Vol. XXXIX, Number 45 - December 5, 2018
Latest News

ACEC's Bauer Darr Urges Action on Immigration Delays

ACEC President/CEO Linda Bauer Darr has written to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Director Lee Francis Cissna expressing concern that changes in immigration enforcement are disrupting the operations of U.S. engineering firms. Click here to read the letter.

ACEC Member Firms seek to hire qualified Americans first—as required by law—but the number of U.S. engineering graduates has not kept up with demand. According to the National Science Foundation, half of engineering master’s degrees awarded by U.S. universities in 2015 were earned by foreign nationals on temporary visas, including 70 percent of master’s degrees in electrical engineering.

USCIS has been requesting significantly more information for H-1B and other employment visa applications, including documentation that can infringe on employee data privacy requirements. Increased application processing times—often stretching several months—make it difficult for employers to manage their workforce needs.

ACEC has asked USCIS to refrain from implementing policy changes that negatively affect individuals legally working in the U.S. and their employers and requested the opportunity to work with the agency to address these concerns.


ACEC/North Carolina To Use Minuteman Fund Grant for Legislative Battle Against Unfair Contract Provisions

ACEC has awarded a Minuteman Fund grant to ACEC/North Carolina for lobbying expenses in support of a legislative initiative to fight unfair indemnification and duty to defend provisions in public and private contracts.

Unfair indemnification and duty to defend provisions in contracts pose a major risk for engineering firms. A number of states have responded to these provisions by enacting laws that render void any contract terms that require the professional services provider to indemnify the client for claims not connected to the engineer’s professional negligence, or that impose a duty to defend.

North Carolina design professionals have only limited statutory protection against unfair indemnification provisions, and ACEC/NC and its Member Firms will lobby the state legislature in the upcoming session to strengthen those protections.

Click here for more information on the Minuteman Fund.


Trade Agreements Continue Forward Progress; ACEC's Kothari Reviews Impact on Engineering

During last week's G-20 Summit in Argentina, leaders of the United States, Canada, and Mexico signed the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), which will replace the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) if approved by Congress.

ACEC Chair Manish Kothari of Sheladia Associates reviewed the agreement as a member of a committee organized by the Department of Commerce and the Office of the United States Trade Representative.

About the USMCA's impact on engineering, the committee said:

“Building on the elements of the original NAFTA, which necessarily focused on important licensure standards, comity and reciprocity among other salient matters, the Trade Agreement offers provisions that support the ability of the U.S. engineering services sector to offer creative, innovative and cost-effective solutions to North America's infrastructure challenges and the built-environment's needs.”

Kothari's committee also reviewed prospective U.S. trade agreements with Japan, the United Kingdom, and the European Union, making trade negotiators aware of prospective exclusions and limitations in several EU countries, and urging that business regulations be equitably and consistently applied.


Ohio and South Dakota hit 100%; ACEC/PAC Closes in on $1,000,000

ACEC/Ohio and ACEC/South Dakota met their PAC goals this week, bringing the total number of states at goal for 2018 to 24. At least 20 more states have a good chance to get to 100 percent before the end of the year.

ACEC/SD made goal for the third consecutive year and the 12th time in 13 years. “ACEC and its advocacy team work hard and really deliver for South Dakota firms on the federal level," said PAC Champion Kim McLaury of McLaury Engineering. "I’m proud that our state does its fair share to support that effort through ACEC/PAC.”

ACEC/Ohio PAC Champion Tom Mosure of ms consultants, inc. and PAC Trustee Chair Greg Heaton of Crawford, Murphy & Tilly helped the state reach its goal for the third consecutive year. Heaton’s leadership among the PAC Trustees was critical in helping the state meet its fundraising objective.

Other states already at goal are Indiana, Hawaii, Wisconsin, Georgia, Montana, Tennessee, Massachusetts, South Carolina, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Alabama, Kentucky, Illinois, Delaware, Metro DC, Alaska, Arizona, Pennsylvania, Arkansas, Nevada and New York.

For more information about ACEC/PAC and ACEC’s political programs, visit the ACEC/PAC website or contact ACEC Executive Director of Political Affairs Greg Knopp or ACEC/PAC Director Jennifer Pugh.


ACEC/Illinois' Bender Appointed to State Infrastructure Panel

ACEC/Illinois President/CEO Dave Bender has been named to the Restoring Illinois Infrastructure Committee by Governor-elect JB Pritzker. The committee will advise and guide the governor on how to improve the state's transportation system.

"My administration will prioritize a comprehensive 21st Century Capital bill to build the infrastructure we need to restore Illinois' place as an economic leader," said Pritzker.

Joining Bender on the committee are U.S. Representatives Cheri Bustos and Dan Lipinski, Congressman-elect Jesus Garcia, State Senator Mark Sandoval, Representative Jay Hoffman, and leaders from stakeholder groups across the state.

For more information on the committee, click here.


Construction News: Spending, Unemployment Fall; Prices Continue to Rise

Construction spending fell 0.1 percent in October to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $1.309 billion. Economists had forecast a 0.3 percent increase.

Public sector spending was 0.8 percent higher, while private sector activity dropped by 0.4 percent. In the public sector, spending on schools was 2.6 percent higher, while highway construction declined 0.1 percent. The housing market continues to lag, with residential spending down 0.5 percent in October.

Construction material costs continue to climb, according to the IHS Markit PEG Engineering and Construction Cost Index survey, which registered at 58.3 in November. Any index reading above 50 indicates rising prices.

Prices increased in 11 of the 12 materials and equipment categories covered by the Index. Survey respondents expect price increases across all categories over the coming six months, with labor costs projected to have the biggest impact.

