Frank Bott studied Mathematics at Trinity College Cambridge, where he was awarded the Yates Prize. He worked in the University's Computing. download the eBook Professional Issues in Information Technology by Frank Bott online from Australia's leading online eBook store. Download eBooks from. Professional Issues in Information Technology by Frank Bott, , available at Book Depository with free delivery worldwide.
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Professional Issues in Information Technology . professional-issues-USA: Layout 1 25/02/ Page 1 Frank Bott To function DOWNLOAD PDF. This book addresses the social, legal, financial, organisational and ethical issues relevant to IT professionals. It is designed to accompany the BCS HEQ 'Diploma in IT' core module: Professional Issues in Information Systems Practice. Add tags for "Professional issues in. The right of Frank Bott to be identified as author of this work has been asserted by him in accordance with. Sections PROFESSIONAL ISSUES IN INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY. 4. .. musicmarkup.info
History[ edit ] Windows 8. In particular, the report detailed that Microsoft was planning to shift to a more "continuous" development model, which would see major revisions to its main software platforms released on a consistent yearly cycle to keep up with market demands. Lending credibility to the reports, Foley noted that a Microsoft staff member had listed experience with "Windows Blue" on his LinkedIn profile, and listed it as a separate operating system from 8. The build, which was believed to be of "Windows Blue", revealed a number of enhancements across Windows 8's interface, including additional size options for tiles, expanded color options on the Start screen, the expansion of PC Settings to include more options that were previously exclusive to the desktop Control Panel , the ability for apps to snap to half of the screen, the ability to take screenshots from the Share charm, additional stock apps, increased SkyDrive integration such as automatic device backups and Internet Explorer Shaw officially acknowledged the "Blue" project, stating that continuous development would be "the new normal" at Microsoft, and that "our product groups are also taking a unified planning approach so people get what they want—all of their devices, apps and services working together wherever they are and for whatever they are doing. Following a keynote presentation focusing on this version, the public beta of Windows 8. The company released recovery media and instructions which could be used to repair the device, and restored access to Windows RT 8.
First, the use of the name of the profession may be restricted to those people who are appropriately qualified. A restriction of this sort is called reservation of title.
In the UK, for example, the Architects Act makes it a criminal offence to call yourself an architect unless you are registered with the Architects Registration Board. Secondly, the law may state that certain activities are restricted to people with appropriate qualifications.
This is called reservation of function. For example, in England and Wales, only members of the Institute of Chartered Accountants and the Association of Certified Accountants are allowed to audit the accounts of public companies. Auditing accounts is an example of reservation of function where there is no corresponding reservation of title. Anyone can call themselves an accountant, provided this is not done for fraudulent purposes.
An example where both reservation of title and reservation of function apply is veterinary surgery. Under the Veterinary Surgeons Act , you are not allowed to call yourself a veterinary surgeon unless you are registered with the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons RCVS ; in order to be registered, you must have the proper qualifications. And, subject to certain limitations, it is a criminal offence to carry out surgical procedures on animals unless you are registered with the RCVS.
In the USA, title and function are usually reserved not to members of professional bodies, but to people whose names are on a register maintained by a state government. Recent developments have shown a tendency for the UK to move in the same direction. The Act established the Architects Registration Board, registration with which now replaces membership of the RIBA as the requirement for calling yourself an architect.
The reason for this change is that professional bodies are often seen as white collar trade unions, which use their monopoly power to limit competition and maintain high charges for their services, while doing little to enforce the codes of conduct that they publish. Traditional engineers design and build a wide variety of objects — dams, bridges, aeroplanes, cars, radio and television transmitters and receivers, computers, plants to make fertiliser or plastics, and so on.
There are two constraints that apply to all such activities and which can be regarded as characteristic of engineering: These characteristics are not shared by activities such as accounting, consultancy, marketing, or medicine; this is not to criticize such activities, simply to point out that they are of a different nature. On the other hand, most software development does share these characteristics. This is why the terms software engineering and information systems engineering have come into use and why the rest of this chapter will be concerned specifically with the status of engineering as a profession.
In the USA, the profession is very strictly controlled. Both the title of engineer and the function of engineering are reserved. Because the relevant legislation is state legislation rather than federal legislation, the details vary a little from state to state. Essentially, however, the position is that: In most states, this legislation was introduced in the first half of the 20th century, following a number of disasters in which members of the public were killed and much damage was done by the failure of engineering works, typically large civil engineering works.
The public examination in the principles and practice of engineering is taken in the specific branch of engineering in which the candidate has worked. Fifteen such branches are recognized and some allow candidates to specialize in a sub-branch, giving a total of 27 areas, ranging from agricultural engineering to structural engineering.
The only one of the 27 areas that approaches information systems engineering or software engineering is the computer sub-branch of the electrical 14 The Nature of a Profession and computer engineering branch. Although a part of this is concerned with software, it is primarily aimed at hardware engineers. In practice, this rule is enforced rather patchily.
On the other hand, Tennessee prohibits the use of the term software engineering in business literature and advertising and the University of Texas has been prevented from offering degrees in software engineering. There have been recent attempts to introduce a software engineering branch into the principles and practice examination.
Unfortunately, these attempts have been unsuccessful because of the difficulty of agreeing on the material to be covered. The situation in the USA represents an extreme form of regulation.
While some professions the law, veterinary medicine, for example in the UK are regulated in very similar ways, engineering is not. Neither the title of engineer nor the function of engineering are in any way reserved.
Anyone is free to call themselves an engineer and to carry out engineering work. Nevertheless, the engineering profession in the UK has a formal structure and meets the criteria for a profession identified at the beginning of this chapter.
There are 35 engineering institutions covering the different branches of engineering. Most of these were established in the 19th century as the different branches of engineering developed. They were, and still are, independent bodies. It was not until the early s that they began to see the value of co-operation and established the Council of Engineering Institutions. The low status of engineering in the UK was one of the major concerns that led to the setting up of the Council.
However, despite much good work by the Council, the status of engineers continued to be a problem and, in , the government set up a committee of enquiry into the engineering profession, chaired by Sir Monty Finniston, a distinguished engineer and industrialist. One of the key recommendations of the committee was the setting up of a statutory body to maintain registers of qualified engineers.
In the event, the government did not accept the recommendation in that form but, instead, agreed to set up a chartered body to be called the Engineering Council, which would deal with issues affecting the engineering profession as a whole. The Engineering Council has undergone several changes since then and its latest charter was approved in The objectives of the Engineering Council are to advance education in, and to promote the science and practice of, engineering including relevant technology for the public benefit and thus to promote industry and commerce in the UK and elsewhere.
In order to do this, it does the following: In particular, it has a duty under its charter to maintain a register of engineers in three sections, one section for chartered engineers, one for incorporated engineers, and one for professional engineering technicians.
Each of the 35 engineering institutions is licensed to nominate suitably qualified members to the appropriate section of the register. The Engineering Council UK gives the following definition of the three sections of the register: Chartered Engineers are characterized by their ability to develop appropriate solutions to engineering problems, using new or existing technologies, through innovation, creativity and change.
