NCARB Updates Model Rules of Conduct

After a three-year effort to review and strengthen the role of ethics in the regulation of architecture, the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB) refreshed its Model Rules of Conduct to emphasize the organization’s commitment to professional conduct. Approved by delegates at the organization’s 99th Annual Business Meeting, the updated Rules serves as a national model that each board can adopt to ensure ethical practice among architects.

Workplace demeanor and professionalism in business relationships have recently moved to the forefront of national conversation. However, NCARB’s deep dive into the topic began in 2015 when then-president Dennis S. Ward, FAIA, NCARB, established an Ethics Task Force. Comprised of architects, attorneys, educators, and other volunteers, the task force was charged with reviewing the existing Rules of Conduct and determining how ethics could be more prominently featured in the relationship between architects, NCARB, and licensing boards.

“Among other issues, the task force intentionally referenced harassment as a focal concern,” said Ward. “It’s affirming to see that the ethical guidelines our volunteers have crafted over the past three years will help address the issues highlighted by current social movements.”

In addition to harassment, the refreshed Model Rules of Conduct lays out the obligation to report unethical conduct, a principle commonly accepted in other learned professions, such as law and medicine. The Rules also outlines the critical role that Architectural Experience Program® (AXP™) supervisors play in training future architects, and requires that supervisors maintain objectivity when reviewing experience reports.

“The Model Rules of Conduct serves as both an important regulatory tool for licensing boards and a statement to all NCARB Record holders,” said NCARB CEO Michael J. Armstrong. “It has the potential to lift architecture to the same high standards held by other professions.”

The document is designed to be adopted by licensing boards across the United States, with language that is easily understood, implemented, and adapted as necessary. Accordingly, NCARB will continue to base any discipline of its Certificate holders on actions taken at the licensing board level.

In addition to the updated Model Rules of Conduct, delegates at the Annual Business Meeting also approved a realignment of the continuing education categories laid out in NCARB’s Legislative Guidelines and Model Law/Model Regulations. With this change, the categories that count toward health, safety, and welfare continuing education hours now align with the AXP and the Architect Registration Examination® (ARE®) 5.0 divisions. The redefined categories better reflect current trends and evolving technologies, and allow for simpler modifications to keep up with changes in the practice of architecture.

Other updates approved at the Annual Business Meeting include eliminating the need for an Education Evaluation Services for Architects (EESA) for architects completing the Certificate Portfolio path (a savings of more than $2,200), as well as several housekeeping edits to the NCARB Bylaws.

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