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Vol. 45 No. 25

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GBA Launches New GBA Best Practices Series of Monographs. Topic No. 1: E-Mail Disclaimers
The long disclaimers that lurk at the bottom of so many business e-mails are counter-productive, especially in light of simple alternatives readily available. So says GBA's Legal Affairs Committee in GBA's new e-Mail Disclaimers: A Better Way, the first of a newly launched series of GBA Best Practices monographs. "Putting disclaimers into an e-mail seems wise enough," the new monograph states. "People send more than 55 billion e-mails a day (not including spam) and some are bound to be sent or forwarded to someone unintended…. While risk confrontation needs to be an active, vibrant element of any geoprofessional firm's business operations, it generally should be a somewhat subtle element, lest what's done gives people the impression that a firm is permanently 'lawyered up' and is unwilling to accept responsibility for anything."

The new monograph identifies a new approach to such disclaimers, and provides sample wording members can apply to make it happen. e-Mail Disclaimers: A Better Way is available only to GBA members, at no charge.
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Avoiding Allegations of Corruption: Not As Easy As You May Think
Avoiding allegations of corrupt practices is not as easy as one may think. So says GBA's Legal Affairs Committee in a just-issued GBA Best Practices monograph, Avoiding Allegations of Corruption. As the new monograph points out, "It's not enough to maintain what you believe is your own and your firm's professional integrity. You need to know what the applicable laws are; you need to educate your staff about those laws; and you need to establish a professional culture that regards corrupt practices as a fatal virus that needs to be avoided at all costs, and investigated thoroughly at first suspicion, preferably with the assistance of legal counsel." The Committee reviews the Federal False Claims Act, enacted in 1863 to combat rampant fraud against the federal government and Union troops engaged in the Civil War. Also known as Lincoln's Law, the Act is still pursued vigorously today. As the GBA Best Practices monograph points out, "The Act's breadth is far more substantial than many suppose; even corrupt actions committed in other countries can furnish a basis for recovery when they somehow lead to false claims to the federal government." The new monograph is available to GBA members only, and is free of charge.
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GBA Publishes Ten Things You Need To Know about Client Representatives
"80% of your business is likely to come from 20% of your clients. Keeping those clients for your entire professional career is vital. They're the ones that boost your income by giving you repeat business and opportunities to open offices in other locations where they're active, provide new services they need, and offer new project-delivery mechanisms." So begins Ten Things You Need To Know about Client Representatives, the newest members-only GBA Best Practices monograph, an updated version that GBA previously issued as an ASFE Practice Alert. The new publication — free to GBA members — discusses the techniques and technology people can use to help remember the "ten most important things you need to know about client representatives whom you want to convert to client representatives for life," each of which is discussed in detail.
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  A2LA: Your partner in accreditation

Accreditation available for all testing, calibration, proficiency testing, reference materials production, inspection and product certification. A2LA also offers training to help prepare for accreditation.

11.5 Billion Needed for Parks Infrastructure
National Park Service
The National Park Service needs $11.5 billion for deferred infrastructure maintenance; i.e., work on roads and bridges, visitor centers, trails, and campgrounds that has been put off for more than a year. Aging facilities, increasing use of park facilities, and scarce resources contribute to the growing backlog, and that's just for the "highest-priority nontransportation assets." Park roads and bridges account for about half of the maintenance backlog. The National Park Service is responsible for America's 407 national parks.
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Final Rules for Fracking on Public, Tribal Lands
U. S. Department of the Interior
The U.S. Interior Department has issued final rules for fracking on public and tribal lands. Interior says the new rules will improve safety and help protect groundwater by updating requirements for well-bore integrity, wastewater disposal, and public disclosure of chemicals. The rules also include a process that permits states and tribes to request variances from provisions for which they have an equal or more protective regulation. Key components of the new rule include:
  • protection of groundwater supplies via a provision that requires validation of well integrity and strong cement barriers between the wellbore and water zones through which the wellbore passes;
  • increased transparency by requiring companies to publicly disclose the chemicals they use in fracking;
  • higher standards for interim storage of recovered waste fluids; and
  • measures to lower the risk of cross-well contamination by requiring companies to submit more detailed information on the geology, depth, and location of preexisting wells so the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) can better evaluate and manage unique site characteristics.

