February 2007 National Streamlining Conference Report


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



A cross-section of representatives from the state and local building regulatory community; associations representing the construction, real estate, insurance industries; model code organizations, the planning community and information technology firms met for two half-day work sessions at the National Association of Home Builders headquarters in Washington, D.C. to assess the need for, progress being made and future actions to streamline the nation’s building regulatory process.  Under the leadership of the members of the Alliance for Building Regulatory Reform in the Digital Age, the objective of the streamlining effort is to strengthen the ability of state and local governments to enhance public safety, economic competitiveness and disaster resiliency through more effective and efficient administration and enforcement of building codes and planning & land use programs.

While attendance was adversely impacted by a major snow/ice storm, the 35 participants in the National Streamlining Conference heard presentations describing both the costs to the nation of ineffective and inefficient building and planning regulatory processes and the costs and time that is being saved by the public and private sector through regulatory streamlining and effective uses of information technology.

Among such savings are the:  state of Oregon’s documented 40% time savings to the construction industry, consumers and local government from regional e-permitting system (which is being expanded statewide),  the City of Los Angeles reducing by 40-60% the amount of time it takes to process building permits and schedule and conduct inspections;  Louisville/Jefferson County, Kentucky’s  50% reduction in permit application times, 75% reduction in licensing application times and 50% reduction in inspection times; and Orange County, Florida’s reducing application and review times by 50% for affordable housing under their “Affordable Housing Expedited Review Process.”

Attendees also shared information on savings that indeed are being achieved through regulatory streamlining and the application and use of a number of the Alliance’s existing streamlining materials, including:  Model Procurement Guidelines, a HUD funded “Guide to More Effective and Efficient Building Regulatory Processes Through Information Technology,” and model streamlining enabling legislation.

Examples of other national initiatives including the Building Information Modeling (BIM) BuildSMART program and the International Code Council’s SMARTCode electronic plans review software project were reviewed and their impacts on providing greater efficiency to the nation’s construction and building regulatory communities were discussed.

The program closed with a work session, “What Can We Accomplish Over the Next 6 – 12 Months to Make Your Work/Lives Better?”  that considered a revised Vision/Mission Statement for the Alliance and developed a list of future work products.  Among those products are:

   1.   a Streamlining Tool Kit that contains one page briefs on:   various aspects of the need for and benefits of streamlining including return on investment & cost savings; existing streamlining tools (model procurement requirements, the HUD Guide, Elected Officials Guide; information on model enabling legislation and best practices). 

   2.   a “Guide for State and Local Governments on How to Negotiate and Work With Large Companies Interested in Building in Your Jurisdiction.”

   3.  a “National Model Plan Review document for Replicable Buildings.”

   4.   a “Model Streamlining Road Map for State and Local Governments”

The session adopted as the focus for the above work products and as the Vision for the Alliance:

  “The Alliance provides information and materials that help state and local governments enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of their building regulatory and planning processes to enable them to take actions to strengthen: public safety, economic competitiveness and disaster resiliency.”
The program closed with a commitment from the participants to work together to fund, produce and distribute a number of the above work products.  The timetable and final selection of the above products for the Alliance will be made by the Streamlining Steering Committee in early March, 2007. 

Information on that project list and how organizations, associations, companies
and state and local governments can participate in the development and distribution of these streamlining materials will be posted along with copies of speaker presentations to the Alliance’s website:  in mid-March.


Opening -  Keynote Presentation

The program’s keynote presentation, “We All Have Katrina’s Waiting to Happen – The Vision and Need for Streamlining,” delivered by Richard Morrey, Chief Technology Officer for Accela Corporation, set the tone for the conference by describing lessons learned in New Orleans and the Gulf Region in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and the valuable role that streamlining and information technology play in disaster preparedness, response and recovery.

Among the lessons learned were: 

      -   the need for effective enforcement of modern building codes,
      -   the importance to speed disaster response and recovery for jurisdictions
            to have already streamlined their codes administration and enforcement
            systems and put in place information technology for electronic permit
            processing, scheduling and conducting (through mobile technology) of
            field inspections.
      -    and the benefits of using I.T. to conduct and compile data for agency and             FEMA reports on damage assessments eliminating manual data entry.  

Mr. Morrey was on the ground in New Orleans from mid-September through the end of September helping the City of New Orleans make use of Accela software and ruggedized lap tops that were donated to the city to speed damage assessment reports.   Damage assessment inspections of over 125,000 residential units were conducted in less than ten weeks using these tools.  Data gathered electronically was transmitted directly to FEMA for further evaluation. The combined solution eliminated over 5 person-years worth of labor that normally would have been required to transfer field inspection data by hand using the FEMA forms. 

