SiteMap Contacts Resources Comments Home
Prof. Practice
Prof. Development
Member Services
Student Members
What's New
Education & Career

Professional Practice

Professional Practice - A Guideline


The Engineering, Geological and Geophysical Professions Act, Regulations and By-Laws (EGGP Act) regulate the professions of engineering, geology and geophysicists in the Province of Alberta. APEGGA is responsible for the administration of the professions under the EGGP Act, and has published several guidelines which deal with various aspects of professional practice. A complete list of current guidelines is provided in Appendix A.

This guideline was created to assist professional members and professional organizations with developing and maintaining appropriate standards of professional practice. The guideline has three primary objectives, as outlined below.

1. To clarify roles and responsibilities. The guideline provides an overview of the primary roles and responsibilities of APEGGA and its members and permit holders. References are provided to relevant APEGGA publications.

2. To address the application of quality management concepts to professional practice. The guideline provides a quality management framework for effective management of a professional organization.

3. To introduce the concept of peer review. Peer review is a process that can be used by an organization to assess its performance and identify areas where improvements could be made. It can be focused on assessing business, technical and/or professional practices, and so is of interest to APEGGA members and permit holders. APEGGA wishes to provide information to members and permit holders about the potential benefits of peer review; there are no plans to make peer review a mandatory process.

This guideline has been created to be used with and complement, rather than replace or supersede, other APEGGA documents. APEGGA expects considerable variances in interpretation and application based on the size, nature, and practice of each professional organization and individual, and the document is presented in that perspective.



1.1 Professional Practice
1.2 The Engineering, Geological and Geophysical Professions Act


2.1 The Role of APEGGA
2.2 The Responsibilities of APEGGA Members and Permit Holders
3.1 Management of a Professional Organization
3.1.1 Purpose
3.1.2 Strategic Planning
3.1.3 Organizational Structure
3.1.4 Facilities, Resources and Equipment
3.1.5 Loss Control and Risk Management
3.1.6 Negotiating and Contracting Policies
3.1.7 Human Resource Management
3.2 Professional Competence
3.2.1 Selection of Staff
3.2.2 Professional Development
3.2.3 Training in Current Codes and Standards
3.2.4 Communication and Teamwork Skills
3.3 Management of Technical Quality
3.3.1 Design Standards
3.3.2 Quality Control Procedures
3.3.3 Use of Computers
3.3.4 Quality During Construction
3.3.5 Communication and Records
3.4 Project Management and Execution
3.4.1 Project Planning
3.4.2 Quality Control Procedures
3.4.3 Project Communications and Records
3.4.4 Cost Estimation and Control
3.4.5 Preparing Tender and Contract Documents
3.4.6 Construction Management and Review
3.4.7 Project Close-Out
3.5 The Professional Practice Management Plan


4.1 Purpose of Peer Review
4.2 Characteristics of Peer Reviews
4.3 Key Elements of a Peer Review
4.4 Summary of Available Programs





1.1 Professional Practice

Alberta's Engineering, Geological and Geophysical Professions Act (the EGGP Act) gives engineers, geologists and geophysicists the privilege of self-governance. The Act empowers APEGGA to regulate the practice of those professions. The privilege of self-governance carries with it the obligation to ensure that members of the professions maintain high standards of professional practice. Accordingly, APEGGA members are expected to conduct themselves in a manner that

a) is in the best interests of the public,

b) is in accord with the code of ethics established for the professions,

c) maintains or improves the standing of the profession generally, and

d) demonstrates knowledge, skill and judgment in the practice of their professions.

Self-governance was granted to professional engineers, geologists and geophysicists because it was deemed to be in the public interest to do so. The driving consideration has always been public safety and welfare.

The Act does not distinguish between practice as a consultant or practice through a company. It applies to all professional practice.

Professional engineers, geologists and geophysicists are accountable for their profession generally, their own professional practice, and for the practice of professionals under their supervision. In addition to preserving ethical standards, professional members and permit holders are responsible for ensuring that they, and those under their supervision or control, have maintained appropriate levels of competency.

Further discussion of the professions and professionalism may be found in the APEGGA publications "Concepts of Professionalism" and "the Practice of the Professions of Geology and Geophysics" which are available from the APEGGA offices in Edmonton and Calgary.

