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Policy Statement 509 - Provision of Engineering Services Across State and International Boundaries


Approved by the Engineering Practice Policy Committee on August 3, 2018
Approved by the Public Policy Committee on August 7, 2018
Adopted by the Board of Direction on October 11, 2018


The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) believes that, regardless of the location (nationally or internationally) where engineering services are being performed, those services must: 

  • Be performed by engineers (or be performed under the direction of an engineer) licensed by the jurisdiction for which the design is being prepared and/or meets the laws and regulations of that jurisdiction;
  • Follow the practices of engineering quality control and assurance, and standard of care required in the jurisdiction for which the design is being prepared; 
  • Meet the requirements for responsible charge of engineering design services and the singing and sealing of documents that apply in the jurisdiction for which the design is being prepared; and 
  • Be accomplished in a manner that protects the public health, safety, and welfare.

ASCE believes that engineering services for projects in the United States -regardless of whether those services are performed domestically or through off-shoring - must protect national security and address:

  • Principles and/or requirements of Qualifications-Based Selection using full disclosure of staffing and location;
  • Appropriate homeland security requirements; and,
  • Fair trade practices.


Performance of engineering services by personnel located in one state, for a project to be built in another state, has been common for decades. To assure public health, safety, and welfare, state licensing laws require a licensed Professional Engineer - licensed by that jurisdiction - be in responsible charge of engineering design of projects within that state.

Globalization impacts ASCE membership, the engineering practitioner, and the practice of civil engineering. As globalization has increased, it has now become more common for engineering services to be provided across international boundaries. This trend is a response to staffing requirements, schedules, unique expertise, and the need to control costs and remain competitive in the global marketplace. 

The practice of acquiring engineering services for United States projects from sources outside the United States is defined by ASCE as off-shoring. The advancement of technologies, ever-present competitiveness, and the worldwide access to U.S. codes and standards, has greatly increased the off-shoring of engineering services. ASCE is concerned about the retention of a clearly defined professional in responsible charge in off-shoring as it relates to the signing and sealing of engineering documents.

The practice of using non-U.S. design staff expands global access to information concerning U.S. facilities and infrastructure. Owners and designers must be cognizant of the homeland security ramifications of such access and potential increased vulnerability. The procurement of these off-shore engineering services needs to include assurances that national security is not jeopardized, and federal and state laws are followed.

Several existing federal laws currently apply to this issue such as the Truth in Negotiation Act, False Claim Act, Brooks Act, and the Service Contract Act.


The primary tenet of ASCE's Code of Ethics is the protection of the public's health, safety, and welfare.  

ASCE Policy Statement 509
First Approved in 2005