Engineering Guide and Review
The below was
obtained from this site and is published by the NSPE NSPE Code of Ethics
Engineering is an important and learned profession. As members of this profession,
engineers are expected to
exhibit the highest standards of honesty and integrity.
Engineering has a direct and vital impact on the quality of life for all people.
Accordingly, the services provided by engineers require honesty, impartiality,
fairness and equity, and must be dedicated to the protection of the public health,
safety, and welfare. Engineers must perform under a standard of professional
behavior that requires adherence to the highest principles of ethical conduct.
I. Fundamental Canons
Engineers, in the fulfillment of their professional
1. Hold paramount the safety, health and welfare of the
2. Perform services only in areas of their competence.
3. Issue public statements only in an objective and truthful manner.
4. Act for each employer or client as faithful agents or trustees.
5. Avoid deceptive acts.
6. Conduct themselves honorably, responsibly,
ethically, and lawfully so as to enhance the honor, reputation, and
usefulness of the profession.
II. Rules of Practice
1. Engineers shall hold paramount the safety, health, and welfare of the public.
a. If engineers' judgment is overruled under circumstances that endanger life or
property, they shall notify their employer or client and such other authority as
may be appropriate.
b. Engineers shall approve only those engineering documents
that are in conformity with applicable standards.
c. Engineers shall not reveal
facts, data or information without the prior consent of the client or employer
except as authorized or required by law or this Code.
d. Engineers shall not permit the use of their name or associate in business
ventures with any person or firm that they believe are engaged in fraudulent or
e. Engineers having knowledge of any alleged violation of this Code shall report
thereon to appropriate professional bodies and, when relevant, also to public
authorities, and cooperate with the proper authorities in furnishing such
information or assistance as may be required.
2. Engineers shall perform services only in the areas of their competence.
a. Engineers shall undertake assignments only when qualified by education or
experience in the specific technical fields involved.
b. Engineers shall not affix their signatures to any plans or documents dealing
with subject matter in which they lack competence, nor to any plan or document not
prepared under their direction and control.
c. Engineers may accept assignments and assume responsibility for coordination of
an entire project and sign and seal the engineering documents for the entire
project, provided that each technical segment is signed and sealed
only by the qualified engineers who prepared the segment.
3. Engineers shall
issue public statements only in an objective and truthful manner.
a. Engineers shall be objective and truthful in professional reports, statements,
or testimony. They shall include all relevant and pertinent information in such
reports, statements, or testimony, which should bear the date indicating when it was current.
b. Engineers may express publicly technical
opinions that are founded upon knowledge of the facts and competence in
the subject matter.
c. Engineers shall issue no statements, criticisms, or
arguments on technical matters that are inspired or paid for by interested parties,
unless they have prefaced their comments by explicitly identifying the interested
parties on whose behalf they are speaking, and by revealing the
existence of any interest the engineers may have in the matters.
4. Engineers shall act for each employer or client as faithful agents or trustees.
a. Engineers shall disclose all known or potential conflicts of interest that could
influence or appear to influence their judgment or the quality of their services.
b. Engineers shall not accept compensation, financial or otherwise, from more than
one party for services on the same project, or for services pertaining to the same
project, unless the circumstances are fully disclosed and agreed to by all
c. Engineers shall not solicit or accept financial or other
valuable consideration, directly or indirectly, from outside agents in connection
with the work for which they are responsible.
d. Engineers in public service as members, advisors, or employees of a governmental
or quasi-governmental body or department shall not participate in decisions with
respect to services solicited or provided by them or their organizations
in private or public engineering practice.
e. Engineers shall not solicit or
accept a contract from a governmental body on which a principal or officer of their
organization serves as a member.
5. Engineers shall avoid deceptive acts.
a. Engineers shall not falsify their qualifications or permit misrepresentation of
their or their associates' qualifications. They shall not misrepresent or
exaggerate their responsibility in or for the subject matter of prior assignments.
Brochures or other presentations incident to the solicitation of
employment shall not misrepresent pertinent facts concerning employers, employees,
associates, joint venturers, or past accomplishments.
b. Engineers shall not offer, give, solicit or receive, either directly or
indirectly, any contribution to influence the award of a contract by public
authority, or which may be reasonably construed by the public as having the effect
of intent to influencing the awarding of a contract. They shall not offer
any gift or other valuable consideration in order to secure work. They shall not
pay a commission, percentage, or brokerage fee in order to secure work, except to a
bona fide employee or bona fide established commercial or marketing
agencies retained by them.
