In this issue:
· AIA Supports National Transportation Program Authorization
· AIA Supports Legislation for Schools, Green Housing
· NCARB BOD Takes Action Against ARE Violators

AIA Supports National Transportation Program Authorization
The AIA is part of Transportation of America, a coalition calling for the renewal of the national transportation program for the 21st century. While seeking to align national, state, and local transportation policies with numerous national priorities, the coalition’s shared goal is the development of a modernized infrastructure to support a thriving economy and healthy communities. Goals of the Transportation for America platform include:

· Establish accountability for transportation agencies for investments that deliver safe, efficient, and economical transportation.
· Make infrastructure investments that will enable the U.S. to compete economically in the 21st century.
· Address investment for multiple payoffs to solve energy, air quality, and climate challenges.
· Reward and support smart local land use planning.
· Set health and safety targets of the National Transportation Objectives.
· Develop new funding strategies for transportation and infrastructure projects.

AIA Supports Legislation for Schools, Green Housing
21st Century High-Performing Public Schools Act
The U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation that would provide $6.4 billion in grants to state and local school districts to renovate, repair, and modernize schools. The 21st Century High-Performing Public Schools Act (H.R. 2187) directs funding to projects nationwide that will improve health, safety, energy efficiency, and the overall learning climate of schools. The AIA has long-supported a federal commitment to school modernization and the AIA actively lobbied for this legislation, which the House approved by a vote of 275-155. Under the bill, each state would receive funding that would then disperse those funds to local school districts for modernization projects. Eligible projects include replacing building systems, lighting, doors, and other modifications that would improve the teaching and learning environment. The bill has been referred to the Senate; however, it is unknown how quickly they will move to advance the legislation. To contact your Senator and urge them to take up the bill, please follow the link to the AIA’s Memorial Day Recess page.

The Green Resources for Energy Efficient Neighborhoods Act
Recently, sweeping legislation designed to promote energy efficiency in our nation’s residential buildings was introduced. The Green Resources for Energy Efficient Neighborhoods Act (The GREEN Act, H.R. 2336) will provide incentives to lenders and financial institutions to offer lower interest loans and other benefits to consumers who build, buy, or remodel their homes to make them more energy efficient. The bill also will expand the uses of Energy Efficient and Location Efficient Mortgages and, for the first time, require state and local housing agencies to assess the impact of transportation planning on housing as a condition of receiving HUD funding — proposals advocated by the AIA. The legislation, already with 14 co-sponsors, is Congress’s most far-reaching attempt to promote energy efficiency in the residential sector. The bill has been referred to the House Financial Services Committee, and Chairman Barney Frank (D-MA) has indicated that the committee will hold a hearing on the bill in the coming weeks. To learn more about the bill or find out how it could potentially affect you and your business, e-mail the AIA Government Affairs team.

Change Proposed to Make Retainage Optional
Federal procurement officials have proposed a regulatory change that would affect how federal agencies pay architects and engineers who contract with them. Currently, the Federal Acquisition Regulation requires contracting officers to withhold 10% of the payment for architecture and engineering contracts until they determine the performance as satisfactory, at which time, they may pay the full amount. The proposal, from the Civilian Agency Acquisition Council and the Defense Acquisition Regulations Council, would allow contracting officers to judge the appropriate amount of the retainage, up to 10%, to “protect the Government’s interests.” The AIA has made reforming the retainage clause a top advocacy priority, and the Federal Relations team is still analyzing this proposed rule.

NCARB BOD Takes Action Against ARE Violators
Recently, eight Architectural Registration Exam (ARE) candidates — four of whom are from New York — had their testing privileges suspended and scores canceled by the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB) for posting exam content and/or questions on the Internet. The actions taken by the NCARB Board of Directors against the candidates included: a five-year suspension of exam testing privileges; two three-year suspensions of exam testing privileges; and one one-year suspension of exam testing privileges and two exam score cancelations. All disciplinary actions become a part of each individual’s permanent NCARB Record.

When candidates disclose exam content, NCARB works with its test development consultant to determine the impact on the exam. If NCARB finds that it is necessary to turn off substantial amounts of content, their ability to continuously deliver the ARE is jeopardized. The Council also faces significant financial ramifications because of the need to replace the exposed content and retain attorneys to defend the exam’s copyright and integrity.

Due to the actions of several of the candidates noted above, NCARB has turned off selected content in one division of the ARE. Should additional content be disclosed, NCARB will need to evaluate the impact and will consider extending the mandatory six-month waiting period between failed divisions until the content can be replaced.