1.2 The Engineering, Geological and Geophysical Professions Act

The engineering, geological and geophysical professions in Alberta are governed by provincial legislation:

• The Engineering, Geological and Geophysical Professions Act, 1985; and

• Alberta Regulation 244/81 and Amendments.

The EGGP Act deals with:

• who may practice the professions

• protection and use of title

• custody and application of member and permit-holder stamp or seal

• structure of the Association

• making Regulations of the Association

• establishing By-Laws of the Association

• mandatory Boards and Committees

• registration of members and permit holders

• the discipline and appeal process

• prohibitions and penalties

The definitions of the practice of engineering, geology and geophysics are set out in Sections 1(m), (n) and (o) of the EGGP Act, 1985, and are included in the glossary.


2.1 The Role of APEGGA

APEGGA is the administering body which governs the practice of the professions of engineering, geology and geophysics in the Province of Alberta.

APEGGA's Council may make regulations and by-laws in accordance with the Act, covering such areas as:

• categories of membership, qualification, etc.

• technical standards for the professions

• establishing a code of ethics

• procedures of discipline committee and practice review board

• registration of permit holders

• use of stamp or seal

• registration of technologists

• enforcement of the Act

• administrative by-laws

The EGGP Act requires APEGGA to establish a Discipline Committee to investigate complaints about the conduct of a member or permit holder. Disciplinary action may be taken for unskilled practice or unprofessional conduct. The Discipline Committee uses the following definitions:

Unskilled practice of the professions is practice by an APEGGA member which is deemed by the member's peers to be below the standards of practice acceptable to the Association either in technical competence, or in the overall performance of the scope of services undertaken.

Unprofessional conduct is conduct by an APEGGA member which is in violation of the Code of Ethics, or which is otherwise inappropriate for professionals, regardless of whether or not the conduct arises within the member's professional practice.

2.2 The Responsibilities of APEGGA Members and Permit Holders

All APEGGA members and permit holders are responsible and accountable for practicing in a professional manner -- ethically, competently and in compliance with the EGGP Act. Permit holders are further obligated to provide an environment which ensures that appropriate standards of professional conduct and technical competency are maintained, and to support professional employees in discharging their legal and ethical duties under the EGGP Act.

The obligation of APEGGA members and permit holders to practice in an ethical manner is defined in the APEGGA Code of Ethics. The Code defines a standard of professional conduct expected of engineers, geologists, geophysicists and permit holders. It consists of a preamble, which provides brief statements of ethical principles, and eleven enforceable Rules of Conduct. The Rules of Conduct deal with the following matters:

• public safety, human welfare and the environment

• competence and knowledge

• signing and sealing documents

• faithful agent and trustee

• conflict of interest

• confidentiality of information

• overruling professional judgment

• securing assignments

• professional advertising

• conduct towards others

• reporting unskilled practice and/or unprofessional conduct

The APEGGA document "Guideline For Ethical Practice V2.0" provides an amplification and interpretation of the Code of Ethics, complete with illustrative case studies.


In the context of professional practice by APEGGA permit holders, quality management is concerned with the following:

• providing conditions conducive to professional practice,

• maintaining a level of technical competency which is commensurate with the professional service being provided,

• providing assurance that work is done competently and with due diligence,

• coordinating the efforts of project teams, and

• ensuring that appropriate and sufficient records are kept.

This section deals with quality management issues which impact the ability of professional organizations to practice professionally and maintain appropriate quality standards. A professional organization should give consideration to these issues in planning for effective professional practice management.

The term "professional organization" is used throughout the following discussion, and means an individual practitioner or permit holder undertaking the practice of engineering, geology or geophysics. Consulting, service and operating companies are included. References to the "client" include clients who may be internal or external to the organization.

While the information in this section addresses the concerns of professional organizations, the principles discussed apply to all members engaged in professional practice.

3.1 Management of a Professional Organization

The management of a professional organization affects the ability of the organization and its staff to meet its professional obligations. Some of the key factors in effective management of a professional organization are discussed below.

3.1.1 Purpose

The Statement of Purpose or Mission Statement of the professional organization defines corporate philosophy and long range objectives, and establishes a sense of responsibility to employees, clients and the public. This statement restricts the scope of practice to areas of competence, and becomes the central focus for future planning.

