Approved by the Engineering Practice Policy Committee on March 11, 2010
Approved by the Policy Review Committee on March 23, 2010
Adopted by the Board of Direction on July 10, 2010
The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) believes it is proper and desirable that civil engineers employed both in the public and private sectors are allowed to perform engineering functions and tasks for government agencies. It is in the best public interest for federal, state and local government agencies performing engineering to maintain expertise within their organizations by employing civil engineers and providing for their professional development. It is also in the best public interest for publicly supported institutions and agencies not to compete with engineers in private practice. Public sector engineering projects that can be accomplished more efficiently by private engineering firms should be contracted out with proper oversight by the public agency. The resulting ratio of in‑house to contracted engineering services should be based upon the agency's on‑going project and policy requirements rather than rigid rules or percentages fixed by legislation or regulation.
During the process of authorizing, funding and administering government engineering tasks and projects, concerns often arise regarding:
- the appropriate levels of in‑house engineering staff for government agencies;
- the need for government engineers to develop and maintain technical engineering skills;
- the need of the profession for government engineers to be registered professional engineers;
- the optimum level of involvement by private engineering firms in government engineering projects; and,
- whether executive, administrative or legislative controls or guidelines should be established setting a fixed percentage of an agency’s work to be contracted out to private engineering firms.
Government agencies should maintain staffs of experienced and highly qualified engineers to properly plan, develop and maintain public works and environmental programs; to perform in‑house engineering functions, tasks and projects; to manage and oversee work contracted out to private engineering firms and to maintain the mission and services legislatively mandated for the government agency. Long‑range programs are unique to each agency and require continuity of agency engineers. This staff must develop and maintain technical expertise in order to obtain and maintain professional registration.
Consideration of the public interest, cost-efficiency and effectiveness is of foremost importance in decisions regarding the use of in-house government or private engineering firms. The history of the civil engineering profession has clearly shown that the public is best served, the public trust maintained, and the mission of the government agency achieved by an effective blending of engineering services performed by in-house government engineers and private engineering firms.
ASCE Policy Statement 138
First Approved pre-1974