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Code of Ethics for Engineers (1978)
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Code of Ethics for Engineers
The Engineer, to uphold and advance the honor and dignity of the engineering profession and in keeping with high standards of ethical conduct:
- Will be honest and impartial, and will serve with devotion his employer, his clients, and the public;
- Will strive to increase the competence and prestige of the engineering profession;
- Will use his knowledge and skill for the advancement of human welfare.
Section 1-The Engineer will be guided in all his professional relations by the highest standards of integrity, and will act in professional matters for each client or employer as a faithful agent or trustee.
a. He will be realistic and honest in all estimates, reports, statements, and testimony.
b. He will admit and accept his own errors when proven wrong and refrain from distorting or altering the facts in an attempt to justify his decision.
c. He will advise his client or employer when he believes a project will not be successful.
d. He will not accept outside employment to the detriment of his regular work or interest. Before accepting any outside employment he will notify his employer.
e. He will not attempt to attract an engineer from another employer by false or misleading pretenses.
f. He will not actively participate in strikes, picket lines, or other collective coercive action.
g. He will avoid any act tending to promote his own interest at the expense of the dignity and integrity of the profession.
Section 2-The Engineer will have proper regard for the safety, health, and welfare of the public in the performance of his professional duties. If his engineering judgment is overruled by non-technical authority, he will clearly point out the consequences. He will notify the proper authority of any observed conditions which endanger public safety and health.
a. He will regard his duty to the public welfare as paramount.
b. He shall seek opportunities to be of constructive service in civic affairs and work for the advancement of the safety, health and well-being of his community.
c. He will not complete, sign, or seal plans and/or specifications that are not of a design safe to the public health and welfare and in conformity with accepted engineering standards. If the client or employer insists on such unprofessional conduct, he shall notify the proper authorities and withdraw from further service on the project.
Section 3-The Engineer will avoid all conduct or practice likely to discredit the profession or deceive the public.
a. The Engineer shall not make exaggerated, misleading, deceptive or false statements or claims about his professional qualifications, experience or performance in his brochures, correspondence, listings, advertisements or other public communications.
b. The above prohibitions include, but are not limited to, the use of statements containing a material misrepresentation of fact or omitting a material fact necessary to keep the statement from being misleading; statements intended or likely to create an unjustified expectation; statements containing prediction of future success; statements containing an opinion as to the quality of the Engineer's services; or statements intended or likely to attract clients by the use of showmanship , puffery, or self-laudation, including the use of slogans, jingles, or sensational language or format.
c. Consistent with the foregoing, the Engineer may advertise for recruitment of personnel.
d. Consistent with the foregoing, the Engineer may prepare articles for the lay or technical press. Such articles shall not imply credit to the author for work performed by others.
Section 4-The Engineer will endeavor to extend public knowledge and appreciation of engineering and its achievements and to protect the engineering profession from misrepresentation and misunderstanding.
a. He shall not issue statements, criticisms or arguments on matters connected with public policy which are inspired or paid for by private interests, unless he indicates on whose behalf he is making the statements.
Section 5 - The Engineer will express an opinion of an engineering subject only when founded on adequate knowledge and honest conviction.
a. The Engineer will insist on the use of facts in reference to an engineering project in a group discussion, public forum or publication of articles.
Section 6- The Engineer will undertake engineering assignments for which he will be responsible only when qualified by training or experience; and he will engage, or advise engaging, experts and specialists whenever the client's or employer's interests are best served by such service.
Section 7-The Engineer will not disclose confidential information concerning the business affairs or technical processes of any present or former client or employer without his consent.
a. While in the employ of others, he will not enter promotional efforts or negotiations for work or make arrangements for other employment as a principal or to practice in connection with a specific project for which he has gained particular and specialized knowledge without the consent of all interested parties.
Section 8-The Engineer will endeavor to avoid a conflict of interest with his employer or client, but when unavoidable, the Engineer shall fully disclose the circumstances to his employer or client.
a. The Engineer will inform his client or employer of any business connections, interests, or circumstances which may be deemed as influencing his judgment or the quality of his services to his client or employer.
b. When in public service as a member, advisor, or employee of a governmental body or department, an Engineer shall not participate in considerations or actions with respect to services provided by him or his organization in private engineering practice.
c. An Engineer shall not solicit or accept an engineering contract from a governmental body on which a principal or officer of his organization serves as a member.
Section 9-The Engineer will uphold the principle of appropriate and adequate compensation for those engaged in engineering work.
a. He will not accept remuneration from either an employee or employment agency for giving employment.
b. When hiring other engineers, he shall offer a salary according to the engineer's qualifications and the recognized standards in the particular geographical area.
c. If in sales employ, he will not offer, or give engineering consultation, or designs, or advice other than specifically applying to the equipment being sold.
Section 10.-The Engineer will not accept compensation, financial or otherwise, from more than one interested party for the same service, or for services pertaining to the same work, unless there is full disclosure to and consent of all interested parties.
a. He will not accept financial or other considerations, including free engineering designs, from material or equipment suppliers for specifying their product.
b. He will not accept commissions or allowances, directly or indirectly, from contractors or other parties dealing with his clients or employer in connection with work for which he is responsible.
