By the Division of Professional Licensure

The Board of Registration of Professional Engineers and Professional Land Surveyors ("the Board") voted at its meeting on Thursday, October 29 th, 2009 to adopt the following Policy Guideline. This policy guideline is intended as a recommended protocol for the profession to follow. The guideline set forth below does not have the full force and effect of law, as would a Massachusetts General Law or a Board rule or regulation. However, the Board uses policy guidelines as an internal management tool in formulating decisions that relate to issues in the practice of engineering and land surveying.

Policy No. 10-01

Purpose:

The purpose of this policy statement is to offer guidance and provide some clarification to Licensees regarding the use of electronic signatures on drawings and/or documents produced by the Licensee personally and/or under the Licensee's direct personal supervision.

Policy:

At its regularly scheduled Board meeting on Thursday, October 29 th, 2009, the Board voted to adopt the following policy:

  • Whenever all parties to a transaction agree to transmit a document bearing an original signature and stamp electronically, the document must be accompanied by a properly encrypted digital signature. A digital signature must have an electronic authentication process attached to it such that it can only be associated with the Licensee, is capable of verification, and is linked uniquely to the underlying documents in a manner that invalidates the signature if any part of the document is changed.
  • The digital certificate and associated private key used to digitally sign the documents must be under the sole and exclusive control of the Licensee, e.g. kept on a smart card when access to the computer used to apply the digital signature cannot be controlled.
  • The handwritten signatures of the licensees must be affixed adjacent to and below the Licensee's seal.

Discussion:

Pursuant to G.L. c. 112 § 81M, "[p]lans, specifications, plats and reports whenever stamped with the seal of a registered professional engineer or professional land surveyor shall be signed by the registrant named thereon. The use of a facsimile signature stamp shall not be deemed to comply with this section. "

Under 250 CMR 3.05 (3), however, "The seal is to be used only by the registrant personally, and only on drawings and/or documents produced by the registrant personally or under the registrant's direct personal supervision. Each time the seal is used, the registrant shall (if not included on the seal) indicate the discipline in which registered, the date and affix the registrant's signature in a legible manner. "

References:

MGL C112, S81M (last paragraph)

250 CMR 3.05 (1), (3) & (4)

MGL C110G