The statement of purpose must have the support of, and be communicated to, employees at all organizational levels.

3.1.2 Strategic Planning

A professional organization should have a corporate strategy: the pattern of objectives, purposes, goals, and major policies stated so as to define the business of the professional organization, and the kind of professional organization it is or is to be.

Strategic planning provides support for the professional organization, a strategy describing where it plans to be in the future -- targets, goals or objectives, and a plan of how it intends to accomplish its goals.

The formulation of strategy should balance both internal and external factors:

• internally, the strengths and weaknesses of the professional organization, and the personal values of its key personnel, and

• externally, the opportunities in the industrial environment, and the broader societal expectations of the professional organization.

With a strategic plan, overall strategy and purpose impact decision making at all levels and in all functions. The plan must be communicated with clarity so as to influence action throughout the professional organization.

3.1.3 Organizational Structure

A clearly defined organizational structure is essential for effective communication and control.

Authority for operational decisions within the professional organization, and special alternative organizational arrangements established for special projects, should be clearly established.

3.1.4 Facilities, Resources, and Equipment

The professional organization must provide access to the appropriate tools to do the work effectively.

The work environment and technical support available have a direct influence on efficiency and ability to offer quality services. The quality of working conditions, facilities, equipment and technical resources all contribute to the professionalism, competence and trustworthiness of the firm.

The professional organization is responsible for providing ready access to current technical information. Procedures should be implemented to ensure that design codes, regulations, and other reference documents used by professionals are kept up to date.

3.1.5 Loss Control and Risk Management

Loss control is anything done to reduce personnel, material or financial loss. It includes the prevention of exposure to loss, the reduction of loss when loss-producing events occur, and the mitigation or reduction of risk.

Effective loss control requires a quality program which incorporates organizational, operational and public relations considerations. Support for the quality program must be evident in the way the professional organization organizes, selects staff and executes assignments. The professional organization should have an effective loss control program.

Risk management is a proactive approach focusing on losses before they occur, and dealing with factors which can impose injury to personnel or cause a material loss. It addresses the facilities, procedures, practices, and organizational strategies of the professional organization.

Risk management in a professional organization requires the consideration of many factors which may vary from one organization to another. Some of the primary concerns of risk management are:

• assessing the risk factors and potential liabilities associated with decisions, changes in procedures, or new situations not covered by established procedures,

• funding the exposure to risk,

• establishing a risk management program, and

• practicing effective dispute resolution methods.

Risk management, loss control through quality management, and dispute resolution are discussed from a professional practice point of view in the APEGGA guideline "Management of Risk in Professional Practice".

3.1.6 Negotiating and Contracting Policies

The business practices for negotiating and contracting professional services must conform to the standards of conduct required of APEGGA members and permit holders, and must also respect and complement the duties and ethics of other professionals.

The scope of assignment, the fee structure that reflects the services, and the quality of the completed work, must all be established with care.

The process of negotiations and contractual agreements must reflect public protection, satisfy client needs, and act in fairness and good faith towards others.

Consultants should avoid conflict of interest situations and must declare any existence of potential conflict to the affected parties for formal approval before continuing.

The prime consultant is responsible for engaging appropriately qualified sub-consultants to respond to client needs.

The roles between client and consultant should be clearly defined with respect to planning, financing, management and coordination of a project.

3.1.7 Human Resource Management

Professional staff are key contributors to the performance of a professional organization. Human resource management practices should be fair and equitable to encourage high levels of employee motivation and performance.

A professional organization will benefit from having and demonstrating a commitment to the individual professional's career development. Such a commitment fosters employee motivation and morale, and so contributes to performance and productivity.

The primary responsibility for career development lies with the individual professional. Where the professional is employed by a firm which is large enough to allow for substantial advancement or capability development, it will be in the interest of both the firm and the individual to do joint planning for career development. Such plans would consider additional training requirements, new and challenging project assignments and provision of adequate leadership and mentoring.

The advancement of qualified staff to positions of greater responsibility demonstrates commitment to employee career development. Promotion from within should be encouraged, with exceptions made where the needs of the organization in experience, skill or knowledge cannot be met by current staff.

