Conference Background Information - December 10, 2006

FEBRUARY 15-16, 2007 at NAHB, Washington, D.C.



CEO’s, government agency heads, association presidents and other high level
officials from across the nation are invited to participate in a national conference at the National Association of Home Builders Headquarters in Washington, D.C., February 15-16 to learn about, share, identify and consider coordinated actions that reduce the regulatory cost of construction and enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of our nation’s building regulatory process.

This paper describes the objective, audience, agenda, and logistical details for that program.  In mid-December invitations will be sent out to the nation’s governors, mayors, and county officials to participate in this program along with the CEO’s of some of the nation’s largest companies and Executive Directors of Alliance member organizations.



Conduct a high level national conference to educate and gain buy-in from leaders from private and public sectors to fund and support a coordinated multi-year national initiative/campaign to streamline the nation’s building regulatory and zoning and land use processes to enable state and local governments to more effectively and efficiently:

   -   provide timely, predictable oversight of building design and construction which enables builders to build “better, faster, safer and at less cost”

  -   create greater and more efficient code enforcement uniformity to enable state and local governments to work together on a regional basis to better plan, train, mitigate, respond to and recover from man-made and natural disasters

 -  stimulate the productivity of the construction as well as the building regulatory community and facilitate greater use of integrated interoperable hardware and software within the building construction and regulatory processes.

The Alliance’s mission is not regulatory abandonment but rather more effective and efficient regulatory oversight of construction to better assure public safety, affordable, energy efficient and environmentally sustainable buildings.

AUDIENCE:  Senior officials from large firms in construction, land use, banking, insurance, information technology industries; from national associations serving these industries and elected officials and senior administrators from Federal, state and local government – 120 estimated maximum attendance.

REGISTRATION FEE:  $100 / person, covers cost of handout materials and breaks.

Speakers & sponsors complementary.

Three levels of sponsorship for the conference are available for Alliance Partners and interested organizations, companies or government agencies.  Those levels are provided at the end of this paper.

CONFERENCE DATE AND VENUE:  February 15-16, 2007 at the National Association of Home Builders Headquarters, Washington, D.C.  Program begins at Noon on February 15 and concludes at Noon on February 16, 2007


Speaker and hotel accommodation information will be made available shortly.  


Agenda as follows:




February 15, 2007   Noon – 5:30 p.m. at National Association of Home Builders, Washington, D.C.

Noon – 1:30 p.m.    Opening Luncheon with Welcome & Introductions and Keynote Address:  Streamlining - The Vision/The Need
1:30 – 2:00  p. m. – The Alliance/Partnership’s 5 Year Vision Statement
Robert Wible, Alliance Secretariat

2:00 -  3:00 p.m.  The Need -  Costs and Lessons Learned

          -  Day-to-Day operations
          -  Facilitating Disaster Preparedness, Response & Recovery 

3:00 – 3:15 Coffee Break

3:15 -  5:30 p.m.  Panel Presentations - What Already Is In Place or In Process?  

        -  Best Practices from Successful Streamlining Projects
        -  Best Practices from Zoning and Land Use 
        -  Alliance/Partnership Work Products & Guides / Interoperability
        -  FIATECH Roadmap
        -  Greater Code Uniformity & SMARTcodes
        -  BIM and buildingSMART
        -  TISP Regional Disaster Resilience Guide
5:30 p.m.   -  Adjourn for day

5:30 – 6:30 p.m.  -  Reception at NAHB 


February 16, 2007 

8:30 – 9:15 p.m.   Where Streamlining Efforts Have Been Successful – View from Private Sector & Public Sector – Two speakers
           The View from the Private Sector –
           The View from the Public Sector -

9:15 – 10:15 p.m. - Panel Presentation - The Impact of a Successful National Campaign on:
      -  Construction Costs, Productivity and Quality
      -  Support Information Technology Use
      -  Disaster Resilience
      -  Banking and Insurance Industries
      -  Public Safety
      -  Economic Competitiveness

10:15 – 10:30 a.m.   -  Coffee Break

10:30 – 11:15 a.m.  Outline/ Approach towards a National Campaign

        Vision, Mission, Goals
        Supportive Federal Legislation
        Grants to State and Local Governments

11:15 – 11:30 a.m.   A Look at Several Proposed Campaign Structures 

11:30 –  12:30   Call for Commitment & Adoption of Vision, Mission, Goals, Timetable, and Structure to Move Forward & Next Steps

12:30 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.    Closing Luncheon and Adjourn





Effective building codes and land use regulations and their efficient enforcement are vital to the safety of our citizens and the economic viability of our communities.   Lessons learned from Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma in 2005 and from the March 1-2, 2006 Blue Cascades III seismic disaster exercise in Bellevue, Washington, have documented the urgent need to identify and eliminate administrative inefficiencies and areas of overlap/duplication in the regulation of the design and construction of buildings. 

