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Ethics and the Standards Uprising Moderator: Ken Gold, RPLS 1.

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Presentation on theme: "Ethics and the Standards Uprising Moderator: Ken Gold, RPLS 1."— Presentation transcript:

1 Ethics and the Standards Uprising Moderator: Ken Gold, RPLS 1

2 Abstract: In the late 1940’s through the 1970’s, Texas, generally, and the nation as a whole, saw a professional conscience stirring among surveying practitioners. That stirring focused on unethical to sometimes criminal conduct by persons holding themselves out to be land surveyors. Registration had not been enough. Everything from simply incompetent to grossly fraudulent, so called “practice” endangered the public’s valued holdings. There were no uniform standards. Little to no investigative force. Little to nothing by which competence could be measured. Often closure alone was the criteria. The Texas profession, at first hesitant to act, decided to identify proper surveying procedures and create plateaus of practice from which its land surveyors shall not deviate. This presentation is a summary of how we got here. And why Ethics played a big role! 2

3 3 Except for LSLS’s and PE’s, before, during and just after WWII, virtually anyone with a transit (or compass) and tape could be a “surveyor.” To differentiate the competent from the incompetent was difficult. And often too late.

4 4 This is the story of how the Texas Surveyors Association, urged by conscientious members, came to forge ahead and develop a series of voluntary professional standards, training aides and the basis for TBPLS mandatory minimum standards... It is the story of our Manual of Practice.

5 Dedicated practitioners debated on how to correct unprofessional situations. Business challenges such as; Unfair competition, Incompetent practitioners, Incomplete to Illegal surveys, Part-timers with borrowed equipment, Honest, but unskilled practitioners and... Those that didn’t know... they didn’t know. Not just a Texas Problem! 5

6 Surveyor Registration Long process... hard work Problems lingered Many Registrants contributed Grandfathering: Honest recommendations Few regulations... One part in.... Practices varied across state Surveyors complained Public complained! Similar National concerns! HISTORIC UPDATE 6

7 7 All across the USA, Survey Quality Complaints: Closures unattained Butcher-paper plats Unadjusted instruments Mended and kinked chains Untrained employees New equipment miss-used Registration qualifications varied

8 8 Storms on the Horizon! Voices of displeasure!

9 At the National level it was nearing the roar of a student uprising! SO! Time to address the issues! 9

10 The National Scene: American Congress on Surveying and Mapping Conscience of Nation’s surveyors ACSM founded 1941 Adopted Technical Standards for Property Surveys, Texas Section ACSM, early 1950’s Quality concerns permeated Title Insurance Co’s. Ethical challenges demanded solutions. 10

11 First ALTA Standards, 1962 Title Company enthusiasm onboard. A major factor in surveyor’s future! ACSM and American Title Assoc. formed joint committee to create... 11

12 Then in mid 1970’s, ACSM created (NSPS) the National Society of Professional Surveyors. Every state in the Country invited to send a representative... a “Governor”. They came and returned enthusiastically! ALTA standards slow to spread Nationally. Professional-quality surveys still rarity. Major effort still required. Time and dedication. 12

13 Some surveyors were true professionals, well educated, understood duties. Some trained “apprentices.” Some “apprentices” learned. Some learned more. Some learned less... and... taught others. And some of the learned... taught others. 13

14 B egan path of diminishing returns. And subject to the Profession’s... FEAST AND FAMINE CYCLES! But “Governors” kept in touch! IT WAS A PROFESSIONAL, ETHICAL CONNECTION! 14

15 Local TSA Chapters formed, +/- 1960’s Several Chapters developed “standards” Good intention but little coordination. “Standards issue” spread among many states. Studies led to varied “Standards” development. Some States reluctant to share. Some shared willingly; even offering to help. 15

16 16 Then came the big Questions... Do Texas surveyors really need Standards??? Would they support surveying standards? If so, could: surveyor to client relations improve? public relations get better? inter-professional communications advance? quality of survey-products increase? the entire profession be better managed? the lesser competent get improved guidance? It will be a long, winding path, but worth it!

