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Summary of Sept. 14, 2012 Member Meeting

posted Oct 3, 2012, 9:01 AM by Robert DuPont
Alliance for Regulatory Coordination

Summary of Member Meeting

Meeting Date: September 14, 2012

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

The meeting was convened at 9:40 a.m. by Bob DuPont, of Regulatory Guidance and Design, LLC. Attendees introduced themselves and identified the organization they were representing.

Regarding communications with the Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services, DuPont reported that Greg Gasper, DSPS Executive Assistant, declined an invitation to attend this member meeting due to a previously scheduled meeting of department supervisors and managers. Gasper has not responded to a request for dialogue regarding continuing education services of the department.

An open records request was filed by DuPont on August 21, 2012, regarding fiscal and personnel records of the Safety and Buildings Division for state fiscal year 2012, with no response yet from the agency.

DuPont also reported on communications he had with Theresa Elliott, the recently appointed Deputy Administrator, in the DSPS Safety and Buildings Division. He provided electronic copies of S&B strategic direction documents from the period of 2003 to 2008, as well as all ARC policy papers and recommendations made to state officials since November, 2010.

DuPont next reported on the letters of commendation and press release issued by ARC relative to municipal administration of state building and fire safety codes. He said the League of Wisconsin Municipalities has plans to publish the commendation in their member newsletter. He is hopeful that the Wisconsin Towns Association and Wisconsin Counties Association will also do so. The release already appeared on the web sites of the Wheeler Report and WisPolitics.

Regarding ARC efforts to stop the diversion of funds from the DSPS, DuPont reported that the ARC Hot Issue Team met on this topic on August 30, 2012. The Team recommended to ARC members the following three strategies:
  1. For meetings between ARC representatives and the Administration to focus on expressing concern over the impacts of lapses on DSPS services, both currently and in the future, and to ask for an end to lapsing of DSPS fee revenue as soon as possible.
  2. For ARC to ask the Administration about their “game plan” to serve industry needs in light of the lean government initiative.
  3. For ARC to request quarterly meetings with the DSPS Secretary and his leadership team so lines of communication are kept open regarding service delivery and the direction of the agency.
DuPont also reviewed the results of the survey of ARC members dealing with their top concerns about operations of the Department of Safety and Professional Services as they relate to the impact of lapsing of funds from the Safety and Buildings Division. Those concerns centered on five service areas: staffing, inspections, plan review, education and code development.

Attendees briefly discussed and agreed with the recommendations of the Hot Issue Team. It was decided that DuPont will draft a letter to Safety and Buildings Deputy Administrator Theresa Elliott asking for a meeting between her and ARC representatives. The focus of the request and meeting will be primarily on customer service in these tight economic times. DuPont said he will send a draft of the letter to ARC members for their review and comment.

Regarding activities of the ARC Fire Safety Team, Matt Mertens reported that Tom Clark and the Wisconsin Fire Inspectors Association continue to work with the Safety and Buildings Division on ways to better coordinate state and local plan review efforts relative to fire sprinkler and alarm systems. Matt said the current practice in many communities is to have two reviews conducted on such systems; by both the State and the local fire department. The coordination effort is aimed at having the local fire or building inspection department conduct one such review as a delegate of the S&B Division.

Regarding a possible statewide inspection program for commercial buildings, DuPont briefly reviewed the ARC Fire Safety Team’s progress in coming to consensus on many aspects of a potential state policy on inspections. DuPont reported that the team also recognized, and briefly discussed, the relationship between a statewide building inspection policy and the bigger issue of overall code uniformity.

ARC members next continued the dialogue started during the June 7th meeting regarding top priorities of the Alliance still needing attention. From the June meeting, those are:
  1. Stop the lapsing of funds from the Safety and Buildings Appropriation,
  2. Improve the organizational structure of the Safety and Buildings Division,
  3. Improve the deployment of resources among programs and services within the Division, and
  4. Maintenance of services when merging into the Department of Safety and Professional Services.
To provide some context for this dialogue, DuPont provided an update on happenings in the DSPS.
  • The Department is evaluating their role; looking at statutory mandates and considering discontinuing non-mandated/non-essential services, such as tracking continuing education credits for S&B customers.
  • The Department has announced its plans to focus next on the 2015 editions of the International Code Council national model codes as the basis for the Wisconsin Commercial Building Code.
  • The Department may begin a code change project to create one code chapter which would address administrative requirements for all S&B programs. The chapter would parallel what is now in place for fees (SPS 302) and for licenses, certifications and registrations (SPS 305). The chapter would be designed as one place for customers to go when they want to learn about requirements related to plan review, permits and inspections for any element of a building project.
There was general agreement that one administrative code chapter would be helpful for customers. Concerns were expressed about the Departments decision to wait for the 2015 editions of ICC codes, as well as the possibility of no longer having the Department track continuing education credits. There was dialogue about how the professions previously credentialed by the Department of Regulation and Licensing don’t have their continuing education credits tracked by the Department. In the case of architects, the American Institute of Architects provides a tracking mechanism which is accepted by the DSPS. DuPont said that if DSPS stops tracking continuing education credits that may present an opportunity for other professional groups to provide such a service to their members.

DuPont suggested that the Alliance continue to focus on the four priorities identified during the June 7th meeting. He also suggested that priority number four be reworded, as follows, to drop the reference to merging since the DSPS is now more than a year old, and to better communicate ARC member’s desires to be involved in Department dialogue about program administration and customer service.
  • Encourage the DSPS to maintain a focus on customers and on customer involvement in DSPS decisions regarding services of the Division of Safety and Buildings.
There was general consensus to stay focused on the four top priorities identified earlier, with the change to number four as recommended by DuPont.

The next meeting of Alliance Members was not scheduled.

The meeting was adjourned at 11:50 a.m.

Meeting Attendees

Organization Represented

Bill Babcock

American Institute of Architects - Wisconsin Society

Chris Schoenbeck

Wisconsin Fire Protection Coalition

Dan Gengler

Wisconsin Alliance for Fire Safety

Dave Bloom

Wisconsin State Fire Chiefs Association

Jody Andres

American Institute of Architects - Wisconsin Society

John Mielke

Associated Builders and Contractors of Wisconsin

Matthew Mertens

Wisconsin Code Officials Alliance

Richard Paur

Wisconsin Code Officials Alliance

Scott Satula

Wisconsin Code Officials Alliance

Tom Johnson

Wisconsin Code Officials Alliance

Bob DuPont

Regulatory Guidance and Design, LLC

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

It was issued on October 1, 2012.