An effective performance management program is also a strong factor in maintaining employee motivation. Such a program should monitor performance against expectations in a fair, equitable and systematic manner. Feedback should be provided on a regular basis. Objective and open discussion of strengths and weaknesses, particularly with respect to technical competence, should be encouraged.

3.2 Professional Competence

A professional organization requires an effective program to ensure continuing competence of its professional staff. Such a program should go beyond technical knowledge and project execution skills; it should recognize and encourage characteristics such as integrity, ethics and reliability that are associated with professional responsibility.

3.2.1 Selection of Staff

Registration is required for all engineers, geologists and geophysicists engaging in the practice of their respective professions. The professional organization must make professional registration a condition of employment for those who will carry out professional assignments on behalf of the firm.

Professional competence should be the primary factor in selection of personnel for professional assignments. In addition, personnel selected for professional assignments should be fully qualified professionals with an established reputation for integrity, reliability and ethical practice.

Both the professional organization and its professional employees should ensure that any concerns about the individual professional's ability to handle an assignment are brought forward and resolved expeditiously. Where appropriate, employees should be encouraged to seek specialized advice from other staff in the professional organization or, if necessary, from outside the organization.

Professionals-in-training should be recruited only for positions in which sufficient supervision and support are available to enable these employees to become qualified professionals.

3.2.2 Professional Development

A professional organization must ensure that each professional staff member maintains technical competence in all areas in which professional services are offered. Staff members should be encouraged to participate in appropriate education and training programs, such as:

• Formal training sessions conducted by the organization or by recognized outside organizations.

• Informal on-the-job training under the guidance of qualified personnel.

• Encouragement of informal information sharing between employees through workshops and networks.

Regardless of the degree of educational support provided by the firm, individual professionals are obligated to maintain their own technical competence in all areas in which they practice as professionals. In addition to informal and formal training programs, professionals should actively participate in appropriate professional and technical societies.

3.2.3 Training in Current Codes and Standards

A professional organization must ensure that all professional staff are trained in the use of current design codes, quality standards, applicable regulations, and other relevant documents and techniques. Individual professionals have a complementary obligation to ensure that they, and those under their supervision, maintain appropriate levels of training and awareness of these codes and standards.

3.2.4 Communication and Teamwork Skills

Well-developed communication skills are key to maintaining effective communications with all stakeholders. Improvement in proficiency should be encouraged by the firm and actively pursued by the individual.

Teamwork among professionals is becoming increasingly important. Well-developed team building and interpersonal skills are important to efficiency and effectiveness. Where appropriate, training in the principles and techniques of working in team situations should be obtained.

3.3 Management of Technical Quality

Effective management of technical quality should be a primary goal of all professional organizations and associations. As a minimum standard, professional organizations should establish practices that ensure the following:

• technical work is carried out competently and in accord with applicable codes and standards,

• appropriate independent checks of concepts, processes and procedures are carried out,

• qualified personnel conduct field reviews of projects during construction, and

• complete design and review files are retained in safekeeping until the liability period expires (currently lifetime for professional members under the Alberta Limitations Act).

3.3.1 Design Standards

A professional organization will frequently find that certain aspects of its professional practice can be handled more effectively if some basic standards and specifications are defined and followed. The organization must ensure that:

• its standards and specifications comply with all applicable codes, regulations and external standards,

• standards are kept current,

• changes to standards are fully evaluated prior to acceptance,

• standards are well-documented and easily accessible,

• the use of the standards is clearly understood, and

• new employees are provided with appropriate training.

3.3.2 Quality Control Procedures

Effective procedures should be in place to ensure that an appropriate standard of technical quality is maintained. In any situation which can impact public protection, the professional organization should provide for independent confirmation of computations, reports, drawings and design specifications, and ensure appropriate documentation of the results. This confirmation may come from within the organization, but it is preferable that there be no direct involvement with the project being checked. Individual practitioners will also, at times, need outside verification of critical work.

The formal quality assurance process may involve:

• confirming concepts, technical calculations, analyses, drawings and report drafts for conformance to the firm's standards and to skilled practice,

• confirming that applicable codes, deed restrictions and jurisdictional constraints have been adhered to, and

• independent review of final deliverables and key intermediate documents, complete with back-checking to make sure that requested corrections have been completed.