17 17 A. Protection of the public, B. Professional harmony, C. Quality expectation, D. Communication, E. Problem Solving, F. Protection of the Professional? G. But can surveyors afford them? Could Standards actually offer better...

18 Many TSA Member Attitudes Mixed bag ! Real Professionals don’t need Standards! “Paper Standards” not enforceable. Too many differences in Texas... Who is to say what is good practice? Public won’t pay for text-book surveys! Ain’t never gonna work! Will be tough assignment!! 18

19 19 Developing Standards in Texas??? Got about as much chance as a cow riding a surfboard! So TSA took a chance... and sent out a Questionnaire... Members replied, “Create some Standards.”

20 20 State of Texas Surveying Affairs: Quality surveying practices, too diverse! Standards were non existent or unenforced. What constitutes “good surveying practice”? Opinions varied as much as the surveys... ALTA specifications seldom used... And mostly abused!

21 21 Reports on Surveying in areas across the state: Some “grandfathered-in” were just “measurers;” Many “practitioners” knew no boundary law; Many had not even heard of Stafford v. King; Some only surveyed as, “We always done it this way!” Pretty easy; just measure line and put in a stob! Don’t get excited, ‘round here, we all do it like that. Not sure what is meant by that “dignity of calls.” Whut it says on his deed is whut he gets! Yet surviving among them were many solid practitioners!

22 SURVEY STANDARDS FOR TEXAS 1975, TSA President “Skeet” Mitchell convinced of need, APPOINTED COMMITTEE! Committee of seven members from geographically diverse areas of state. Chair given broad powers to get it done. Where best to start? Research, just as for a land survey. What exists? What fits... or can be fit? 22 Or retro-fit!

23 23 And the seven members came... from the forests, brambles and swamps in East Texas; from big and bigger oil patches in Texas and pipe liners across the state; from big city hustle and bustle and the Capitol City. They gathered, began their chore. AND Each knew best how to make a survey!

24 1st committee meeting... Exercise in chaos! Lasted two 12+ hour-weekend days! Committee: Big communication problems. Entering the unknown areas. Language barrier: Speaking “Texas- survey-eze” difficult for committee. Really needed to tighten the string! 24

25 Tex-as co-or-din-ate-Sys-tem Many interruptions to define terms Interruptions and explanations took up valuable time. A “signer” or an interpreter was needed! Ya got some other name for that? 25

26 Developing Surveying Standards started a long, hard trip!... With many discussions... Debates... Mild to volatile... Arguments... and even Threats of violence! A major ethical challenge to continue! 26

27 27 Ethical Tongue Tying A learning experience... Persuasions over explosions; Expressives without Expletives; Suggest: propose, think, reason and consider; Avoid the derogatory: stupid, dumb, ignorant; Never insult, degrade, slur, impugn a relative. Smile a lot! Or grin and bear it!

28 28 The ethics we know And the ethics we practice, Are sometimes at an opposite end; For as hard as we try, ‘tis hard not to lie, Some rules are... Too easy to bend

29 Many surveying terms common; many not! Major turning point arrived! In hind-sight, so simple! After much debate, agreed to rely on ACSM “Dictionary” 29

30 Agreed to accept statutory laws. (Some practices were not only unprofessional, unethical, but unlawful!) Trespassing Safety Property damage Unregistered County Surveyors Proclaiming land ownership Quota “surveying” Deed layouts Other Issues 30

31 Defining the Profession What do professional land surveyors do? Can projects be accurately identified? Do most chores have identifiable steps? HMMM? Such a novel idea! 31

32 Other States with Standards only delineated land surveys. Standards Committee asked all states and received Standards from nine: Arkansas, California, Florida, North Carolina, Georgia, Maine, Missouri, New York, and Wisconsin. North Carolina and Wisconsin were excellent patterns; Almost adopted. 32 Lotsa reading and studying!

33 Some Texas surveyors did 100% boundary work. Many others only 30% boundary and 70% other: route surveys, mixed construction, topographic, control... all associated with boundary work. What Texas Land Surveyors Do (From original questionnaire) 33

34 After countless combative “discussions” Standards Committee Finds a Motto: Identify what needs to be done; Not how to do it! Thereby the Surveyor applies Professional Methodology to satisfy the Specifications. 34

35 35 Qualities needed for Standards Execution And an ethical, professional conscience. Satisfying Standards will require... Professional know-how! Professional understanding! Professional ability!

