BY WILLIAM BRACKEN, PE, SI, CFM
The Florida Administrative Code 61G15 contains two separate provisions which require licensees to retain records. The first provision is 61G15-22.008, the retention of continuing education documentation, and 61G15-30.009, the retention of engineering documents.
The first of these provisions is found in Chapter 61G15-22, titled License Renewal, Continuing Education. This provision reads as follows:
61G15-22.008 Record Keeping. It is the licensee’s responsibility to maintain sufficient records to demonstrate completion of qualifying professional development hours for at least two licensure cycles (four years).
As stated within 61G15-22.008, this provision requires each licensee to keep sufficient records to demonstrate that the minimum number of professional development hours have been completed. These records are to be kept for no less than two renewal cycles or four years from the close of the renewal cycle that they were earned in. So some records may actually need to be kept for up to six years for those professional development hours that were earned close to the beginning of the renewal cycle.
The second of these provisions is found in Chapter 61G15-30, titled Responsibility Rules Common To All Engineers. This provision reads as follows:
61G15-30.009 Retention of Engineering Documents. At least one copy of all documents displaying the licensee’s signature, seal, date and all related calculations shall be retained by the licensee or the licensee’s employer for a minimum of three years from the date the documents were sealed. These documents shall be maintained in hardcopy or electronic format.
As stated within 61G15-30.009, this provision requires each licensee keeps at least one copy of all documents displaying the licensee’s signature, seal, and date. These records are to be kept for no less than three years from the date the documents were sealed. This provision also allows the licensee to maintain these documents in hard copy or in electronic format.
The intent of this portion of the provision is for the licensee to maintain a legitimate or negotiable copy of what was originally signed, sealed and dated. Therefore, if the document was originally issued in hard copy and stamped with an inking seal, an original hard copy bearing an inked seal or an electronically scanned copy of the original must be maintained; and if the document was originally issued electronically with an electronic or digital seal, then a legitimate or negotiable electronically or digitally sealed copy must be maintained. If however the document was originally issued in hard copy and embossed, an original embossed hard copy does not necessarily need to be maintained. While an additional embossed copy can be maintained an acceptable alternative would be to graphite over the embossing on the original and then copy or scan it before it goes out.
This provision also requires that each licensee or their employer retain all calculations relating to the signed, sealed, and dated documents for no less than three years from the date the documents were sealed. This provision also allows the licensee to maintain these documents in hard copy or in electronic format.
Finally, if an engineer leaves his or her employer and the project remains with the employer then it is the responsibility of the employer to maintain this information. If however the engineer leaves with the project then it becomes the responsibility of the engineer to maintain this information. As for documentation relating to professional development hours, this is the sole responsibility of the licensee regardless of employment.
One final word of caution, with the ever increasing push toward paperless files, computer back-ups and offsite storage is highly recommended. The loss of stored information resulting from the loss of a computer does not alleviate the licensee from his or her obligation to comply with the requirements discussed above.
William C. Bracken, PE, SI, CFM, is a licensed Professional Engineer and Special Inspector in Florida, and is the president and principal engineer for Bracken Engineering, located in Tampa. Mr. Bracken has served on the FBPE Board since 2012 and served as Board chair for the years 2015 and 2016. He also served as the FBPE’s vice chair for the years 2013 and 2014.