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Summary of Member Meeting on December 11, 2012

posted Jan 7, 2013, 8:55 AM by Robert DuPont

Alliance for Regulatory Coordination

Summary of Member Meeting

Meeting Date: December 11, 2012

Location: Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin

The meeting was convened at 9:30 a.m. by Bob DuPont, of Regulatory Guidance and Design, LLC. Attendees introduced themselves and identified the organization they were representing.

Bob DuPont gave an update on ARC communications with the Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services. He reported the following:
  • An open records request was filed by DuPont, on behalf of ARC, on August 21, 2012, requesting fiscal and personnel records of the Industry Services Division for state fiscal year 2012. The DSPS has not responded to the open records request and has not responded to DuPont’s written and verbal requests for a status update concerning their response to the open records request.
  • Theresa Elliott, Deputy Administrator, DSPS Industry Services Division, has not responded to the letter from DuPont on behalf of ARC, dated October 3, 2012, which requested a meeting between ARC representatives and Ms. Elliott.
  • DuPont attended a meeting of the DSPS Conveyance Safety Code Council on November 28, 2012, where DSPS staff shared a statute change idea that would more formally recognize the role of agent municipalities in the state’s conveyance regulation program covering elevators, escalators and lifts. DuPont said he thought it was a good idea and good indication the DSPS is supportive of municipal agents.

Attendees next reconsidered the four top interests of ARC members. There was general agreement that the recent reorganization of the former Safety and Buildings Division addressed ARC member concerns for the most part, and therefore the ARC top concern about organizational structure could be dropped.

The new DSPS mission statement was discussed relative to its mention of protecting citizens of Wisconsin as designated by statute. DuPont explained that numerous services of the DSPS are authorized by statute, but are not mandated. That can lead to the question of whether the department has thoughts of discontinuing those services or leaving them for municipalities or third party providers.

On the other hand, the focus on what is designated by statute may indicate that the department is going to focus on implementing statutory mandates that the department has not yet implemented.

There was general agreement that any changes to services of the department should be developed with customer involvement and that ARC generally supports implementation of unmet statutory mandates.

Focus next turned to the top three interests of the Alliance, which are:
  1. Stop the lapsing of funds from the Safety and Buildings Appropriation.
  2. Improve the deployment of resources among programs and services within the Division.
  3. Encourage the DSPS to maintain a focus on customers and customer involvement in DSPS decisions regarding services of the Safety and Buildings (Industry Services) Division.

Regarding the lapsing of funds, DuPont reported that Clean Wisconsin recently joined the cities of Madison and Milwaukee in their lawsuit against the state regarding the lapsing of funds from the Wisconsin recycling program. Although the recycling fund is a segregated fund, while the safety and buildings appropriation is a program revenue fund, DuPont said the continued pressure on the state may help put an end to lapsing of any sort.

DuPont reported that, according to the Department of Administration, the state ended fiscal year 2011-12 with a positive fund balance of $342.1 million. He also read an excerpt from a WisPolitics article which reported that Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald has a gut feeling that the Legislature could have as much as $1 billion in flexibility as it constructs the upcoming state budget.

Regarding resource deployment in the Industry Services Division, DuPont referenced the four resource deployment models he had developed and sent to ARC member representatives. The models illustrate how ISD positions serving in the “wholesale” role could be deployed among various programs so that the Division could be most efficient and effective in supporting local programs and 3rd party inspectors.

DuPont said the staff deployment models focus only on positions in the Industry Services Division which provide “wholesale” services, such as consultation and monitoring, in support of municipal programs. He said that the provision of direct services, such as plan reviews performed by state staff, is not taken into account in the models he developed and such state positions are not included in the illustration.

Proper deployment of staff has a significant impact on whether or not an agency can meet its service obligations, according to DuPont. There was general agreement that DuPont would work with Richard Paur and the Wisconsin Code Officials Alliance in further developing the resource deployment models with hopes of ARC eventually sharing its recommendations with leadership of the DSPS.

Regarding customer involvement in DSPS decisions, DuPont reviewed information about the number of code council meetings held during the past ten years. He suggested that such meetings can be used as an indicator of DSPS leaders involving customers in their decision-making process. The information came from the code council activities posted on the DSPS web site for the Safety and Buildings / Industry Services Division. Code council activities of the Environmental and Regulatory Services Division were not available, and it appears that S&B code council activity is not completely shown on the department web site. The data available indicates that, on average, there were at least 24.7 code council meetings per year over the past ten years. In 2012, the Department held five code council meetings for programs administered by the Safety and Buildings / Industry Services Division.

