SUMMARY OF: A Sunset Review of the Department of Commerce, Community, and Economic Development, Board of Registration for Architects, Engineers, and Land Surveyors, October 6, 2004.

Purpose of the Report

In accordance with Title 24 and Title 44 of the Alaska Statutes, we have reviewed the activities of the Board of Registration for Architects, Engineers, and Land Surveyors (BRAELS). As required by AS 44.66.050(a), the legislative committees of reference are to consider this report during the legislative oversight process involved in determining if the board should be reestablished. Currently, AS 08.03.010(c)(3) states that the board will terminate on June 30, 2005, and will have one year from that date to conclude its affairs. If the legislature does not extend the termination date for the board, BRAELS will have one year to conclude its administrative operations.

Report Conclusions

In our opinion, the termination date for the Board of Registration for Architects, Engineers, and Land Surveyors should be extended. The board is operating in the public interest by effectively regulating the individuals who hold themselves out to the public as registered architects, engineers, land surveyors, and landscape architects.

Alaska Statute 08.03.010(c)(3) requires BRAELS to be terminated on June 30, 2005. If no action is taken by the legislature, under AS 08.03.020, the board will have a one-year period to administratively conclude its affairs. We recommend the legislature extend the board’s termination date to June 30, 2009.

Findings and Recommendations

Prior Audit Recommendation No. 1

The legislature should consider changes to the statutes mandating that BRAELS require continuing professional education of its licensees.

At the time of the prior review, no statutory or regulatory provision existed requiring registered professionals to obtain specified continuing education (CE) as a condition for registration renewal. The purpose of requiring continuing education for licensed professionals is to promote professional practices consistent with current standards and information. The board supported the idea of voluntary continuing education for registrants; however, it did not have a consensus to make such CE mandatory.

Legislative Audit’s Current Position

The prior finding has been partially resolved. The board received statutory authority to adopt regulations requiring CE for professionals it regulates. The board, however, has yet to adopt any mandatory CE regulations. We continue to recommend the board either develop appropriate mandatory CE requirements for its professional registrants or the legislature considers making such requirements mandatory by statute.

Recommendation No. 2

BRAELS should arrange for a comprehensive study regarding the public benefits and related off-setting costs that may be involved with recognizing additional engineering specialties in the State’s licensing structure.

Individuals have appeared before BRAELS in recent years asking that the board expand the registrant categories and, accordingly, the number of people who can use the PE designation in commercial practice. Most specifically, individuals who have received accredited academic training in the field of environmental engineering or were recognized as a PE in another jurisdiction after passing only the NCEES environmental engineering examination, have sought BRAELS registration. To date, the board has shown no inclination to seek legislative changes to the current engineering licensure process.

We suggest BRAELS consider partnering with State professional organizations and/or the engineering schools affiliated with the University of Alaska to conduct a study. The study could comprehensively address public policy benefits and costs which would provide guidance whether the number of PE specialties should be expanded.

Recommendation No. 3

The legislature should consider making the landscape architect representative to BRAELS a full, voting member.