Why Won't State Boards Help Their Surveyors?

As the dedicated administrator of this site, I get a LOT of emails from surveyors who are desperately in need of solutions to problems which are MUCH larger than how to fix a piece of equipment.  Surveyors are having serious life problems related to their relationships with a state board and are losing not only everything they own in the material world, but more devastating they are losing who they are, who they thought they were and who they had always hoped to be.  Quite a few of you wonder (and have asked) how and why I continue doing this (network building) when they know I do not get paid for it.  It's quite simple really....because no one else seems to want or care for a down-and-out land surveyor.  The state boards are put in place to help and they are funded to do so. They have a reason for being there, but many surveyors are left wondering why they are there at all!  Is it to set and monitor regulations or is it to control an invisible bottom line?  Is it to regulate licensure or is it to make sure that only certain "types" of surveyors get the assistance they need to succeed?  Is it to make sure that their board members and the professionals in that state have a job and a place to find one or is it to make sure that a certain number of surveyors lose their jobs so that another certain portion get new licenses?  A lot of these questions cross my mind daily.  I worry about you guys.  


Just this morning I received an unsettling email from one of my original die-hard members (who will remain anonymous) which is becoming so typical in my inbox that I asked if I could share it.  Imagine what you are about to read could have been written by any 10 of your closest associates from the field. 


Hi Justin,

Got up this morning and wrote this down to see if you could use it somehow after I got a newsletter from [insert lawyers name here].  I can see it from a different perspective with all that I have been through due to the corrupt process by the "State Board."  I need to get back to doing whatever I can now to survive so I will not necessarily be following up on this.  I need to use my time to figure out how to feed my family and pay the basic bills including my internet connection.  I am just getting this off my chest in hopes that someone like you will be aware of the impact of what is happening and can help me seek positive changes while still alive.  

Are State Boards for control of the registration of Land Surveyors and the practice of Land Surveying using Cannibalism to “eat the competition” and make decisions?


Is this system of Cannibalism leading to the corruption and eventual destruction of these “Boards” (self-destruction)?


Witnesses to this behavior confirm that the “system” created by these “Boards” are killing the profession and allowing outsiders to control and erode the system that would otherwise allow the public access to reasonable land surveys and costs for such surveys.


Are experienced and competent surveyors are being eliminated by a process that is overwhelmingly corrupt and without reason except for the control by those controlling the “Boards” for their own personal and collective gain?


With the lack of surveyors and the evidence they provide, will there me more lawsuits and confusion due to "lack of evidence" that surveyors provide and a contribution to economic collapse of the profession?


On a similar note, I got an email newsletter from a well known Land Surveyor and Attorney, [insert lawyers name here].  I am seeking his permission to send a copy of the email to LSU.  I see that he has referred to the LSU site in his newsletter with a link to an article. The subject is regarding State funding of these Boards. The funding is now in question and there are already States that are cutting off the funding to Boards.


Texas Governor Rick Perry wants to suspend funding for the Texas Board of Land Surveyors.  See the link below.  This may be a trend to cut State costs. It may also be the result of wasteful spending to “regulate” surveyors and subject them to the frivolous and vivacious formal complaints by the public to avoid payment. This has harmed  hard working and competent surveyors who do not have the funds to defend themselves due the “Board” processes.  Now it seems that the process has backfired leading to self-funding or self-destruction.




also see this:

Gov. Perry: We Must Reform, Streamline State Government

Tuesday, February 08, 2011  •  Austin, Texas  •  Press Release 




Below is a post at LandSurveyorUnited:




NOTE:  The surveyor above is not based in Texas.  The links which he is referring to are indicative of a national problem and as best I can tell from my inbox, pretty much all US states on one level or another.

What Do You Think Surveyors?

Your fellow member is asking quite a few relevant questions which one would expect a surveyor with 30+ years in the field would already have answers to.  I would like to allow any of you who are facing similar problems to rant below in the comments or speculate regarding possible answers to these questions.  If you feel that it may in some way effect your career to do so, simply send it to me in the form of an email (landsurveyorsunited-at-gmail) and I will post it anonymously on your behalf.

This Content Originally Published by a land surveyor to Land Surveyors United Network

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Reply by Jaybird on March 22, 2011 at 7:55pm
thank you for your insight into this discussion Dave.  I believe your response is just what was needed in this matter.
Reply by Dave Smith on March 21, 2011 at 11:18pm

As a former Registration Board member and chair, I note several serious misperceptions and misconceptions about the role of Registration Boards being expressed in this discussion and subsequent comments.

First, the role of the Board is not to protect surveyors.  The Board's first and foremost responsibility is to protect the public.  Their duty is to serve the public, not the profession.  It is the role of the state and national professional societies to protect, elevate and promote the profession.

