Mark H. McCallum
Mark H. McCallum

All the words spoken by Mark H. McCallum about surety bonds could fill a library.

His views cover the treatment of surety in federal contract forms, bonding assistance for small contractors and state-level bills that permitted unregulated individual surety markets. Few people outside the world of surety bonds and construction feel the same intense affection for those subjects.

In the six years McCallum has served as chief executive of the National Association of Surety Bond Producers (NASBP)—and the four years prior, when he was the association’s general counsel—McCallum has proven an unabashed advocate and strategist. He has worked closely with the surety companies and the Surety & Fidelity Association of America.

ENR's Top 25 Newsmakers IconIn November 2015, Congress granted NASBP, the surety companies and a construction-industry coalition what they had spent years pursuing: a reform in federal surety-bond asset rules that should end the most pervasive types of fraud in individual surety—non-existent assets.

The reform, which took the form of different House and Senate bills, finally was tucked inside the 2016 defense authorization approved by Congress. It requires non-corporate sureties to pledge secure assets and place them in the care and custody of the federal government. It also increases the Small Business Administration’s ability to back legitimate bonds.

For the individual surety con artists who had become accustomed to writing payment and performance bonds backed by phony assets, the game is over. For McCallum, many long years of work, including testimony before legislative bodies about the problem, finally has produced results.

“We are confident now our five years of toil to curb individual surety abuses on federal construction contracts are paying off,” says McCallum, who views the passage as a major victory for the industry.

The officers of NASBP are appreciative. Howard Cowan, president of the Cowan-Hill Bond Agency, Lubbock, Texas, praises McCallum’s “hard work,”  “professionalism” and help in raising NASBP’s overall effectiveness.

Brian Perlberg, senior counsel for contracts of the Associated General Contractors, says, “Mark’s the kind of person who makes a statement or insightful comment nobody thought of that brings an insightful, fresh perspective.”

About the reform passed by Congress, a colleague adds, “It never would have happened without Mark.”

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