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Need another PE license to work on Federal Land in other State?

yddkdd (Civil/Environmental) (OP)
15 Sep 05 12:34
I am a PE (Civil/Env) & PLS in LA.  We have just been approached by a contractor who does work for the Federal Government on sites OWNED by the Federal Government (Military Bases, etc.)  (He has a LA Contractor's license.) He does not need to be licensed in other states to perform his work, as he says that he is exempt from the states' licensing requirements b/c he is working for the feds on their property.

He wishes to hire us AS HIS SUB to do some civil/structural work at some of these sites, and we are hoping that we can get additional work from this client down the road.  He assures us that we will not need to

1. License our firm in the other state(s)
2. License our engineer in the other state(s)

(Now I have designed facilities in LA where the feds didn't comply with local regulations/codes (e.g. stormwater detention), as they said that they were not required to.)  

Anyone know of any official site that I can find where it would clarify whether engineers need to be licensed in the individual states if they are designing a facility on Federal property ?

Many thanks.
Slugger926 (Bioengineer)
15 Sep 05 16:18
YOu should contact the Board of Registration for each State the engineering work will be done in.

I believe for some projects, you can get an emergency or temporary license from some states if you already have a P.E. license.  That can cover short time frame projects, or cover the project until the board can approve a full license.

The other option would be to subcontract out the engineering to a local engineering firm.  Not checking with each board is playing with fire, and could jeprodize your P.E. license in LA.
BJC (Electrical)
15 Sep 05 16:34
Federal installations are exempt from state laws and regulations.  Go back to you history/civics books, there was a decesion way back in the 1800s that decided the issue.  
The feds frequently require PEs on projects but it's only to assure they get a certified smart person with some applicabel experience. The registration has to be by exam.
If your from Iowa working on a Navy base in California, California has nothing to say about it.  
yddkdd (Civil/Environmental) (OP)
15 Sep 05 17:58
Slugger,

Someone here did speak with the Board in one other State - they said we needed the license no matter what.  But I know there are certain instances where that does not apply (for example on some Indian reservations in LA where we have designed infrastructure improvements.)

I agree that I/we don't want to do anything that would even jeopardize our standing.  Just the getting the lawyers involved will begin to eat up any profit that we are able to make.  (Don't get me started on lawyers please...)

It seems like a grey area, although I certainly acknowledge BJC's points.  The question that I think makes it grey is that we aren't working for the FEDS, but for a private contractor.  If we are 100% sure that the land is owned by the fed gov't I guess we are safer, but still a bit uncomfortable about the whole thing.  Multistate licensing would be easier if I had an NCEES record, but unfortunately never had the need before...
JAE (Structural)
15 Sep 05 19:15
yddkdd,

I know that if the project is on Federal land, the money is for a Federal project, and its managed by the Federal agency, then you do NOT need to be licensed in the state.

This is because, being on Federally owned land, it is not technically IN the state.  It is like a foreign embassy where the land is actually foreign soil.

Our office does a lot of work for a number of fed groups and in each one, if the building is on Federal land they don't even need to get a building permit.  If the federal project is a lease arrangement with a local owner, then you DO need to have a valid PE in that state because the land is not Federally owned, but locally owned and a building permit is required.

I had this very experience some years ago in Nevada where a Federal project I was working on was progressing.  The Nevada state board even called me up and asked how the hell was I the EOR if I wasn't yet licensed.  I explained to them that the project wasn't in Nevada, but was "in" a federal jurisdiction.  After some deliberation they called back and said - "you're right".
DRC1 (Civil/Environmental)
17 Sep 05 23:36
State law still is enforced on federal land if there is no contridicting federal law. We have done work on federal property and as far as I know, state license law prevails because there is no federal license laws requirements or exemptions. I would be careful on this and talk to the licensing board.
davidbeach (Electrical)
17 Sep 05 23:44
When I designed a project on National Park land, they required it be stamped and signed by an engineer registered in that state.
Slugger926 (Bioengineer)
18 Sep 05 0:10
Food for thought.

Is there someone with the Federal Govt in that state that will be looking over, approving, possibly stamping and overseeing the construction.  Basically overseeing that you are overseeing the construction?

It wasn't federal land or work, but when I used to design digital railroad scales for companies, the local railroad engineering department had to approve and stamp the plans in each state.  They also would come out and inspect the construction through different phases to make sure the scales were being installed to engineering specs.  Safety of their equipment, crews, and our customers employees were at stake.

All of the engineering calculations and drawings were sent through the Railroad's engineering department so they triple checked everything.  Will your work for the Federal govt. have these kind of local checks with a P.E. there signing and stamping the work, as well as inspecting the work's progress?

I am sure the Federal Govt. has P.E.'s either with the Army Corp of Engineers and/or USDA in each state.
JAE (Structural)
18 Sep 05 10:26
davidbeach - some government agencies, like NPS, require the engineer to be locally licensed.   That is not a state requirement, but rather, the federal agency just requires it for their own purposes...even with NPS projects, there is no state involvement or local permit applications.  

Many other gov't agencies do not require the engineer to be licensed in the particular state.  

For most Corps of Engineers work, you must be licensed, but not necessarily in the state.  In fact, they don't even require the plans to be sealed.  

For the USPS, as long as its not one of their lease projects (i.e. they own the land and project), then a local license is simply not required.  This isn't a state issue.  If its on Federal land, the state has no say whatsoever.  
yddkdd (Civil/Environmental) (OP)
19 Sep 05 9:22
Thanks everyone for the insights.  We'll see if our proposal for engineering services is accepted and if so, go ahead and apply for a license in that state.  If it looks like future jobs may come from this contractor, we may look into an NCEES record to make things easier.

BTW, the design for the rest of the facility that he is building only has the name of the Federal Agency in the Title block.  There are no stamps anywhere on any of the drawings...
RDK (Civil/Environmental)
21 Sep 05 10:26
In Canada the Federal government is not bound by any provincial laws. (and provinces are not bound by any municipal laws.)

That means that there is no requirement for P.Eng to work on federal government projects since this is a provincial law.

There is a standard contractual clause in any federal government engineering contracts that I have seen that requires the work to be done by a P.Eng in the province of the work but that is a contractual requirement not a legal one.

As an interesting aside, the collective agreement for engineers working for the federal government included the clause that the employer will pay association fees for the engineers required by law to be registered. The government position is that none of its engineers have to be registered so they as far as I know do not pay anyone’s registration fees. (at least that was the situation when I worked for the federal government, it may have changed by now.)

Rick Kitson MBA P.Eng

Construction Project Management
From conception to completion
www.kitsonengineering.com

Slugger926 (Bioengineer)
22 Sep 05 18:12
buzzp (Electrical)
7 Dec 05 16:02
I work for the feds and they are exempt from any state or local laws on their property. However, the feds themselves may require a PE to sign off on it. We get contractors all the time who turn over drawings without a PE signature. Most contracts we do, do not even mention a PE. Right or wrong, who knows but yes the feds (facilities, land or any other physical ownership of by the feds then exempt) are exempt regardless of what any PE licensing board says.

Feds can pay for you getting your license now.

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