430 Bid Bond, Penal Sum Form
Member $56/Nonmember $112

C-435 Bid Bond, Damages Form
Member $56/Nonmember $112

C-510 Notice of Award
Member $28/Nonmember $56

C-520 Suggested Form of Agreement Between Owner & Contractor, Stipulated Price

Member $56/Nonmember $112

C-525 Standard Form of Agreement Between Owner & Contractor, Cost-Plus
Member $56/Nonmember $112

C-550 Notice to Proceed
Member $28/Nonmember $56

C-610 Construction Performance Bond
Member $56/Nonmember $112

C-615 Construction Payment Bond
Member $56/Nonmember $112

C-620 Contractor’s Application for Payment
Member $28.00/Nonmember $56

C-625 Certificate of Substantial Completion
Member $28/Nonmember $56

C-940 Work Change Directive
Member $28/Nonmember $56

C-941 Change Order
Member $28/Nonmember $56

C-942 Field Order
Member $28/Nonmember $56

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

Responsibility in the Employer/Employee Relationship

Vicarious liability is similar to the responsibility of an employer for harm caused by employees acting within the scope of their employment. An employer may be held liable for compensatory damages resulting from the negligent or intentional acts of employees. In addition, most courts follow the policy that the employer, as the principal, is liable for punitive damages if the employer:

  • authorized the specific action leading to harm;
  • employed or retained the individual recklessly; or
  • employed the individual in a managerial capacity.

Application to the Prime/Consultant Relationship

In contrast to the employer/employee relationship, a design firm that engages an independent consultant is not liable for the consultant’s negligence if the consultant performs services that are not subject to the prime professional’s control, or right to control, over the manner and means of performing the services. That, however, is rare. And direct contractual liability for failure to coordinate services may also exist.

In providing professional services to the public, however, vicarious liability exists because of duties that cannot be delegated. Courts permit delegation of duties that affect public safety to an independent consultant, but ultimate responsibility for negligence remains with the prime party. Because a licensed professional’s duty is to protect public safety, a prime design professional is liable for the negligence of those consultants providing services through the prime.

Vicarious Liability Risk Management

Care should be taken to select consultants that are qualified and insured or otherwise have the financial strength to stand behind their professional and contractual commitments. It is also beneficial to use consultants that do not attempt to shift risk by unreasonably limiting their liability to the prime design professional or a third party.

In addition, written agreements need to address insurance coverage issues. Consultants to an insured prime design professional should have their own insurance coverage. While the prime design professional’s policy will provide protection from vicarious liability for the negligence of consultants, the policy does not defend or pay on behalf of the consultants.

If consultants want protection for their exposures, they must have their own professional liability insurance coverage. Such coverage not only protects the consultant, it protects the prime design professional. When a prime design professional’s policy pays on its behalf for vicarious liability for the negligence of consultants, the prime design professional has the right to bring an indemnity or contribution claim against the consultant for costs, losses, and damages to the extent such damages were caused by the consultant.

Because the vicarious liability of a prime design professional for the negligence of consultants can result in compensatory and possibly punitive damages, the prime firm should take steps to minimize risks. The prime should obtain certificates of insurance from all consultants that demonstrate their financial responsibility and compliance with applicable contract terms, evidencing coverage at the beginning and other appropriate times during the professional relationship.

Vicarious Liability

CNA/Schinnerer’s professional liability insurance defends an insured firm against allegations of negligence and pays on the firm’s behalf if the firm or its employees negligently performed professional services and caused harm. Just as important, our insurance also provides coverage for harm caused by the negligence of those providing services through the prime design professional—the vicarious liability of insured firms for the negligence of their consultants or agents.

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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FEMA Solicits NSPE Member Input

On August 27, NSPE Deputy Executive Director and General Counsel Art Schwartz met with the DHS/Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) staff to discuss the roles and responsibilities of licensed professional engineers under FEMA certification requirements for the data, analyses, structural works and "as built conditions" in connection with the mapping of areas protected by the levee system under 44 CFR 65.2 and 65.10. For the federal regulations, see: http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_06/44cfr65_06.html

FEMA is extremely interested in NSPE member input on how existing FEMA requirements are working or can be improved.

Please submit your comments to Art Schwartz by October 30, 2007. Those comments will be compiled and used in upcoming meetings with FEMA scheduled later in the Fall.

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Top 10 Ways to Lose a Client
Herbert M. Cannon, President of AEC Management Solutions, Inc.

10. Don't Return Phone Calls or E-mails
As simple as it might seem, some people are terrible about returning phone calls or e-mails. Nothing makes a client feel more unimportant than being ignored.