Change control procedures should be established to ensure that changes to previously approved documents are fully reviewed for compliance with technical and design standards, and that any impact caused by these changes on other documentation is recognized and taken into account.

3.3.3 Use of Computers

The practices of professionals in engineering, geology and geophysics have become increasingly dependent on computers. Professionals must be mindful of the difficulties that can exist and exercise due diligence.

Computer software development is based upon many assumptions, judgments and interpretations that can lead to subtle limitations in computed results. The professional organization and its professional employees are responsible for verifying that the results obtained from computer software are accurate and acceptable. Where appropriate, new software releases should be verified against a standard and certified for general use.

All computer programs, and especially those generated internally, should be documented thoroughly as to assumptions, methods of operation and limitations. Appropriate file back-up procedures should be implemented. The firm should also ensure that all computer users are appropriately trained and have developed sufficient skill to use the equipment and software effectively.

3.3.4 Quality During Construction

It is important, where possible, that professional organizations and individual professionals continue to be involved in their projects in the construction phase. Change orders and modifications to contracts must be properly documented, distributed and kept current.

Clear lines of responsibility and authority must be established for field personnel. Construction phase communications must conform to contractual obligations and responsibilities.

Procedures should be established for accepting, reviewing, approving and returning shop drawings. Reviews by junior or inexperienced personnel should be monitored by senior professionals.

3.3.5 Communication and Records

Accurate and well-documented records of communications are important to any professional organization. Miscommunication can be costly, and in the worst case, can place lives at risk. The professional organization should establish procedures for handling and documenting communications.

Accurate and complete records should be kept for all projects until the professional liability period expires. These records would include documentation of the methodology used in performing professional work, drawings, design calculations, shop drawings, reports and other communication documents.

3.4 Project Management and Execution

Most activities conducted by a professional organization require some project management. Successful project management involves the establishment of systems which clearly define the organizational structure, lines of communication, project scope and quality management system, combined with provision of appropriate professional expertise. Key components in the management of a project include:

• definition of the assignment or project

• development of work plan, budget and schedules

• organization of the project team

• implementation of the assignment

• project close-out

3.4.1 Project Planning

For each project, a plan should be developed to confirm project objectives and concepts, cost limitations, functional description, site data, code restrictions, time restrictions, project team composition and coordination of technical disciplines.

Each project should establish a project organization which identifies personnel, lines of communication, and lines of authority. Each technical discipline should be led by a professional member with appropriate backup. All team members should clearly understand their roles and responsibilities for the project.

Project work plans should be documented in a form that can be used for tracking project progress and determining the impact of changes. A system should be in place to document and confirm all changes to schedule, cost and project scope.

3.4.2 Quality Control Procedures

Effective project management requires the establishment of quality standards and the processes to be used to ensure compliance. This should include identification of critical stages at which reviews and sign-offs are required and the follow-up to ensure that the reviews are undertaken.

Effective quality assurance and control processes are particularly important in constructed projects. The American Society of Civil Engineers has published a guide entitled "Quality in the Constructed Project" which is an excellent reference document. Chapter 19 deals specifically with quality assurance and quality control considerations.

Some clients may require that their design standards be used. A senior professional should review the proposed design standards and ensure that they conform with good professional practice.

3.4.3 Project Communications and Records

The project plan should emphasize the importance of accurate and well-documented communication. Regular meetings should be held. Procedures should be developed for recording all communications, including identifying when verbal communications will be confirmed in writing.

A document control and file management system should be in place to ensure that documentation is kept up to date, and to facilitate retrieval of project information. Procedures should ensure that only current documents, drawing and specifications are being used or issued. A policy should be in place which sets out file backup and archival requirements.

3.4.4 Cost Estimation and Control

The project plan should identify a target cost or budget. The ability to estimate and track costs is essential to effective project management. Procedures for preparing cost estimates and tracking expenditure commitments should be established.

3.4.5 Preparing Tender and Contract Documents

Standard policies and procedures should be established for preparing tender and contract documents.

A system for control of tender documents and handling addenda during tendering should be included. Project management staff should be trained in presiding at tender openings, evaluating tenders and recommending contract awards.

Standard company contract forms and general conditions of contract should be subject to professional and legal reviews on a regular basis. Personnel should understand the organization's role and responsibilities within the context of these documents.