They might develop and apply new technologies, promote advanced designs and design methods, introduce new and more efficient production techniques, marketing and construction concepts, pioneer new engineering services and management methods.
To this end, they maintain and manage applications of current and developing technology, and may undertake engineering design, development, manufacture and operation.
Professional Engineering Technicians are involved in applying proven techniques and procedures to the solution of practical engineering problems. They carry supervisory or technical responsibility, and are competent to exercise creative aptitudes and skills within defined fields of technology.
Professional Engineering Technicians contribute to the design, development, manufacture, commissioning, operation or maintenance of products, equipment, processes or services. Professional Engineering Technicians are required to apply safe systems of work. In addition, candidates must be able to demonstrate appropriate professional 16 The Nature of a Profession experience.
There is a similar requirement to demonstrate appropriate professional experience. For registration as a Professional Engineering Technician, a wider range of qualifications is available but essentially these amount to two years of relevant further education plus appropriate professional experience.
Through its licensed members, the Engineering Council UK operates a system of accreditation for educational qualifications. This means that specific qualifications from specific institutions are recognized as meeting the educational requirements for specific levels of registration.
The qualifications of candidates for registration who do not have accredited qualifications have to be assessed individually; a time-consuming process. More details of the accreditation process are given in the next chapter. They are intended to encourage the movement of qualified professionals between countries of the EU. The general principle is that, if you are qualified to practise your profession in one country of the EU, you will be treated as qualified to practise it in any country of the EU.
Registration as a Chartered Engineer in the UK generally allows an engineer to be recognized as qualified to practise elsewhere in Europe. FEANI was founded in It maintains a register of European Engineers, that is, engineers who are qualified and registered at the level of Chartered Engineer in their own country and who have registered with FEANI.
They are entitled to use the title EurIng. Twenty-six countries belong to FEANI and the EurIng title indicates recognition of professional status by the professional bodies in all of them; legal recognition, however, applies only in the countries of the EU. In many of these countries, there is statutory protection of the title of engineer and in some it confers a licence to practise. The agreement is fairly limited: It does not imply any mutual recognition of professional qualifications such as registered or chartered engineer status.
This agreement is known as the Washington Accord. Since it was originally signed, Hong Kong and South Africa have also signed up to the agreement, and Germany, Malaysia, Japan and Singapore are currently signed up provisionally.
More recently, the Washington Accord has been supplemented by the Sydney Accord and the Dublin Accord , which provide for similar mutual recognition for accredited academic qualifications leading to professional qualifications at the level of IEng and at the level of engineering technician, respectively. Not all the signatories to the Washington Accord are signatories to these later agreements. The Register began operation in and is open to engineers qualified at the level of Chartered Engineer.
The intention is to work towards mutual recognition of professional engineering qualifications i. Therac in the USA and the London Ambulance System in the UK are only two of many examples that show how the professional incompetence of software developers can lead to avoidable deaths. In both these examples, the developers lacked any professional qualifications in software engineering and were ignorant of such elementary topics as the risks of concurrent access to shared memory and the dangers of dynamic memory allocation, as well as many more advanced topics.
While the immediate cause of the failure of these systems was programming error arising from ignorance of elementary topics, these errors occurred in a context that showed a much broader lack of professionalism.
Danger to the public arising from professional incompetence was one of the driving forces that led to American legislation reserving the engineering function to those who were properly registered and hence appropriately qualified. It is not surprising, therefore, that there have been calls for the compulsory registration of software engineers and for legislation to ensure that software engineering activities are carried out under the supervision of registered software engineers. Furthermore, the profession is very divided on the issue.
Some members of the profession have advocated a legal requirement that all software must be written by registered software engineers, or at least under their supervision.
Such a regulation would be impossible to enforce. The number of people qualified to be registered as software engineers is vastly fewer than the number of people developing software. If such a regulation were introduced, the amount of new software that could be developed would be enormously reduced or, more likely, software development would go underground. Furthermore, there would be considerable opposition to the regulation. Many software developers would see it as an attempt to establish a monopoly by a small number of people with specific qualifications, with the intention of pushing up their own earnings.
The public would share this view and see the move as unnecessary, because most software is not critical. By a critical system, we mean a system whose failure to operate correctly could result in physical injury or loss of life, or catastrophic economic damage.
Society is justified in demanding that such systems are designed and implemented by properly qualified and experienced engineers. One difficulty is that the boundary between critical and non-critical systems is not always well defined. A second difficulty is that many Chartered Engineers who are qualified in software engineering have not studied the rather specialized techniques needed for working on critical systems.
Nor, for the jobs they are doing, is it necessary that they should. In the UK context, compulsory reservation of function for software engineers, even for critical systems work, is unlikely to be realistic except as part of a move towards reservation of function for engineers more generally. There is little sign of this happening. If anything, it is indirect pressures from the Health and Safety Executive or from insurers providing professional indemnity insurance that is likely to increase the emphasis on registration as a Chartered Engineer.
At the upper level is the Engineering Council. Its members are the professional engineering institutions. Individuals can only be members of the latter. The Engineering Council itself has responsibility for matters affecting the engineering profession as a whole.
In particular, it lays down general criteria for entry to the profession and is responsible for maintaining registers of qualified engineers. It also has responsibility for promoting the public image of engineering. The second level consists of the professional engineering institutions themselves. There are some 40 of these and they are specific to particular engineering disciplines. They interpret the Engineering Council regulations regarding registration in the context of their own discipline and nominate suitably qualified members for registration.
They also promote education and continuing professional development in the discipline, and function as learned societies in encouraging and facilitating research. The technological revolution that began in the s showed the need for interdisciplinary engineering and the status of engineering in the UK was felt to be low. The CEI set up the present three tiers of engineering qualifications and the registration system that supports it. It did not, however, succeed in making employers or the general public respect the qualifications.
In , the Labour government set up a commission of enquiry into the engineering profession under Sir Monty Finniston. This recommended statutory registration of engineers, but not statutory licensing of engineers. It also recommended the introduction of BEng and MEng degrees.
While the report was accepted, its recommendations were not acted upon in the original form. It led to the formation of the Engineering Council, but as a chartered body rather than a statutory body.
Despite these changes the status remained low and so the government set up the Finniston enquiry in The enquiry recommended the statutory registration of engineers. Following the report of that enquiry, a chartered body, the Engineering Council, was formed to implement a uniform system of qualifications CEng, IEng, EngTech based on the accreditation of academic awards BEng, MEng degrees and HNDs and recognition of approved experience, and to maintain a register of qualified engineers.
This was to be done through the member bodies, that is, the professional engineering institutions. The BCS was formed in Discuss this statement by comparing the information systems development profession with other professions such as medicine and law.
The introduction to this chapter lists four characteristics: All of these characteristics apply to law and medicine. In both cases, to be registered as a member of the profession, you must pass a lengthy sequence of exams, either set by the professional bodies or set by institutions accredited by them. The professional bodies the Law Society, the Bar Council, the General Medical Council, and the Royal Colleges also lay down the level of practical experience required for registration and set and enforce codes of conduct.
None of these characteristics apply to information systems development in general. There are very large numbers of people who develop information systems who have no formal education or training in the field; they do not belong to any professional body and are subject to no code of conduct.
