Engineering Policies, Politics, and Pragmatism

by Robert F. Baker, (F.ASCE), Consultant; Bethesda, MD,

Serial Information: Transportation Engineering Journal of ASCE, 1974, Vol. 100, Issue 1, Pg. 121-134

Document Type: Journal Paper


Civil engineers need a new process, termed policy development, in order to fulfill their role in influencing the course of civilization. Policy decisions control how resources are used, and therefore policy decisions control the effectiveness of the civil engineer. Good analyses will lead to objective results as to the consequences of providing or of not providing facilities. The decision hinges upon the political view of the alternative consequences. It is the role of the political process to make these fundamental choices between achieving alternative benefits or rejecting adverse effects. Civil engineers should assure that both the positive and negative effects are known before the decision is made. The political system can be influenced by lobbying or being a proponent for a decision or by providing reliable information or data. The latter is the professional role of the civil engineer.

Subject Headings: Political factors | Freight terminals | Hinges | System reliability

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