3.4.6 Construction Management and Review

Professional organizations involved in project management are encouraged to include construction observation in their scope of work. The objective is to ensure effective communication of the design to the construction contractor.

Communication procedures should be established for the construction period. Systems should be in place for handling change requests, change orders, progress payment processing, shop drawing reviews and other documentation.

Project managers should review field reports promptly and follow-up as required. Field personnel should be given clear lines of responsibility, authority and reporting expectations.

Disputes should be acted on immediately. Dispute resolution is discussed in the APEGGA guideline "Management of Risk in Professional Practice".

3.4.7 Project Close-Out

Complete documentation of original design, change orders, project history and as-builts are essential. Standard policies and procedures should therefore be established for closing out projects. These procedures should include archiving requirements, close-out communications, sign-off requirements and final project evaluation.

3.5 The Professional Practice Management Plan

Development and implementation of a Professional Practice Management Plan (PPMP), is an effective way to address quality management issues. A PPMP is a written description of corporate policies, procedures and systems used to ensure that appropriate standards of Professional Practice are maintained. As a minimum, a PPMP would address the following:

• Ethical Standards - ensuring that the professional practice of the organization is carried out in accordance with the Code of Ethics

• Professional Responsibility - ensuring that the work is carried out by appropriately qualified professionals. This would include items such as establishing clear lines of professional responsibility, assignment of appropriately skilled staff and continuing competence of professionals.

• Quality Assurance - ensuring that appropriate technical standards are maintained. This would include items appropriate and applicable to the specific professional practice of the organization. Items which might be addressed include definition of project scope and objectives, conceptual review of designs, use of codes and standards, checking of designs, calculations, drawings and reports, management of design changes, and field and shop reviews during construction.

• Records Management and Document Control - ensuring that appropriate and sufficient records are kept and available.

• Communication and Control - Policies that ensure that the PPMP is understood and followed throughout the organization.

A PPMP would vary considerably in complexity, degree of detail and specific content depending on the size and nature of the professional organization. Consulting and operating companies will have very different needs. The PPMP would address the specific needs of the organization, and would be as simple or complex as the individual organization requires.

A PPMP need not duplicate existing documentation. Supporting and/or more detailed documentation may be incorporated by reference, and need not be rewritten or summarized for inclusion in the PPMP.


4.1 Purpose of Peer Review

Peer review is a technique used by organizations and individuals to assess performance and identify potential improvements. In the context of this guideline, peer review is an important technique that can be used to improve standards of professional practice within professional organizations. APEGGA does not plan to make peer review a mandatory process.

4.2 Characteristics of Peer Reviews

The peer review process is best defined by the following outline of distinguishing characteristics:

• A peer review is conducted by peers. A peer is generally defined as a person, or group with a similar level of technical or managerial expertise to that of the party being reviewed.

• Peers are independent of the subject of the review.

• A peer review is a special effort, not a routine process.

• A peer review has a specified purpose, scope, format, and duration.

• Peer review includes a commissioning, a beginning, a report, an end, and decommissioning.

• A peer review is paid for by the commissioning authority who benefits from the review.

• A peer review addresses the organization as opposed to the individuals making up the organization.

• A peer review is intended to produce results.

Peer review can be conducted as an internal procedure utilizing staff from other parts of the corporation. Beyond these internal reviews, however, occasional external reviews are encouraged.

4.3 Key Elements of a Peer Review

The following is a summary of the key elements of a peer review that are relevant to professional organizations in reviewing professional practice.


a) Commissioning Authority -

The commissioning authority for the peer review will normally be the professional organization wishing to be reviewed.



b) Breadth of Practice Reviewed -

Professional organizations are encouraged to conduct peer reviews on the portions of the organization involved in professional practice. Peer review can also be extended to cover other aspects of the organization's business.



c) Standards for Comparison -

The APEGGA Code of Ethics , the guidelines outlined in this and other APEGGA guidelines, and other well-recognized industry standards are intended to represent the standards for comparison.



d) Selection and Qualifications of Peer Review Team -

Selection of the peer review team is normally the responsibility of the subject professional organization. Peer reviewers should be trained and registered, where appropriate, with the peer review program that they are working under. It is preferable that peer reviewers be APEGGA members, and familiar with requirements of the professions in Alberta. If reviewers come from other jurisdictions, they should be qualified professional engineers, geologists or geophysicists.



