Memorandum in Support – An Act respecting oversight of professional engineers and architects by the NYC Department of Buildings

Re: S4328/A4363 (Senator Lanza/Assemblyman Cusick)
An Act respecting oversight of professional engineers and architects by the NYC Department of Buildings

The following is a support memorandum submitted by NYSSPE to the Senate Committee on Cities regarding the above listed legislation.

The New York State Society of Professional Engineers (NYSSPE) submits this memorandum in SUPPORT of S4328/A4363. NYSSPE is a professional trade association representing the interests of all professional engineers (totaling more than 25,000 licensees in New York State) practicing in all disciplines (civil, structural, mechanical, electrical, geological, environmental, etc.) and practicing in all practice settings (private sector consulting, industry, government, and education.)

NYSSPE fully supports the repeal of Chapter 542 of the Laws of 2007 which will ensure that professional engineers and licensed architects are subject to uniform professional oversight by the New York State Education Department (SED). The State Education Department is charged with the duty to investigate all cases of alleged professional misconduct and prosecute cases where the evidence supports a finding of professional misconduct. There is no compelling reason to fragment the prosecution of these cases in any region of the state. This is precisely what happened with the adoption of Chapter 542 in 2007. S4328/A4363 will effectuate the repeal of this ill-advised 2007 law.

The prosecution of professional misconduct at the municipal level is inefficient and ineffectual. If a licensee is prohibited from filing plans with the NYC Department of Buildings based on a local prosecution, he or she would still be free to practice before other agencies and in other localities in New York State thereby posing a risk to public health, safety and welfare. The design professions, like other professions regulated pursuit to Title VIII of the State Education Law, employ advisory boards of licensees from around the state who have professional expertise. Board members play a key role in both the investigation and prosecution of professional misconduct cases by SED. The other learned professions in New York, such as medicine, are not subject to oversight at the local governmental level. There is no sound reason to treat the design professions of professional engineering and architecture dissimilarly.

While we clearly are in support of this legislation for the reasons cited above, we recommend that consideration be given to deleting Section 3 of the bill which would repeal section 28-104.6.1 of the NYC Administrative Code. This Section of the Code simply requires NYC Department of Building officials to verify that parties representing themselves as professional engineers or architects are in fact so credentialed. This is easily accomplished via a check of SED’s licensee data base available on its website.

For all the foregoing reason we urge favorable consideration of this measure.

Respectfully submitted,

Mark C. Kriss, Esq.
NYSSPE Legislative and Legal Counsel

Anthony Fasano, P.E.
NYSSPE Executive Director

Note: NYSSPE facilitates posting on this blog, but the views and accounts expressed herein are those of the author(s) and not the views or accounts of NYSSPE, its officers or directors whose views and accounts may or may not be similar or identical. NYSSPE, its officers and directors do not express any opinion regarding any product or service by virtue of reference to such product or service in this blog.


  1. This bill would repeal certain sections of law to ensure that New York
    State licensed architects practicing in New York City are not subject
    to a disciplinary process that differs from the process utilized by
    the State Education Department for all licensed architects in the
    state (including those practicing in New York City).

    The New York City Administrative Code Section 28-211.1.2 permits the
    New York City Department of Buildings to conduct an administrative
    hearing to determine whether an architect “knowingly or negligently”
    made a false statement. If an architect is found by the Department of
    Buildings to have “knowingly or negligently” made a false statement,
    the Department of Buildings may refuse to accept any documents from
    the architect, thereby restricting the architect’s ability to practice
    in New York City. The process utilized by the Department of Buildings
    eliminates the procedural rights that licensed professionals,
    including licensed architects, have under the Education Law, which
    include a review of the allegations by a member of the licensed
    profession. The oath hearing set forth in New York City Administrative
    Code Section 28-211.1.2 does not provide for peer review, and allows
    the Commissioner of the New York City Department of Buildings sole
    discretion to determine whether an architect should be prevented from
    practicing within a certain jurisdiction of the State of New York (New
    York City), with inadequate means of appeal.

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