For context, DuPont pointed out that the highest and lowest annual number of code council meetings during the first nine years of data was 55 in 2005 and 11 in 2003. He said it is not unusual for there to be a limited number of code council meetings in years such as 2012 where the Department was dealing with major changes such as the creation of the Department of Safety and Professional Services, and merging of the Safety and Buildings and Environmental and Regulatory Services Divisions.

There was agreement that code council meetings are important to DSPS customers and that ARC would monitor the situation and continue to encourage use of advisory code councils by the Department.

Attendees next reconsidered strategies used by the Alliance since its inception in 2010. There was agreement that the least effective strategies used to date relate to communications by DuPont, on behalf of the Alliance, with high level officials in the Department of Safety and Professional Services. The Department has not responded to the ARC open records request of August, 2012, and Department officials seldom reply to verbal, email or written communications by DuPont on behalf of the Alliance.

DuPont said the Administration was very receptive of the ARC recommendation to create the Department of Safety and Professional Services, but it now appears DSPS leaders are reluctant to deal with ARC members as a group, preferring to work with them on an individual basis. He said that can work if ARC members are all on the same page with their concerns and recommendations; however, it can also be problematic if ARC is viewed by the Department as a threat instead of a resource.

It was mentioned that perhaps the DSPS is upset because the Alliance has submitted open records requests to the Department. DuPont explained that he met with the Budget Director of the former Department of Commerce in 2010 about how best to obtain Department records about financial and position management pertaining to the Safety and Buildings Division. He said the Department directed that he utilize the open records procedure for any and all such requests made on behalf of the Alliance.

The focus of the Alliance for Regulatory Coordination was discussed next. DuPont recapped: since its inception in 2010, the Alliance has focused on the administration of regulatory programs in the Safety and Buildings Division (now Industry Services Division) with better coordination between state and municipal building regulatory programs being a primary concern. Attention to the administration of regulatory programs sprung from the belief that additional regulatory efficiencies could be gained from such attention, and that more efficient implementation of regulatory policies should be encouraged.

During the September 14, 2012 ARC member meeting attendees discussed revisiting the mission and strategies of the Alliance for Regulatory Coordination in an effort to better reflect the interests of its members, improve effectiveness, and attract new members. One idea was to have ARC advocate for safety through the use of contemporary building codes and standards throughout Wisconsin.

DuPont reviewed his recent recommendation to modify the current ARC policy of not dealing with technical building design issues. Without getting deep into such technical details, the Alliance could encourage contemporary and coordinated administration of regulatory programs. By including the concept of contemporary administration in its focus, the Alliance would commit to helping identify society’s expectations of state and municipal regulatory programs, as well as helping to identify the best roles and relationships for state and municipal programs in order to meet those expectations.

In the quest for contemporary administration the Alliance would encourage consideration of nationally recognized model code provisions; not only for the administration of regulations, but also for the design, construction and maintenance of buildings in Wisconsin. Such an expanded focus would recognize that what is delivered efficiently by the regulatory system in Wisconsin is very important. Timely plan review and inspection services are diminished in value to citizens and frequenters of buildings if the plans and inspections are based on outdated codes and standards.

There was general agreement that the ARC commitments should be rewritten to include promotion of contemporary administration of regulatory programs. DuPont said he would draft changes to the ARC commitments document and forward it to all ARC member representatives for their review.

There was agreement that the next member meeting would concentrate on revising the focus and commitments of the Alliance.

The next meeting of Alliance Members was scheduled for January 15, 2013, at 9:30 a.m.

The meeting was adjourned at 12:20 p.m.


Meeting Attendees

Organization Represented

Annie Reinhard

Wisconsin Fire Protection Coalition

Bill Babcock

American Institute of Architects - Wisconsin Society

Bob Kleinheinz

Wisconsin Fire Protection Coalition

Bob Neale

International Code Council

Chris Schoenbeck

Wisconsin Fire Protection Coalition

Corey Gall

Wisconsin Fire Protection Coalition

Dan Gengler

Wisconsin Alliance for Fire Safety

Dave Bloom

Wisconsin State Fire Chiefs Association

Jeff Bateman

Wisconsin Fire Protection Coalition

Joe Hertel

International Association of Electrical Inspectors, WI Chapter

John Mielke

Associated Builders and Contractors of Wisconsin

Matthew Mertens

Wisconsin Code Officials Alliance

Melissa Destree

American Institute of Architects - Wisconsin Society

Richard Paur

Wisconsin Code Officials Alliance

Scott Satula

Wisconsin Code Officials Alliance

Tom Clark

Wisconsin State Fire Inspectors Association

Tom Johnson

Wisconsin Code Officials Alliance

Bob DuPont

Regulatory Guidance and Design, LLC

This meeting summary was prepared by Bob DuPont, Regulatory Guidance and Design, LLC.

It was issued on January 7, 2013.