III. Professional Obligations
1. Engineers shall be guided in all their relations by the highest standards of
honesty and integrity.
a. Engineers shall acknowledge their errors and shall
not distort or alter the facts.
b. Engineers shall advise their clients or employers when they believe a project
will not be successful.
c. Engineers shall not accept outside employment to the
detriment of their regular work or interest. Before accepting any outside
engineering employment they will notify their employers.
d. Engineers shall not attempt to attract an engineer from another employer by
false or misleading pretenses.
e. Engineers shall not actively participate in
strikes, picket lines, or other collective coercive action.
f. Engineers shall not promote their own interest at the expense of the dignity and
integrity of the profession.
2. Engineers shall at all times strive to serve
the public interest.
a. Engineers shall seek opportunities to participate in civic affairs; career
guidance for youths; and work for the advancement of the safety, health and
well-being of their community.
b. Engineers shall not complete, sign, or seal plans and/or specifications that are
not in conformity with applicable engineering standards. If the client or employer
insists on such unprofessional conduct, they shall notify the proper
authorities and withdraw from further service on the project.
shall endeavor to extend public knowledge and appreciation of engineering and its
3. Engineers shall avoid all conduct or practice that deceives
a. Engineers shall avoid the use of statements containing a
material misrepresentation of fact or omitting a material fact.
with the foregoing, Engineers may advertise for recruitment of personnel.
c. Consistent with the foregoing, Engineers may prepare articles for the lay or
technical press, but such articles shall not imply credit to the author for work
performed by others.
4. Engineers shall not disclose, without consent,
confidential information concerning the business affairs or technical
processes of any present or former client or employer, or public body on which they
a. Engineers shall not, without the consent of all interested
parties, promote or arrange for new employment or practice in connection with a
specific project for which the Engineer has gained particular and specialized
b. Engineers shall not, without the consent of all interested
parties, participate in or represent an adversary interest in connection with a
specific project or proceeding in which the Engineer has gained particular
specialized knowledge on behalf of a former client or employer.
5. Engineers shall not be influenced in their professional duties by conflicting
interests. a. Engineers shall not accept financial or other
considerations, including free engineering designs, from material or equipment
suppliers for specifying their product. b. Engineers shall not accept
commissions or allowances, directly or indirectly, from contractors or other
parties dealing with clients or employers of the Engineer in connection with
work for which the Engineer is responsible.
6. Engineers shall not attempt to
obtain employment or advancement or professional engagements by untruthfully
criticizing other engineers, or by other improper or questionable methods.
a. Engineers shall not request, propose, or accept a commission on a contingent
basis under circumstances in which their judgment may be compromised.
b. Engineers in salaried positions shall accept part-time engineering work only to
the extent consistent with policies of the employer and in accordance with ethical
considerations. c. Engineers shall not, without consent, use equipment,
supplies, laboratory, or office facilities of an employer to carry on outside
7. Engineers shall not attempt to injure, maliciously or
falsely, directly or indirectly, the professional reputation, prospects, practice,
or employment of other engineers. Engineers who believe others are guilty of
unethical or illegal practice shall present such information to the proper
authority for action.
a. Engineers in private practice shall 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. Engineers in governmental, industrial, or educational employ are entitled to
review and evaluate the work of other engineers when so required by their
employment duties. c. Engineers in sales or industrial employ are entitled to
make engineering comparisons of represented products with products of other
8. Engineers shall accept personal responsibility for their
professional activities, provided, however, that Engineers may seek indemnification
for services arising out of their practice for other than gross negligence, where
the Engineer's interests cannot otherwise be protected.
a. Engineers shall conform with state registration laws in the practice of
engineering. b. Engineers shall not use association with a nonengineer, a
corporation, or partnership as a "cloak" for unethical acts.
Engineers shall give credit for engineering work to those to whom credit is due,
and will recognize the proprietary interests of others.
a. Engineers shall, whenever possible, name the person or persons who may be
individually responsible for designs, inventions, writings, or other
b. Engineers using designs supplied by a client recognize
that the designs remain the property of the client and may not be duplicated by the
Engineer for others without express permission.
c. Engineers, before undertaking work for others in connection with which the
Engineer may make improvements, plans, designs, inventions, or other records
that may justify copyrights or patents, should enter into a positive agreement
d. Engineers' designs, data, records, and notes referring
exclusively to an employer's work are the employer's property. Employer should
indemnify the Engineer for use of the information for any purpose other than the
As Revised July 1996 "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, rulings 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
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--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 items incumbent on members of NSPE to
endeavor to live up to its provisions. This applies to all pertinent sections of