9. Hit Them Up With Large Additional Service Fees - After the Fact
I am all for getting paid for our work, however we do owe it to the client to advise them in advance that we are now performing work outside of our original scope of services. The agreement should be in writing and include an estimate of our fee, a schedule of deliverables and be signed by the client before we do the work.

8. Send Invoices 2 Months or More After the Services Were Performed
When we send out late invoices we are sending the wrong message to our clients. We are saying to our client that money is unimportant to us. Or worse yet that we are so disorganized that it takes us 2 months to send out our invoices. It also sends a lot of other messages but it is beyond the scope of this top ten list to itemize.

7. Switching Project  Managers in Mid-Stream
Yes, switching project managers is often unavoidable and sometimes the best thing for the project and client. But all too often I see project managers switched for reasons that are not in the best interest of the client. Do this often enough and you'll be looking for a new client.

6. Telling the Client What They Want to Hear
We have a professional responsibility to give our client our best advice, even if they don't want to hear it. That is why they have retained our services. Don't fall into the trap of telling them what they want to hear, it is a shortsighted strategy that will come back to bite you.

5. Leaving One Person as the Sole Client Contact
Being the sole client contact is a dangerous place to be for both the employee and company. Don't put yourself or employee in that position.

4. Over Promise and Under Deliver
Some firms get it wrong. Instead of under promising and over delivering, they flip it around. They promise the client the world and then wonder why the client is disappointed with their performance.

3. Making No Effort to Know Your Client Personally
It is important to learn something about your client's life outside of the project at hand. People do business with people they like. They tend to overlook their shortcomings and even refer them business with other clients. I have made many friends over the years through my consulting work and it has added to the quality of my life.

2. Being Reactive Rather Than Proactive
A client appreciates and expects us to be proactive in addressing their project needs. Don't wait for them to take the initiative in identifying problems and solving them.

1. Don't Make Them Feel Important
People have a basic human need to feel important. When we take the repeat business for grant it, switch project managers, miss deadlines and under perform, they feel unimportant and start to look elsewhere. Make them feel important is not an option - it is required.

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.


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PEPP Young Engineers Advisory Council Happenings
The PEPP/YEAC works feverishly to finalize their two projects

  • Motivation factors of young Engineers. Over 600 young NSPE members and 80 non-member responded to a survey on their motivating factors at work.  The output of this will be a document along with survey data, all of which is sure to enhance a firm's understanding of its young engineers.
  • A presentation, to initially be distributed through NSPE states and chapters, encouraging PEs to run for elected office.  The information was gained through surveys of PEs who are elected officials, in order to gauge how being a professional engineer has impacted their time in office.  Follow up video interviews are being scheduled with selected officials .
It is time for the YEAC to begin to focus on its staffing for next year. Chair Bobbi Claybrooke and Vice Chair Richard Delp will be considering what members have shown the necessary zeal and interest to continue on, should they so choose.  It is a good time for those who may have an interest to think about participation next year.  I think any of you who will be no older than 35 years of age in July, 2008, and who may be interested in participating may want to preliminarily discuss the opportunity with Bobbi and/or Richard, and then with your employers.  It is pretty apparent that those who genuinely participate in the YEAC activities have experienced personal satisfaction, professional growth, and sincere admiration and thanks from the senior crowd in the society. 

PEPP is enormously grateful for the support given to our Young Engineers by their employers, all of which will be recognized in the project report for the year.  In closing, let's not forget the terrific products of past PEPP/YEACs – all of which are free to NSPE members.



  • NSPE's Mentoring Guide for Small, Medium, and Large Firms 


  • How-to Manual for Seminars, Socials, and Ceremonies: A Practical, Step-By-Step

  • Guide to Organizing and Hosting Events for Local and State Chapters A Guide to Enhancing Professional Development: From College Student to Company Principal 

  • Strategies For Member Retention and Attraction
    (PDF) (members only)







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    PEPP 2007-08 Executive Board

    Kevin Skibiski, P.E., P.L.S.,F.NSPE
    Brookline, MO

    Randy Rakoczynski, P.E., F.NSPE 
    Buffalo, NY

    Pete Koval, P.E.
    Syracuse, NY

    Immediate Past Chair
    Steve Theno, P.E.
    Anchorage, AK

    Vice Chair, Northeast Region
    Randy Petersen, P.E., F.NSPE
    Washington, DC

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

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

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

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

    Vice Chair, Western and Pacific Region

    Young Engineer Representative
    Bobbi Claybrooke, E.I.

    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


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