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When I began my role as the Board Administrator for the OSBEELS last October, one of my top priorities was to find a solution to fixing our old and antiquated licensing system. Over the last six months, I’ve asked for feedback from our licensees, other licensing agencies, our staff and our Board to help identify what functionality everyone would want in a new system. The feedback I received was very consistent, direct and reasonable; the expectation is that our customers want to interact with us electronically. ​

I’m extremely excited to announce that we’ve hired a vendor to bring OSBEELS into the 21st century. The expectation is that we will have an online portal that will allow our customers to do almost everything online with an intuitive web-based system.
Our agency’s targeted timeline would have licensing, renewals, license lookup, payments and exam registrations, and other online system tools up and running early next spring. I know it sounds like that is a long time away, but for a system of this size, it’s actually a very aggressive implementation schedule.

Of course, with any kind of system replacement, there’s going to be some bumps and bruises for both our staff and our customers, but I promise these short-term pains will be worth the long-term rewards. Please have patience with us as we focus our effort over the next eight or so months to transition from our old database to the new licensing system.

Also, please feel free to contact me directly if you have any questions or feedback at Jason.Barbee@oregon.gov. While we have some legal limitations on what can be changed, I’m always open to hearing ideas on what could make our processes easier to understand and comply with.


At recent meetings, the Board’s Professional Practices Committee reviewed and responded to several questions submitted by members of the professional community. See a summary of the questions and the Committee’s responses below.

The first question reviewed was regarding whether a geotechnical engineer may provide a soils report for construction, then after that report is provided, claim to no longer be responsible, or liable, for the findings of their report as a result of not being contracted for additional work. The Committee discussed and did not respond directly to this point but rather noted he should consult with private legal counsel for an answer. It was noted the topic, contractual and civil disputes, is an area the OSBEELS is unable to make a determination on and is outside of the Board’s jurisdiction.

The second question reviewed was related to forms of acceptable digital signatures and how to properly verify the authenticity of submitted plans with digital signatures. The Committee responded that there is software available that verifies digital signatures through third-party authentication and certifies an individual’s
digital signature, but that the Oregon Board does not make recommendations for specific companies/providers. The Electronic and Digital Signatures article included within this publication was also developed in response to this question.

The Board encourages all professional registrants to consistently review Oregon statutes and rules under the OSBEELS’ jurisdiction to ensure they are upto-date on professional practice and conduct standards that may relate to their professional area of competence or services offered to the public. If you have a professional practice question you’d like to submit to the Board office for review, please visit the OSBEELS website and complete the ‘Ask the Board a Question’​


This article was authored by Board members
Tim Fassbender, PLS, and Renee Clough, PE, PLS



Recent concerns and questions raised by the professional community regarding Oregon Administrative Rule (OAR) 820-025-0010, digital seal and signature requirements, have been received by the Oregon State Board of Examiners for Engineering & Land Surveying (OSBEELS) and prompted a discussion about digital signatures and signing final documents. To address these questions and concerns, we have developed this article that will share resources and information to help professional registrants, and the users of their documents, to understand the differences between an electronic signature and a digital signature.

Relevant rules to this topic include:
  1. OAR 820-025-0001 – defines digital signature and digital certificate.
  2. OAR 820-025-0005(5) – specifies digital signatures as an acceptable alternative to a wet signed signature if specific criteria are met
  3. OAR 820-025-0010 – outlines requirements for digital seal and signature for electronic final documents.

A digital signature in compliance with OAR 820-025-0010 utilizes a public-private digital key pair provided through the services of a certificate authority. The private key is known only to the signer and is often in the form of a password. The public key is utilized by the certificate authority to validate the document. To verify a digital signature, the verifier must have access to the signer’s public key and have assurance that it corresponds to the signer’s private key. In the case of OAR 820-025-0010 this assurance must be provided by using a certificate authority as a trusted third party to associate an identified signer with a specific public key; essentially the certificate acts like a notary. A self-signed certificate is one that is created by the individual signer without the services of a certificate authority; this is not sufficient for purposes of compliance with OAR 820-025-0010.

The term “third party” in all the above cited OAR sections requires specific discussion. Some software will allow the user to make their own digital signature certificate which is often referred to as a self-signed certificate. This is often made in the same software being used to create the particular document but could be made in some other software. The upshot though is that anyone seeking to verify the authenticity of the digital signature will be coming back to signer for that authentication. In the case of a non-self-signed certificate, an entity known as a “Certificate Authority”, has made the certificate and verified your identity as part of the process. When the digital signature is applied to the document the local software communicates with that Certificate Authority. Later when someone verifies the signature their local software also communicates with that Certificate Authority. Hence the term “third party”, that certificate authority is not you, it is not the person receiving the document - it is a third party. A “third party” Certificate Authority is equivalent to a notary.

See the table and the discussion below summarize the differences: 


Numerous certificate authorities are available with the ability to interface with a variety of software. Consequently, the process of utilizing a digital signature in compliance with OAR 820-025-0010 is too variable to provide a step-by-step description here.

