Volume 48, Issue 3 - March 2013

Code Development: How Online Voting Could Change the Process

Airline reservations, hotel rooms and other travel arrangements will no longer be necessary for some who want to participate in the International Code Council’s (ICC) code development process (cdp), as the association has adopted online voting.

“As code enforcement officials, our job is safety in the built environment,” says William D. Dupler, code council board immediate past president and current chair of the cdp committee. “It’s not just about having the funds to attend the hearings; it’s also about having the time to do it.”

The International Code Council’s (ICC) board of directors approved final recommendations from its code development process Access Steering Committee which is designed to increase participation in ICC’s core function: code development.

The committee’s final recommendations outline several key elements for expanding participation in the ICC code development process, including:
• Online collaboration for stakeholders in the development of code change and public comment submittals as well as collaboration in preparation for participating at hearings;
• Establishing a two-week period following the committee action hearings for online voting on assembly motions by all ICC members. Successful assembly motions will continue to result in an automatic public comment; and
• Establishing a two-week period following the public comment hearing for online voting by governmental members based on the actions that occurred on the individual consideration agenda at the public comment hearing. The online voting ballot will include the results from the public comment hearing and access to video and other content of record from the hearing. The results will be added to the vote count from the public comment hearing to determine the final disposition of the code change.

Testing of the online vote will occur in October in Atlantic City at the 2013 public comment hearings. After system and process adjustments the 2014 cycle for the international green construction code (IgCC) will be a binding beta test for the entire code development process, according to the ICC. The ICC adds that the in-person and online voting processes will maintain compliance with federal guidelines for consensus and accessibility.

“To put this in a little better perspective, the number of code officials who now make the final decision on whether to approve or disapprove any given proposal at the final action hearings ranges from 125 to 400, on average, according to ICC,” says Jeff Inks, vice president of codes and regulatory affairs for the Window and Door Manufacturers Association, who is a permanent fixture at the code hearings each year. “Those vote counts are but a small fraction of the approximately 15,000 ICC code official members who are actually eligible to vote and could potentially do so under the new voting process. The low number of officials voting under the current existing process is primarily because in-person participation at the final action hearings is required and budgets or other constraints keep many voting-eligible code officials from attending. While vote counts approaching the upper thousands are probably not likely, they could still easily go from several hundred on average to several thousand.”

He added that the new process will also likely change other aspects of code development such as how proponents and opponents of code change proposals advocate their respective positions.

“In short, many advocates will probably place greater attention on engaging code officials at the state and local level in advance of the hearings,” he said.

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