Four-hundred billion dollars, or 10 percent, of the approximately $4 trillion spent annually for engineering and construction worldwide is lost to corrupt activities, according to conservative estimates. The current forecast for a dramatic increase in infrastructure spending, particularly in developing countries, will lead to an unprecedented globalization of engineering and construction — and the potential for an equally dramatic increase in losses to corruption.
As a result, on July 25, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), an association involved in the global effort to engage individual engineers in the fight to reduce corruption in the engineering and construction industry, adopted an amendment to its 92-year-old Code of Ethics that further expanded its zero tolerance policy for bribery and corruption.
The society also committed to publicizing these new ’guidelines’ among other construction industry organizations in the United States, and working to encourage the 67 civil engineering organizations worldwide with which it has Agreements of Cooperation to adopt similar guidelines.
“Engineers have an ethical obligation to take a stand against corruption in all its forms, because not only do bribery and corruption have a high economic cost, but they also have an equally high human cost,” said ASCE past President William P. Henry. “Reducing corruption will directly result in additional financial resources available to improve the welfare of the world’s population and quality of life.”
The new guidelines are the result of two years of work by ASCE’s Task Committee on Global Principles for Professional Conduct, Committee for Professional Practice and Committee for Professional Conduct. The initiative, started by Henry during his presidency, is currently chaired by Black and Veatch Associate Vice President, Robert Crist.
In an effort to do its part in the fight against bribery and corruption, ASCE formed the Task Committee to develop globally-accepted principles of ethical professional practice for members of engineering societies in the United States and abroad.
Under Crist’s leadership, ASCE has called on its partners and affiliates worldwide to join the battle against worldwide corruption. Since then, the Task Committee has worked closely with the World Bank, Transparency International, the World Economic Forum, World Federation of Engineering Organizations and others to enlist individual professional participation in a global effort.
The new ’guidelines’ were amended to Cannon 6 of the society’s Code of Ethics, which state that: “Engineers shall act in such a manner as to uphold and enhance the honor, integrity, and dignity of the engineering profession and shall act with zero-tolerance for bribery, fraud, and corruption.”
It also calls for engineers to:
• Not knowingly engage in business or professional practices of a fraudulent, dishonest or unethical nature;
• Be scrupulously honest in their control and spending of monies, and promote effective use of resources through open, honest and impartial service with fidelity to the public, employers, associates and clients;
• Act with zero-tolerance for bribery, fraud and corruption in all engineering or construction activities in which they are engaged;
• Be especially vigilant in maintaining appropriate ethical behavior where payments of gratuities or bribes are institutionalized practices;
• Strive for transparency in the procurement and execution of projects, including disclosure of names, addresses, purposes and fees or commissions paid for all agents facilitating projects; and
• Encourage the use of certifications specifying zero-tolerance for bribery, fraud and corruption in all contracts.
For more information, visit www.asce.org.