It should be noted that, with a digital signature, the original is the digitally signed file. Prints of that file, whether to paper or to another digital format (such as pdf), are equivalent to photocopies of a wet signed This article was authored by Board members Tim Fassbender, PLS, and Renee Clough, PE, PLS document. Those prints can be used when a photocopy would be acceptable but not when an original is required. Most software capable of opening a specific file type is also capable of confirming the validity of a digital signature when it necessary to confirm the original has been received. Some software will display this confirmation prominently at the top or side of the screen, others need the user to interact with several layers of menus. 

Lastly, it is important to note that OAR 820-025-0005(e) requires a digitally signed document to have the words “digitally signed” in the location where a wet signature would traditionally be placed. 

In an effort to continue to address questions from the professional community, as well as provide further direction, the Board will be reconvening the Digital Signatures Task Force. Actions taken by the Task Force may cause information within this article to become outdated. To stay up-to-date on the latest information and resources, we recommend visiting the Board website.

Please refer to the below resources for additional information on the differences between electronic and digital signatures.


Understanding Digital Signature​ – Jason Kent, PE, and Ranvir Singh, PLS, 2017




The Board would like to thank members Shelly Duquette, PE, SE, and Chris Aldridge, RPP, for their years of service on the Board.

First appointed in 2013, during her time with the Board, Shelly served as the President of the Board from 2017-2019 and Vice President from 2015-2017. In addition to her Board leadership roles, Shelly has served on the Examinations and Qualifications, Law Enforcement, Professional Practices, and Rules and Regulations Committees. Further, she also participated on the Oregon-Specific Examination Task Force and the Joint Compliance Committee in partnership with the Oregon Board of Geologist Examiners.

Currently, Shelly is a Building Plans Examiner and Inspector with the City of Portland. She is also actively involved with the Structural Engineers Association of Oregon and previously served as a member of the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying’s Exam Committee. 

Chris joined the Board in April of 2015 and served as the Board Vice President from 2017-2019. During his time on the Board, he served as the Committee Chair for the Professional Practices Committee and the Photogrammetric and Remote Sensing Task Force. Chris has also participated on the External Relations, Examinations and Qualifications Committees and the Customer Service and Communications Standards Task Force.

Professionally, Chris is the manager of U.S. Operations for Terra Remote Sensing, Inc. He notes the improvements to Board processes and internal operations as some of the Board’s great accomplishments during his time serving as a member.

“I would like to thank my fellow Board members for their service, friendship, and guidance, in particular my fellow officer Shelly Duquette who helped shepherd the agency through difficult periods over the last two years,” Chris said reflecting on his time with the Board. “My greatest hope is that all of the Oregon registered engineers, surveyors, photogrammetrists, and water right examiners will take the time to understand the hard work done by the Board and the value it presents to the people of Oregon.”

In his spare time, once his time on the Board comes to an end, Chris is looking forward to resuming normalcy and enjoying in-person meet ups with friends and colleagues, as well as attending Portland Timbers games.

Shelly and Chris will be greatly missed on the Board. They dedicated an invaluable amount of time and effort while serving in leadership positions, acting as Board representatives to local and national organizations, and offering their expertise to help solve numerous Board matters.

The Board and OSBEELS staff would like to thank Shelly and Chris for their dedication to improving the engineering, land surveying, and photogrammetric mapping professions and wish them the best in their future endeavors.​


​Recent concerns and questions raised by the professional community regarding Oregon Administrative Rule (OAR) 820-025-0010, digital seal and signature requirements, have been received by the Oregon State Board of Examiners for Engineering & Land Surveying (OSBEELS) and prompted a discussion about digital signatures and signing final documents. To address these questions and concerns, we have developed an article that will share resources and information to help professional registrants, and the users of their documents, to understand the differences between an electronic signature and a digital signature.

Access the article here.


The Oregon State Board of Examiners for Engineering & Land Surveying (OSBEELS) would like to provide our registrants and stakeholders with an update on the Board’s response to the situation surrounding COVID-19. In response to the ongoing pandemic the Board office has taken several proactive measures to ensure the health and safety of our office staff while doing our best to maintain core business operations.


At this time, the Board office is closed to the public in order to limit in-person interactions between staff and the public. Agency staff will continue to perform agency services and can be reached by phone or email during regular business hours. The office’s closure to the public will remain in place until further notice.


After receiving direction from the State of Oregon Governor’s office, and much consideration, the OSBEELS made the decision to postpone the Board’s April Committee meetings, originally scheduled for April 9-10. At this time, the Board is planning on holding Committee meetings on Monday, May 11, and its next regularly scheduled Board meeting on Tuesday, May 12. Additional meeting details will be provided to interested parties when the meeting dates near. If you wish to stay up-to-date on upcoming Board meetings, please contact the Board office at osbeels.info@oregon.gov and request to be added to the interested parties list.  


The COVID-19 outbreak is a rapidly changing situation from a public health perspective. The OSBEELS is committed to keeping registrants informed and taking the appropriate measures to ensure the health and safety of our staff and members of the public. To stay up-to-date on the latest information from the OSBEELS, please visit the Board website: oregon.gov/osbeels.​



The Oregon Examiner Newsletter


 Summer 2020


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