What has the Council been up to?
Right of Way as a Professional ServiceIn many states, right of way acquisition and relocation services are not considered a professional service. This only leads to “low-bid” procurement which is not always the best means of an award and also places limitations on industry fees. The Council is gearing up to address this issue by addressing 1 or 2 states that we can work towards getting our services designated as a professional service. This will be a tremendous effort but will hopefully result in our industry being treated just as other professionals where selection is based on qualifications and not price.
Better E&O Insurance and Group Insurance knowledgeThe Council was able to find and educate insurance agents and underwriters on the right of way consultant industry to better improve the rates for our members. As a result, a large percentage of the Council membership have reported as much as 60% savings in Professional Liability insurance premiums.
In response to ever increasing insurance costs, the Council received much feedback from members and non-members alike on the possibility of creating our own self-insured program. The Council then performed a feasibility study on this possibility and found this not to be a viable option for many reasons, which can be explained upon request. The service provided here is knowledge to answer the question that is often heard in discussions by our industry over different means to address insurance, and thus allow new discussion for the future.
Exercising our lobbying capability
The Council was able to give some financial Support to the PAC “No on 90” that was formed to oppose the Proposition 90 in California in 2006. The proposition was an anti-eminent domain matter that was defeated!!
Resolution to member differences and complaintsOne of the main reasons for forming the Council was to provide a means for resolving disputes amongst consultants in our industry and provide a source for assistance in such matters. We are fortunate to not have many such instances arise but in the cases that have been brought to the Council, we provided assistance in the resolutions.
AASHTO Recognition and CooperationThe Council has been able to secure a place on the Directors of AASHTO’s annual agenda to address issues in the consultant industry and answer questions from the Directors.
The Council has been able to enlighten AASHTO members with minimal consultant experience to hopefully open avenues in those respective states.
The Council has brought proposals to AASHTO concerning the proposal process, the need for making the right of way industry a professional service where it is not, standardized agreements and the need to recognize IRWA certifications.
The Council has been working more and more closely each year with the recent IEC of IRWA to be included on IRWA pursuits and involvement such as PRES and the Annual Education Conference.
Federal Agency voice
As a result of IRWA support of the Council, the Council has been included in direct PRES planning with the federal agencies and IRWA, which means further exposure and avenues of support for the Council and its membership.
The Council’s ever-increasing recognition in the right of way industry has led to many opportunities such former Board member Ben Ward of PBSJ who was recently selected to serve on the team for the FHWA/AASHTO-sponsored International Scanning Tour on Right of Way and Utility. The purpose of the scan is to identify how other nations have organized, integrated, and streamlined processes required to acquire real estate, relocate displaced residents and businesses and relocate utilities required for transportation projects and provide necessary services with other processes required for delivery of transportation systems. The scan will examine how these right of way and utility processes are coordinated with project planning, environmental analysis and documentation, environmental mitigation, and design plans preparation. The team will visit New South Wales, Victoria, and Queensland in Australia, England in the United Kingdom and Alberta and British Columbia in Canada. The scan will take place September 4-21, 2008.
This is an outstanding opportunity for exposure to the Council and our industry.