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The Government Sector The Government Sector Task Force was composed of members of the President's Government Advisory Group of the National Society of Professional Engineers. {This group is composed of federal, state, and local government engineers who have been addressing, on a continuing basis, issues similar to those raised in this study. J As a component of the Panel on Support Organizations in the Engineering Community, the task force was charged with examining the primary needs of engineers working in the government sector and the support mechanisms to fulfill such needs both for the individual engineer and for the entire engineering profession. In establishing these needs, the various levels of government- federal, state, and local were recognized, and those needs pertinent and common to all were given priority. The sections that follow describe and discuss those needs and support organizations selected by the task force as the most critical. Acquisition of Requisite Management Skills During their formal professional education, engineers primarily pur- sue a technical curriculum with little, if any, management training. And considering the limited time available to the student, such an approach probably makes sense in that it focuses on the education needed by young engineers during their early years of employment. As their careers progress, however, engineers increasingly assume posi- tions that demand some form of management skills This is particularly 28

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THE GOVERNMENT SECTOR 29 true in those positions involving public administration). Because they have seldom had the opportunity to acquire these skills, many engi- neers find it difficult to adapt. This training deficiency must be overcome, and the most likely time for such education is probably during the postgraduate period lit is doubtful whether current undergraduate curricula can be sufficiently broadened to include management training). But for those engineers already in the field, a number of organizations and mechanisms exist for meeting this need, a partial list of which includes the following: Organizations Educational institutions I engineering and . . nonenglneermg Professional societies Employing governmental . . Organlzatlons Mechanisms Academic curriculum Continuing education courses Developmental training Conferences and seminars Correspondence courses Sabbatical leave These support organizations are in place and the mechanisms listed are being used by some engineers. Nevertheless, a problem exists in that government employers do not always use an organized, well- defined method to review their organizational needs for management personnel and identify individuals with the potential for management positions. Most governmental entities are constrained from preselect- ing individuals for positions of advancement. This constraint in turn precludes management from directing its training effort toward a lim- ited number of individuals with excellent management potential and forces it to provide generalized training to a broader group instead. As individuals progress, government organizations are sometimes faced with selecting individuals for management positions who have not developed the requisite skills nor demonstrated the potential for man- agement. If at all possible, educational institutions should incorporate into their undergraduate curricula courses that acquaint the individual with management problems that may be encountered in the "real world." Of equal importance is the need for modifying government regulations to permit the objective preselection of candidates for man . . agement tram1ng. Development of Communication Skills In general, college engineering curricula require that students take a number of courses involving or stressing written and oral communica

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30 SUPPORT ORGANIZATIONS lion. Such courses, however, do not usually cover "selling one's posi- tion." Additionally, most engineering students and practitioners react with characteristic apprehension when faced with any type of commu- nication other than technical. The end result of this situation is often a deficiency in the necessary skills needed by the engineer to discharge his or her duties effectively. This deficiency is magnified in the govern- ment sector where much of an engineer's essential communication is with a public untrained in engineering matters. Government engineers need added skills in communication, therefore, to enhance their effec- tiveness, carry the necessary message to the public, and develop self- confidence. The task force believes this need can be best served by existing orga- nizations at various levels. But, convincing engineers that such skills are needed throughout their careers is a more difficult problem. Organi- zations and mechanisms that might be used in this effort include the following: Organizations Educational institutions {engineering and . . nonengmeermg Service clubs Employing governmental . . Organlzatlons Mechanisms Academic curricula Self-improvement courses Public involvement Continuing education courses Public speaking opportunities These necessary support organizations and mechanisms already exist. The problem lies in persuading more engineers to take advantage of the training opportunities they offer during college and early in their career. In the latter case, encouragement and/or reimbursement from the employing organization would be beneficial, although this is often difficult in government organizations where expenditures are closely regulated by legislation. It is vital that practicing engineers and educa- tors stress the importance of communication skills to students. Educa- tors could serve this purpose by requiring documented demonstration of verbal and written communication skills as a prerequisite to gradua tion. Maintenance and Enhancement of Technical Engineering Skills This need was addressed previously in the discussion of concerns common to all sectors of the engineering profession. But, engineers in government face severalunique problems: ~1 ) a lack of incentive for the individual to extend himself; t2) indifference to the need for such train