It cannot therefore be said that information systems development is a profession. FURTHER READING The primary sources for the material in this chapter are the statutes governing the various professions in different countries or different states with federal countries, the charters, bye-laws and other documents produced by the professional institutions.
Most of these are readily available on the web. The following list gives the addresses of the websites of the most relevant bodies referred to in this chapter: A fairly typical example of the legislation governing the engineering profession in the USA can be found in Chapter Architects, Professional Engineers, Land Surveyors and Landscape Architects of the Revised Statutes of the State of Missouri, available on the website www.
The following article, by the first person to be registered as a software engineer in Texas and in the USA, gives a good picture of the current position in that country. Bagert, Donald J. Communications of the ACM, 45 11 , 92— The Washington Accord has an informative website at www. Two of the best documented and most instructive examples are those referred to above, namely the London Ambulance System and Therac The authoritative description of the London Ambulance disaster will be found in: This report and some related material are available on the web through: A readily available source is: Leveson, Nancy, and Turner, Clark S.
IEEE Computer, 25 7 , 18— An updated version of the paper is available from sunnyday. In this chapter, we shall look at some of the ways in which they serve their members and the public.
The emphasis will be on the activities of the BCS, but we shall refer to the activities of other professional bodies where this is appropriate. It was under the aegis of the IEEE that the first professional society in the field of computing was founded in This was founded in and now has over 75, members. The BCS was founded in Initially it saw itself as primarily a learned society and a British equivalent of the ACM.
However, the way that the professions are organized and regulated in the UK led it to see itself increasingly as a professional, qualification-awarding body. This position was formalized 25 Professional Issues in Information Technology in the mids. It was founded in and today has over , members worldwide.
For many years, it restricted its activities in computing to hardware and to scientific and engineering software; in particular, it held itself aloof from work in information systems. Nowadays, however, it is active across the whole range of software and hardware. The s saw a great expansion in national computer societies. The Italian Association for Informatics and Automatic Computing was formed in , societies in the individual states of Australia were formed in the next few years and joined together to form the Australian Computer Society in This, indeed, is one of the most important characteristics of a professional body.
Sometimes the code is called a code of ethics. There is some confusion about terminology in this area. In this book, we shall regard codes of ethics and codes of conduct as meaning the same thing. A code of practice is different, however. A code of conduct sets out the standards of behaviour that members of the body are expected to follow in their professional life.
It looks outwards, in the sense that it is concerned with the relationship between members and society as a whole. A code of practice lays down the best way to practise your profession. For example, it might contain a clause such as: It has been revised many times since it was first formulated. The result is a code that is easy for the ordinary member to understand. The Code is divided into the following sections: The Public Interest 2. Duty to the Relevant Authority 3.
Duty to the Profession 4. This is what society has the right to demand of any professional. It 26 Professional Bodies in Computing is also stated that if members find that their professional advice is being ignored, they must point out the likely consequences.
The section goes on to say that members are required to be aware of, and to comply with, relevant aspects of the law and other forms of regulation. More generally, they are required to safeguard public health, protect the environment, avoid discrimination and have regard for human rights.
They are very specifically forbidden to accept bribes. Oddly, perhaps, there is no similar explicit statement forbidding members from offering bribes, although this would certainly contravene some of the more general clauses in the Code. Duty to the Relevant Authority The term relevant authority means the person or organization that has authority over what you are doing.
If you are employed by an organization, this is likely to be your employer; if you are an independent consultant, it will be your client; and if you are a student, it will be your school, college or university. In some cases, there may be several relevant authorities; for example, if you are a part-time student who is also employed part time, then the relevant authority as far as your work as a student is concerned will be your school or college, but the relevant authority in your employment will be your employer.
Members of the BCS are expected to behave professionally towards the relevant authority and this means, in particular, the following: Suppose, for example, that your client has asked you to select the supplier for a new and expensive computer system and your husband or wife is the sales manager of one of the potential suppliers. In this situation, it may well be that your judgement would be compromised.
You should tell your client about the conflict of interest and explain that it would be better if they found someone else to make the selection. This clause addresses a failing which is, sadly, only too common in the software industry. The law relating to confidential information is covered in Chapter Duty to the Profession Like other professions, information systems professionals have not always had a good press. System development has been plagued by delays, budget overruns and complete failures, and these have been well publicized.
Too 27 Professional Issues in Information Technology often, the systems themselves do not meet the needs of their users. And information systems professionals have, on occasions, been perceived as behaving in an unprofessional manner. The purpose of this section of the Code is to impress on members what is expected of them in order to uphold the reputation and good standing of the BCS in particular, and the profession in general.
Professional Competence and Integrity In many ways this is the section of the code that is most immediately relevant to the day-to-day activities of information systems professionals in the first few years of their career. It requires members of the Society to keep their professional skills up to date and to encourage those who work for them to do the same; to follow appropriate codes of practice and other standards; and not to claim to be competent in areas where they are not.
Much of this section implies a commitment to continuing professional development, a topic that is developed further later in this chapter. Status of professional codes of conduct Most professional bodies have codes of conduct to which members are expected to adhere and most have procedures that allow them to take disciplinary action against members who break their code, with expulsion as the ultimate sanction.
Where membership of the professional body confers a licence to practice, as in the case of the Law Society, this is a very serious punishment, since expulsion deprives expelled members of the right to earn their living in their chosen profession.
Most codes of conduct contain some very precise rules and some rather vague or aspirational ones. It states: You shall notify the Society if convicted of a criminal offence or upon becoming bankrupt or disqualified as Company Director.
This is quite clear. There is little doubt about what it means and, in any specific case, it should be clear whether or not a member has complied with this rule.
Clause 2, on the other hand, is much more vague: In your professional role you shall have regard for the public health, safety and environment.
While no one can quarrel with this precept, it will not always be clear whether a particular development is or is not consistent with improvement in public health, safety and the environment. Some people would regard any work carried out for the nuclear industry as being detrimental to public health, safety and the environment.
On the other hand, it is argued by others that the use of nuclear power stations to generate electricity is beneficial to the environment 28 Professional Bodies in Computing because it avoids carbon dioxide emissions.
It would thus be unreasonable for the Society to take disciplinary action against members working in the nuclear industry, even though many other members might feel passionately that such work was dangerous to health, safety and the environment. In practice, it is only possible to take disciplinary action in cases where the rule that has been broken is a precisely specified and objective one.
At that time there were only a few degree programmes in computing. The primary purpose of the BCS exams at that time was to provide a route by which those who had acquired professional skills in computing as a result of their experience could have these skills recognized and thus qualify for professional membership of the Society. In recent years, the increased availability of higher education in the UK and, in particular, the large number of courses in the various branches of computing have resulted in a substantial reduction in the number of UK candidates for the examination.
However, this has been balanced by a substantial increase in the number of overseas candidates, a result of the success of the examinations and the international esteem in which they are held. As well as the normal written examinations, projects are assessed at Diploma and Professional Graduate Diploma levels. The Professional Graduate Diploma and project is considered to be the equivalent of an honours degree.
It is aimed at people with professional IT experience but no qualifications, those who have completed a non-IT education at any level , and younger students interested in entering the IT industry.
