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FROM THE BENCH: All CoMET firms win big as a result of Converse's Harmon Tower victory
Century Steel, Inc. (Century) and its successor in interest Pacific Coast Steel (PCS) sued Converse Consultants alleging that the firm had performed its construction-materials engineering and testing (CoMET) services negligently, contributing to the problems being experienced by Las Vegas' ill-fated CityCenter/Harmon Tower project. Converse defended in part by stating that CoMET services are professional services and, because they are, Century's and PCS' lawsuit had to be dismissed: They had violated state law by failing to submit a report indicating that, in a qualified expert’s opinion, services failed to meet the standard of care and, as a consequence, damages were incurred. Shockingly, a trial court ruled against Converse. Not to be denied, Converse appealed and the appellate court reversed the trial court's ruling, holding that, in fact, CoMET services are professional services and had to be treated as such.
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Industry snapshot shows steady financial improvement for geoprofessional firms, but less optimism about future
GBA-Member Firms have reported slightly better financial performance over the past six months, according to the "GBA Industry Snapshot" survey report, prepared by the GBA Business Practices Committee (with the heavy lifting being performed by Matthew R. "Matt" Poirier, P.E. (Sanborn Head & Associates, Inc.). According to the report, 83% of respondents reported steady or increasing workloads during April-September 2013 compared to October 2012-March 2013. The number of requests for proposal (RFPs) and proposals submitted increased dramatically, and 85% of the respondents reported steady or increasing revenue and 43% said they increased staff size over the last six months.
Insofar as predictions are concerned, almost half (49%) anticipate better revenue in the next six months. In March 2013, however, 75% predicted better revenue, explaining why respondents this time expressed less optimism about the economy in the months immediately ahead.
NACTO releases Urban Street Design Guide
The National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO) has published Urban Street Design Guide, a new design manual it calls "a blueprint for the 21st-century streetscape [that] demonstrates how streets of every size can be reimagined and reoriented as safe, sustainable public spaces for people walking, driving, biking, and taking transit." According to NACTO President and New York City Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan, "The innovative strategies outlined in the Guide are transforming the streets of New York, advancing a people-oriented approach to transportation policies."
Last chance: Call for abstracts: Spring conference in Hawaii
Have a creative idea for a presentation at the ASFE/The Geoprofessional Business Association (GBA) Spring Conference in Hawaii, April 10-12, 2014? Here's your chance to share it with us. Download and send us the submission form. Abstracts are due November 1, 2013. The ASFE/GBA Conference Committee will review all submissions. The conference theme is "Optimizing Performance."
Bring home the best of GBA conferences with content on-demand — online and on DVD.
Free Practice Alerts for members
Did you know GBA has more than 50 Practice Alerts available ONLY to members? And they're all free! Topics cover financial performance, electronic-communication policies, establishing mentoring programs, and much, much more! We even have a Practice Alert keyword index to make it easier to find the topics you need. Be sure to take advantage of this terrific members-only benefit today!
YOU'VE JUST GOT TO BE KIDDING: If you didn't see it with your own eyes...
Imagine a structure comprising 260 million surfaces. It's hard to do…until you see this video and read about the concept behind the structure and the technology that turned the concept into an awe-inspiring reality. The technology? 3D printing, and watching how it was used to build this piece gives you a glimpse at what just may be a substantial portion of construction’s future. You've got to see it to believe it. And even then, you may have trouble with belief.
Tell others to sign up for environmental news from GBA
Help us build our list of environmental professionals! Send this to other people you know in the environmental field and encourage them to sign up for the GBA mailing list, whether they're members of GBA or not. Once they're on our list, they can select what news they want to receive from us.
New 3-D Earth model pinpoints earthquakes, nuclear blasts
LiveScience via NBC News
A new 3-D model of the Earth will now let scientists pinpoint the sources of earthquakes and explosions around the globe more accurately than ever, researchers say. The new model of the Earth's mantle and crust from Sandia National Laboratories and Los Alamos National Laboratory is called Sandia-Los Alamos 3-D, or SALSA3D. The model was developed to more accurately locate all types of explosions, including nuclear ones, for the U.S. Air Force and the international Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization in Vienna.
HUMAN RESOURCES MANAGEMENT: Reasons to ignore a bad reference
Between the interview and the job offer come the reference and background check. Background checks are easy enough: You just need to verify that people have the degrees they claim to have and that they don't have any surprising criminal history (any relevant convictions should have come up in your application process). If relevant, a credit check is also called for. If all those things check out, it's time to speak with actual other humans about your job candidate. Reference checks are generally necessary to lessen the chances of making a bad hire. (You can never completely eliminate the risk of bad hires.) After all, you don't want to hire the guy who embezzled from his last company, nor the woman who was fired for sexual harassment. But there are times you should think twice before taking a reference at face value.
Free webinars available to members
GBA has been developing our webinar program for a while. Our earliest efforts were posted free for on-demand viewing by members only. We don't offer PDHs for these, but the topics were well-received when first presented and are still worthwhile viewing:
Check them out — you'll be glad you did.
(Member login required)
- Client-Focused Contract Negotiations
- Benchmarking Your Firm's Financial Performance
The climate-change debate is over
The United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has released the final draft of the Fifth Assessment Report. The report resulted from a worldwide scientific collaboration between 39 countries, 259 authors, and 54,677 comments. Notable findings:
Scientists report human influence as the dominant cause of observed warming since the mid-20th century. Our subsequent and continued emissions of greenhouse gases will further warm and cause changes in all components of the climate system.
