Land Surveyors Executive Summary

This preliminary performance review of the West Virginia State Board of Examiners of Land Surveyors, created in 1969 (§30-13A-1, West Virginia Code.), views the board from the perspective of efficiency of using one administrative staff to support related boards.

ISSUE AREA 1: The Administrative Functions of the Board of Examiners of Land Surveyors Should be Consolidated With Three Related Boards.

The performance evaluation issue of consolidation of administrative functions does not stem from the lack of performance by the Board of Examiners of Land Surveyors (BELS) , but rather addresses the larger issue of proliferation of licensing boards in West Virginia. There are three reasons to consolidate the administrative staff of related Boards: (1) proliferation of licensing boards creates duplication and reduces accountability; (2) economy of scale of staffing skills in administering exams, processing licenses, investigating complaints, are transferable, and provides a centralized location of files and improved support to the boards; and (3) geographic dispersion of boards around the state reduces accessibility to the public. The public and the four professions can be better served by consolidating the administrative functions of related licensing boards, thereby reducing duplication, improving accountability, increasing efficiency through skilled staff, streamlining processes and staggering license renewal, improving investigation of complaints and increasing accountability to the public. The self- regulation of these professions is not the issue. The Legislative Auditor does not propose consolidation of the boards into a single board, instead, the Legislative Auditor proposes merely the consolidation of the boards' administrative functions.

Currently, the West Virginia Board of Examiners of Land Surveyors is located in Fayetteville. This board was created to serve and protect the public from unqualified individuals practicing land surveying. The Legislative Auditor selected three related boards which share parts of a larger process in the construction industry. They are: the West Virginia State Board of Registration for Professional Engineers, located in Charleston; the West Virginia State Board of Architects, located in Huntington; and the West Virginia State Board of Landscape Architects, located in Morgantown. Legislative Auditors selected these boards because they share similar requirements, powers, and duties with the Land Surveyors Board.

Of the four licensing boards being discussed, the Board of Professional Engineers is the only one that is located in Charleston. Since the State Capitol is located in Charleston, it is the logical place that the public will first try to locate a particular board. By having these boards located in different cities, the public is put at a disadvantage. In some instances, the location of licensing boards is determined by the hometown of appointed members. For example, the Land Surveyors Board's Secretary resides in Fayetteville and has one staff person who lives close by the office. Also, the Chairman of the Landscape Architects Board is a faculty member at West Virginia University and has one staff person who is an employee of the university and works for the Board on an as need basis.

According to the Land Surveyors Board members, the Board's office needs to be located in or near the hometown of where the Secretary of the Board resides. However, the West Virginia Constitution, Article 6, §20 states, ... "The seat of government shall be at Charleston, until otherwise provided by law." Legislative Auditors checked nine telephone books throughout the state for listing of the boards; no boards were listed in five of the nine. In addition, the Land Surveyors Board's clerk told Legislative Auditors that on several occasions people have contacted the Board's office only after being referred by a surveyor or a legislator.

Several states have combined boards or staff in one centralized location. These professions include land surveying, professional engineering, architecture, and landscape architecture. Legislative Auditors contacted boards in Minnesota, South Dakota, Kansas, Virginia, Arizona, and North Carolina to compare the number of full-time staff, board members, people licensed or registered, annual operating budget, and average cost of a license. (See Table Two on page 14).

The Executive Director of the Arizona Board sums it up well: "A single board handling dealing with all of the issues increases communication between the professions and reduces the possibility of professional bias becoming a major driving force. The cited professions have some natural relationships in the performance of their professional duties and there is some cross profession knowledge and also some concerns about practice impacts. The issues, I believe, get a more balanced discussion and the decisions, in my opinion, are more moderate and more in the public's best interest."