Monday, April 21, 2014

NSPS Radio Hour —April 21, 11 a.m. EST

Lisa Isom (Manager of the NSPS Insurance Program) will join host Curt Sumner for the fourth in a continuing series of shows dedicated to insurance issues that affect surveyors.


If you are unable to listen to the show when it is being broadcasted, listen to the archive of the show at http://www.radiosandysprings.com/showpages/ACSM.php. Archives for each show are typically available for listening within a few days after the show airs.

During the show, listen for the "key question" and be the first to email the correct answer to
quikstakescontest@americaswebradio.com
to win a $50 gift certificate from our sponsor, Parker Davis Quik Stakes. No purchase is required to receive the gift certificate. Winners limited to once every three months.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Labor Secretary Questioned bout Davis-Bacon Policy on Survey Crews



In a recent congressional hearing, Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez was questioned about his department’s actions defining members of survey crews as “laborers and mechanics” under the Davis-Bacon Act.  Rep. Jack Kingston (R-GA), Chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee that funds the Labor Department,  asked the question during a hearing on the Obama Administration’s fiscal year 2015 funding proposal.  Perez claimed "there has not been a change in policy".  View the video starting at 1:41:05.

Monday, April 14, 2014

NSPS Radio Hour —April 14, 11 a.m. EST

Lisa Isom (Manager of the NSPS Insurance Program) will join host Curt Sumner for the fourth in a continuing series of shows dedicated to insurance issues that affect surveyors.


If you are unable to listen to the show when it is being broadcasted, listen to the archive of the show at http://www.radiosandysprings.com/showpages/ACSM.php. Archives for each show are typically available for listening within a few days after the show airs.

During the show, listen for the "key question" and be the first to email the correct answer to
quikstakescontest@americaswebradio.com to win a $50 gift certificate from our sponsor, Parker Davis Quik Stakes. No purchase is required to receive the gift certificate. Winners limited to once every three months.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Ask Vic!

Our surveying firm has 20 employees. We were recently approached by a civil engineering firm, which has engaged our firm in the past, with a proposal that the two firms form a joint venture to respond to a Request for Proposals from a county agency so that the joint venture can present the resources of both firms to the client. We have never formed a joint venture before. What are some of the issues that we need to consider?

In a joint venture, each party is entirely responsible to the client, and to any third party, for the actions of the other joint venturer. Although a carefully drafted joint venture agreement may set up a framework for the distribution of liability between the joint venturers, that framework cannot insulate a firm from all risks; nothing in a joint venture agreement can limit the separate liability of joint venturers to a third party.

Although there are standard contract forms to establish the legal and practice aspects of joint ventures, many design professionals approach a joint venture on a far too casual basis. In most states, if a contract is signed by more than one entity or by a joint venture representing more than one entity, the firms become jointly and severally responsible under the terms of that contract. They assume the business risks inherent in the contractual agreement and, more importantly, from a professional liability perspective, they assume responsibility for the negligence of the other joint venturers. Whether firms attempt to use language such as “in association with” or “as part of the design team consisting of,” the result in almost every case is the same—responsibility for the other party without any real authority or ability to control the other party’s actions.

From a professional liability insurance perspective, it makes far more sense to provide services through a more traditional arrangement, with a prime design professional and a subconsultant. Forming a joint venture with another design professional or with a non-professional firm can create problems of insurability and liability. In the traditional scenario, the prime signs the contract and is completely responsible for the performance of the duties of the agreement, including those that might be delegated through subconsultant agreements to other design professionals. The subconsultants are only responsible for their own actions. This provides a much clearer understanding of duties and obligations and an articulated distribution of risk.

If a firm does want to proceed with a joint effort, it should consider forming a separate entity for the venture. In many states, a joint effort can be established as a limited liability partnership or corporation. While such a business form does not limit the liability of a participating firm for its own negligence, the firm may be protected from the negligence of the other participating firm or firms. The non-negligent firm’s stake in the limited liability entity is still at risk for the negligence of any participant.

Limited liability companies may provide an excellent form for pursuing design-build projects and other opportunities where a non-professional firm may be involved. Local legal counsel can provide advice on the formation of limited liability entities and other forms of cooperative business ventures.


Do you have a question regarding an insurance or practice management issue? Email your question to AskVic@Schinnerer.com and look for your answer in a future issue of the NSPS News & Views weekly newsletter. Victor O. Schinnerer & Company, Inc., is the underwriting manager for the CNA professional liability program, and has a longstanding relationship with NSPS.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

U.S. House Begins Action on FY14 Appropriations Bills of Interest to Surveyors

NSPS government affairs representative, John M. Palatiello & Associates, Inc., reports the U.S. House of Representatives is beginning work on appropriations bills for the fiscal year that begins on October 1.  To read more about the items listed below click here.

H.R. 2216, the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Act
H.R. 2217, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Appropriations Act
H.R. 2199, the Flood Insurance Implementation Reform Act
S.1057, the Safeguarding Privacy and Fostering Aerospace Innovation Act


A hearing will be held on June 13 in the House Natural Resources Committee on H.R.1399, the Hydrographic Services Improvement Amendments Act of 2013.  The bill reauthorizes the NOAA program to perform hydrographic surveys to reduce the “survey backlog” of 43,000 square nautical miles (SNM) of critical areas.  To date, surveys of more than 28,000 SNM have been completed.

Monday, March 24, 2014

NSPS Radio Hour — TODAY, March 24, 11 a.m. EDT

Jack Owens, Chair of the joint Indiana-Michigan Boundary Line Commission will join host Curt Sumner to discuss a project to resurvey and remonument the state line between the two states. Until recently, this project was being pursued by a group of volunteer surveyors. In December 2013 the Governor of Indiana appointed five (5) members to an official joint Boundary Line Commission, and in February 2014, the Governor of Michigan officially appointed five (5) commission members, initiating the implementation of what heretofore had been a dream of the surveyors in both states.

If you are unable to listen to the show when it is being broadcasted, listen to the archive of the show at http://www.radiosandysprings.com/showpages/ACSM.php. Archives for each show are typically available for listening within a few days after the show airs.

During the show, listen for the "key question" and be the first to email the correct answer to
quikstakescontest@americaswebradio.com to win a $50 gift certificate from our sponsor, Parker Davis Quik Stakes. No purchase is required to receive the gift certificate. Winners limited to once every three months.