A few other computer societies operate examination schemes. The Australian Computer Society has, for a number of years, operated its own system of examinations, somewhat comparable with the BCS Certificate and Diploma examinations but without the project. Accreditation and exemption The term accreditation is used with a confusing variety of related meanings. In the context of engineering in the UK, it refers to a process carried out by professional engineering institutions on behalf of the Engineering Council.
Under this process, specific academic awards made by specific institutions of higher education are recognized as satisfying the academic requirements, or part of the academic requirements, for registration as Chartered Engineer, Incorporated Engineer or Engineering Technician.
The typical situation for the BCS is that a university wishes to have several of its degrees accredited. It prepares a substantial submission to the Society. Detailed descriptions of the courses are required, as well as copies of recent examination papers and final-year student projects. Information is also required about the staff and laboratory resources available and the quality assurance procedures. A panel from the Society then visits the university to talk to the staff and students and inspect the facilities.
Assuming that the requirements for accreditation are satisfied, accreditation is normally granted for a five year period. Accreditation may be granted at CEng or IEng level and it may be full accreditation or it may be partial accreditation.
In the case of partial accreditation, holders of the qualification will be expected to gain some further academic qualifications before they can satisfy the educational requirements for registration as CEng or IEng. The courses are intended as training courses for staff working in the industry. The Society does not itself provide the training courses; they are provided by outside training organizations.
ISEB determines the syllabus for each course, accredits training organizations that wish to run courses, and sets and marks the examinations. This is a European-wide qualification that enables people to demonstrate their competence in computer skills. It is designed specifically for those who wish to gain a basic qualification in computing to help them with their current job, develop their IT skills, and enhance their career prospects.
An advanced ECDL is also available. Thus it was possible for a doctor, a dentist or a solicitor to practise for 40 years without any formal requirement to update their knowledge. Of course, most professionals were aware of the need to do this and would take whatever opportunities were available. Nevertheless, these opportunities might not be readily available and the pressures of day-to-day work might make it difficult for busy professionals to take advantage of them.
The increasing rate at which new knowledge was becoming available and existing knowledge was being used in new ways led, in the s, to increasing concern that professionals should keep their qualifications up to date and this process became known as continuing professional development.
In common with other professional engineering institutions, the BCS supports CPD both by providing a formal structure through which it can be recorded and assessed and by providing some of the means by which it can be achieved. This has been based on record cards and a log book, but from the end of it has become computer based.
This is the basic mechanism the Society provides to keep its members aware of new developments and current topics of interest to the profession. Recent issues have included articles on such diverse topics as new applications of artificial intelligence, career development schemes for IT staff, common mistakes that endanger security, and project reviews as a way of improving the management of projects.
Most professional bodies produce similar monthly publications for the same purpose. Through its branches, the Society provides its members with many opportunities for continuing professional development.
There are some 40 branches spread across the UK, as well as a number of overseas sections in such countries as Hong Kong, Mauritius and Sri Lanka. The branches provide an opportunity for members to meet together to share experiences, talk about common problems and listen to talks about new developments, both technical and professional. They provide a valuable opportunity to keep up to date for members in areas away from the main metropolitan areas and for those who may be the sole information systems professional in a company.
Career development and CPD services to the industry For many years, managing IT staff presented many problems to their employers. The chronic shortage of qualified and experienced staff together with the rapid pace of change made the problems particularly acute for large user organizations.
Such organizations were faced with the problem of where to place IT specialists in their staffing structures. Because of their scarcity, such staff could command high salaries but, elsewhere in organization, such salaries would be associated with substantial managerial responsibility. IT staff were anomalies who provoked both envy and disdain among their colleagues.
The model took the form of a matrix of roles, with one dimension indexed by speciality computer operations, network design, database design, programming, project management, and so on and the other indexed by level, from 1 to 8.
For each cell of the matrix, a description was provided that defined the criteria that a person should meet on entry to the role, the tasks an employee in that role is expected to perform and the level of competence expected, and a description of appropriate training and development activities.
Such a model means that a large employer has a systematic way of structuring IT roles and is therefore in a much better position to address the problems referred to in the previous paragraph.
SFIAplus is embedded in a range of BCS tools designed to support both the individual practitioner and employer organizations in developing skills and careers. This includes the BCS Skills Manager, a software product to allow the IT skills within an organization to be identified and managed effectively.
This is a software-based management system for applying structured and objective quality control to the training and development of individuals. Indeed, when the Society was founded in , this was its main concern. Many professional bodies began in the same way and most include the advancement of knowledge among their objectives. In practice, however, much of the research that contributes to the advancement of knowledge takes place in universities and in research establishments both public and private.
As a result, professional bodies tend to be more concerned with the dissemination of knowledge, through their publications, conferences that they organize or sponsor, and various other activities.
The first issue was published in and it has been published regularly ever since. Currently, six issues a year are published.
The Journal carries articles that present the results of research carried out in industry, in research establishments and in universities all over the world. Software previously known as the Software Engineering Journal , which concentrates on new developments in information systems engineering. These contain authoritative articles on new developments and current issues written at a level that practising professionals can understand. As well as the branches, the Society also supports a considerable number 33 Professional Issues in Information Technology of specialist groups.
These groups bring together people with interests in specific areas. They cover a wide range of specialist areas, from artificial intelligence to software testing, from human-computer interaction to law. They are particularly effective in spreading knowledge of good practice because they bring together practitioners from different organizations, all working in the same field, who learn from each other.
Many specialist groups have gone on to develop an extensive range of resources, from books and reports to specialized software, to disseminate knowledge about their specialized topic. Many of the specialist groups of the BCS organize or sponsor conferences. Conferences form a second important mechanism for disseminating advances in knowledge. However, the majority, though by no means all, of them are held in the USA. There is thus an important role for national societies in organizing national conferences.
The BCS and its specialist groups regularly organize or sponsor conferences in the UK in such diverse areas as human—computer interaction, configuration management, healthcare computing, and IT security.
Membership in the professional grades requires degree level qualifications in IT or substantial experience. For chartered professional status, both degree level qualifications and substantial experience are required. The criteria for membership in the professional and chartered professional grades are flexible but, for that very reason, they are complicated.
The descriptions given below are very much simplified and the BCS web pages should be consulted for precise and up-to-date information. Figure 3.
Student membership is open to those following an approved course of study leading to a qualification recognized for admission to Associate or Professional membership of the Society. Associate membership is open to anyone who has any of the following: The professional grades There are two professional grades: Member and Fellow.
In order to qualify for membership in the professional grades, you must have one of the following: Members are entitled to use the letters MBCS after their name. Fellow is the most senior professional grade.
It is open to applicants who can demonstrate a minimum of five years IT practitioner experience and 35 Professional Issues in Information Technology hold a senior IT position or who have an established reputation of eminence or authority in the field of IT. Fellows may use the letters FBCS after their names. The chartered professional grades In order to qualify for Chartered Professional status within the BCS, you must be a Member or Fellow holding the BCS Professional Graduate Diploma including the project or an honours degree that gives you full exemption from the BCS examinations and you must have five years of relevant professional IT work experience.
