The American Council of Engineering Companies is a business association committed to advancing the private practice of consulting engineering, educating public officials on the importance of infrastructure investment, and promoting sound business practices within the industry. We are the local chapter of the national organization that keeps our members informed on issues affecting their industry and profession at the federal, state and local level. ACEC Houston has over 230 civil, structural, geotechnical and MEP engineering companies as members in the Houston metropolitan region.
We are actively involved with public works agencies to resolve problems and issues common to the industry. We are a forum for the interchange of ideas, a source of technical information and expertise to public agencies on the review of their design criteria, guidelines and standards as well as a political voice for engineering interests in the Houston metropolitan region. ACEC Houston works to advance the interests of the private practicing engineer as a whole in a way that no single firm can do on its own.
As local governments struggle with competing demands on their available funds and resources, it is important that their officials be reminded that the community’s quality of life is directly affected by its infrastructure. This was brought into stark focus during Hurricane Harvey, but it also plays out on a daily basis as people deal with overcrowded roadways, potholed pavements, missing sidewalks, and lack of connectivity. The Houston region’s economic engine that provides the jobs and prosperity that brought us all together is also dependent upon adequately functioning infrastructure. Individuals who have not yet found economic success are no less dependent on a healthy local economy that can provide them a path to economic stability.
So, though infrastructure is not an issue that tugs at one's heartstrings, in many ways it is more important to every individual’s well-being than any program that seeks to aid the individual. ACEC continually brings this focus to elected officials through routine interface with area policy makers.
- Our Governmental Affairs Committee laid the groundwork for the formation of ReNew Houston, Inc. This entity led a community-wide effort in 2010 to successfully pass Proposition 1 in a City of Houston Charter Amendment election. It established a dedicated, pay-as-you-go fund to maintain and improve the City’s drainage and street infrastructure. The program (on the ballot as Proposition A) was re-validated by the citizens of Houston in November 2018 by an overwhelming 74%.
- Since Hurricane Harvey we have worked with the City of Houston, Harris County Engineering Department and the Harris County Flood Control District in providing technical expertise in the revisions to their guidelines on Floodplain Management, drainage criteria, and storm water management guidelines.
- Assisted our state organization by lobbying in support of the Qualifications Based Selection law and against a State legislative initiative to introduce competitive bidding for professional engineering services.
- Worked with the City of Houston on writing its initial Infrastructure Design Manual.
- Provided preliminary engineering for the first 14 Neighborhoods to Standard for the City of Houston.
- Worked closely with Harris County to develop and implement the "Express Plan Review Sheet" currently in use by the engineering community.
- Worked with both the City of Houston and Harris County to revise many contract points in their standard engineering services contracts.
- Drafted the first Design Criteria Manual and Detention Policy for Harris County Flood Control District.
- On a continuing basis proposed changes in the design criteria of the City of Houston, Harris County and Harris County Flood Control District.
ACEC Houston has a Board of Directors and an Executive Director who guide the organization. They meet on a regular basis with officials in our public agencies to address current concerns. Many issues are ongoing or require additional work. Those are steered to one or more of our standing committees for resolution. The ongoing relationships and communications we have established with the local government agencies provide us with the ability to work on issues and bring about timely responses to our members concerns.
Much of the work of ACEC Houston is accomplished through its standing committees and the volunteer efforts of its members. The committees formulate a consensus among the various engineering firms in Houston. That consensus of opinion is recommended to our Board, which presents it to the various agencies. Any representative from a member firm is allowed to participate in our standing committees.
ACEC Houston’s Standing Committees
Contracts: Communicates ACEC Houston member concerns regarding professional services contracts with local public entities. Reviews changes to public agencies standard contracts and provides input to eliminate or minimize conditions or language which would have a negative impact on our members' businesses.
Design Standards/Plan Review: Provides the focus for review of design criteria standards of the regulatory agencies and plan review issues. It serves as a conduit through which we recommend revisions and additions to the design criteria standards of the various public agencies that our members work. The Committee holds a monthly meeting at which representatives from the regulatory agencies attend to discuss and work on issues of concern.
Geotechnical: Reviews geotechnical issues as related to civil engineering projects with public agencies.
Membership & Program Development: Recruits new members; arranges special events for members; and coordinates events with our state organization. Our Emerging Leaders Program is implemented by this Committee by annually conducting an Emerging Leaders Class (September – May) in which members who are progressing in the leadership ranks within their companies receive an overview of ACEC activities, its governance, committee structure and an understanding of ACEC’s role in assisting member companies.
Stormwater Management: Serves as a resource to public agencies and offers ACEC Houston members recourse for drainage and flood control issues. Reviews storm water permitting issues and drainage design criteria. Keeps members apprised of new or changing regulations.
Transportation: The committee focuses on issues concerning all aspects of transportation. The committee provides input to local government agencies concerning transportation issues, policies and rules.
Water Resources: The committee focuses on water supply issues. It brings to the Board's attention any water supply issues that may need further pursuit through the Board.
Governmental Affairs Committee: The Governmental Affairs Committee (GAC) was established in the Spring of 1996-97 as the Political Action Committee (PAC) of the organization. The Committee participates in the development of the organization's positions on public policies in the Houston area that have a direct impact on member firms. The committee's members advocate the organization's positions to elected and public officials.
The ongoing relationships and communications we have established with the local government agencies provide us with the ability to work on issues and bring about timely responses to our members concerns. Below is a list of agencies we meet with on a routine basis.
- Houston Public Works Department – Director & Staff
- Harris County Flood Control District - Executive Director & Staff
- Harris County Engineering Department – County Engineer & Staff
- Harris County Toll Road Authority – Executive Director
- Metropolitan Transit Authority - Chairman and President & CEO
- Port of Houston
- TxDOT Houston District - District Engineer & Staff