- each of the last three decades was successively warmer at the Earth's surface than any preceding decade since 1850;
- in the Northern Hemisphere, 1983-2012 was likely the warmest 30-year period of the last 1400 years;
- ocean warming dominates the increase in energy stored in the climate system, accounting for more than 90% of the energy accumulated between 1971 and 2010;
- atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide (C02), methane, and nitrous oxide increased to unprecedented levels, with C02 concentrations rising by 40% since preindustrial times, primarily from fossil-fuel emissions.
For a complete list of upcoming events, click here.
Electronic delivery of documents
Electronic documents are not all that new, but so many people who deal with them just don't get it! This hard-hitting Lunch & Learn seminar focuses on a variety of baseline electronic-deliverable issues your personnel need to understand, appreciate, and manage.
Now cough: The distribution of U.S. health-care expenditures
Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality
According to a Statistical Brief issued by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, in both 2009 and 2010, 5% of the U.S. population accounted for nearly 50% of all U.S. health-care expenditures. In 2009, 1% of the population accounted for 21.8% of total healthcare expenditures and, in 2010, 21.4% of total expenditures, with an annual mean expenditure of $87,570. In both 2009 and 2010, 30% of the population accounted for nearly 90% of health-care expenditures. On the other side of the coin, individuals ranked in the bottom half of the health-care expenditure distribution accounted for only 2.9% of medical expenditures (with a mean expenditure of $236 in 2009).
It's pretty common for people to mishear a word or phrase and then go on to use it improperly, and it's also pretty common for those who recognize the corruption to say nothing about it, so as not to offend the user. Just a few you may be familiar with:
Did you see this oldie but goody?
ASFE PEER REVIEW: THE GENESIS: The late Bramlette "Bram" McClelland, D.Eng., P.E., a pioneer of offshore geotechnics, was the founder of GBA's Peer Review program, designed to improve the business practices of professionals in private practice. This DVD presents a high-quality, edited video of Bram's insights, delivered at ASFE's national meeting in Monterey, California, on October 10, 2003. Watch and listen as Bram explains how effective client communication and employee development are key components of successful business practice.
Could BLM be looking for geoprofessional services?
Environmental inspections of oil and gas facilities on public lands have soared since 2007, but federal investigators have found that the government is doing a poor job of targeting the riskiest sites. In a new report, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) — Congress' investigative arm — faulted the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) for not including information about the environmental-inspection history of many wells in its central database for tracking oil and gas facilities on public lands. As a result, the inspection-prioritization process "does not have sufficient information to ensure that wells receiving inspections are those that pose the greatest environmental risk," the GAO said. Other problems include "inconsistent documentation of inspections and enforcement actions and challenges with retaining and hiring environmental staff in some offices."
Simple Steps for Successful Selling for People Who Don't Like To Sell: An exclusive ASFE/GBA webinar
Few technical professionals like to sell, especially when it comes to professional selling where, to make the sale, you have to sell yourself in order to earn trust, given that you're selling a promise; i.e., you only start to "fabricate" the service after the client decides to buy it. So, what can you do to make yourself special in the eyes of a client representative; someone the client representative trusts? A lot, actually, with many of the specific steps taking little time and little effort. And many of these simple techniques are 100% applicable to existing-client reps, an important fact to consider given that your competitors may be participating in this powerful one-hour webinar, on Wednesday, November 13, 1400 hours Eastern; 1100 hours Pacific.
• Selling can become a simple, easy, enjoyable habit.
• You need to sell your existing clients as much as you sell your prospects.
• You need to sell yourself, because your services begin AFTER the client buys.
• Selling yourself is EASY. You've already done it.
• Have your cell-phone number on your business card? WRONG!
• What you'll learn in one hour could help your firm AND YOUR BONUS CHECK!
• John Bachner knows what he's talking about, and he might make you laugh along the way.
• A TRUE HOUR OF POWER!
Presented by John Bachner, president of Bachner Communications, Inc. and executive vice president of ASFE/The Geoprofessional Business Association.
Can we save our urban water systems?
Environmental Engineering Science
Existing urban water systems are at the end of their design lifetimes. New, innovative solutions are needed, and these must combine technology and engineering with an understanding of social systems and institutions. An insightful article contends that, for new innovations to be implemented successfully, engineers must understand the social, economic, institutional, and political mechanisms that underlie the human/technology interface. "Our modern urban water infrastructure is one of the greatest engineering achievements of the 20th century," says Jennifer Becker, president of the Association of Environmental Engineering and Science Professors. "This article highlights a paradigm shift in our urban water systems and states that technological innovations are urgently needed if the growing demands for water and other resources are to be sustainably met."
2013-2014 BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Kurt R. Fraese, L.G.
(GeoEngineers, Inc., Seattle, WA)
Steven D. Thorne, P.E., D.GE
(Terracon, Somerset, NJ)
Gordon M. Matheson, Ph.D., P.E., P.G.
(Schnabel Engineering, Inc., Glen Allen, VA)
Joel G. Carson
(Kleinfelder, Omaha, NE)
Stewart G. Osgood, P.E.
(DOWL HKM, Anchorage, AK)
Laura R. Reinbold, P.E.
(TTL, Inc., Nashville, TN)
Woodward L. Vogt, P.E., D.GE
(Paradigm Consultants, Inc., Houston, TX)
John P. Bachner, NewsLog Editor-in-Chief, 301.565.2733 ext. 223
Contact ASFE/The Geoprofessional Business Association
Colby Horton, Vice President of Publishing, 469.420.2601
View media kit
Caitlin Harrison, Content Editor, 469.420.2657
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