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THE GOVERNMENT SECTOR 31 ing on the part of management, which in government is primarily nontechnical, and [3) imposed financial constraints, primarily on time. Maintaining and enhancing technical engineering skills can be accomplished best lay existing organizations at varying levels, includ- ing the following: Organizations Educational institutions . . . . . Private training Institutes Technical societies State registration boards Mechanisms Academic curricula Specially developed courses Hands-on experience Continuing education courses Shared experiences Computer training That the necessary support mechanisms already exist does not change the fact that engineers in the governmental sector are not tak- ing, or are not allowed to take, full advantage of these opportunities. The extent to which engineers, and more important, their employing governments, recognize that continuing education and training are essential may be an additional concern outside the scope of this report. What is evident is that the support organizations should make a greater effort to "sell" their programs to both the government employer and the government employee. Increased Emphasis on Professional Development As discussed previously, engineers must not only possess the requi- site technical skills but also must concern themselves with profes- sional development, establishing a position of trust with respect to relating technical skills to the needs of the profession and to society at large. This is particularly important for engineers in the government sector. Engineering decisions there are exposed to public view, and they must be rendered in a manner that generates public confidence. Engi- neers in government and their managers must place more emphasis on professional development. And government engineers need more opportunities to attend professional meetings and seminars. They need opportunities to gain an appreciation of how their fellow engineers operate within their constituencies, to participate in the development of standards of practice, and to enhance their stature in the eyes of fellow professionals in the private sector. This need can best be met by various professional organizations, at the national and state levels, that promulgate codes of ethics. It can also

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32 S UPPOR T ORGANIZATIONS be met by requiring registration for all those practicing engineering that involves public health and safety. Existing organizations and available mechanisms include those listed below: Organizations Professional organizations Employing governmental . . Organ lz at lon s State registration boards Mechanisms Professional meetings Enforced ethical practices Registration display boards Official policy statements Conferences and seminars Professional registration Employment practices For engineers to take full advantage of these support mechanisms, governmental organizations must allot the necessary time and reim- burse expenses for those attending activities related to professional development. In addition, efforts must be made to overcome the per- ception on the part of governmental officials and entities that "profes- sional organizations" are dedicated to advancing a particular profession as opposed to improving individuals within that profession. Recognition of Engineering Contributions Engineers as a whole, but government engineers in particular, do not enjoy the same prestige in the community as do other professionals known for their contributions to society. Apparently the public is unaware of the professional approach employed by the engineer who works to protect the health and welfare of the citizenry by developing public works facilities. The problem is accentuated for government engineers because their contributions are usually hidden by the politi- cal process. If qualified young people are to be encouraged to select government service as an entrance to the engineering profession, the reputation of the profession must be enhanced and recognition must be given to engineers in the government sector for their very real contributions. Public pronouncements disparaging the government employee {bureaucrats have been damaging, as have negative statements from individuals in the private sector who often consider themselves in competition with engineers in government. There are a number of organizations and mechanisms that could assist in improving this situation:

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THE GOVERNMENT SECTOR Organizations Employing governmental . . Organlzatlons Community institutions Media Professional societies Educational institutions 33 Mechanisms Public acknowledgments Employer publicity Awards Public appearances and speeches Public service projects Dedication ceremonies Display boards For government engineers to receive appropriate recognition for their contributions to society, much effort will be required, particularly since the engineering portion of a public works project is generally carried out by more than one individual. Governmental organizations should be encouraged to acknowledge the individual contributions of their engineers in bringing a public works project to successful culmi- nation. In addition, organizations and societies should strive to make more use of awards, to publicize contributions, and to foster public . . service projects. In-House Technical Engineering Opportunities Pressures are increasing to accomplish a great deal or even all neces- sary governmental engineering work using engineering resources from the private sector. Although it is certainly valid, and even desirable, that much of this work be performed by the private sector, it is also essential that governmental entities retain a certain portion of the work to provide hands-on engineering experience for its own forces. Total reliance on the private sector will eventually lead to a decline of the existing engineering talent in government, to the point that recruit- ment will suffer, review capability will be obliterated with the attend- ant ability to protect the public's interest, engineering decisions rightfully belonging to the government will be abrogated, and the coun- try's technological development will suffer. The private sector has a right to expect that it will perform a certain portion of the government's engineering efforts for which it is qualified; the government engineer- ing sector also can expect to perform a certain portion to ensure suffi- cient maintenance of its technical capability to discharge its responsibilities. The appropriate proportion will depend on a number of variables, including the size and distribution of organizations, the functional nature of the work load, and the mission assignment. This need can only be met if the employing governmental organiza

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34 S UPPOR T ORGANIZATIONS lion and the private engineering industry reach an understanding of the value of each entity performing an appropriate portion of the work. The necessary support organizations and mechanisms already appear to exist. But both sides of the equation must come together to resolve the issue in a manner that will serve the common good at all levels of government. Existing organizations and mechanisms that might serve this purpose include those listed below: Organizations Employing governmental . . Organlzatlons Professional organizations Trade associations Mechanisms Maintaining dialogue Statements of principle Shared interface Improved Working Climate In many cases, personnel regulations, salary restrictions, and admin- istrative attitudes toward government employees tend to undermine the morale of the work force and discourage the recruitment of top- flight engineering graduates. Existing problems include low salaries at both entry and upper levels, classification standards that favor manage- rial rather than technical abilities, excessive administrative personnel procedures that require a disproportionate amount of time for nonengi- neering matters, and, all too frequently, a demeaning attitude toward government employees. This need can be best served by the respective personnel organiza- tions and by the responsible political entity, aided by professional orga- nizations that can foster support for the government engineer. Available organizations and mechanisms include the following: Organizations Professional societies Legislative bodies Media Employing governmental . . Organlzatlons Mechanisms Improved salary schedule Streamlined regulations Public support Dual-ladder salary schedule Acknowledgment Because of existing regulations, depressed salaries, and unfavorable publicity about government employees at all levels, the quality of the engineering force in government appears to be diminishing. To turn this situation around totally is beyond the capabilities of the engineer- ing profession. But, it must continue to work with the appropriate