Lessons learned from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita and Blue Cascades III have exposed the need for:

-  building departments to not only adopt modern codes but also be adequately funded to retain qualified staff and an effective and efficient codes administration and enforcement system that assures code compliance.

-  the identification and removal of duplicative and conflicting rules regulations processes and procedures that slow down the ability of the jurisdiction to rapidly recover through the timely issuance of building permits and conducting of inspections.  This is streamlining that must be done prior to a disaster and not in the chaos afterwards.

-  greater uniformity in the codes and standards adopted, administered and enforced within a region to:

      a.  reduce unnecessary costs and time delays during reconstruction caused by having to construct buildings to a confusing and diverse array of building codes, and product approval systems, and  

       b. facilitate access to greater use of information technology and of qualified personnel from other building departments outside the disaster area to supplement staff during disaster damage assessment and recovery processes.

While model code based electronic plans review tools are being developed and some groups are making modifications in our building codes and standards to address “lessons learned” from the World Trade Center and recent natural disasters, such changes will affect only certain types of buildings and take 2-4 years to be adopted and enforced by jurisdictions. Codes administration and enforcement programs touch all types of construction and past experiences have shown that streamlining changes can make significant improvements in program effectiveness and efficiency within one year.

Where such streamlining (often coupled with information technology) has already been conducted:

-  the State of Oregon is able in the greater Portland region to centrally provide emergency  on-line building permit issuing services to localities devastated by disaster events.

-  the regulatory cost of construction has been reduced  by up to 60%, and enabled building departments to make greater use of information technology to handle increased construction volume work loads  (Los Angeles, for example has handled an 88% increase in construction volume with only a 3% increase in staff)



 The Alliance for Building Regulatory Reform in the Digital Age was formed in July, 2001, as a private-public partnership comprised of national associations and organizations representing state and local governments, the construction industry and universities concerned with effective and efficient government enforcement of building codes and standards.   Among the 40 national partners of the Alliance are:   U.S. Conference of Mayors, National Association of Counties, National Governors Association, American Institute of Architects, National Association of Home Builders, Associated General Contractors, Building Owners and Managers Association, FIATECH, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, National Institute of Standards and Technology, Department of Energy and several state and local governments.

In the aftermath of the 2005 hurricane season Alliance partners began a series of meetings to consider ways of better focusing and perhaps restructuring this initiative to speed the streamlining of the nation’s construction regulatory process.   Those meetings identified additional streamlining needs and lead to a decision by Alliance partners in a meeting at the American Institute of Architects in mid-March, 2006 to: 

   1.  expand of the Alliance’s original mission to include streamlining of zoning and land use regulations,

   2.  invite private sector firms to become Alliance partners,

   3. sharpen the Alliance’s focus on the positive impact that streamlining can have on enhancing the ability of state and local governments to better prepare for, respond to and recover from man-made and natural disasters.

   4. develop and hold a high level national conference on streamlining to provide greater structure to strengthen and sustain this effort.


Among the ongoing streamlining needs that have been identified through these meetings are: 

  -  the ability to share existing best practices, that have facilitated disaster preparedness and recovery, reduced the regulatory cost of construction, and reduced delays in the “speed to market”  of products and services.

    -  the ability of building departments to make greater use of information technology in their operations, including on-line permitting, field inspections and electronic plans review, thus helping to avoid becoming a major choke point in the either the general construction or disaster recovery processes. 

  -   the development of measurement tools for jurisdictions to use in assessing their regulatory efficiency and effectiveness.

 -  the availability of federal grants to support regional, state and local efforts to streamline building, zoning and land use regulatory programs to both better prepare for, respond to and recover from disasters and improve the nation’s economic competitiveness.


