VOLUME 47, ISSUE 10
June 15, 2015
Law and Public Safety
Division of Consumer Affairs
New Jersey State Board of Professional Engineers and Land Surveyors
Proposed Amendments: N.J.A.C. 13:40-1.3, 8.1, and 8.3
Proposed New Rule: N.J.A.C. 13:40-8.1A
Definitions; Release of Project Records; Sealing Documents; Digital Signatures and Seals; Title Block Requirements
Authorized By: New Jersey State Board of Professional Engineers and Land Surveyors, Karl Reidel, Executive Director.
Authority: N.J.S.A. 45:8-36.
Calendar Reference: See Summary below for explanation of exception to calendar requirement.
Proposal Number: PRN 2015-064.
Submit comments by August 14, 2015, to:
Karl Reidel, Executive Director
New Jersey State Board of Professional Engineers and Land Surveyors
124 Halsey Street
P.O. Box 45015
Newark, New Jersey 07101
The agency proposal follows:
The Board of Professional Engineers and Land Surveyors (Board) has been contacted by several State agencies, including the Department of Environmental Protection, the Department of Transportation, and the Department of Agriculture, requesting that the Board amend its rules to permit electronic transmission of digitally signed and sealed documents. Existing N.J.A.C. 13:40-8.1(a) expressly prohibits the use of digital seals, and N.J.A.C. 13:40-8.3(a)5 requires the "manual handwritten" signature of the person in responsible charge in the title block of a drawing, specification, or report. From time-to-time over the past 10 years, the Board discussed whether it should permit digital signing and sealing of documents, but each time the Board considered the issue, it concluded that then-current technology could not ensure the security of a digitally signed and sealed document. The Board is now persuaded that better technological safeguards exist to protect the security of digitally signed and sealed documents. As a result, the Board has determined that the use of digital signatures and seals should be permitted, so long as the criteria set forth in proposed new N.J.A.C. 13:40-8.1A are met. Additionally, the Board has observed that professional boards in many other states currently permit the digital signing and sealing of documents.
The Board proposes to amend N.J.A.C. 13:40-1.3 to define the terms "electronic transmission," "seal," and "signature." The Board proposes to amend N.J.A.C. 13:40-8.1 to permit documents be sealed with either digital or impression-type seals, so long as the digital seals comply with the criteria set forth in proposed new N.J.A.C. 13:40-8.1A. The amendments proposed at N.J.A.C. 13:40-8.1(f) provide that incomplete and/or draft plans, documents, and sketches, whether advanced or preliminary copies, are required to be conspicuously identified, and may be signed but shall not be sealed, provided the licensee inserts the language that "This is not a sealed document" in place of the seal in the title block.
Under proposed new N.J.A.C. 13:40-8.1A(a), a digital signature and seal would have the same weight, authority, and effect as a handwritten signature and an impression-type seal, so long as it meets the Digital Signature Standard established by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, FIPS PUB 186-4, Digital Signature Algorithm Validation System (2014), which is incorporated by reference, as amended and supplemented into the rule.
Proposed new N.J.A.C. 13:40-8.1A(b) would require a licensee to maintain a digital copy of an electronically transmitted document for future verification purposes. The document being retained must also be digitally signed and sealed.
Proposed new N.J.A.C. 13:40-8.1A(c) sets forth requirements regarding the size and appearance of a digital signature and seal. The proposed new regulation would also require the digital signature and seal to be readily available for Board review, if so requested.
Proposed new N.J.A.C. 13:40-8.1A(d) would make licensees responsible for the use of their private digital keys, and sets forth the procedure that licensees must follow if their keys are lost or compromised.
The Board proposes to amend N.J.A.C. 13:40-8.3 to no longer require that a signature be manually handwritten, as the proposed new rule would permit a licensee to digitally sign his or her documents.
The Board has provided a 60-day comment period for this notice of proposal. Therefore, this notice is excepted from the rulemaking calendar requirement pursuant to N.J.A.C. 1:30-3.3(a)5.
The Board believes that the proposed amendments and new rule will have a positive impact upon licensees and the clients they serve. The proposed amendments and new rule will allow licensees to compete for jobs where the client or governmental agency prefers electronic submission of digitally signed and sealed documents.
The proposed amendments and new rule will save licensees time in submitting their documents to clients. Government entities will benefit because this is the form of document submission that they prefer. Clients will benefit because they will receive documents immediately. The electronic submission of digitally signed and sealed documents will also help the environment in the form of saved trees and other resources. Both licensees and clients may also save storage space.
The Board believes that the proposed amendments and new rule may have an economic impact on licensees, to the extent that licensees elect to hire digital signature companies to have their signatures and seals digitally generated in accordance with the proposed amendments and new rule. However, the proposed amendments and new rule do not require the use of an outside service; a licensee may create his or her own digital signature and seal, provided it meets the requirements of N.J.A.C. 13:40-8.1A. Furthermore, this fee may be offset through decreased expenses for paper and other materials, lower shipping fees, and decreased storage requirements.
Federal Standards Statement
A Federal standards analysis is not required because the proposed amendments and new rule are subject to State statutory requirements and are not subject to any Federal requirements or standards.
