A New Era

The Online Governmental Consensus Vote could change how codes are developed
Julie Ruth
March 28, 2017
COLUMN : Code Arena | Strategies & Practices

The Final Action for the International Code Council Group B Code cycle has finally been determined. It took longer than usual for the 2016 ICC Group B Code cycle because of the addition of the Online Governmental Consensus Vote after the conclusion of the Public Comment Hearings, but it did not take as long as it did for the 2015 ICC Group A Code cycle.

The OGCV after the 2015 ICC Group A Public Comment Hearings required reconsideration of some of the votes taken during the PCH due to glitches caused by relying upon electronic voting devices that were not used during the 2016 cycle. The first use of OGCV occurred during the 2014 ICC Group C Code Development cycle, which determined the content of the 2015 IgCC.

The ICC Online Governmental Consensus Voting Process

ICC developed the OGCV process to provide a means by which representatives of the ICC governmental members (code officials) could participate in the development of the codes they are charged with enforcing, without the jurisdictions who employ them (ICC governmental members) having to incur the expense and inconvenience of attending code development hearings in person.

Initially, use of electronic devices at the hearings, as well as online voting after the hearings, was sought to generate a combined vote. Due to the delays experienced during the 2015 cycle, the final action results for any proposals that received public comments during the 2016 ICC cycle were determined entirely through the use of OGCV.

ICC’s objective in implementing the OGCV process was to increase participation in the code development process by the code officials who enforce them and, therefore, the governmental members they represent. If you think of the ICC from a business perspective, its product is the I-codes; its customers are the governmental members who adopt them.

Yes, designers and contractors buy the I-codes also. But, they do so because they are being enforced by the jurisdictions they build in. So, if the ICC can gain buy-in of the codes by the governmental members who adopt them, they will hopefully continue to adopt, update and enforce these codes going forward.

If the governmental members do this, the designers and builders will not have any choice but to continue to buy the I-codes. The implementation of the OGCV by the ICC can be viewed as a way of gaining more feedback from their customers. It is difficult to predict the success of this objective. Previous participation in the OGCV has been tepid. The actual number of votes cast on each item never exceeded 300.

A New Challenge

A great deal more fanfare was made of the OGCV for the 2016 cycle. Some ICC Chapters set up voting centers where their active members were able to come together, view the videos of the hearings, discuss them and vote in a real-time atmosphere.

The ICC proclaimed they saw a “significant increase in participation” in OGCV in the 2016 cycle, with as many as 162,000 votes cast. However, there were almost 600 items considered, meaning that, if the same number of people voted on each item, less than 300 people actually voted. It seems more likely that a higher number of votes were cast on certain items of greater interest than others. (Note: At the time of publication, the actual vote tally has not been made available, so this cannot be confirmed.)

What is definite is that the addition of OGCV will change how we develop codes. As an industry, we will need to reexamine the manner in which we convey to the code officials the message we need them to understand so that they can make better informed decisions that allow us to provide a product that effectively meets the needs of our customers. This will be a new challenge for us going forward.

Code Arena is brought to you by the America Architectural Manufacturers Association. Julie Ruth may be reached through AAMA at 847/303-5664 or via e-mail at julruth@aol.com.