In addition, the Society is licensed to nominate Chartered Professionals who hold degrees accredited for CEng or IEng by one of the professional engineering institutions for registration as Chartered Engineer or Incorporated Engineer, as appropriate. It is also licensed by the Science Council to nominate suitably qualified members as Chartered Scientists.
The Professional Advice Register As a service to the public and to its members the BCS maintains a register of those of its members who have the necessary knowledge and expertise to provide advice as consultants or security specialists, or to act as expert witnesses in court.
It is normal therefore for them to be consulted by the government about changes in the law as it affects the discipline or is affected by it. As well as such official consultation, professional bodies are also regularly invited to talk to groups of members of parliament who are interested in their disciplines. Professional engineering bodies are also routinely asked by standardization bodies, such as the American National Standards Institute or the British Standards Institute, to nominate members of committees developing standards in the field.
Indeed, the IEEE itself runs the standards-making process in the area of local area networks through its Project Explain what these sections are and describe briefly the issues addressed by each section. While familiarizing yourself with it, you realize that the modules that handle sales contain a systematic error that will lead to the company paying less taxes than it should.
When you point this out to your manager, he tells you to leave it as it is because that is the way the company wants it. Which clauses in the Code of Conduct are relevant to this situation and how might the Code affect what you do? You have now been instructed to break the provisions of the clause. Clause 1 states that if your professional judgement is overruled, you should point out the likely consequences. While you have already pointed out the problem to your manager, you should make sure he is aware of the possible consequences of this; in your own interests it would be best to do this in writing.
Whether you should take the matter any further depends on the seriousness of the situation. If it is more substantial, then the Clause 4 requirement to comply with the law requires you to do something more. Clause 8 requires you not to disclose confidential information relating to your employer without permission, unless ordered to do so by a court. Your next step should therefore be to raise the matter with higher management, perhaps the Financial Director, since this will not violate Clause 8.
If this proves ineffective, it may be necessary to violate Clause 8 and disclose the information to the Inland Revenue. In the case of a serious violation of the law, the public interest and the requirement to comply with the law may override the requirement not to disclose confidential information. Note also that candidates are not expected to be able to quote clause numbers. At the time that the question was set, the membership structure was simpler than it now is.
The facility includes real-time 38 Professional Bodies in Computing monitoring of chemicals and pollutants. This is a major contract for your company, but it is behind schedule and late delivery will result in heavy penalty costs. You have just been told that the company has assigned you to the project to work on the real-time monitoring subsystem.
Assuming that you are an experienced programmer but have little experience of real-time systems, discuss which clauses in the Code of Conduct are relevant to this situation and how the Code might affect what you do. In your professional role you shall have regard for the public health, safety and environment Clause 2. The system you are going to work on clearly has the potential to affect all these. You must therefore take your responsibilities very seriously.
You shall seek to upgrade your professional knowledge and skill, and shall maintain awareness of technological developments, procedures and standards which are relevant to your field, and encourage your subordinates to do likewise Clause Since you have little experience of this field, you have a duty to try to learn as much as you can about it. You can certainly expect your company to send you on relevant courses or provide training in other ways but you should expect to spend some of your spare time on private study in the area.
You shall not claim any level of competence that you do not possess part of Clause You must make sure that your company understands that you have little experience in the area of real time programming.
Identify two examples of how being a member of the society would help to achieve this goal. Discuss each example in detail. This is a comprehensive and largely aspirational code, but it 39 Professional Issues in Information Technology is well worth studying and comparing with the BCS Code of Conduct. It is available at the website: Here are a few examples: It also contains the text of the new Code of Conduct.
After studying this chapter you should know and understand: Our life in a modern society is dominated by our interactions with organizations.
We go to school and to college; schools and colleges are organizations. We or our friends and relatives go to hospital; a hospital is an organization. We have a bank account; a bank is an organization. We take the examinations of the BCS; it is an organization. And we work for a company or a government department, both of which are organizations. We may even set up a business of our own and thus create an organization ourselves. However, as we mentioned in Chapter 1, organizations need to have a legal existence.
In this chapter we describe the different ways in which an organization can acquire a legal existence, concentrating on the idea of a limited company, because this is the most important type of commercial organization. A very broad distinction can be made between commercial organizations, which are in business to make money, and public organizations or other non-profit-making bodies.
This distinction is reflected in the different procedures used to set up the organizations and the different ways in which they are governed.
Depending on the circumstances, the business may be operated as a sole trader, a partnership, a cooperative, or a limited company. A sole trader is an individual who runs their own business. There are no legal formalities attached to becoming a sole trader; you become a sole trader simply by starting to run a business. If the income of your business is large 41 Professional Issues in Information Technology enough, you will need to register with Customs and Excise for VAT valueadded tax purposes, and you may need to negotiate with the Inland Revenue about your income tax status, but neither of these is necessary simply in order to become a sole trader.
For this reason, anyone who is in business in anything other than a very small way should not operate as a sole trader. It is usually better to form a limited company, as discussed later in this chapter. If a group of people carry on a business with a view to making profits, and the business is not a limited company, then the law will treat them as being in a partnership.
This will happen whether the people in question intend it to or not. The legal framework governing partnerships was established in the Partnership Act and has since been changed only in minor ways.
The Act has important consequences for people going into business together. What does this mean in practice? Suppose that you and a friend are working together to write software for local company. Your friend is doing most of the work and you have agreed that he will get most of the money.
A second problem with partnerships is the difficulty of making changes in the ownership. If one of the partners wishes to leave the partnership, perhaps to retire, how much money are they entitled to receive in return for relinquishing their share of the partnership? And how do the remaining partners raise this money? In the extreme case that one of the partners dies, how much is due to their estate? Partnerships are mainly used in professions such as the law, medicine or architecture.
The bodies that govern these professions have often insisted that their members practise in partnerships because the draconian rules regarding liability are seen to be a way of discouraging recklessness and ensuring the probity of the professionals concerned.
Cooperatives are another way in which an organization can acquire a legal existence. They are important in fields such as agriculture and enjoy a special legal status. They are, however, unusual in the information systems industry and we shall say no more about them. By far the commonest form of commercial organization is the limited company. It is also the most suitable form of organization for most businesses. Most of the remainder of this chapter is dedicated to describing this type of organization.
These shares can be bought and sold individually. The people who own these shares are known as the members of the company or shareholders. The most that shareholders stand to lose is the money they paid for their shares. The UK recognizes two main types of limited company, the public limited company plc and the private limited company. The essential difference is that a plc can, if it so wishes, offer its shares for sale to the public, but a private limited company cannot.
The name of a private limited company will end with the word Limited or Ltd, e. Augusta Technology Ltd, while the name of a plc will end with plc, e.
Lloyds TSB Bank plc. In return for the privileges, particularly limited liability, that the status of being a limited company confers, a limited liability company has certain obligations. It must provide details about itself to Companies House, where they are available to the general public, and these details must be kept up to date. It must produce annual accounts see Chapter 6 and an annual report; again these must be submitted to Companies House and will be publicly available.
Some of the reporting requirements are eased for small companies, while there are more stringent requirements for companies whose shares are quoted on a stock exchange. Until the middle of the 19th century, the only way to create a limited company was through an Act of Parliament or the issue of a Royal Charter, both very slow and expensive routes.
