ARTICLES Time to license those evil computer programmers! Gary Vedvik 1:102/1006 New Jerse

---
Master Index Current Directory Index Go to SkepticTank Go to Human Rights activist Keith Henson Go to Scientology cult

Skeptic Tank!

====================================================================== ARTICLES ====================================================================== Time to license those evil computer programmers! Gary Vedvik 1:102/1006 New Jersey, that state which has lately proved to be "the toughest in the nation" by trampling on its residents is once again attempting to reach all new lows. Now, what has this got to do with programming...? A bill has passed in the assembly that would require the licensing of computer programmers -- to protect the public interest, of course. Lord knows the number of times I've been accosted in pizza parlors, late at night, by renegade bands of unlicensed programmers. Well, now we'll be able to control these low-lifes. If you think I'm kidding, read on. What follows is Assembly Bill A-4414, which has already passed the assembly. AT&T has estimated that it would need to license over 5,000 people in New Jersey alone, and there is nothing in the bill that differentiates home from business use. So watch out: besides being arrested for legally buying a gun 20 years ago, you could also be arrested for modifying a DOS batch file! New Jersey and you. Perfect together? ------------------------------------------------------------------------ "I enjoy working with human beings, and John M. Ritter have stimulating relationships with them." Allied-Signal, Inc - HAL 9000 Corporate Tax Dept jmr@motown.Allied.COM {att,bellcore,clyde,princeton,rutgers}!motown!jmr ------------------------------------------------------------------------ PS: I don't think there are any errors in what follows, but no promises. ===================== cut here ========================================= [SECOND REPRINT] ASSEMBLY, No. 4414 STATE OF NEW JERSEY INTRODUCED JANUARY 24, 1991 by Assemblywoman KALIK, Assemblymen CASEY, Spadoro and Mazur AN ACT providing for the licensure of software [engineers] designers' amending P.L.1971, c.60, P.L.1974, c.46 and P.L.1978,c.73, and supplementing Title 45 of the Revised Statutes. BE IT ENACTED by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey: 1. (New section) This act shall be known and may be cited as the "Software [Engineers'] Designers' Licensing Act." 2. (New section) The Legislature finds and declares that the public interest requires the regulation of the practice of software [engineering] designing and the establishment of clear licensure standards for software [engineers] designers' and that the welfare of the citizens of this State will be protected by identifying to the public those individuals who are qualified and legally authorized to practice software [engineering] designing. 3. (New section) As used in this act: "Board" means the State Board of Software [Engineers] Designers' established pursuant to section 4 of this act. "Licensed software [engineer] designer"' means any person who practices software [engineering] designing and who represents himself to the public by title or by description of services under any title incorporating such terms as "software engineer," "software' designer'," "chartered engineer," or "CEng" or any similar title or description of services, who is duly licensed pursuant to this act. "Software [engineering] designing"' means the process of creating software systems and applies to techniques that reduce software cost and complexity while increasing reliability and modifiability, which includes, but is not limited to, the elements of requirements [engineering] designing design specification, implementation testing and validation, operation and maintenance and software management. 4. (New section) There is created within the Division of Consumer Affairs in the Department of Law and Public Safety the State Board of Software [Engineers] Designers'. The board shall consist of nine members who are residents of the State who shall be appointed by the Governor. Six members shall be licensed software [engineers] designers' who have been actively engaged in software [engineering] designing for at least five years immediately preceding their appointment, except that the members initially appointed shall be licensed pursuant to this act within 18 months of appointment. Of the remaining members, two shall be public members, and one shall be a member of the executive branch, all of whom shall be appointed pursuant to section 2 of P.L.1971, c.60 (C.45:1-2.2). 5. (New section) Each member of the board, except the members first appointed, shall serve for a term of five years and shall hold office until the appointment and qualification of his successor. The initial appointment to the board shall be: two members for terms of two years, two members for terms of three years, two members for terms of four years, and three members for terms of five years. Vacancies shall be filled for the unexpired term only. No member may be appointed for more than two consecutive terms. 6. (New section) Members of the board shall be compensated and reimbursed for expenses and provided with office and meeting facilities pursuant to section 2 of P.L.1977, c.285 (C.45:1-2.5). 7. (New section) The board shall annually elect from among its members a chair, vice-chair and a secretary. The board shall meet twice per year and may hold additional meetings as necessary to discharge its duties. 