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RULE §851.156Professional Geoscientist Seals and Geoscience Firm Identification

(a) The purpose of the Professional Geoscientist's seal is to show that professional geoscience services were performed by a qualified licensed Professional Geoscientist and to identify the Professional Geoscientist who performed the geoscience services.

(b) The Professional Geoscientist seal shall be of the design shown in this subsection. Physical seals of two different sizes will be acceptable: a pocket seal (the size commercially designated as 1-5/8-inch seal) or desk seal (commercially designated as a two-inch seal). Electronically or digitally-applied seals may be of a reduced size provided that the Professional Geoscientist's full name and license number are clearly legible. The Professional Geoscientist's name on the seal shall be the same name on the license certificate issued by the TBPG.

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(c) A Professional Geoscientist shall seal only documents that contain geoscience services performed by or under the Professional Geoscientist's direct supervision. Upon sealing, the Professional Geoscientist takes full professional responsibility for geoscience services that are provided through the sealed document.

(d) It shall be misconduct to knowingly sign or seal any geoscience document if its use or implementation may endanger the public health, safety, and welfare.

(e) It shall be unlawful for a license holder whose license has been revoked, suspended, or has expired to sign or affix a seal on any document.

(f) All seals utilized by a license holder to seal a paper document shall be capable of leaving a permanent ink or impression on the document.

(g) Electronically conveyed geoscience documents requiring a seal must contain an electronic seal and electronic signature or digital seal and digital signature. Such seals should conform to the design requirements set forth in this section.

  (1) A Professional Geoscientist must employ reasonable security measures to make the document unalterable. The Professional Geoscientist shall maintain the security of his/her electronic seal and electronic signature, or digital seal and digital signature. The following methods are allowed:

    (A) The Professional Geoscientist may electronically copy the original hard copy of the document that bears his/her seal, original signature, and date and transmit this document in a secure electronic format.

    (B) The Professional Geoscientist may create an electronic seal and electronic signature for use in transmitting geoscientific documents by making a secure electronic graphic of the Professional Geoscientist's original seal and signature.

    (C) A digital signature, as defined in 22 TAC §851.10, which can be generated by using either public key infrastructure or signature dynamics technology, must be: unique to the person using it, capable of verification, under the sole control of the person using it, and linked to a document in such a manner that the digital signature is invalidated if any data in the document is changed and/or deleted.

  (2) The use of a computer-generated signature is not allowed by changing the word processing font from a "normal text" to a signature/handwriting font.

    (A) Shown below is a sample of an unauthorized signature consisting of a computer-generated signature using the Lucida Handwriting font.

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    (B) Shown below is a sample of an acceptable digital image of a geoscientist's physical seal and original signature saved as a digital image (JPEG Format, for example).

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    (C) Shown below is a sample of an acceptable digital seal accompanied by a digital signature.

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(h) Preprinting of blank forms with a Professional Geoscientist's seal is prohibited.

(i) Signature reproductions, including but not limited to, rubber stamps, decals or other replicas, and computer-generated signatures shall not be used in lieu of the Professional Geoscientist's actual signature, digital signature, or a true digital graphic copy of the actual signature.

(j) A Professional Geoscientist shall take reasonable steps to ensure the security of the Professional Geoscientist's physical or electronically-generated seals at all times. In the event of loss of a seal, the Professional Geoscientist will immediately give written notification of the facts concerning the loss to the Executive Director.

(k) Professional Geoscientists shall affix an unobscured seal, original signature, and date of signature to the originals of all documents containing the final version of any geoscience document as outlined in subsection (l) of this section before such document is released from their control.

(l) Preliminary documents released from a P.G.'s control shall identify the purpose of the document, the Professional Geoscientist(s) of record and the Professional Geoscientist license number(s), and the release date by placing the following text or similar wording instead of a seal: "This document is released for the purpose of (Examples: interim review, mark-up, drafting) under the authority of (Example: Leslie H. Doe, P.G. 0112) on (date). It is not to be used for (Examples: construction, bidding, permit) purposes."

(m) The Professional Geoscientist shall sign, seal, and date the original title sheet or a signature page of geoscience documents, specifications, details, calculations, or estimates, and each sheet of maps, drawings, cross sections, or other figures representing geoscientific services carried out under the supervision of the geoscientist, regardless of size or binding.

(n) All unbound geoscience documents, including but not limited to, research reports, opinions, recommendations, evaluations, addenda, and geoscience software shall bear the Professional Geoscientist's printed name, date, signature, and the designation "P.G." or other terms allowed under §1002.251 of the Act, unless the geoscience service is exempt under §1002.252 of the Texas Occupations Code. Electronic correspondence of this type shall include an electronic signature as described in subsection (f) of this section or be followed by a hard copy containing the Professional Geoscientist's printed name, date, signature, and the designation "P.G." or other terms allowed under §1002.251 of the Act.

(o) Geoscience services performed by more than one Professional Geoscientist shall be sealed in a manner such that all geoscience can be clearly attributed to the responsible Professional Geoscientist(s). When sealing plans or documents on which two or more Professional Geoscientists have worked, the seal of each Professional Geoscientist shall be placed on the plan or document with a notation describing the geoscience services done under each Professional Geoscientist's responsible charge.

(p) Licensed employees of the state, its political subdivisions, or other public entities are responsible for sealing their original geoscience documents; however, such licensed employees engaged in review and evaluation for compliance with applicable law or regulation of documents containing geoscience services submitted by others, or in the preparation of general planning documents, a proposal for decision in a contested case or any similar position statement resulting from a compliance review, need not seal the review reports, planning documents, proposals for decision, or position statements.

(q) When a Professional Geoscientist elects to use standards or general guideline specifications, those items shall be clearly labeled as such, shall bear the identity of the publishing entity, and shall be:

  (1) Individually sealed by the Professional Geoscientist; or

  (2) Specified on an integral design/title/contents sheet that bears the Professional Geoscientist's seal, signature, and date with a statement authorizing its use.

(r) Alteration of a sealed document without proper notification to the responsible Professional Geoscientist is misconduct or an offense under the Act.

(s) A license holder is not required to use a seal for a document for which the license holder is not required to hold a license under Texas Occupations Code, Chapter 1002.

(t) All geoscience documents released, issued, or submitted by a licensee shall clearly indicate the Geoscience Firm name and registration number by which the Professional Geoscientist is employed. If the Professional Geoscientist is employed by a local, State, or Federal Government agency or a firm that is exempt from the requirement of registration under Texas Occupations Code, Chapter 1002, Subchapter H, then only the name of the agency or firm shall be required.

(u) TBPG also considers a document to meet the sealing requirement if a reader or user of the document can determine that the original document is complete and unaltered from that which was subsequently placed under seal.

Source Note: The provisions of this §851.156 adopted to be effective December 15, 2010, 35 TexReg 10695; amended to be effective January 1, 2012, 36 TexReg 8826; amended to be effective November 1, 2012, 37 TexReg 8019; amended to be effective October 1, 2013, 38 TexReg 5731; amended to be effective December 11, 2014, 39 TexReg 9539; amended to be effective March 15, 2016, 41 TexReg 1843; amended to be effective October 31, 2018, 43 TexReg 7140; amended to be effective March 6, 2022, 47 TexReg 947; amended to be effective June 14, 2023, 48 TexReg 2966

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