As an architectural intern, I came to view NCARB (the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards – the oversight body that manages internship and registration and testing) as a ponderous bureaucratic nightmare.  I was far from the only person for whom trying to get a question answered by NCARB was about like trying to get an answer to the same question from a stone wall.

So I was more than slightly surprised that, after requesting to have my records forwarded to the State of Ohio as part of my application for registration there, I got an email in the same week that my record has been sent!  That’s like getting your Federal tax refund (assuming you qualified for one) on April 16.

Of course, they didn’t actually send anything (other than the email).  And the email simply states that the State Board of Architects can view my record online.  So nothing actually gets sent, they just view it online, confirm I’ve met all the requirements, and proceed from there.  And for this service, I get charged $300.  Wow, that’s some real value there, NCARB.

Please find file #XXXXX in the member’s board section of NCARB’S home page for a reciprocal registration to your board.  You may Download the customer file by entering the Members only Section from Our homepage using your login id and password.

We are copying the customer on this same email so they may contact Your board for any further information.

This e-mail is not intended, or implied, as an avenue for the NCARB file Holder to acquire his/her record directly from NCARB.  This email only serves As correspondence to the customer that his/her transmittal request has Been promptly forwarded to the state board at their request.

60 words, not counting the third paragraph disclaimer, which is to me, rather than to the Ohio Board.  That’s $5 a word, for a form letter!

I suppose that there is some value in NCARB coordinating and facilitating licensing between states.  But, from the poor user’s perspective, it looks very much like a monopoly extracting maximum value from its service base, and providing little in return.

But in spite of this, in a couple weeks, I should be registered in Ohio.  Hopefully that will eventually pay off for me.