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Nominate a Peer for GBA-ASCE Ethics and Leadership Award
Honor an engineer-leader for a specific accomplishment or for lifetime achievements that demonstrate superior ethics and leadership in professional practice or service to the public. Just two past recipients include Barry Thacker, P.E., who has almost single-handedly rescued the Coal Creek (Tennessee) Watershed, and Jim Suttle, P.E., past mayor of Omaha, Nebraska. Nominate a colleague by June 2 for the 2014 GBA-ASCE Professional Practice Ethics and Leadership Award. The winner will receive a certificate and an honorarium. Send any questions about the award or your completed nomination package to
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BUSINESS 101: We Only Loan Money to Firms That Don't Need a Loan
"Banks only loan you money if you don't need a loan." You've probably heard that before. And if you've sought a bank loan for your firm, chances are the loan officer has told you that you must guarantee the loan personally, even though your firm is a corporate entity. "Why?" you might have asked, only to hear something along the lines of, "If you don't believe in your firm, why should we?" Aggravating? Sure it is, but put yourself in the bank's shoes: They're loaning their depositors' money to you. Were it your money that was at risk, would you want the bank to offer that loan based on faith and nothing more? Probably not, nor would federal bank regulators. As such, if you need a loan or if you want to establish a line of credit in case you need a loan later, be prepared: Have available verified information about the following ten issues or items: collateral, business plan, your firm's financial details, A/R details, A/P details, audited or reviewed financial statements, personal financial details, insurance information, past tax returns, and an agreement on future ratios.
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See How Your Firm's Finances Compare to Other Member Firms'
Each year, the Business Practices Committee conducts its Financial Performance Survey and issues a report that conveys results (click here for last year's). The new survey is ready for your firm's participation! Send the name of your top finance person to Membership Manager Suzy Ford at, or ask the person to go directly to the survey at We even have a free, members-only webinar if you want to learn how to calculate the numbers involved!
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HR DEPT.: Fully Paid Maternity Leave for Free
Fast Company
Despite the fact that women gave birth to every senior executive in the United States, the U.S. is still the only industrialized economy that refuses to mandate paid maternity leave. Yes: The nation does have the Family and Medical Leave Act, but it excludes smaller employers from its purview on the ground that losing an employee for two or three months would jeopardize the company's existence. Given the demand for talented geoprofessionals, imagine the advantage a smaller firm would have if its maternity-leave policy provided time for a mom to recover from birth and bond with her new baby…and continued full pay from day one. Before you say, "That's not for us…" and expound on the 1001 reasons the policy would be impossibly difficult and far too costly to implement, bear in mind the cost for replacing a talented employee, including the cost of lowered morale. And you might also want to consider how a five-person firm was able to provide fully paid leave for seven weeks, by instituting plans and procedures that helped the company do well in a key performer's absence, and do even better on her return.
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  Past Conferences on Demand

Bring home the best of GBA conferences with content on demand — online and on DVD.

Find Case Histories — Free to Members
GBA has a hundred case histories full of lessons learned from projects gone bad, and they're all available absolutely free to members. Don't repeat history — look here first to find a cautionary tale of how to do things better than someone else did!
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ROAD WARRIOR: A Little Something for Your Trouble
Where did the word tip come from? Popular lore has it that the word was first used in Irish pubs, whose patrons would put their change into a jar or bucket labeled "To Insure Promptness," a sign later abbreviated to the acronym TIP. All of which is poppycock. Acronyms (and their close cousins, initialisms) did not really exist before the twentieth century. No matter, the real issue is, how much should one tip when travelling? Jacqueline Whitmore, an etiquette expert and founder of the Protocol School of Palm Beach, has created a list you may find valuable, providing guidance for tipping at airports, hotels, and restaurants. The guide seems worthwhile, except for a silly suggestion about maitre d's.
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Call for Abstracts: Fall Conference in Southern California
Have a creative idea for a presentation at the GBA Fall Conference in Dana Point, CA, October 8-10, 2015? Here's your chance to share it with us: Just download the submission form, complete it, and send it in. The GBA Conference Committee will review all submissions. The theme of the conference is "Confronting Risk for Our Firms and Our Clients: The ROI of Engagement."
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Date Event Location
April 16-18, 2015 GBA Spring (Annual) Conference J. W. Marriott Marquis
Miami, Florida
Oct. 8-10, 2015 GBA Fall Conference St. Regis Monarch Beach
Dana Point, California

  For a complete list of upcoming events, click here.

Gas Pipelines: More Decaying Infrastructure
Fast Company
Manholes explode. Water mains leak. Bridges collapse. Highways crumble. The USA is most decidedly not what it used to be. Another problem to consider: Gas pipelines. Nationwide, about 9% of them are made of older, leak-prone materials; cast iron, unprotected steel, and other materials that crack or corrode. The problem comes to our attention somewhat forcefully when the leaks result in explosions and loss of life. New York City is a poster child for the situation. There, about 3,400 miles of gas mains were built before 1960; the same applies to some 72,000 gas-service connections. Who's going to fix all this stuff? It starts with geoprofessionals. Are you getting involved?
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Alcatraz Island Geotechnical Evaluation and Shoreline-Erosion Study
Over the last 150 years, many natural and manmade changes have occurred on Alcatraz. Completing the island's first comprehensive geologic and geotechnical-hazards assessment required both detailed historical review and modern geologic study on, above, below, and around the island's circumference. It also required using a variety of investigative methods, including surface mapping, historical aerial-photograph interpretation, and cliff-mapping by boat. William V. "Bill" McCormick, P.G., C.E.G. (Kleinfelder) describes this study, which provided the National Park Service with the first-ever geologic-risk-assessment zonation map that identifies problem areas and provides recommendations, on a relative-rated risk basis, for areas needing immediate study and mitigation as well as for future, phased-mitigation studies for public safety and cultural restoration. The presentation is free to members with the discount code and just $99 for everyone else.
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GRAPE PRESS: Two Labels To Die for, or Drink, Whichever Comes First
Here are two red wines we're drinking right now. They provide a HUGE QPR (quality-to-price ratio).

