The REAL Answers to Questions About NCARB’s Fees Increase
In the spirit of one of my favorite Cincinnati radio personalities Earl Pitts: “Ya’ know what makes me sick? You know what makes me so angry?” Mostly the lack of integrity of every corporation in the United States. I am not talking about BP, which is equally disgusting, but today is NCARB’s day to shine. I, like many of my fellow architects found my self in complete shock when I read the latest newsletter released by NCARB: NCARB’s e-Connection -July 2010: Answers to Questions About NCARB Fees. I am hosting a PDF version of the article on my site, because as I have discussed in previous articles, NCARB has a habit of quietly changing information. The questions and answers should not concern you, because they are as scripted as any interview you might find on a daytime television talk show. In nearly every case fees have doubled! But WHY?
Why did NCARB’s fees increase?
Well, that depends on who you ask. NCARB has stated that the development of new test content by the recent ARE cheating scandal and the digitizing of NCARB member’s records is the cause for the recent fee increases. Although there may have been an upfront cost for digitizing NCARB records, this will no doubt have a long term cost savings for the organization. The real reason that NCARB is increasing fees across the board is quite simple, they are unable to control costs.
Exhibit #1: A New LEED Silver Certified Office Space
In December 2008, NCARB published the following article on their website: NCARB’s New Office Earns LEED-Silver Certification. PDF version. For those architects who are not familiar with tenant agreements for commercial office spaces, it is common practice for the leasor to grant the lessee a predetermined amount of funds for certain “tenant improvements.” Based on personal experience and speculation, I can tell you that this predetermined amount of money for improvements is not normally sufficient to hire a firm like Gensler as a design architect, nor to fund the construction of a LEED Silver Certified Office Space in the center of Washington, D.C.
Recent posts on Archinect have revealed that NCARB’s new LEED Certified office space resides at the luxurious 1801 K Street address.
Exhibit #2: My Site Statistics
NCARB could save some money by spending more time working, and less time surfing my site. If you run a website, you should know who is accessing your site. I personally use a free service called Stat Tracker. NCARB has been spying on my site since its inception, what they do not know is that I have also spying on them. Stat Tracker saves a limited amount of data in its free form, so I am only able to obtain statistics for the last thirty days. Below is a summary of the last 30 days for computers accessing my site from NCARB:
Over the last thirty days, there have been thirty visits to my site from computers hosted by Ncarb, this most recent visit lasted for 1 minute and 7 seconds. It is important to note that that is the time spent on the first page. There is no way for the script to know how much time was spent reading the article, because the script requires a page reload to create an end time stamp. I have seen visits where NCARB has spent hours on my site. Common! You could at least make a donation to my site, advertise on my site, or give me a break on my NCARB fees, if you are going to spend that much time on my site. Also, the no referring link, usually means that someone is accessing my site from their favorites, at least they like my site.
One last thing, the script can determine what operating system a person is using when they access my site. Apparently, NCARB is not hurting too badly for money, because they are using Mac OSX. A good way to cut cost would be to buy a bunch of cheap Dell computers like the architects that you regulate.
Exhibit #3: FORM 990
“IRS Form 990 is an annual document used by approximately one-third of all public charities to report information about their finances and operations to the federal government. GuideStar uses data from Form 990 to populate its database with financial information about nonprofit organizations. Posting Form 990 images on the GuideStar Web site is an ongoing process.”
After receiving the most recent e-Connection from NCARB I decided to do some research, and obtained copies of the Form 990s, which are a part of the public record and Open to Public Inspection. Due to an agreement with GuideStar, I cannot post the documentation directly, but only excerpts from the documents. You can create an account with GuideStar for free, and obtain direct access to the Form 990s. NCARB’s Employer Identification Number is 73-0684309, this may help you in your search.
There are some interesting statistics found in these documents which I have listed below, if you find any other statistics in these documents that you feel are shocking, or worth mentioning, please comment below or email me directly and I will add to the list below:
- In 2008 NCARB lost $1,051,424 in investment securities!
- NCARB spent $46,288 on subscriptions and dues!
- NCARB’s old office space was $765,982 a year, their NEW office is $1,305,799, that is almost half a million dollars more a year!
- NCARB has 10 employees that make salaries ranging from $137,822 to $319,435!
- NCARB employee Gordon Mills works 21 hours a week for a whopping $153,294!
- NCARB employee Douglas K Engebretson works 12 hours a week for a whopping $81,972!
- In 2004 the NCARB board and senior staff were reimbursed for nearly $57,000 in expenses, by 2006 this number had nearly doubled!
- NCARB expenditures doubled again in 2007 to a whopping $343,000!
- In 2008 NCARB had $2,832,306 in travel expenses! This number does not include the $912,901 in conferences, conventions and meetings!
- NCARB employee H Carleton Godsey and Peter Rasmussen made $13,199 and $11,947 for working NO HOURS!
- NCARB employee Lenore Lucey received a $25,000 bonus in 2008!
- NCARB employee Mary S Desousa received a $17,500 bonus in 2008!
- NCARB employee Stephen Nutt received a $17,500 bonus in 2008!
- In 2004-2005 NCARB employee Lenore Lucie’s salary and deferred compensation was $233,000. In 2007-2008 it was $313,000. That’s up 34% in four years.
- In 2004-2005 NCARB employee Mary de Sousa’s salary and deferred compensation was $118,00. In 2007-2008 it was $207,000. That’s up 75% in four years.
- NCARB employee Stephen Nut was hired at $159,000 in 2006-2007. In 2007-2008 he made $201,000. That’s a 26% raise last year.
So, you might be thinking, is NCARB Hiring?
NCARB is one of my favorite topics to write about, in fact it is one of the favorite topics of any young architect to talk about, because it represents a necessary evil. It is the Big Brother of architecture, the proverbial machine of The Man. One of the things that I love about architects is our rebellious nature, we all believe that the world can be made better. We secretly conspire and dream up ways to revolt against the system. That is the reason I run this site, and that is the reason that I am writing this article. The system is broken and corrupt, and it needs fixed.
The beautiful thing about living in a capitalist market is that you cast your vote with your dollar. If you have your license do not renew your NCARB membership. I am NOT renewing my NCARB membership this year, and I hope that every person that reads this article follows suit. Special thanks to areFAQ.blog, which I found during my research after Googling NCARB’s EIN. I have republished some of the stats originally published on his blog in addition to the latest Form 990 available for public download.