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THE GOVERNMENT SECTOR 35 political entities and attempt to convince these authorities of the adverse effects that will result from these conditions, effects that may well compromise the quality of public works being developed. Development of Skills for Serving the Public Interest Because engineers tend to view their jobs as purely technical, many are not prepared to consider the broader aspects surrounding a decision affecting the public interest. In the broadest sense, both the public and private sectors must be considered, and this consideration must include their interconnection and how their combined decisions will affect the future. Many government engineers have limited experience in this area, yet their roles in administering technical regulations can have a significant and lasting impact on society. Engineers frequently lack education in the basic concepts of the humanities, sociology, eco- nomics, and politics, a deficiency that makes decision-making more difficult and that can result in decisions made without considering all facets of an issue. There are a limited number of organizations and mechanisms that can support efforts to meet this need. Some of these might include the groups and methods listed below: Organizations Educational institutions Trade organizations Professional societies Employing governmental . . Organlzatlons Mechanisms Undergraduate curricula Progressive experience Interfacing with nonengineers Postgraduate specialization Training courses Government organizations should make a special effort to broaden the education of their engineers along nontechnical lines, such as pub- lic involvement issues. As previously mentioned, engineers need a better appreciation of the humanities, social factors, politics, and eco- nomics. If engineers are to serve the public, then they must understand its nature in order to provide the best service. Furthermore, engineers should be encouraged and permitted to gain this added education and experience during their early or middle career stages. This ensures that the needed skills are not lacking when the stage of policy setting and program making is reached. Making the possession of these skills a recognized requirement for promotion to certain positions will also ensure that employees acquire them.

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36 S TJPPOR T ORGANIZATIONS Development and Maintenance of Professional Standards To enhance the professional stature of the government engineer in the eyes of the public and to provide a common base from which to measure performance and set compensation, it is necessary that gov- ernmental organizations establish and rigorously maintain profes- sional and educational standards. These should include requirements for registration; usable, understandable job descriptions; and measur- able performance standards. Rigorous enforcement of such profes- sional standards would greatly improve the image of the government . . ~ . . engineer, in turn making government employment a more attractive alternative for engineers. Organizations and mechanisms that are directly concerned with these issues can best meet this need: Organizations Employing governmental . . Organlzatlons State registration boards Professional societies Mechanisms Registration laws Job descriptions Standards of conduct Codes of ethics Work standards Generally, it has been the professional societies that have fostered professional standards. But such work requires additional support. Employing governmental organizations must become more active, rec- ognizing that complying with such standards will enhance the stature of government engineers in the eyes of the public and in the eyes of professional associates in the private sector. It will also ensure that engineering needs in the government sector are satisfied in a manner consistent with expected levels -of quality. Industry-Competitive Compensation Base Salaries of government engineers have lagged behind those of engi- neers in the private sector. This has adversely affected the morale of current employees, causing excessive turnover and making recruit- ment difficult. Compensation of government engineers should be com- parable to that of engineers in the private sector, yet the nonsupportive public perception of the government engineer and a general lack of understanding of engineering work make this a difficult condition to achieve. While some existing professional organizations may promote an appropriate level of compensation for government engineers, its actual

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THE GOVERNMENT SECTOR 37 accomplishment falls to those organizations having direct salary con- trol: Organizations Employing governmental organizations Professional societies Legislative bodies Mechanisms Salary comparison studies Training allowances Salary adjustments Meeting allowances Professional societies and the managements of employing govern- mental organizations are the only groups that can convince legislative bodies that a proper level of compensation is necessary to attract and retain quality engineers in the government sector. Expanded Private/Government Sector Contact In a way, the private engineering sector may view government engi- neers as a competitive force that enjoys certain privileges not accruing to their private counterparts. In truth, each has an important function to perform and it is essential that these mutually supportive functions be understood and appreciated. Moreover, high levels of quality in the government engineering sector result in an improved relationship between the private engineer and the government. This need will be best served by those organizations most directly involved: Organizations Employing governmental organizations Professional society segment representing the private sector Private practice employers Professional society segment representing the government Mechanisms Joint meetings Continuing education Although government organizations and private organizations can maintain a dialogue, it will not loe as effective as an organizational approach to the problem, i. e., the respective professional societies fos- tering and promoting better understanding. At the same time, govern- ment organizations must allow for such interaction by encouraging and permitting attendance at meetings and by publishing papers that sup- port effective interrelationships.