There has been some confusion over the difference between the Florida Board of Professional Engineers and the Florida Engineers Management Corporation.
To put it simply:
- FBPE is a regulatory board, overseeing the engineering profession in Florida.
- FEMC is a not-for-profit, public-private corporation that provides administrative, investigative, and prosecutorial services to the Board.
“We were recently made aware of this confusion about FBPE and FEMC,” said Zana Raybon, FBPE executive director and FEMC president. “We want people to understand — especially the engineers who benefit from this arrangement — what a tremendous asset it is having the Board supported by an administrative staff that serves a single profession.”
The Board was originally created as the state’s Board of Engineering Examiners by the Florida Legislature in 1917. By 1980, Chapter 471, Florida Statutes, officially recognized the Board as the Florida Board of Professional Engineers, administered by the Department of Professional Regulation (now the Department of Business and Professional Regulation).
Under Chapter 471, the Board carries out the Legislature’s charge that it is “in the interest of public health and safety to regulate the practice of engineering in this state” by licensing both individual Professional Engineers and companies doing engineering work in Florida.
In 1997, the Legislature created the Florida Engineers Management Corporation to take over the duties of administering FBPE that were previously handled by DBPR. The Legislature determined “that the privatization of certain functions that are performed by the department for the Board will encourage greater operational and economic efficiency and, therefore, will benefit regulated persons and the public.”
The Florida Engineering Society was instrumental in the effort to create FEMC.
In an editorial in the October 1999 issue of FES Journal, FES Executive Director Paul A. Ledford explained what led to the creation of FEMC:
“The Professional Engineers of Florida did not perceive that they were receiving adequate service from DBPR. DBPR was viewed as an unresponsive bureaucracy, incapable of adapting to the regulatory needs of the engineering profession. Phone calls to FBPE went unanswered or callers were sent through a voicemail maze, complaints were uninvestigated, cases determined to have merit by an FBPE Probable Cause Panel were dropped by DBPR attorneys without explanation, and FBPE was ‘assessed’ huge ‘administrative charges’ by DBPR for these services. One of the most frustrating aspects of the problem hinged on the fact that the DBPR Trust Fund contained ‘earmarked’ engineering license fees and disciplinary fines to the tune of $5 million dollars. FBPE was clearly generating enough revenue to get the job done, but lack of understanding of the regulatory needs of the engineering profession and unwillingness of DBPR to request adequate funding rendered FBPE less effective than it could have and should have been. Ultimately, the health and safety of the citizens of Florida are compromised in a scenario like the one just described.”
In 1998, FEMC began supporting Florida’s more than 25,000 licensed Professional Engineers under a $2.1-million annual contract with the Board and DBPR. Today, FEMC supports over 43,500 PEs, a 74-percent increase in 20 years — with no increase in its annual budget. The Corporation handles the third-highest number of engineering licensure applicants in the nation, behind only California and Texas.
On average, FEMC returns more revenue to the state than it costs to operate. From Fiscal Years 2013-14 through 2016-17, FEMC collected on behalf of FBPE over $11.9 million from licensure fees and fines, which was then paid to the state. During this same period, FEMC’s budget totaled under $8.3 million.
FEMC is overseen by a corporate board of directors, which serves on a voluntary basis. The seven Directors include two public members, not regulated by FBPE, appointed by the secretary of the Department of Business and Professional Regulation, and five licensed Professional Engineers appointed by FBPE. Statutes subject FEMC to Florida public records laws, which require it to operate in the sunshine like state agencies.
The Corporation’s staff focuses on the engineering profession and responds promptly to inquiries from engineers, engineering firms, and the public. As a result of that singular focus, the 16-member staff can react nimbly, responsively, and creatively to changes in the profession. For example, it has a 98-percent online licensure renewal rate, the highest of any regulated profession in Florida.
In Fiscal Year 2016-17, FEMC administered 3,609 applications for PE licensure, a 140-percent increase since 1999. It also administered 459 initial Certificates of Authorization to firms providing engineering services in Florida, a 40-percent increase since 1999.
During that same fiscal year, FEMC investigated 121 complaints involving the practice of engineering, which resulted in 29 prosecutions by FBPE. Results of the prosecutions included seven reprimands, four licensure suspensions, four probations, and administrative fines totaling $23,000.
FEMC also audits Professional Engineers to ensure they are completing the required 18 hours of continuing education every two-year licensure period. This year, FEMC audited 1,000 PEs and found that around 10 percent could not provide adequate documentation that they had completed their CE requirements despite attesting to the fact during licensure renewal. Final disposition of these cases is pending.
Ms. Raybon said, “FEMC supports the Board’s responsibility of ensuring the competency of engineers in Florida — through licensure, disciplinary actions, and continuing education — for the health and safety of the people of Florida.”
FEMC Annual Budget
FEMC’s $2.17 million budget has not increased in the 20 years since it was created in 1998. Historically, FEMC has returned funds to the state at the end of most fiscal years.
Funds Collected vs. Annual Budgets, Fiscal Years 2013-2017
FEMC collected on behalf of FBPE and paid to the state over $11.9 million from licensure fees and fines during the past four fiscal years, while its budget totaled under $8.3 million during that period, a 35.6-percent difference.
FEMC currently supports over 43,500 licensed Professional Engineers, a 74-percent increase over the 25,000 PEs licensed in Florida in 1998, with no increase in its budget.
PE Licenses Administered
FEMC administered 3,609 applications for PE licensure in Fiscal Year 2016-2017, a 140-percent increase over the 1,499 approved in 1999.
Certificates of Authorizations Administered
FEMC administered 459 initial Certificates of Authorization to firms providing engineering services in FY2016-2017, a 40-percent increase over the 329 business licenses issued in 1999.
Engineering Licensure Applicants: National Top 5
FEMC supports over 43,500 licensed Professional Engineers, the third-highest number of engineering licensure applicants in the nation behind only California and Texas.
Investigations in FY2016-17
FEMC investigated 121 complaints in FY2016-2017 involving the practice of engineering, which resulted in 29 prosecutions.