AIPG Disciplinary Procedure Actions
AIPG Disciplinary Procedure Actions 1989 - 2019 (pdf).
An allegation that a violation of professional ethics has occurred is a serious matter. While AIPG is willing to pursue allegations, it must first receive a written statement of the allegation accompanied by sufficiently detailed information to pursue a formal inquiry. Failure to provide such information results in no action being taken. The following brief summaries of AIPG Disciplinary Procedure actions are provided to document the number and variety of activities resulting in allegations of ethical violations being brought to AIPG's attention and the results of those allegations. The summaries are arranged from most recent to oldest by the year in which the matter was concluded.
The summaries are brief. Many of the relevant ethical issues have been the topics addressed in the Professional Ethics & Practices column in The Professional Geologist, AIPG’s monthly magazine. Discussion of the ethical issues arising prior to 1998 are contained in Geological Ethics and Professional Practices, 1987-1997, AIPG Reprint Series #1 (now included within Geologic Ethics & Professional Practices, AIPG Reprint Series #2, which is a continuously updated CD). The summaries are generic and do not contain the name of the member charged with violating AIPG’s Code of Ethics.
The number of cases is not large. This reflects several factors. First and foremost, most geoscientists practice ethically. Second, alleging that someone has behaved unethically is an unpleasant task. It also requires detailed knowledge of the situation in order that the required burden of proof can be met. While the individual making the allegation, who may or may not be an AIPG member, does not have to file a completed investigation, sufficient evidence of unethical conduct is required to warrant pursuit of the matter. Allegations must be substantiated. Several of the matters listed below were dismissed due to lack of sufficient evidence, and, in one case, the investigation established that the individual bringing the allegation was committing the same ethical breaches as the individual against whom the initial allegation was brought. The unpleasantness and effort required to bring charges no doubt reduces the number of matters brought to AIPG’s attention. Third, there are situations in which an allegation would be filed except that convincing evidence cannot be obtained for one of a variety of reasons. Neither the world nor AIPG is perfect. However, AIPG does its best to promote ethical and competent practice in the geosciences. Perhaps AIPG is most successful when efforts to educate geoscientists about ethical issues help prevent the occurrence of unethical practice in the first place. And finally, as indicated by the cases of expulsion summarized below, when someone seriously violates the Code of Ethics, the violations are often multiple, egregious, and may result in additional civil or criminal actions.