36 But there was more... Committee found: most surveying assignments, jobs, etc. have numerous common applications. Such applications grouped in Specifications. Those Specs identified, defined common application’s elements such as Bearings, Monuments, Closure, Records Search, Maps and Measurements. 36

37 Procedure had required EXTREME ethical conduct, debate and compromise. Again and again. Committee learned lessons of tact and diplomacy never before encountered. Chair challenged as referee and judge. An explosion of issues and values. 37

38 38 Disputes were common. Voices were raised... Some spoke over others. Tempers flared. Even a walk-out was threatened! Nerve ends were bared!

39 39 Members were challenged with homework. Written papers to clarify, support opinions. Mid-1970’s No or instant messaging, few FAX options. Snail mail or telephone All took time to create and get response. And at personal expense.

40 40 No matter how Committee looked at their chore... each member saw it differently! And each knew his viewpoint was best !

41 Things surveyors do... Often called: An “assignment”, or Some “work”, or A “contract”, or A “project”, or A “job”. 41

42 42 Common things in profession often named or called by different terms. Committee finally chose to develop Manual of Practice in two main parts: STANDARDS and SPECIFICATIONS Standards define terms and conditions; Specifications define certain assignments.

43 Standards Committee Takes a Stand And we’ll call Assignments... “ Categories” ! Is Professional Surveying sum of many parts? Should Standards cover total practice? Are many parts used in different jobs? Can parts be identified? Can parts be grouped into different jobs? YES! 43

44 A unit dividing major professional services of a Registered Professional Land Surveyor into defined segments of similar nature, procedure and practice. A Category is comprised of one or several services or products that are closely allied. A Route Survey is a Category. A Land Title Survey is a different Category. Each Category has specific requirements.* * Manual of Practice, 1 st edition,1976 to 12 th 2013 And a Category is: 44

45 45 Perseverance Prevailed The blueprint was made... Now the mold had to be cast. Again each had a different idea!

46 Many Committee meetings; Many more debates; Each definition, term, argued! More writing, opinions offered; Weeks passed, then months. 46

47 47 After an exhausting meeting. Category 1A finally completed, Sent to membership for vote. More debate at Annual meeting; Approved for one year, 10/9/1976, and voluntary use. Happy Birthday! Category 1A

48 48 Wheels of progress turn slowly Vote by attending membership and mail ballot; small success for Committee... Large move for Texas surveying profession. Precursor in decades to come, for legal, mandatory professional standards.

49 Category 1A 1st Issue of the Manual of Practice 1976 Folded Legal size paper (18 pages) 49

50 50 From 1976 through the years following, Manual was updated; Categories added; all Membership approved. New Categories for boundary related tasks. Route surveys, topos, Construction, vertical- horizontal control, etc.

51 51 Registration Practices Act changed over years. Allowed Registration Board to develop minimum standards for Texas Land Surveying. TSA Category 1A was a primary resource. It took nearly 17 years.

52 52 TBPLS Minimum Standards Long debated; Chosen wisely; As MINIMUM Standards. “The Board establishes these minimum standards of practice to better serve the general public in regulating the practice of professional land surveying in Texas.” TBPLS Rule

53 53 Surveyor must do no less than the minimum. Because... Registration is a legal qualification... To make a survey of minimum quality! Registration gives surveyor benefit of the doubt... BUT, are all SURVEYORS truly professional, Or just minimally qualified?

54 54 Today’s Manual of Practice On line, 12 th Edition Evolution: Standards, now in 3 parts: I.Introduction, II.General Statement & III.Definitions & Applications Virtually same language as 1 st Ed. TBPLS rules referenced often.

55 55 Specifications for Categories: Ten Categories now listed. Still in original format... Still listing what needs to be done... And not how to do it! And still needs to be kept up to date!