The Board does not believe that the proposed amendments and new rule will result in the creation or loss of jobs in the State.
Agriculture Industry Impact
The proposed amendments and new rule will have no impact on the agriculture industry in the State.
Regulatory Flexibility Analysis
Since the 20,073 professional engineers and professional land surveyors are individually licensed by the Board, they may be considered "small businesses" under the Regulatory Flexibility Act (the Act), N.J.S.A. 52:14B-16 et seq. The Board does not believe that licensees will need to employ any professional services to comply with the proposed amendments and new rules because the use of digital signatures and seals would not be mandatory; also, licensees could digitally sign and seal documents without the use of outside professional services if licensees create digital signatures and seals that meet the requirements of N.J.A.C. 13:40-8.1A. The proposed amendments and new rule do not impose reporting requirements, but do impose recordkeeping and compliance requirements on licensees electing to digitally sign and seal documents as set forth in the Summary above.
Housing Affordability Impact Analysis
The proposed amendments and new rule will have an insignificant impact on affordable housing in New Jersey and there is an extreme unlikelihood that the proposed amendments and new rule would evoke a change in the average costs associated with housing because the proposed amendments and new rule would permit licensees to sign and seal documents digitally.
Smart Growth Development Impact Analysis
The proposed amendments and new rule will have an insignificant impact on smart growth and there is an extreme unlikelihood that the proposed amendments and new rule would evoke a change in housing production in Planning Areas 1 or 2, or within designated centers, under the State Development and Redevelopment Plan in New Jersey because the proposed amendments and new rule would permit licensees to sign and seal documents digitally.
Full text of the proposal follows (additions indicated in boldface
thus; deletions indicated in brackets [thus]):
SUBCHAPTER 1. PURPOSE AND SCOPE; DEFINITIONS
The following words and terms, when used in this chapter, shall have the following meanings, unless the context clearly indicates otherwise:
. . .
"Electronic transmission" means the transmission of electronic data files from one electronic device to another. The term includes manual delivery of electronic data storage media from one person or entity to another.
. . .
"Seal" means a digital or impression type seal meeting the requirements of N.J.A.C. 13:40-8.1A and affixed to a document by a licensee.
"Signature" means a digital or handwritten signature of a licensee affixed to a document in accordance with N.J.A.C. 13:40-8.1A.
. . .
SUBCHAPTER 8. SEALING AND TITLE BLOCK REQUIREMENTS FOR PROFESSIONAL ENGINEERS AND PROFESSIONAL LAND SURVEYORS
Signing and sealing of documents
(a) All sealing of documents shall be done with
a digital or an impression-type seal, the design of which shall be authorized by the Board and shall contain the name and license number of the professional engineer or professional land surveyor and the legend "Licensed Professional Engineer," "Licensed Land Surveyor" or "Licensed Professional Engineer and Land Surveyor," as the case may be. Alternatives, such as [digital seals or] rubber stamp facsimiles of the seal shall not be permitted.
Digital seals may be used, so long as they are in compliance with N.J.A.C. 13:40-8.1A.
(b)-(e) (No change.)
(f) Incomplete and/or draft plans, documents, and sketches, whether advanced or preliminary copies, shall be conspicuously identified and may be signed but shall not be sealed, provided the licensee inserts the language that "This is not a sealed document" in place of the seal in the title block.
13:40-8.1A Digital signatures and seals
(a) A digital signature and seal shall carry the same weight, authority, and effect as a handwritten signature and impression-type seal when the following criteria are met:
1. The digital signing and sealing process satisfies the requirements of the Digital Signature Standard (DSS) established by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, FIPS PUB 186-4, Digital Signature Algorithm Validation System, (2014), which is hereby incorporated by reference, as amended and supplemented. This standard may be obtained at the following website: http:www.NIST.gov/. The digital signature and seal must be:
i. Unique to the licensee;
ii. Verifiable by a trusted third party or some other approved process as belonging to the licensee;
iii. Under the licensee's direct and exclusive control; and
iv. Linked to a document in such a manner that the digital signature and seal is invalidated if any data in the document is changed. Once the digital signature and seal are applied to the document, the document shall be available in read-only format if the document is to be digitally transmitted.
(b) A licensee who digitally signs and seals a document shall maintain a digital copy of the electronically transmitted document that has also been digitally signed and sealed for future verification purposes in accordance with N.J.A.C. 13:40-3.4(b).
(c) The pictorial representation of the digital signature and seal shall be readily available to the Board upon Board request and shall be produced in a manner acceptable to the Board. It shall contain the same words and shall have substantially the same graphic appearance and size as when the image of the digitally transmitted document is viewed at the same size as the document in its original form.
(d) Licensees are responsible for the use of their private digital keys. A lost or compromised key shall not be used and the licensee shall cause a new key pair to be generated in accordance with the criteria described in (a) above. A licensee shall take all reasonable steps to ensure that a compromised key is invalidated, and shall inform all affected clients that the digital key has been compromised.
13:40-8.3 Title block contents
(a) The title block shall contain:
1.-4. (No change.)
5. The [manually handwritten] signature of the person(s) in responsible charge and the date when signed; and
6. (No change.)
(b)-(c) (No change.)