BY ZANA RAYBON, FBPE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR & FEMC PRESIDENT
The Florida Engineers Management Corporation is celebrating 25 years this month. On July 1, 1998, FEMC took over as the administrative staff for the Florida Board of Professional Engineers.
The Legislature passed the bill creating the Florida Engineers Management Corporation during its 1997 session. Gov. Lawton Chiles allowed the bill to become law without his signature. The law privatized administrative functions that were previously handled by the Department of Business and Professional Regulation. It took a year before FEMC was ready to assume its role.
According to a 1998 article in Engineering News-Record, the genesis of FEMC’s creation goes back even farther. Following Hurricane Andrew in 1992, DBPR received around 4,500 complaints related to contracting that, a department spokesman said, “brought us almost to gridlock.”
The article continues: “That didn’t go over well with engineers or the public.”
Calls to the Board were going unanswered, complaints against Professional Engineers went uninvestigated, cases determined to have merit by a Probable Cause Panel were dropped without explanation by DBPR attorneys, and the Board was being assessed “huge ‘administrative charges’ by the department for these services,” explained Paul A. Ledford, executive director of the Florida Engineering Society, in an October 1999 column for Florida Engineering Journal magazine.
Another article in that issue of Florida Engineering Journal says that in its first year, FEMC handled over 25,000 PE license renewals and 4,000 new applications.
A legislative review of FEMC’s first year found that it processed over two-and-a-half times as many complaints than before its creation (227 vs. 82), with over four times as many complaints being processed in a timely fashion (40 vs. 9).
Today, FEMC continues providing exceptional support for Florida’s Professional Engineers and public.
FEMC processed over 37,000 PE license renewals during the 2022-23 period. In Fiscal Year 2021-22, FEMC handled 3,800 new licensure applications and 213 complaints, of which 137 were found legally sufficient for investigation.
FEMC has accomplished all of this with the same annual budget it started with 25 years ago, despite inflation and other economic factors.
It’s 12 employees focus strictly on the engineering profession and can respond quickly to inquiries from PEs and the public. Whereas, when the Board was still incorporated into DBPR’s structure, its staff served multiple professions.
“Private organizations can constructively ‘tailor’ their services to a specific profession in ways that may not be practical for DBPR,” the 1999 legislative review said. “It can be concluded that services provided by a private body, dedicated solely to serving a single profession, can deliver services better, in the sense that the services can be tailored to the needs and priorities of that single profession.”
The ENR article ends: “There’s one other sign of progress. When callers dial the engineering board now, they no longer hear a recording. ‘Now you get a live person on the phone,’ says Ledford.”
That’s still the case today. Not only do we answer calls, but emails as well.
Here’s to another 25 years.