8. (New section) The board shall: a. Review the qualifications of applicants for licensure; b. Insure the proper conduct and standards for examinations; c. Issue and renew licenses to software [engineers] designers' pursuant to this act; d. Refuse to admit to examination, refuse to issue, or suspend, revoke or fail to renew the license of a software [engineer] designer pursuant to the provisions of P.L.1978, c.73 (C.45:1-14 et seq.); e. Maintain a record of every software [engineer] designer licensed in the State, their places of business, places of residence and the date and number of their license; f. Establish fees pursuant to P.L.1974, c.46 (C.45:1-3.1 et seq.); g. Adopt and promulgate rules and regulations pursuant to the "Administrative Procedure Act," P.L.1968, c.410 (C.52:14B-1 et seq.) necessary to effectuate the purposes of this act. 9. (New section) No person shall practice, or present himself as able to practice, software [engineering] designing unless he possesses a valid license as a software [engineer] designer in accordance with the provision of this act. 10. (New section) The provisions of this act shall not be construed to prevent the following provided that no word, letter, abbreviation, insignia, sign, card or device is used to convey the impression that the person rendering the service is a licensed software [engineer] designer': a. Any person licensed to practice in this State under any other law from engaging in the practice for which he is licensed; b. Any person employed as a software [engineer] designer by the federal government, if the person provides software [engineering] designing services solely under the direction or control of his federal employer; or c. Any person pursuing a course of study leading to a degree or certificate in software [engineering] designing at an accredited or approved educational program if the person is designated by a title which clearly indicates status as a student or trainee. 11. (New section) To be eligible for a licensure as a software [engineer] designer an applicant shall submit to the board satisfactory evidence that he has: a. Graduated from a program in software [engineering] designing which has been approved for the education and training of software [engineers] designers' by an accrediting agency recognized by the Council on Post-Secondary Accreditation and the United States Department of Education; or Work experience in a current or previous position of employment utilizing the theory and procedures of software designing for a sufficient period of time as determined by the board; and b. Successfully completed a written examination administered by the board pursuant to section 14 of this act to determine his competence to practice software [engineering] designing. 12. (New section) An applicant for licensure who is a graduate of a foreign school of software [engineering] designing shall furnish evidence satisfactory to the board that he has: a. Completed a course of study in software [engineering] designing which is substantially equivalent to that provided in an accredited program described in subsection a. of section 11 of this act; and b.Successfully completed a written examination administered by the board pursuant to section 14 of this act. 13. (New section) A fee shall accompany each application for licensure. Licenses shall expire biennially on January 31 and may be renewed upon submission of a renewal application provided by the board and a payment of a fee. If the renewal fee is not paid by that date, the license shall automatically expire, but may be renewed within two years of its expiration date upon payment to the board of a sum determined by it for each year or part thereof during which the license was expired and an additional restoration fee. If a license has not been renewed within two years of expiration, the license shall only be renewed by complying with the provisions of section 16 of this act or successfully completing the examination administered pursuant to section 14 of this act. 14. (New section) The written examination required in section 11, 12, or 13 of this act shall test the applicant's knowledge of software [engineering] designing theory and procedures and any other subjects the board may deem useful to test the applicant's fitness to practice software [engineering] designing. Examinations shall be held within the State at least once every six months at a time and place to be determined by the board. The board shall give adequate written notice of the examination to applicants for licensure and examination. If an applicant fails the examination twice, the applicant may take a third examination not less than one year nor more than three years from the date of the applicant's initial examination. Additional examinations shall be in accordance with standards set by the board. 15. (New section) The board shall issue a license to each applicant for licensure as a software [engineer] designer who qualifies pursuant to the provisions of this act and any rules and regulations promulgated by the board. 16. (New section) Upon payment to the board of a fee and the submission a written application on forms provided by it, the board shall issue without examination a license to a software [engineer] designer who holds a valid license issued by another state or possession of the United States or the District of Columbia which has standards for licensure substantially equivalent to those of this State. 