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Policy Statement 386 - Recruitment and Retention of Qualified Engineers for Government Service

 

Approved by the Engineering Practice Policy Committee on March 12, 2020
Approved by the Public Policy Committee on May 18, 2020
Adopted by the Board of Direction on July 11, 2020

Policy

The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) supports the establishment of personnel policies and career packages in government agencies which will attract, develop, and retain engineers who can perform at a high level of service in the public interest. These policies and packages should include: competitive total compensation (wages and benefits); career advancement based on merit; dual professional development career ladders managed by professional peers; professional development through involvement in technical and professional societies; life-long learning through continuing education; and, a positive and challenging work environment.

Issue

Public sector organizations strive to promote public service responsibilities in the management, implementation and protection of resources and infrastructure for the 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 recruitment, compensation and development programs, civil engineers can continue to provide public organizations 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 the caliber of personnel needed to fill public sector positions, a total compensation package that is competitive with the private sector is 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 into supervisory and/or managerial positions. 

Rationale

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 professional administrators and paraprofessionals having little or no formal engineering 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 the public trust and respect for the affected government agencies. A government career path for engineers to reach professional grade will encourage engineers to enter government service and enhance retention of valuable technical expertise and experience. An additional benefit of dual career ladders would be a reduction in the pressure to create more administrative positions to provide for career advancement.
This policy has worldwide application.

ASCE Policy Statement 386
First Approved in 1991

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