Substance cS Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 is an utterly wonderful, big, flavorful Washington cab produced by the somewhat eccentric Charles Smith. Like so many of his other labels, this one screams quality and value. It's rated as high as 93 points (93-point Napa Valley cabs sell for $85 and up, up, up). Smith bought the label recently, from the company that bought the winery that owned it. The new winery owners didn't want this label; Charles did. And what a job he did with the juice. The wine sells in many places for $13/bottle, a price that says, "Buy two cases, not just one." We tasted our first bottle and bought our second case.

Tenuta Sant'Antonio Corvina Scaia 2012 is a delightful Veronese wine; bright, flavorful, and fruitful, with tastes of cherry and white pepper. Wine Advocate gives it 90 points, which means it's better than probably 90% of the wines "out there." How can a 90-point Parker wine sell for $8.43 (what we paid)? Maybe it's the dollar-to-Euro ratio, but no matter: That's what it is. Try a bottle and you’ll buy a case.

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Embracing the Design-Build Model To Improve Your Bottom Line and Your Culture
Alternative project delivery is here to stay. Clients, particularly public-sector clients, are realizing that the old way of "plan the project, design the project, bid the project, and call me when it's done" does not work well in today's world of faster-better-cheaper. Planners, designers, constructors, and maintenance folks are sitting down and working in a team environment to deliver better projects, quicker, and for less money. These collaborative project relationships require trust and understanding of the financial models and risk/reward profiles that firms can accept. Often, the architect and engineer feel threatened by working with or for a constructor-in-charge based on ethical/professional or financial concerns. Through a series of lessons learned (the easy way and hard way), Stewart G. Osgood, P.E. (DOWL) presents tested models and central tenets to abide by. The presentation is free to members with the discount code and just $149 for everyone else.
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Don't say bad things about others until you've walked a mile in their shoes. In that way you have a one-mile head start and they're barefoot.
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Value: The A/E/C Industry's Biggest Blind Spot?
Far too many firms struggle with identifying and articulating their differentiators, benefits (not features!), and value. All too often, expensive off-site and other meetings are held where principals, marketing staff, and others pontificate about these topics without the benefit of external data points. If one of our primary challenges is establishing our value to command the fees we warrant (plus avoiding commoditization in some markets), then we must understand what our clients' value and how they measure it. In this presentation, Richard S. "Rich" Friedman shares tools and methods for gathering critical feedback from your clients and prospects, and for applying the feedback to effect organizational change across many areas — including strategic planning, marketing and business development, and project management/delivery. The presentation is free to members with the discount code and just $149 for everyone else.
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Skillful Discussions: Crucial Conversations
Dealing with conflict and handling difficult conversations are challenges many leaders face. Leaders who develop the ability to conduct difficult conversations also develop the ability to show respect for the other person and assert their own needs. The techniques Joseph D. "Joe" Rei, Ph.D. believes in can be particularly helpful when entering a negotiation or a conversation about matters that create an adversarial situation. Learn how to: develop the art of skillful communication, balance inquiry with advocacy, negotiate impasses, and disagree while maintaining an open dialogue. The presentation is free to members with the discount code and just $149 for everyone else.
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Steven D. Thorne, P.E., D.GE, F.ASCE
(Terracon / Somerset, NJ)

Gordon M. Matheson, Ph.D., P.E., P.G.
(Schnabel Engineering, Inc. / Glen Allen, VA)

Joel G. Carson
(Kleinfelder / Omaha, NE)

Charles L. Head, P.E., P.G.
(Sanborn, Head & Associates, Inc. / Concord, NH)

Kimberly F. Morrison, P.E., R.G.
(Morrison Geotechnical Solutions, Inc. / Denver, CO)

Laura R. Reinbold, P.E.
(Terracon / Nashville, TN)

Alex Sy, Ph.D., P. Eng.
(Klohn Crippen Berger Ltd. / Vancouver, BC)

Woodward L. Vogt, P.E., D.GE, F.ACI, F.ASCE, F.ASTM
(Paradigm Consultants, Inc. / Houston, TX)


Phone: 301/565-2733

Executive Vice President
John P. Bachner
Ext. 223 /

Operations Director
Sarah P. Lanning, PMP
Ext. 231 /

Program Director
Barbara A. Nappy
Ext. 222 /

Program Manager
Sara Menase
Ext. 232 /

Associate Program Manager
Melody A. Patrick
Ext. 225 /

Membership Manager
Susan A. Ford
Ext. 227 /

Phillip D. Pettway
Ext. 233 /


John P. Bachner, NewsLog Editor-in-Chief, 301.565.2733 ext. 223   
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Cait Harrison, Content Editor, 469.420.2657   
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