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Policy Statement 502 - Professional Ethics and Conflict of Interest

Approved by the Engineering Practice Policy Committee on March 15, 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) advocates that civil engineers must practice with high ethical standards. Civil Engineers must exhibit high levels of honesty, integrity, and fairness, and they must continually guard against conflicts of interest, either real or perceived. ASCE believes that laws, regulations, employment conditions, or collective bargaining agreements must not hinder or prevent the ethical practice of civil engineering. Civil engineers must:

  • Adhere to codes of ethics and conduct, including ASCE's Code of Ethics and ASCE's Ethics: Guidelines for Professional Conduct for Civil Engineers, to a level above reproach and beyond the influence of competing interests;
  • Adhere to the code of conduct in the licensing jurisdiction in which the engineer is practicing;
  • Avoid or properly address real and perceived conflicts of interest;
  • Be free to exercise independent judgment without undue compromise by an employer or organization to which they belong; and 
  • Hold the public interest above all others and not be subject to fear of disciplinary action or retribution for upholding such an interest.


As professionals, civil engineers have a duty to hold paramount and protect the public health, safety, and welfare and the environment. To effectively discharge this duty, they must practice in an ethical manner and strive to maintain the public trust. ASCE's Code of Ethics serves as a guide for this purpose. Licensed civil engineers are also subject to the standards of conduct imposed by licensing jurisdictions.

ASCE's Code of Ethics addresses the need for both individual and organizational ethics. All employment conditions for engineers must support their duty to practice ethically, and this duty may supersede any actual or perceived obligations engineers have to the owners of their projects, their employers, or any organizations to which they belong. 


Civil engineers perform services that directly impact public health, safety, and welfare and the environment. They also interact with the general public directly and on a routine basis. To be effective, civil engineers must constantly strive to gain and maintain the public trust through ethical practice.

This policy has worldwide application
ASCE Policy Statement 502 
First Approved in 2003