e) Extent of Organization To Be Reviewed -

Many professional organizations have several offices. The peer review should achieve broad coverage. If all offices cannot be reviewed, a sampling of each type and size of office should be included in the review in order for the organization to appreciate the unique problems associated with each.



f) Reports and Records -

The findings should be reported in confidence to the commissioning authority, and a record maintained for future follow up. Some existing programs are based on the provision of a verbal report by the reviewers therefore a record of the report may be a responsibility of the commissioning authority.



g) Follow up Action -

The success of the peer review is entirely dependent on the follow up action taken by the subject professional organization. The first step should be a prioritization of issues requiring follow-up and the development of a plan to address them. Action plans should be communicated to staff as appropriate.



h) Frequency of Review -

Reviews should be undertaken at intervals appropriate to the organization, preferably not exceeding five years. This will allow the organization some measure of the success of its follow up action from previous reviews, and will maintain an awareness of areas where improvements can be achieved.


4.4 Summary of Available Programs

The following is a summary and description of available peer review programs. Appendix B includes contact addresses and phone numbers for each of these programs.

4.4.1 Professional Associations

a) Association of Consulting Engineers of Canada

The ACEC has established a Peer Review Program which is recommended for use on a voluntary basis by its members. The program involves an in-depth review of a consulting firm's company objectives, policies and procedures and then examines its compliance with these policies and procedures. The Association does not have any other direct involvement in the process. The Program is an extension of the American Consulting Engineers Council Program.

b) American Consulting Engineers Council

The Council established a Peer Review Program in the mid 1980's. The program is completely voluntary. The areas covered by the program include:

• Overall Management

• Development and Maintenance of Technical Competence

• Project Management and Execution

• Human Resources Management

• Financial Management

• Business Development

The program is documented in a detailed manual entitled "Peer Review Practices and Procedures of Design Firms". The program has rapidly expanded in use by the Council and its member firms as well as affiliated professional engineering organizations in the United States. There are currently several hundred trained reviewers in the U.S.

c) The American Society of Foundation Engineers

The American Society of Foundation Engineers, the Association of Engineering Firms Practicing in the Geosciences, has developed a peer review program with the stated purpose of improving quality of practice and service to the profession. It is a voluntary program, and covers the following areas:

• Business Management

• Facilities and Technical Resources

• Human Resources Management

• Professional Development

• Project Management

• Financial Management

• Marketing Practices

d) American Society of Civil Engineers

The ASCE has developed a Peer Review Program for Public Agencies. The objective of the program is to help public sector engineering and/or construction agencies improve the management and quality of their services and thus better protect the public. Administration of the program is similar to the ACEC and ASFE programs. The program covers the following areas:

• Organizational Management

• Project Management

• Emergency Management Procedures

• Technical Practice and Procedures

• Human Resource Management

• Financial Management

• Public Relations Practices

4.4.2 Standards Associations

There are many standards associations which have established effective quality management programs, as opposed to true peer review programs. Some of the programs available outside of the U.S. are summarized below.

a) British Standards Institute

The British Standards Institute has a third party certification program for Quality Assurance Systems. This certification can be applied for by engineering organizations such as consulting engineering firms, manufacturers, etc. Many clients in the U.K. require that firms contracting services to them have this certification.

b) Canadian Standards Association

The CSA sets out audit and quality assurance standards for evaluating engineering systems in the context of a peer review program.

The Quality Management Institute is a not-for-profit division of CSA that undertakes certified quality management audits for companies on request and provides training in auditing quality systems. QMI carries out the audits in accordance with the requirements of CSA Standard Q395.

CSA Quality Assurance Standards have been directed towards product manufacturing organizations as opposed to engineering design organizations. Emphasis is placed on technical competence and very little attention is given to the business practices of the organization.

c) International Standards Organization

ISO Standard 9000 sets out standards for quality assurance under a multi-level system. It is very similar in scope to CSA Quality Assurance Standards and is widely used as a basis for quality management certification.



A member of APEGGA is an individual who holds a certificate of registration and is authorized to engage in the practice of engineering, geology or geophysics under the EGGP Act.

