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Policy Statement 385 - Licensure Requirements for Government Engineers


Approved by Committee on Licensure on January 20, 2018
Approved by the Committee on Advancing the Profession on February 14, 2018
Approved by the Public Policy Committee on May 6, 2018
Adopted by the Board of Direction on July 13, 2018


The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) recommends that government agencies at all levels of government require licensure of their civil engineers, who are responsible for preparing, supervising, reviewing, and/or approving public policy, projects and programs, in accordance with the legal professional requirements of the jurisdiction within which the project will be constructed or regulated. Government agencies are encouraged to pay licensure fees of their engineering employees.  


Jurisdictions normally require professional engineers to seal and sign documents for which they have design responsibility. Such plans and specifications, whether prepared by consultants or in-house engineers, normally are reviewed by a supervising engineer of the administering public agency. However, in some jurisdictions the individual responsible for review and approval of design documents are not required to be licensed professional engineers.  


Engineers are employed by agencies at all levels of government. The duties of these engineers cover a broad range of engineering responsibilities including, but not limited to, the following: development of policy that influences the design, construction, sustainability, resiliency, maintenance, and operation of constructed projects; construction administration; review and approval of project reports; supervision or preparation of project designs, contract documents, and specifications; review and approval of plans and specifications prepared by others; review and approval of shop drawings; and preparation and approval of design changes.

While government engineers may be assisted by consultants, the long-term operation of the constructed project is the responsibility of the government agency.  It logically follows that the government engineer should be professionally qualified to assume such responsibilities. Professional licensure is a common and preferred credential attesting to an engineer's qualifications. The engagement of engineering staff by government agencies is addressed in Policy Statement 138, "Engineering Services for Government Agencies."

The government engineer may, from time to time, be asked to appear as an expert witness on behalf of that entity. Professional licensure is one of the measures used to establish competency needed to qualify and establish credibility as an expert witness.  

This policy has worldwide application
ASCE Policy Statement 385  
First Approved in 1991