17. (New section) Upon payment to the board of a fee and the submission of a written application on forms provided by it, the board shall issue a temporary license to a person who has applied for licensure pursuant to this act who, in the judgment of the board, is eligible for examination. A temporary license shall be available to an applicant upon initial application for examination. A person holding a temporary license may practice software [engineering] designing only under the direct supervision of a licensed software [engineer] designer'. A temporary license shall expire automatically upon failure of the licensure examination but may be renewed for an additional six-month period, until the date of the next examination at which time it shall automatically expire and be surrendered to the board. ---------------------------------------------------------------------- re: New Jersey's programmer-licensing proposal Return-Path: I can't believe all the people who are posting in RISKS that they like the idea of government mandated licensing of the software craft. (I don't care if you call it designing, engineering, programming, or hacking.) What ever happened to the idea of freedom of speech in software? Maybe I'm just an old-timer, but while "some of my best friends" came into software through traditional college courses, most of the best, brightest, and most inventive programmers I know became programmers without formal training. The fathers of the computer revolution you are now staring at and typing to, were able to make the great strides they did, in an incredibly short period of time as measured against any other industry, because there was nobody to say "no, you can't do that". Why would anyone who has the equipment and training that permits them to read this message, want to squelch such creativity and productivity gains for the entire society? I've heard all the drivel about raising standards and driving out the low quality practitioners. Right. What it really does it makes it more painful for *everyone* to enter the industry -- the best *and* the worst. It creates a monopoly, ruled by an old boys' "board of licensing" who entrench their idea of proper programming. It's a good thing this bill didn't pass during the "Goto considered harmful" phase, or it might have ended up "Goto considered illegal" and stuck us programming in Pascal forever. (I also note that the explosion of C programming in the last ten years was mostly among people on micros who typically hadn't programmed before. E.g. if you were required to go through college to be allowed to try C, you wouldn't bother, since the college courses of the time taught Pascal and Fortran; you'd have already been taught how to constrain your thinking to what was possible in inferior languages.) By the way, I never went to college at all. Among the three co-founders of my current successful software startup company, only one of us has a degree - and it isn't in computers (I think it's history). And while I am really very talented with computers, if continuing to work with them means getting a government license, I'll just retire on what I've already made in computers, and start exploring one of the other ten or twelve things I've never had time for. I mean, we turn down government contracts now just over the added paperwork! Did you notice in the bill that it allows people to gain a license to be a programmer even if they don't go to an "approved" college? But it requires years of work experience -- which will be illegal to get after the bill passes. Essentially a grandfather clause disguised as an alternative route. It means that the bright kids and 20 year olds and 30 year olds who currently wander into programming from chemistry or physics or MCAD or library science, or bartending (I know a few!), will be banned from the industry. I'd really rather not replace these talented, motivated people with drones who learned how to take tests and warmed a seat in some state college for four years. We need more interdisciplinary people already -- you want to cut the supply to a tiny trickle of those who're willing to sit through two or three entire courses of formal study? My reaction to the NJ bill was: O boy. Now the programmers will all get upset at it, and not only can we kill off this stupid bill, but perhaps while we're incensed, we can even repeal some of the other ridiculous occupational licensing that's already on the books -- like hairdressers, barbers, car mechanics, etc. If you really care about this issue, I recommend that you implement it in your personal life without waiting for the government. Only buy computers designed by licensed and bonded EE's. (Hint: your SPARCstation is not one of them.) Only buy software that was written by programmers who passed the CDP exam. (Better send back Unix, Emacs, Lotus 1-2-3, and Usenet.) I don't think TCP/IP was designed by registered communications engineers either. (Maybe OSI was -- it has that smell.) Well, you can always run DOS -- ahem -- uh, Bill Gates *started* college, but I don't think he ever finished it. Too busy making better products than all those people who wasted four years. But maybe he *hired* a lot of fully certified licensed degreed people to write the code. Or maybe not. Don't forget to restrict your reading to government-approved writers, and your thinking to government-approved thoughts. Sometimes I think the worst mistake the founders of our country made was giving governments the power to control commerce and trade. John Gilmore Cygnus Support

---

E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank