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In case you missed Jack Stamps’ column in the January Licensing News, the monthly TBAE newsletter, it’s worth a read.  He points out that the number of TAS-registration cases referred to TBAE by the Texas Department of Licensing & Regulation (TDLR) jumped from 30 in 2016 to more than 300 in 2017.  With 160 referrals already received during the first four months of the 2018 fiscal year, Stamps’ article noted that TBAE is on pace to surpass 2017’s record number.  

When I made a few calls about this news, I learned some interesting facts:

1) about 70% of these TDLR cases are dropped following the initial investigation by TBAE staff

2) the majority of submittals that have been forwarded by TDLR are coming from TBAE registrants with “higher (license) numbers” (i.e., those who have been registered more recently).  Young ‘uns, this is NOT anything you want to experience.  If you don’t pay attention to TAS details, you will discover Ross Perot’s “devil,” not Mies van der Rohe’s “deity,” waiting for you at the end.

TDLR forwards cases when accessibility plans are not “submitted timely,” which means within 20 business days of the date construction documents are issued.  TDLR’s Bob Posey said a significant percentage of the recent spike in referrals is due to design professionals simply not submitting CDs to either a Registered Accessibility Specialist (RAS) or the agency within that statutorily required time.  Also, in box 11 on TDLR’s “Proof of Submission” form, there are three places to enter a date.  The top one is when constructions documents are issued, the second is when those documents are submitted either to TDLR or to the RAS, and the third is on the same line where the signature of the design professional is required.  MEMBERS: be sure to record the date you sign the “Proof of Submission” form, as well as the dates CDs are issued and submitted. 

Sometimes, analysts can see plans were submitted timely because the time and date of the project’s registration are recorded electronically.  While this kind of examination might allow TBAE to avoid charging a registrant with a TAS violation, architects who are reported by TDLR will still receive correspondence regarding the referral.  As I watch TBAE meetings when they deal with enforcement cases, my observation is that registrants may get a warning the first time, but subsequent violations cost—TBAE has adopted a fine of $1,000 for each TAS violation.  In my checkered past, folks told me, “You can beat the rap, but you can’t beat the ride,” meaning someone may be innocent (or at least not convicted), but they still have to deal with authority.  With only a bit more focus, architects can avoid both rap and ride. 

Register your projects for TAS compliance within 20 business days of CDs being issued.  This means 20 business days from the date a reprographics firm delivers them to you or that they become available, not the date it starts the production process.  And make sure the registration form is completed accurately and totally, with particular attention to showing all the required dates since it will help document compliance.

Architects are a “learned profession;” let’s show how smart—and good (as in always doing the right thing and always doing things right)—architects are in the process.  Let’s eliminate architectural referrals for TAS violations from TDLR to TBAE. 

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