Construction industry unemployment fell in October to 3.6 percent (not seasonally adjusted), the lowest October rate on record. Construction unemployment rates fell in 45 states on a year-over-year basis, according to an Associated Builders and Contractors analysis of U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data.

Bernard Markstein, who conducted the analysis, attributed the low unemployment rate to "warmer than normal temperatures in the east part of the country, coupled with recovery efforts from Hurricanes Florence and Michael."


North Texas $136 Billion Transportation Plan Gets U.S. DOT Air-Quality OK

The U.S. Department of Transportation has given the green light for a $136 billion transportation plan in North Texas, ruling that the multi-modal plan complies with federal air quality regulations.

Mobility 2045: the Metropolitan Transportation Plan for North Central Texas includes the 26-mile Cotton Belt rail line providing direct service between Plano and Dallas Fort Worth International Airport, planning for the U.S. Highway 380 corridor to speed east-west travel in Collin and Denton Counties, and work on State Highway 199, LBJ East, and the Southeast Connector, a $1.2 billion three freeway interchange in Tarrant County.

Spending for the planned improvements includes:

  • Freeways, tollway, arterials and HOV/managed lanes: $53.6 billion
  • Infrastructure maintenance: $36.8 billion
  • Rail and bus: $33.3 billion
  • Management and operations: $9.5 billion
  • Growth, development and land-use strategies: $3.2 billion

For more information, click here.


FTA Grants $281 Million to Five Transit Projects

Five transit projects will receive more $281 million in additional FY2018 funding through the Federal Transit Administration's Capital Investment Grants (CIG) program.

Those projects include: Tempe Streetcar project in Arizona; Los Angeles Westside Purple Line Section 3 project and San Diego Mid-Coast Light Rail project in California; Minneapolis Orange Line Bus Rapid Transit or BRT project in Minnesota; and Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) Red and Blue Line Platform Extensions project in Texas.

FTA has allocated $1.86 billion of the $2.62 billion in FY2018 CIG Funds and has "advanced funding" for 17 new CIG projects worth $4.8 billion since January 20, 2017.

For more information on projects that have received FY2018 funding, click here.


What Does Growth Mean for Your Small Firm? Small Firm Council Meeting, Tampa, Florida, Feb. 7-9

Join small firm leaders from around the country at the 2019 Small Firm Winter Meeting in Tampa, Florida, February 7-9.

The meeting includes a seminar by Mark Goodale of Morrisey Goodale, What You Need to Know When You Grow. Goodale will outline the day-to-day changes a firm must address consider as it grows, including:

  • When is it time to hire administrative staff and human resources?
  • How can you maintain your firm’s culture as it grows?
  • How do you retain employees if you want to stay the same size?

The meeting, which is designed for firm leadership, including owners, principals, HR professionals, CEOs, and CFOs, will also feature an open roundtable discussion and a special session on how to properly protect your small firm against new threats and liabilities.

Click here for more information and to register.


Submit Your State EEA-Winning Projects to the National Awards Program Today

Member Firms can submit their winning entries in their state Engineering Excellence Awards to the national EEA program.

To qualify for the national EEA program, projects have to be a winner in their state awards program. All project materials for the national program must be submitted through ACEC's online portal.

The entry deadline for the national 2019 EEA competition is January 4, 2019. Judging will be held in February and all award winners will be honored at the annual EEA Gala on May 7, 2019, during the ACEC Annual Convention in Washington, D.C.

Click here for more information.


Make Your Ownership Transition FAR-Friendly, December 18

It's basic accounting: the higher your FAR overhead rate, the higher your revenue. But because ownership transition time and funding aren't allowable, you have no choice but to take a hit on your overhead rate, revenue, and bottom line profit.

Right? Actually, not so fast.

There's a way to make these costs allowable and raise your overhead rate. The key is planning early enough to get the benefits.

In the December 18 online class Ownership Transition in a FAR Friendly Environment, Wayne Owens and Brad Wilson review the internal transition process and identify which funding options may increase FAR overhead rates.

For more information and to register, click here.



The American Council of Engineering Companies
1015 15th St., NW, 8th Floor, Washington, DC 20005-2605
Phone: 202-347-7474 - Fax: 202-898-0068
www.acec.org - E-mail: acec@acec.org
Alan D. Crockett, Director, Communications
Gerry Donohue, Editor/Designer
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11—Function-Based Resiliency: Improving Performance Through Adaptive Management, by JD Solomon, principal, CH2M. Identify the different definitions and applications of the concept of resiliency and gain an operative understanding of resiliency that spans all industries and provides insight into key relationships such as sustainability, resiliency, and risk.

12—Document Retention: What to Keep and How Long, by Nancy Rigassio and Nicole Mangino, XL Catlin. Determine how long you should keep business records and learn pointers for developing a written document retention protocol.

13—Tariffs and Trade Issues: Managing Design Impacts, by Tabitha Stine, vice president, American Institute of Steel Construction. Examine the impacts of tariffs on design and construction, with particular emphasis on how the structural steel supply chain may be affected.

18—Ownership Transition in a FAR Friendly Environment, by Wayne Owens, T Wayne Owens and Associates, and Brad Wilson. Review the internal transition process and its usual funding mechanisms, and identify which of these funding options may increase FAR overhead rates, as well as how to find the necessary funding when the time comes to transition.


31—Emerging Technologies for Engineers, by Paul Doherty, president & CEO, the digit group, inc. Explore the tech forces that are driving change and examine real-world examples and case studies on projects, tools, and suggested next steps.