Since April, 2006 an appointed Streamlining Work Group has drafted a five year vision statement with streamlining outcomes and the agenda for the January 10-11  high level public private sector conference to discuss that vision and consider a structure for a more focused national streamlining campaign.  (A copy of the Draft 5 Year Vision Statement accompanied this invitation email) 

The Work Group in August, 2006 set the national conference in Washington, D.C., for January 10-11, 2007 at the National Association of Home Builders headquarters.  That date was subsequently modified to February 15-16, 2007 to accommodate a venue and speaker participation conflict.  Among attendees for that program will be Alliance partners, senior government officials and heads of national corporations to undertake a more extensive national streamlining agenda which includes future federal grants to state and local governments.  

To fund the program, the Work Group set a nominal registration fee for the program and agreed to cover other costs (including for meeting space and meal functions) through offering three levels of sponsorship – Platinum, gold and silver.



    Platinum   -  $5,000 -  Name and sponsorship acknowledgement in program and for meal function, keynote speaker at opening session or luncheon session, listing in program and 5 attendees complementary and free exhibit table at meal function.  Listing on Alliance/National Partnership website.

    Gold  -  $3,000 -  Name and sponsorship acknowledgement in program and for reception;  panelist, 3 attendees complementary and display table at coffee break.  Listing on Alliance / National Partnership website.

    Silver - $1,000 – Name and sponsorship acknowledgement in program, 1 attendee complementary, listing on Alliance / National Partnership website.





Among the Alliance work products that will be shared at the Conference is a new package of best practices, guides and other tools that assist  government officials and the private sector in working together to strengthen economic competitiveness and the ability of communities to better prepare for, respond to and recover from natural and man-made disasters.  Released this summer/fall by the U.S. Conference of Mayors National Association of Counties, National Governors Association and the National Association of State Chief Information Officers, this package includes Guides and a CD-ROM Report that  were produced by the Alliance with funding from Alliance partners the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and Hansen Information Technologies.

This August e two work products were distributed to the nation’s mayors, county administrators and governors this August have been:   4th  Annual CD-ROM Report and an 8 page, “Elected Officials Guide to More Effective and Efficient Building Regulatory Processes”

The CD-ROM report contains case studies and actions taken by city, county and state governments that have:

  • Identified and reduced areas of regulatory overlap and duplication that slowed construction and added unnecessary costs that made housing and building renovation less affordable
  • Enabled communities to speed disaster damage assessment and   recovery processes and better share resources with neighbors 
  • Identified and effectively and efficiently applied information technology to streamlined codes administration and enforcement processes reducing regulatory costs of construction by up to 60% and enabled a state to begin to build a statewide on-line permit processing system
  • Demonstrated initial interoperability of Department of Energy software tools that promote energy conservation in residential and commercial structures (REScheck and COMcheck programs)


The CD-ROM also includes a link to a new website for the Alliance: and the results of several recent cost/benefit surveys that document savings being achieved by communities that streamline their building regulatory processes and make use of information technology.  A copy of the Alliance’s Model Procurement Requirements and information on the Alliance Information Technology Industry Advisory Committees work on developing a model interoperability standard also are provided on the CD.

The 8-page, “Elected Officials Guide to Effective and Efficient Building Regulatory Processes Through Regulatory Streamlining”, summarizes streamlining and outlines the steps that a community can take to:

  • Assess the need for streamlining and identify stakeholders to support more effective and efficient codes administration
  • Identify resources to undertake streamlining
  • Where necessary re-engineer their existing building regulatory process
  • Identify which hardware and software might best fit their needs


In addition to the above materials, available from the Alliance in late November, 2006 is an 83 page HUD funded  “Guide to Effective and Efficient Building Regulatory Processes” that expands upon the Elected Officials Guide’s contents by providing details of the above steps and best practices successfully used by city, county and state governments to improve their programs.  The HUD Guide includes a special chapter on lessons learned from Katrina and other disasters that improve a community’s disaster resiliency.

Copies of the HUD Guide, the CD ROM Report and the 8 page Guide will be available on the Alliance website after it has been updated in early January, 2007.  The Alliance website is:  The HUD Guide also will be available for downloading from the HUD User website ( in mid-December, 2006.


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