News & Press: Member Update

TxDOT Salary Survey

Friday, October 12, 2018  
Posted by: Michael Hancock
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October 12, 2018




Earlier in the year TxDOT PEPS requested that firms participate in a salary survey being conducted by the agency with responses due in July. Recently that request was sent out again with a November response date. We provided some issues for members to consider regarding the earlier request, but in response to more questions we are going to provide that again.

First, ACEC Texas recognizes a number of the positive changes that the PEPS administration has made in recent years. And, to the extent that the goal of the survey is to move beyond anchoring rate negotiations in the historically negotiated rates captured in the PEPS Rate Tool and focus on current market rates, there is no question that this is laudable goal and is very much needed.

However, there are significant problems with the department’s approach to the problem and to the design of the survey and there are risks to firms in participation that you should be aware of.

First and foremost, if you participate in this survey you should do so with the full understanding that that the information you submit could be public information and accessible to anyone who requests it.

This point can be argued but we believe there are no clear exceptions to the Public Information Act that would prevent disclosure. We do not believe that it falls under any common law privacy protection or that it falls under exclusions for an ongoing procurement.

TxDOT has expressed the view that submissions are protected from disclosure. But in the end, what matters is what the Attorney General’s opinion is. Unless TxDOT can provide a letter from the Attorney General stating that this information is protected, you should proceed understanding the possibility that the information will be public.

Furthermore, be aware that under the process set out in the Public Information Act, if you submit information and someone requests its release, YOU, not the Department, must make the argument to the Attorney General that is privileged. And, of course, you bear those costs.

Additionally, as you may know, ACEC Texas annually conducts a salary and benefits survey. For several years, the results of this survey have been provided to TxDOT for the purpose of keeping them abreast of current salary trends. But, importantly, the design of the ACEC Texas survey is “double blind.” Firms are given an ID number to participate. The responses go to an independent consultant and do not come to us; the ACEC Texas staff does not know any of the information that is submitted by any firm. The compiler of the survey gets the submissions blind with firms only identified only by the ID# number, not by firm name. We get the results only in aggregate. So there is an effort to maintain confidentiality, which is not the case with the PEPS survey.

Even if the PEPS survey were protected from public disclosure, we would urge you to be cautious unless it includes similar levels of confidentiality in the design of the survey.

If the department has issues with the design of the ACEC Texas survey, we are happy to work with them on revisions to make it more useful but still preserve confidentiality.

Obviously, you and your firm can make your own decisions about whether or not to participate in the PEPS exercise. Their stated goal is certainly commendable. However, if you participate you should do so with the understanding that you are making your salaries a public record. There are better ways to achieve this goal if the department is serious about it.



ACEC Texas will offer multiple training and development opportunities in the first part of 2019. Our two-day Project Management Training, conducted by John Geddie, will be held January 21-22 in DFW, January 28-29 in Houston, and February 11-12 in San Antonio.

Our premier leadership training program, the ACEC Texas Leadership Academy, will consist of four sessions between February and early June. The program is geared to individuals making the transition between technical and business roles. It includes modules taught by leading management consultants on leadership skills, business management skills, strategic thinking, and the external environment.

The ACEC Texas Business Conference, with roundtables for information technology, human resources, and financial professionals, is planned for May 15-16 in Addison, TX.

And before all of that, don't forget the 2018 Texas AE Industry Conference co-sponsored by ACEC Texas and Morrissey Goodale in San Antonio October 24-25, 2018.

You can find information on all these events at .


Calendar of Events

  • October 18: ACEC Texas Board Meeting
  • October 24-25: Texas AE Industry Conference sponsored by ACEC Texas and Morrissey Goodale
  • October 28-31: ACEC National Fall Meeting, Las Vegas

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Go to for current articles on construction, engineering, public works, transportation, politics and more including:

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