Permit holder

A permit holder is a partnership or other association of persons or a corporation that holds a permit to engage in the practice of engineering, geology or geophysics under the EGGP Act.

Practice of Engineering

In the EGGP Act "practice of engineering" means

(i) reporting on, advising on, evaluating, designing, preparing plans and specifications for, or directing the construction, technical inspection, maintenance or operation of any structure, work or process

(A) that is aimed at the discovery, development or utilization of matter, materials or energy or in any way designed for the use and convenience of man, and

(B) that requires in the reporting, advising, evaluating, designing, preparation or direction the professional application of the principles of mathematics, chemistry, physics or any related applied subject, or

(ii) teaching engineering at a university

Practice of Geology

In the EGGP Act "practice of geology" means

(i) reporting, advising, evaluating, interpreting, geological surveying, sampling or examining related to any activity

(A) that is aimed at the discovery or development of oil, natural gas, coal, metallic or non-metallic minerals, precious stones, other natural resources or water or that is aimed at the investigation of geological conditions, and

(B) that requires in that reporting, advising, evaluating, interpreting, geological surveying, sampling or examining, the professional application of the principles of the geological sciences, or

(ii) teaching geology at a university

Practice of Geophysics

In the EGGP Act "practice of geophysics" means

(i) reporting on, advising on, acquiring, processing, evaluating or interpreting geophysical data, or geophysical surveying that relates to any activity

(A) that is aimed at the discovery or development of oil, natural gas, coal, metallic or non-metallic minerals or precious stones or other natural resources or water or that is aimed at the investigation of subsurface conditions in the earth, and

(B) that requires in that reporting, advising, evaluating, interpreting, or geophysical surveying, the professional application of the principles of the geophysical sciences, or

(ii) teaching geophysics at a university


A profession is a learned calling characterized by specialized skills, distinctive functions and a high degree of responsibility inherent in its practice. It requires the application of mature seasoned judgment to situations where many alternative actions are possible and where many persons can be significantly affected by the ultimate decisions taken.

Professional Organization

As used in this document the term "professional organization" means an individual practitioner or permit holder undertaking the practice of engineering, geology and/or geophysics as set forth in the EGGP act. Consulting, service and operating companies are included.

Responsible Member

A responsible member under the permit to practice is a professional member or licensee of APEGGA, and a full-time employee or member of the permit holder's organization, who accepts responsibility for ensuring that appropriate standards of professional practice are maintained within the organization.

Unskilled Practice

Unskilled practice of the professions is practice by an APEGGA member which is deemed by the member's peers to be below the standards of practice acceptable to the Association either in technical competence, or in the overall performance of the scope of services undertaken.

Unprofessional Conduct

Unprofessional conduct is conduct by an APEGGA member which is in violation of the Code of Ethics, or which is otherwise inappropriate for professionals, regardless of whether or not the conduct arises within the member's professional practice.

Appendix A

APEGGA Publications

Appendix B


Certain organizations which conduct peer review programs are identified in section 4.4. Contact addresses for these organizations follow.

Association of Consulting Engineers of Canada
130 Albert St., Suite 616
Ottawa, Ontario Canada
K1P 5G4

American Consulting Engineers Council
1015 15 Street N.W.
Washington D.C. U.S.A.

American Society of Foundation Engineers;
The Association of Engineering Firms Practicing in the Geosciences
8811 Colesville Road, Suite G106
Silver Springs, Maryland U.S.A.

American Society of Civil Engineers
345 East 47 Stree
New York, New York U.S.A.
10017 - 23982


Related Topics
  • Registration
  • Permit to Practice
  • Professional Practice
  • Professional Development
  • Branches
  • Committees
  • Member Services
  • Membership Register
  • Awards

    Copyright 2004 The Association of Professional
    Engineers, Geologists and Geophysicists of Alberta.
    All rights reserved

    APEGGA HEAD Office
    1500 Scotia One
    10060 Jasper Ave. NW
    Edmonton AB T5J 4A2
    Tel: 780.426.3990    1.800.661.7020 (within North America)
    Fax: 780.426.1877
    E-mail: email@apegga.org

    Calgary Office
    2200 Scotia Centre
    700 2nd Street SW
    Calgary, AB T2P 2W1
    Tel: 403.262.7714
    Fax: 403.269.2787