Orange County Branch Newsletter

October 2008

Secretary's Column

Ethics

By Ziad Y. Mazboudi, PE


I recently had to attend at work a workshop on Ethics in the workplace, as mandated by Assembly Bill AB1234. Some of the issues covered seemed to me that they were just common sense, but the attorney giving the workshop said that it’s surprising how many people commit actions that are not ethical, sometimes without knowing it.  Some of these actions could cause one to end up in jail.  In general, the training included some principles for public employees that they should abide by.  Some of these principles include: trustworthiness, respect, fairness, responsibility and avoiding the appearance of impropriety.  Among the core topics issues were laws relating to personal financial gain by public servants, bribery, conflict of interest.  The training was great, and I felt even better since I realized that I abide by all the given guidelines.  I always said, that if something doesn’t look right, then it’s better not to do it.  I receive a lot of invitations for luncheons, from consultants, to discuss work related issues.  I accept only if I pay for my meal.  I do not accept gifts from any consultant.  I have had many opportunities for additional employment, but have always refused, as I felt that this would conflict with my employment and that it could interfere with my committed services to my current employer.  Following the workshop, I wondered what is ASCE’s code of ethics for civil engineers at large, working for a private company or public agency.  Well, ASCE sets the bar high as well and covers similar topics.  

ASCE Code of Ethics
Fundamental Principles

Engineers uphold and advance the integrity, honor and dignity of the engineering profession by:

  1. using their knowledge and skill for the enhancement of human welfare and the environment;
  2. being honest and impartial and serving with fidelity the public, their employers and clients;
  3. striving to increase the competence and prestige of the engineering profession; and
  4. supporting the professional and technical societies of their disciplines.

Fundamental Canons

  1. Engineers shall hold paramount the safety, health and welfare of the public and shall strive to comply with the principles of sustainable development in the performance of their professional duties.
  2. Engineers shall perform services only in areas of their competence.
  3. Engineers shall issue public statements only in an objective and truthful manner.
  4. Engineers shall act in professional matters for each employer or client as faithful agents or trustees, and shall avoid conflicts of interest.
  5. Engineers shall build their professional reputation on the merit of their services and shall not compete unfairly with others.
  6. Engineers shall act in such a manner as to uphold and enhance the honor, integrity, and dignity of the engineering profession and shall act with zero-tolerance for bribery, fraud, and corruption.
  7. Engineers shall continue their professional development throughout their careers, and shall provide opportunities for the professional development of those engineers under their supervision.

As I was reading this information on ASCE’s website, at http://www.asce.org , I found a very interesting document, titled: “Ethics Standards of professional Conduct for Civil Engineers”.  You can find this document at:  http://www.asce.org/pdf/ethics_manual.pdf

The document was great reading, and it covers almost the same topics as my workshop.  I felt proud of being an ASCE member and to the high ethical standards that we set and abide by.  One of the interesting section in the document covered ethical decision making guidelines, that I would like to share with all the members.

“In making decisions, all ASCE members are encouraged to use the following guidelines (PLUS):

Policies: Is it consistent with your Employer’s policies, procedures, and guidelines and ASCE’s Code of Ethics?

Legal: Is it acceptable under applicable laws and regulations?

Universal: Does it conform to the universal principles/values that your Employer and the profession have adopted?

Self: Does it satisfy your own personal definition of right, good, and fair?

If you are still unsure about whether or not to act, consult the leadership of your organization for guidance, as well as the ASCE Committee on Professional Conduct.

The preceding policies are intended to re-emphasize the commitment that ASCE and all of its members have toward integrity and ethical business conduct. The Standards of Professional Conduct simply documents the good judgment and honesty with which ASCE members have always conducted their daily business.”

This is my last article as secretary, and the last newsletter that I have to put together.  I hope you enjoyed the newsletter for the past year of my term, and that you have enjoyed my articles.  I hope to serve you well as treasurer as I believe I have as secretary.  Please support our branch by providing articles, photos, letters to the editor and by attending our luncheons and the various events that are provided by our committees.  Thank you for your support.

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