The modern idea of the limited company was developed through a number of Acts of the UK Parliament in the middle of the 19th century and was rapidly taken up in other countries.
It has played a very important part in subsequent economic development, which would probably have taken place much more slowly if the convenient mechanism offered by the limited company had not been available. It can be safely said that the three principles stated at the start of this section hold in any country that recognizes the concept of a limited company. Within this framework, however, the details vary very widely from country to country. Several countries e. New Zealand, Canada, Australia have enacted legislation in recent years that simplifies the law relating to companies.
While the UK government is currently reviewing this body of law and has announced that it intends to produce proposals for simplifying it, this has not yet happened.
Note also that terminology differs from country to 43 Professional Issues in Information Technology country; in particular, the term corporation is commonly used in the USA to denote a large limited company. This consists of two documents: The memorandum of association is a fairly short and straightforward document.
They are assumed to be innocent until proved guilty. In a civil case, on the other hand, both parties present their arguments and must convince the court of their correctness.
The two main sources of law in England and Wales are the common law and statute law. The common law is essentially traditional law that is not written down, but which depends on the judgement of judges over the centuries. When deciding the rights and wrongs of a case, a court will look at the way in which similar cases have been decided in the past; such cases are known as precedents. The common law tradition is shared by many other countries. Almost all the countries of the Commonwealth share the tradition; so, most impor- tantly, does the USA.
This means that a judgement made by a judge in the USA can be used as a precedent in, for example, a court in Singapore. The tradition of common law is not found in the countries of continental Europe, such as France and Germany. Their law is based entirely on written codes, one for the criminal law and one for the civil law. Those parts of the world that were once colonized by such countries have generally kept such a system of written codes.
Confusingly, this system of written codes is often also referred to as civil law. However, in this book, we shall always use the term civil law in the sense described in the previous section, that is, the law used for settling disputes between people.
Statute law is law laid down by Acts of Parliament. It is often referred to as legislation. Two hundred years ago, most cases that came to trial would have beentriedunderthecommonlaw.
Over the past two hundred years the position has changed a lot. On the one hand, technical developments and social changes make new laws urgently necessary.
Laws to regulate child labour and laws to prevent the misuse of computers are just two examples of Parliament creating new laws for such reasons. A good example of this is the Theft Act , which consolidated the common law provisions regarding crimes involving stealing. Law and Government 3 This means that the law-making body the legislature is made up of two chambers or groups of people.
The British legislature is known as Parliament. One of the chambers is called the House of Commons; its members are elected and everyone over the age of 18 has a vote. The country is currently divided into constituen- cies, each of which elects one Member of Parliament MP , who is the person who gets the most votes in the election. Reform of the House of Lords has been an active political issue in Britain for at least years but, while most people agree that reform is needed, it has proved impossible to get general agreement on what form it should take.
Members of the House of Lords are never more than a small proportion and the Prime Minister, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the Foreign Secretary and the Home Secretary are now always members of the House of Commons.
Most new legislation is initiated by the government, although it is possible for individual Members of Parliament to initiate legislation in certain cir- cumstances. It is introduced in the form of a bill; this is a set of proposals that parliamentisinvitedtodiscuss,possiblymodifyandthenapprove.
It will be discussed and possibly amended there, a process that includes a number of stages. If it is approved by the House of Commons, it is passed to the House of Lords. If the House of Lords approves the bill, it becomes an Act of Parliament. It is then passed to the Queen for her formal approval the royal assent , after which it becomes law. The Queen cannot refuse to give her approval when parlia- ment has approved a bill.
The House of Commons has the power to override any changes that may have been made by the House of LordsoreventoinsistthatabillrejectedbytheHouseofLordsshould,never- theless, be passed and proceed to receive the royal assent. Inmanycases,thegovernmentmaywanttocanvassopinionbeforeasking Parliament to approve legislation.
It may publish a green paper, which typi- cally explains why the government wants to create new laws in a certain area, Professional Issues in Information Technology 4 The green paper will be discussed by Parliament and comments on it will be invited from the public and from bodies that have an interest in the area. Once the government has decided on its general approach, it may publish a white paper, which describes the proposed legislation and will be used as the basis for discussing and possibly modifying the details of what is pro- posed.
At the end of this process, the government will take into account these discussions and produce a bill. Acts of Parliament constitute what is known as primary legislation. The complexityofmodernsocietymakesitimpossibleforalllawstobeexamined in detail by parliament. This means that detailed regulations can be introduced without full discussion in parlia- ment. Instead, the proposed regulations are placed in the library of the House of Commons so that members of either house can look at them.
This is a grouping of 25 European countries 15 until May that are working towards a high level of economic and social integration involving the harmonization of many of their laws. The EU has its own Parliament, elected by individual voters in all the member countries.
The EU is run by a commission that has the power to issue directives that require member countries to modify their own legisla- tion, if necessary, to meet a common standard. These directives must be discussed by the European Parliament and approved by the member states before they come into effect. Several of these directives relate to topics, such asdataprotectionandtheprotectionofsoftware,thatareparticularlyimpor- tant for information systems engineers and we shall be referring to many of them later in the book.
In addition to the British national Parliament, there are separate elected assemblies in Wales and Northern Ireland, and a Scottish Parliament. These have certain limited powers, but they do not affect the topics covered in this book. Law and Government 5 Itconsistsoftwohouses,the Senate and the House of Representatives.
Both houses are elected but on very different terms. Members of the House of Representatives congress- men are elected for a period of two years. Each congressman represents a district and each district contains roughly the same number of people. The Senate contains two members senators for each state; senators are elected for seven years.
Legislation must be approved by both the Senate and the House of Representatives before it can become law; neither chamber can override the other. Furthermore, the President must also give his assent before an Act of Congressbecomeslaw. UnliketheQueen,whocannotwithholdherassentto legislation passed by Parliament, the President is allowed to veto legislation passed by Congress and this regularly happens.
As in other countries with a written constitution, there is also a Supreme Court, which can strike out legislation approved by Congress and the President, on the grounds that it is unconstitutional. As we shall see in Chapter 16, this has happened with legislation concerned with pornography on the internet. The members of the government of the USA are not members of Congress.
The President is, in practice though not in theory, directly elected by the people. The members of the government are individuals chosen by the President and their appointment must be approved by Congress. The founders of the USA believed that it was very important to separate the three following functions: The separation of these functions is recognized in many other countries. Historically, they have not been separated in the UK, but reforms are cur- rently being discussed which will move further in this direction.
The legislative situation in the USA is made more complicated by the fact that the country is a federation of 50 states. Each state has its own legislature, most of them modelled on the federal legislature, and its own government. On some topics each state can make its own laws, but in other areas the law is made at federal level.
For example, as we shall see in Chapter 2, each state has its own laws regarding who can call themselves an engineer. A similar pattern applies in other countries with a federal constitution, such as India or Australia. Professional Issues in Information Technology 6 Singapore In contrast to the UK and the USA, Singapore has a unicameral legislature, that is, its parliament consists of only one chamber.