56 56 TBPLS Minimum Standards offer few training aides past mandatory requirements for boundary surveys. TSPS Standards and Categories offer check- lists and training aides for what needs to be done in ten areas of professional surveying. These are not in competition. They help mold the real professional! And the employees!!! Trivial Comparison

57 57 Category 1A Still the “Gold Standard.” Tolerance Chart needs updating. Specifications remain appropriate... If followed! But nothing remains static... Maintenance, updates and review required! New Administration, please take note! And Understood!

58 58 Category 1A The Texas answer to an ALTA survey. Includes many Title Industry concerns. Flexible to additional needs. Should be major part of your contract. MINIMUM STANDARD DETAIL REQUIREMENTS for ALTA/ACSM LAND TITLE SURVEYS as adopted by American Land Title Association American Congress on Surveying and Mapping and National Society of Professional Surveyors

59 59 Again Emphasizing Differences Highlights for understanding: TBPLS minimum standards are law. Mandatory and Minimum. TSPS Standards Voluntary, often More detailed, comprehensive. Designed with Title Co. Interests. And a check list for employees/trainees!

60 60 TSPS Manual of Practice Table of Contents offers a one sentence preview of each of the 10 Categories. Good for checking work and training employees.

61 61 Surveyors are an historic breed! We have survived the ages...but not alone. It is mostly because we knew who was “holding the end of our chain”... Those who support our mission: Programmers, Technicians, Researchers, and rodmen! No surveyor stands alone! Every Surveyor needs a reliable Bubba! I got your back, boss!

62 62 There was a surveyor named Brudaben. Whose surveys weren’t all they coulda been. Though his chain was pulled tight To set his marks right; The tail-end wasn’t held... where it shoulda been. And some final, Important Points!

63 63 And a second set-up is much better!

64 64 Remember, redundant measurement is only assurance surveyor has to support an opinion on distance and/or direction. Whether on plat... Or in court! This fact applies to every surveying tool from chain... to G.P.S. And then there is research! Now, are you ready to present your case?

65 65 Research, Records Search: Surveyor’s Magic Wand! Requirements in Manual’s1st edition still viable! TBPLS rule (B) Boundary Construction: “A land surveyor assuming the responsibility of performing a land survey also assumes the responsibility for such research of adequate thoroughness to support the determination of the location of the boundaries of the land being surveyed.” Verbatim from 1st Ed, Manual of Practice.

66 66 How deep do we dig? How far do we go, To be adequate and sufficient? ‘Cause we never can tell, When the survey we sell, Will be held by the court... As deficient!

67 67 Communication, the heart and root of success! The channels must be open... to, for, between, and with... employees, clients, employers, contractors/pro- viders, business associates, etc.

68 68 Standards require good communication. Also... offer good communication Identify necessary tasks, check lists and employee training aides.

69 69 Important Ethics of Communication As appropriate: Letter Message received: Letter answer or acknowledgment. message received: answer or acknowledgment. Telephone message received: Telephone a response. Memo received Memo answered or acknowledgment.

70 70 Business Acumen No communication should go unacknowledged! Better-half Acumen No communication should go unacknowledged!

71 71 TSPS has the Manual of Practice. Must be under constant review. Members need assurance it is good info; Up to date on processes that identify good surveying procedures... Always on What needs to be done... And never on how to do it!

72 72 Surveyors must follow minimums. Do what is minimally required. Is Maintaining a Minimum a professional trait? Are steps being taken beyond entry level? Opportunity is in the Manual of Practice To step to the forefront. An Ethical Truth Best way to outcompete one’s competitor is to outperform one’s competitor.

73 73 Your “TAIL”... And your boss’s!

74 74 Post Scrips Originally Standards Committee: Wanted to distinguish TSA members Hoped TSA would require members use; Felt TSA members should pledge use: Wanted compulsory use if TSA member; Hoped TBPLS would incorporate as rules; Hoped to use for a “Standards” Legislation.

75 75 Original Committee; In fond memory Al Armstrong Harold Fisher Ken Gold Abbott Hargraves Harold Robertson Clint Sumrall W. C. Wilson

76 76 Thanks for being here!

77 77 Questions, Comments, Complaints? Y’all enjoy lunch, now!

78 78


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