Section 11-The Engineer will not compete unfairly with another engineer by attempting to obtain employment or advancement or professional engagements by taking advantage of a salaried position, by criticizing other engineers, or by other improper or questionable methods.
a. The Engineer will not attempt to supplant another engineer in a particular employment after becoming aware that definite
steps have been taken toward the other's employment.
b. He will not pay, or offer to pay, either directly or indirectly, any political contribution, or a gift, or other consideration in order to secure work. He will not pay a commission, Percentage or Brokerage fee in order to secure work except to bona fide employees or bona fide established commercial or marketing agencies retained by him.
c. An Engineer shall not request, propose, or accept a professional commission on a contingent basis under circumstances in which his professional judgment may be compromised, or when a contingency provision is used as a device for promoting or securing a professional commission.
d. While in a salaried position, he will accept part-time engineering work only at a salary not less than that recognized as standard in the area.
e. An Engineer will not use equipment, supplies, laboratory, or office facilities of his employer to carry on outside private practice without consent.
f . An Engineer will not use "free engineering" as a device to solicit or otherwise secure subsequent paid engineering assignments.
Section 12-The Engineer will not attempt to injure, maliciously or falsely, directly or indirectly, the professional reputation, prospects, practice or employment of another engineer, nor will he indiscriminately criticize another engineer's work. If he believes
that another engineer is guilty of unethical or illegal practice, he shall present such information to the proper authority for action.
a. An Engineer in private practice will not review the work of another engineer for the same client, except with the knowledge of such engineer, or unless the connection of such engineer with the work has been terminated.
b. An Engineer in governmental, industrial or educational employ is entitled to review and evaluate the work of other engineers when so required by his employment duties.
c. An Engineer in sales or industrial employ is entitled to make engineering comparisons of his products with products by other suppliers.
Section 13-The Engineer will not associate with or allow the use of his name by an enterprise of questionable character, nor will he become professionally associated with engineers who do not conform to ethical practices, or with persons not legally qualified
to render the professional services for which the association is intended.
a. He will conform with registration laws in his practice of engineering.
b. He will not use association with a non-engineer, a corporation, or partnership, as a "cloak" for unethical acts, but must accept personal responsibility for his professional acts.
Section 14-The Engineer will give credit for engineering work to those to whom credit is due, and will recognize the proprietary interests of others.
a. Whenever possible, he will name the person or persons who may be individually responsible for designs, inventions, writings, or other accomplishments.
b . When an Engineer uses designs supplied to him by a client, the designs remain the Property of the client and should not be duplicated by the Engineer for others without express permission.
c. Before undertaking work for others in connection with which he may make improvements, plans, designs, inventions, or other records which may justify copyrights or patents, the Engineer should enter into a positive agreement regarding the ownership.
d. Designs, data, records, and notes made by an engineer and referring exclusively to his employer's work are his employer's property.
Section 15-The Engineer will cooperate in extending the effectiveness of the profession by interchanging information and experience with other engineers and students, and will endeavor to provide opportunity for the professional development and advancement
of engineers under his supervision.
a. He will encourage his engineering employees' efforts to improve their education.
b. He will encourage engineering employees to attend and present papers at professional and technical society meetings.
c. He will urge his engineering employees to become registered at the earliest possible date.
d. He will assign a professional engineer duties of a nature to utilize his full training and experience, insofar as possible, and delegate lesser functions to sub professionals or to technicians.
e. He will provide a prospective engineering employee with complete information on working conditions and his proposed status of employment, and after employment will keep him informed of any changes in them.
"By order of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, former Section 11 (c) of the NSPE Code of Ethics prohibiting competitive bidding, and all policy statements, opinions, or other guidelines interpreting its scope, have been rescinded as unlawfully interfering with the legal right of engineers, protected under the antitrust laws, to provide price information to prospective clients; accordingly, nothing contained in the NSPE Code of Ethics, policy statements, opinions, rulings or other guidelines prohibits the submission of price quotations or competitive bids for engineering services at any time or in any amount."
Statement by NSPE Executive Committee
In order to correct misunderstandings which have been indicated in some instances since the issuance of the Supreme Court decision and the entry of the Final Judgment, it is noted that in its decision of April 25, 1978, the Supreme Court of the United States declared:
" The Sherman Act does not require competitive bidding."
It is further noted that as made clear in the Supreme Court decision:
1. Engineers and firms may individually refuse to bid for engineering services.
2. Clients are not required to seek bids for engineering services.
3. Federal, state, and local laws governing procedures to procure engineering services are not affected, and remain in full force and effect.
4. State societies and local chapters are free to actively and aggressively seek legislation for professional selection and negotiation procedures by public agencies.
5 State registration board rules of professional conduct, including rules prohibiting competitive bidding for engineering services, are not affected and remain in full force and effect. State registration boards with authority to adopt rules of professional conduct may
adopt rules governing procedures to obtain engineering services.
6. As noted by the Supreme Court, "nothing in the judgment prevents NSPE and its members from attempting to influence governmental action . . ."
Note: In regard to the question of application of the Code to corporations vis-à-vis real persons, business form or type should not negate nor influence conformance of individuals to the code. The Code deals with professional services, which services must be performed by real persons. Real persons in turn establish and implement policies within business structures.
The Code is clearly written to apply to the Engineer and it is incumbent on a member of NSPE to endeavor to live up to its provisions. This applies to all pertinent sections of the Code.
NSPE Publication No. 1102 As revised, July 22, 1978