Lisa Simpson, P.Eng. is employed as a Junior Engineer in a company in Ontario. She has
worked on several large projects over the last three years, and has earned the notice of the VP
Engineering for her exceptional work. As a result of the very favourable impression her work
has made, she is assigned to be the Project Manager on a new large project. Ms. Simpson’s
first responsibility as Project Manager is to make a realistic estimate of the time the project
requires, and the associated costs that will ensue. Given the complex nature of the new
engineering required, her calculations result in very high cost estimates, so high, in fact, she
fears the project may be cancelled.
Ms Simpson meets with several older, more experienced engineers on her project team to seek
their opinions. They inform her that many earlier projects would have been cancelled if the
true extent of their final costs would have been disclosed to management at the same stage as
Lisa’s project. Moreover, they argue, “no one can ever be really sure of what something is
going to cost; after all, these are only estimates.” In the earlier projects, Ms. Simpson is told, a
very optimistic face was put on the cost of the estimates, and, even though the final costs
significantly exceeded the initial estimates, the projects were very successful and profitable.
The group of older engineers urge Ms. Simpson to reduce her estimates so the project will not
be cancelled. But, Ms. Simpson has put a lot of very careful and precise work into making the
estimates, and believes her numbers are as accurate as any estimate of the future can ever be.
Therefore, if she reduces the estimates she knows she will be lying. Furthermore, she believes
that the reputation she has worked so hard to earn will be damaged if it becomes apparent that
she has shaved her estimates. However, she also fears that some of the older engineers on her
project team may be laid off if the project is cancelled. She is caught in a dilemma, and as a
project manager, must decide one way or the other.
As a Professional Engineer, Ms. Simpson should respect the Professional Engineers Act and
its Code of Ethics. Should she not, she could be disciplined by PEO.
Discuss the ethical responsibilities and obligations of Ms. Simpson in this situation.
What actions, if any, should she take next? Explain your position.