Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Of Interest To Texas P.E.'s

I had noticed this new verbiage in the Texas Engineering Practice Act (TEPA) before, but I happened across it again recently:  


§ 1001.401.(e) A license holder shall not be required to provide or hold any additional certification, other than a license issued under this chapter, to seal an engineering plan, specification, plat, or report.
IIRC, this was intended to address complaints about the Texas Department of Insurance (TDI), which administers a hazardous zone wind insurance pool, requiring licensed P.E.s to also be "registered" with TDI in order to perform inspections of new construction for compliance with the wind insurance program requirements. That requirement has obviously now been nullified by the new TEPA provisions.
However, unintended consequences being what they are, folks may not have recognized that it also potentially wipes out the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) "precertification" program, which requires that engineers be vetted through TxDOT before being considered as engineers of record on TxDOT projects. (My experience with TxDOT was that they were often eager to substitute their own rules for those of the TEPA - for instance, refusing to accept electronically sealed-and-signed documents.)
TxDOT has in the past been politically quite powerful - not for nothing was it termed "The Texas Department of Defense" - but I know they've been humbled a bit for a variety of reasons over the next decade. If I were still in the bridge bidness, and wanted to, for instance, be EOR on a "signature bridge" for which I don't have TxDOT Precertification, I would bring this up as a point of order. Certainly TxDOT or any client can select their engineering consultants on the basis of experience, but to codify it and only allow those with the proper official vetting seems to fly in the face of the latest version of the TEPA.