American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC) Fall Conference
Leaders of engineering companies met starting on October 18 in Las Vegas at the ACEC conference to discuss business issues and prospects. General Session speakers included former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, an advocate for a bond-funded national infrastructure program. Other prominent speakers included: Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval; John Hofmeister, former president of Shell Oil Company; and Craig Martin, CEO of Jacobs Engineering.
Well received was John Hofmeister, who as an energy insider wrote the book—Why We Hate the Oil Companies. Currently Hofmeister is CEO of Citizens for Affordable Energy and feels that an independent regulatory commission is needed to oversee energy regulation replacing the myriad of federal agencies presently regulating and stymieing the energy sector. Hofmeister sees the need for trillion dollar per year expenditures by the private sector rebuilding the U.S.’s energy infrastructure–creating a safer and more efficient sector as well as 4 million jobs. However, the current regulatory regime prohibits these private sector investments from going forward. Unfortunately neither the national infrastructure program nor the rebuilding of the energy sector is nearing reality—bad news for engineering companies. Hofmeister feels that the past achievements of engineers are substantial and with the right policy, we, engineers, could solve many of the problems that the country is facing today.
A General Session speaker who discussed a need for saving lives in the engineering and construction industries by a renewed emphasis on safety was Craig Martin, CEO of Jacobs Engineering. He also noted that Jacobs is very conscious of ethics laws and requirements both in the U.S and internationally in conducting its business. When discussing changes in the engineering business that we could expect, he foresaw the ending of the federal Brooks Act and the use of Qualifications Based Selection (QBS) leading to the use of price in the selection of providers for engineering services. Needless to say this brought about quite a reaction from the members of ACEC given that a pillar of ACEC’s program is the expanded use of QBS.
Importance of Infrastructure Projects
Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval, Republican, made a favorable expression on the crowd talking about the importance of projects like the Hoover Dam and the O’Callaghan-Tillman Memorial Bridge at Hoover Dam as well other projects of the same size and scale to Nevada and the nation. To me he looks like Vice Presidential candidate material in the 2012 Presidential election.
Technical sessions were held on public private partnership projects in California and Florida that generally involve revenue generation for the private operator, a proposed infrastructure program financed by a 1% sales tax in Georgia, structuring design-build contracts, successfully navigating media relations as well as sessions on services marketing, information technology, human resources and other matters of interest to the business of engineering companies.
Anthony Mumphrey, President, ACEC Louisiana
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