As for investigations, whether "frivolous" or not, one also needs to understand that there is an analogue between conventional legal process and registration boards.  There are actually several distinct and separate roles to be served. Board members essentially serve as impartial judge and jury, whereas investigators and prosecutors are separate and firewalled, with investigators serving as the police and detectives, and attorneys serving as District Attorney to prosecute cases.  As with a regular court of law, there are generally strict rules of separation between these.  For example, if a prosecutor or witness for the state were off whispering in the ear of the jury in a criminal trial, giving them inside information or hearsay, it would and should be declared an immediate mistrial.  Similarly, if the judge or jury were giving either defense attorney or prosecuting D.A. advice on how to advance the case in order to secure acquittal or conviction, it would violate those rules of impartiality.

Typically, Board members can only act on what is presented before them in a hearing.  And what is presented in a hearing is typically constrained to what can be gleaned from complaints, and backed up with evidence.  One shortcoming is that in many instances, the investigators are former law enforcement personnel, who may have excellent knowledge in gathering evidence, questioning witnesses and respondents, and so on - they typically do not have domain expertise in surveying, to know whether boundary discrepancies or other technical issues are significant or not.  Likewise, the prosecutors are attorneys, similarly with limited technical expertise.  Along with this, is typically a lack of in-house, independent technical expertise - an objective professional with no axes to grind.

While the system is not perfect, it is really not the problem.  The problem is broader, and cultural.  For one, surveyors are typically loath to turn in their fellow professionals, even when they are aware of gross incompetence.  And laymen typically don't have enough technical knowledge to know better, unless there is gross negligence or incompetence, such as failing to deliver.  This drags perceptions about surveyors down.  And further, the professional societies have become increasingly weak and ineffectual, falling further and further behind the times, particularly relative to the huge opportunities that surveyors should be exploring, such as GIS - with far less cohesion, unity and clarity of vision than other professional societies.

We are indeed in trouble, folks.  This should be a wake-up call to professionals in all jurisdictions, to re-think and re-evaluate, and re-group for the future.

Reply by Jaybird on February 13, 2011 at 2:57pm

anonymous responder #2 says:

Yes, Justin and there are many things that have been difficult to put into words.   I have been trying to think of the words that will explain how and why the process has become so corrupted in reason.

The Board pays people who "admittedly" are not surveyors and they hire other surveyors who are known for their cruelty to build a case against a surveyor that is so overwhelming and filled with technical traps, that the surveyor cannot afford to defend themselves.  These investigators get paid big bucks to spend many hours to pile up volumes of wording that can make a surveyor  look horrible when the surveyor has done a fantastic job to provide his client with the evidence and documents to solve a fence or other boundary feature problem.
If the State would put the investigation effort to figuring out why the client filed the complaint and discovered the truth that the client had been advised by a relative who wanted the estate of the client and found a way to keep from paying for the survey that started the whole bolder rolling to destroy the surveyor with over 35 years of experience and valuable services, then the frivolous and vivacious complaints would stop.  
I ran across and article about California.  They have already realized that they Board needs to protect surveyors from the dead beat clients who expect the surveyor to work for free and then be devastated by a Board to put them out of business and harm their reputation and family forever.  They are literally and figuratively murdering hard working, experienced, senior, surveyors who have dedicated their life and dreams to making the world a better place by providing the public evidence so they can understand the position of their property and features related to the evidence of their property boundary. 

Reply by Pam Broviak on February 13, 2011 at 8:53am

Not sure my opinion on this will be popular, but I have to wonder if this is just one effect of the profession's decision many years ago to limit licensure to a select few. I've worked in and around surveying long enough (about 30 years) to have watched it go from granting licenses to professional engineers to restricting licenses to those with advanced degrees and experience strictly in land surveying. From watching all that unfold, I realize this was done to limit competition. But I remember through it all wondering if it would have a negative effect. It seemed to close off the profession to those like myself who had a strong interest and involvement in it. People like me had to make a choice to either get a professional engineer's license or a land surveyor's license because getting both was very difficult. I still perform work related to land surveying, but now I either perform work not requiring a license or I do the work under a lawyer's oversight.

So while reducing numbers might have limited competition, it also reduced input of money, interest, and resources into the profession. And we all understand in the political arena, you have more leverage the greater your membership. Closing off the profession also has seemed to push surveyors into their own little corner. I see so many areas where technology has opened new business opportunities for surveyors, but because of this decision to close the profession off to anyone else, I don't see surveyors on the teams delivering these services.


What's the solution and can this be turned around? From working in land surveying, I realize you do need to ensure someone has relevant experience before granting them a license. So you can't just start handing out licenses to anyone with a transit and range pole. But perhaps what the profession needs to do is evaluate the direction they chose many many years ago. Increasing numbers would help with these political issues like making sure state boards a

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