In many other respects, however, it follows the British model. Most members of the government are MPs. The head of the government is the Prime Minister. The Head of State is a separate non-executive President; since Heads of State have been directly elected by the citizens. Their role is largely ceremonial, but they have more powers than the Queen. Their signature is required before a bill becomes law; they can veto government budgets and public appointments but they can only withhold their signature if they consider that a bill is un- constitutional.
Singapore is a multiracial society and the electoral system includes special features to ensure that minority races will always be represented in Parliament.
As well as traditional constituencies that elect as MP the can- didate who gets the most votes, there are 14 group representation constitu- encies.
In these, each political party puts forward a small team of candidates, one of whom must belong to a minority race. A further constitutional provision for the appointment of up to nine Nominated MPs NMPs was made in to ensure a wider representation ofviewsinParliament.
NMPsareappointedbythePresidentofSingaporefor a term of two years on the recommendation of a Special Select Committee of Parliament chaired by the Speaker Singapore not only shares the common law with England and Wales but it also shares much of British statute law. The courts in Singapore had always been ready to apply British statutes in situations where there were no appli- cable Singaporean statutes.
In , the position was formalized when par- liament passed the Application of English Law Act. This practice of adopting British statute law avoids the need to generate very large quantities of legislation, something that would be very onerous and very expensive for a small country like Singapore.
Some legislation that is very important for the information systems professional has been incor- porated into Singapore law in this way. Sri Lanka When Sri Lanka became independent in , it did so under a bicameral constitution closely modelled on that of the UK.
A revised constitution in Law and Government 7 In,thiswasreplacedbyaconstitutionmorelikethoseofFrance or the USA. The Head of State is directly elected and serves for six years, appointing the Prime Minister and presiding over cabinet meetings. The leg- islature consists of a single body with members. Of these, are elected to represent individual multimember districts, using proportional represen- tation, and the remaining 29 are apportioned to the parties in proportion to their share of the national vote.
Proportional representation is a system in which political parties are allocated seats in proportion to the number of votes that they get. The Parliament is elected for a six-year period, although the President can dissolve it and call fresh elections before the end of the period.
Intercommunal strife between the Tamil and Sinhalese communities has, unfortunately, been a feature of Sri Lankan life for many years and has led to a lengthy and damaging civil war. There has been little progress in peace negotiations, but any successful conclusion to the talks will almost certainly involve sub- stantial changes to the existing constitution. Other aspects of English law have been taken over both explicitly by statute and implicitly through decisions of the courts.
Mauritius In Mauritius, the legislature consists of a single body, known as the National Assembly. The head of state is the President, who is elected by the National Assembly. The President appoints the Prime Minister, on the basis of the make-up of the Assembly, and other ministers on the recommendation of the Prime Minister.
The law in Mauritius is based on an unusual mixture of English common law and French civil law, although there is much modern statute law that resembles UK law. SUMMARY The law is generally divided into criminal law, which tries to ensure that indi- viduals do not act in ways that are unacceptable to society as a whole, and civil law, which provides rules for settling disputes between people.
Different countries have different laws and different procedures for apply- ing their laws. In England and Wales, the USA, and many other countries that were formerly ruled by Britain, a form of law known as common law exists; this is based on precedent, that is, on decisions made by judges in the past. Professional Issues in Information Technology 8 Increasingly, common law is being replaced by statute law, that is, law made by legislative bodies.
Some countries have bicameral legislatures and some have unicameral ones. There are a variety of ways in which the members of the legislature may be elected. In countries with a bicameral legislature, one chamber may be appointed rather than elected.
In some countries, the government is made up of members of the legislature; in others it may be separate from the legis- lature. In countries with a federal constitution, there are legislatures at the level of the individual state. In countries with a written constitution, there is usually a court with the power to strike out legislation that breaches the constitution. It meant going to specialistlibrariesortotheembassiesofthecountriesconcerned.
Thedevel- opment of the web has changed all this and it is now very easy to obtain this material from websites. The following is a list of home pages for the government websites of the countries mentioned in this chapter. In the USA, most of the individual states have similar sites describing the legislative process in the state and, in many cases, most of the statutes of the state are available on the web.
Law and Government 9 The Nature of a Profession After studying this chapter, you should understand: G the legal status of professional bodies; G the ideas of reservation of title and reservation of function; G the current status of the engineering profession in the UK, the USA and interna- tionally; G the arguments for and against the licensing of information systems engineers or software engineers.
A professional footballer is one who makes his living from the game. Professional employees are employees of a certain status, who are expected, withinlimits,toputtheinterestsoftheorganizationtheyworkforabovetheir own convenience.
A professional piece of work means a piece of work that meets established standards of quality.
However, the terms can also have negative overtones — a professional foul is one committed by deli- berately by a professional footballer who calculates that, on the balance of probabilities,itwillworkoutinhisfavour. Thetermproisusedasacolloquial shorthand for a professional and for a prostitute. The meaning of the word depends on who is using it and what the context is. However, if we look at a range of occupations that would commonly be described as professions — lawyers, doctors, dentists, accountants, veterinary surgeons, architects, and so on — we see that there are a number of characteristics that most of them have in common: G substantial education and training are required in order to practise the profession; G the members of the profession themselves decide the nature of this training and, more generally, control entry to the profession; G the profession is organized into one or more professional bodies; G the profession lays down standards of conduct with which its members must comply and, where necessary, enforces these through disciplinary procedures.
InChapter3,weshallbedealingwithwhatprofessionalbodiesincomputingdo, butinthischapterwearemoreconcernedwiththelegalstatusofprofessions. What is a professional body? A professional body usually starts by a group of people coming together because of a shared interest in a particular type of activity. The Institution of Electrical Engineers, the other main body in the UK that includes information systemsengineersamongitsmembers,isolder.
A professional body may also be started by people engaged in the same type of activity, who want to protect their business against others who may be trying to enter it without having the proper knowledge or who may be practising it dishonestly.
As the professional body matures, it is likely to develop a range of func- tions, of which the following are the most important: G establishing a code of conduct to regulate the way members of the body behave in their professional lives and a disciplinary procedure to disci- pline members who breach this code; G establishing mechanisms for disseminating knowledge of good practice and new developments to its members, typically through publications and conferences but increasingly also through the use of the worldwide web; G setting standards of education and experience that must be met by peo- ple wishing to become members of the body; G advising government and regulatory bodies about matters within its area of expertise.
In the UK, any organization that believes its main objectives are in the public interestcanenterintodiscussionswiththePrivyCouncilwithaviewtobeing awarded a royal charter.
A royal charter is a formal document, written in rather quaint language and signed by the Queen, which establishes the organization and lays down its purpose and rules of operation. As they grow into mature organizations, most professional bodies seek and obtain a royal charter. There are two different ways in which this can be done. A restriction of this sort is called reservation of title.
In the UK, for example, the Architects Act makes it a criminal offence to call yourself an architect unless you are registered with the Architects Registration Board. This is called reservation of function. Auditing accounts is an example of reservation of function where there is no corresponding reservation of title. Anyone can call themselves an accountant, provided this is not done for fraudulent purposes.
