Approved by the Engineering Practice Policy Committee on March 23, 2023
Approved by the Public Policy and Practice Committee on June 15, 2023
Adopted by the Board of Direction on July 22, 2023
The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) supports the establishment of personnel practices, policies, and career packages in government agencies that will attract, develop, and retain engineers who can perform at a high level of service in the public interest. These practices, policies, and packages should include:
- Competitive total compensation (wages and benefits)
- Career advancement based on merit
- Professional development career ladders for technical experts and managers, and professional development necessary for licensure
- Support for professional development through involvement in technical and professional societies
- Life-long learning through continuing education
- Providing mentoring, internships, and cooperative engineering opportunities in partnership with schools and universities
- Support and encouragement for technicians and other paraprofessional staff to pursue advancement through engineering education
- A positive and challenging work environment
Qualified engineers in government service should either be licensed, or expected to pursue licensure, as a professional engineer.
Public sector organizations strive to promote public service responsibilities in the management, implementation and protection of resources and infrastructure for public health, safety, and welfare. Public confidence and recognition of civil engineering competence and credibility in public sector organizations is an important aspect of this responsibility. Recognizing these responsibilities and through effective training, recruitment, compensation, and professional development programs, civil engineers can continue to provide public organizations with their strength and vitality. Continuing development of civil engineering competence and credibility is also fostered through peer participation in professional societies and continuing education. To attract and retain the caliber of personnel needed to fill public sector positions, a total compensation package that is competitive with the private sector is also necessary. Government entities need to be proactive in instituting a career development plan that allows upward mobility for engineers with the option, but not requirement, for placement for supervisory and/or managerial positions.
The lack of professional grade status and associated compensation for qualified engineers employed in many government agencies has been a disincentive for attracting and retaining engineering professionals in the public sector. Many of these positions are now being filled by individuals having little or no formal engineering, scientific, or technical training. Ultimately, the quality of the public infrastructure and the successful prosecution of infrastructure projects which these agencies oversee could be adversely affected. This could undermine public trust and respect for the affected government agencies. A government career path for students, technical staff, and engineers to reach professional grades will encourage engineers to enter government service and enhance retention of valuable technical expertise and experience. An additional benefit of dual career ladders (i.e., technical and managerial) would be the reduced need to create more administrative positions to provide for career advancement, and reduced pressure on individual engineers to pursue such positions.
This policy has worldwide application.
ASCE Policy Statement 386
First Approved in 1991