An example where both reservation of title and reservation of function apply is veterinary surgery. And, subject to certain limi- tations, it is a criminal offence to carry out surgical procedures on animals unless you are registered with the RCVS. In the USA, title and function are usually reserved not to members of pro- fessionalbodies,buttopeoplewhosenamesareonaregistermaintainedbya stategovernment. RecentdevelopmentshaveshownatendencyfortheUKto move in the same direction.
The Act established the ArchitectsRegistrationBoard,registrationwithwhichnowreplacesmember- ship of the RIBA as the requirement for calling yourself an architect. The reason for this change is that professional bodies are often seen as white collar trade unions, which use their monopoly power to limit competi- tion and maintain high charges for their services, while doing little to enforce the codes of conduct that they publish. Traditional engineers design and build a wide variety of objects — dams, bridges, aeroplanes, cars, radio and television transmitters and receivers, computers, plants to make fertiliser or plastics, and so on.
There are two constraints that apply to all such activities and which can be regarded as characteristic of engineering: The Nature of a Profession 13 These characteristics are not shared by activities such as accounting, consul- tancy, marketing, or medicine; this is not to criticize such activities, simply to pointoutthattheyareofadifferentnature. Ontheotherhand,mostsoftware development does share these characteristics.
In the USA, the profession is very strictly controlled.
Both the title of engineer and the function of engineering are reserved. Because the relevant legislation is state legislation rather than federal legislation, the details vary a little from state to state. Essentially, however, the position is that: Fifteensuchbranchesarerecognized and some allow candidates to specialize in a sub-branch, giving a total of 27 areas, ranging from agricultural engineering to structural engineering.
The only one of the 27 areas that approaches information systems engi- neering or software engineering is the computer sub-branch of the electrical Professional Issues in Information Technology 14 Although a part of this is concerned with software, it is primarily aimed at hardware engineers. In practice, this rule is enforced rather patchily. On theotherhand,Tennesseeprohibitstheuseofthetermsoftwareengineering in business literature and advertising and the University of Texas has been prevented from offering degrees in software engineering.
There have been recent attempts to introduce a software engineering branch into the principles and practice examination. The situation in the USA represents an extreme form of regulation. While some professions the law, veterinary medicine, for example in the UK are regulatedinverysimilarways,engineeringisnot.
Neitherthetitleofengineer nor the function of engineering are in any way reserved. Anyone is free to call themselves an engineer and to carry out engineering work. There are 35 engineering institutions covering the different branches of engineering. Most of these were established in the 19th century as the different branches of engineering developed. They were, and still are, independentbodies. Itwasnotuntiltheearlysthattheybegantoseethe value of co-operation and established the Council of Engineering Institutions.
The low status of engineering in the UK was one of the major concerns that led to the setting up of the Council. However, despite much good work by the Council, the status of engineers continued to be a problem and, in , the government set up a committee of enquiry into the engi- neeringprofession,chairedbySirMontyFinniston,adistinguishedengineer and industrialist. In the event, the government did not accept the recommendation in that form but, instead, agreedtosetupacharteredbodytobecalledtheEngineeringCouncil,which would deal with issues affecting the engineering profession as a whole.
The Engineering Council has undergone several changes since then and its latest charter was approved in In order to do this, it does the following: The Nature of a Profession 15 Inparticular,ithasadutyunderitschartertomaintainaregisterofengineers in three sections, one section for chartered engineers, one for incorporated engineers, and one for professional engineering technicians.
Chartered Engineers are characterized by their ability to develop appropriate solutions to engineering problems, using new or existing technologies, through innovation, creativity and change.
To this end, they maintain and manage applications of current and developing tech- nology, and may undertake engineering design, development, manufacture and operation.
Professional Engineering Technicians are involved in applying proven tech- niques and procedures to the solution of practical engineering problems. ProfessionalEngineeringTechnicianscontributetothedesign,development, manufacture, commissioning, operation or maintenance of products, equip- ment, processes or services.
Professional Engineering Technicians are required to apply safe systems of work. In addition, candidates must be able to demonstrate appropriate professional Thereisasimilar requirement to demonstrate appropriate professional experience. More details of the accreditation process are given in the next chapter. FEANI was founded in They are entitled to use the title EurIng.
Twenty-sixcountriesbelongto FEANIand theEurIng titleindicates recog- nition of professional status by the professional bodies in all of them; legal recognition, however, applies only in the countries of the EU.
In many of these countries, there is statutory protection of the title of engineer and in some it confers a licence to practise. The agreement is fairly limited: This agreement is known as the Washington Accord. Since it was originally signed, Hong Kong and South Africa have also signed up to the agreement, and Germany, Malaysia, Japan and Singapore are currently signed up provisionally.
NotallthesignatoriestotheWashingtonAccordare signatories to these later agreements. Therac in the USA and the London Ambulance System in the UK are only two of many examples that show how the professional incompetence of soft- ware developers can lead to avoidable deaths.
While the immediate cause of the failure of these systems was programming error arising from ignorance of elementary topics, these errors occurred in a context that showed a much broader lack of professionalism. It is not surprising, therefore, that there have been calls for the compulsory registration of software engineers and for legislation to ensure that software engineering activities are carried out under the supervision of registered software engineers.
Despite the efforts to introduce such a regime in the state of Texas see the Professional Issues in Information Technology 18 Furthermore, the profession is very divided on the issue. Some members of the profession have advocated a legal requirement that all software must be written by registered software engineers, or at least under their supervision.
Such a regulation would be impossible to enforce. If such a regula- tion were introduced, the amount of new software that could be developed would be enormously reduced or, more likely, software development would gounderground. Furthermore,therewouldbeconsiderableoppositiontothe regulation. The public would share this view and see the move as unnecessary, because most software is not critical. By a critical sys- tem, we mean a system whose failure to operate correctly could result in physical injury or loss of life, or catastrophic economic damage.
Nor, for the jobs they are doing, is it necessary that they should. In the UK context, compulsory reservation of function for software engi- neers, even for critical systems work, is unlikely to be realistic except as part of a move towards reservation of function for engineers more generally.
There is little sign of this happening. If anything, it is indirect pressures from the Health and Safety Executive or from insurers providing professional indemnity insurance that is likely to increase the emphasis on registration as a Chartered Engineer. The Nature of a Profession 19 At the upper levelistheEngineeringCouncil.
Itsmembersaretheprofessionalengineering institutions. Individuals can only be members of the latter. The Engineering Council itself has responsibility for matters affecting the engineering profes- sion as a whole. It also has responsibility for promoting the public image of engineering. The second level consists of the professional engineering institutions themselves. They also promote education and continuing professional development in the discipline, and function as learned societies in encouraging and facilitating research.
The technological revolution that began in the s showed the need for interdisciplinary engineering and the status of engineering in the UK was felt to be low.
In , the Labour government set up a commission of enquiry into the engineering profession under Sir Monty Finniston. This recommended statutory registration of engineers, but not statutory licensing of engineers. It also recommended the introduction of BEng and MEng degrees.
While the report was accepted, its recommendations were not acted upon in the original form. It led to the formation of the Engineering Council, but as a chartered body rather than a statutory body. The Nature of a Profession 21 Although the Engineering Council introduced such things as the uniform system of accreditation of engineering courses, the profession has remained fragmented.