Closing his presentation, the keynote speaker noted how the above lessons learned were equally important to state and local governments across the nation as large scale natural (and man-made) disasters can occur anywhere.


Summary of Alliance / National Partnership’s Accomplishments and Proposed Five Year Vision Statement

Robert Wible, Secretary to the Alliance for Building Regulatory Reform in the Digital Age / National Partnership to Streamline Government welcomed conference attendees and provided an overview of the origins, work products and accomplishments of the Alliance since its formation in July, 2001.

In his remarks he described the actions taken by the Alliance at a meeting hosted at the American Institute of Architects in March, 2006 to consider, in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, refocusing the Alliance’s mission to concentrate more on streamlining actions that can be taken to enable jurisdictions to better prepare for, respond to and recover from major natural and man-made disasters.   A listing of Alliance work products, including the just released 83 page “HUD Guide to More Effective and Efficient Building Regulatory Processes Through Information Technology” was included in the conference notebook that was distributed to all attendees.   The notebook also contained a copy of the 8-page Alliance Elected Officials Guide on streamlining that was released in August, 2006 at the annual meeting of the National Association of Counties.

Mr. Wible closed his presentation by reviewing the agenda for the National Streamlining Conference and its proposed objective of considering an updated vision of the Alliance/National Partnership and an action work agenda for the next 6-12 months.    It was noted that Thursday’s program would focus on existing barriers to effective and efficient building codes and planning programs and then move onto examples of recent streamlining successes and related projects that are underway to speed building construction.


Panel Presentation – Streamlining - The Need:  Costs and Lessons to be Learned

A panel comprised of Michael Alianza, Capital Development Group at Intel (participating by phone due to the storm) and Henry Kosarzycki Wisconsin state building official and Chairman of the American Institute of Architect’s Codes and Standards Committee offered attendees a look at the unnecessary costs to both the private and public sector from ineffective or inefficient administration and enforcement of building codes.

Both speakers shared examples of documented costs that daily are incurred throughout the nation due to delays caused by regulatory overlap, duplication and other inefficiencies.  Intel Corporation noted that those costs run as high for their company as $1,000,000 a day.  It was noted that in general that regulatory inefficiencies in many jurisdictions add an unnecessary 40%-60% to the total costs and time needed to move a construction project through the regulatory system.   Delays in the permit process alone annual cost industry over $15 billion. 

Looking at the public sector side, Mr. Kosarzycki described the added costs to governments in time and personnel caused by delays in permit processing and in efficient scheduling and conducting of inspections.   He noted that, June 14-15 the State of Wisconsin will hold a two day conference that will look at the regulatory process, not only identifying inefficiencies but also focus on savings that could be achieved through the application and use of streamlining methodology and information technology.  The conference will target the over 160 municipalities delegated to conduct plans review and inspections on the statewide building code, providing each municipality with direction and tools to realize a consistent and effective regulatory model. 

Mr. Kosarzycki also described from a state and local government perspective the barriers that an inefficient regulatory system presented in preparing for, responding to and recovering from disasters.  Outdated regulatory tools, duplication of services, and not realizing well coordinated relationships between the public regulatory model and private stakeholders’ resources were identified as current hurdles to effective response and recovery. 


Panel Presentation - Streamlining – What Already is in Place or in Process

NAHB Vice President for Federal Regulatory and Housing Policy, David Crowe, opened the second half of the afternoon program by welcoming everyone to NAHB headquarters and stressing NAHB’s support for the Alliance and the work being done at this meeting to identify future streamlining projects.

Having looked at the costs of regulatory inefficiencies, the program shifted focus in its next panel to look at examples of where streamlining was working and saving  both the public and private sector valuable time and resources.  The session also looked at trends within the nation’s construction industry to speed the construction and enhance the long term performance of buildings through the use of information technology.

Robert Wible opened the panel with a brief overview of well documented cost and time savings being achieved through streamlining and use of information technology in eight  jurisdictions.  Mr. Wible described the benefits to state and local governments and the private sector from making use of The Infrastructure Security Task Force’s (TISP) “Guide for an Action Plan to Develop Regional Disaster Resilience,”  which is available on the TISP website:

George Arimes, Principal of Horizon Centre, Inc. a firm specializing in business process engineering for planning and building regulatory programs, described savings that are possible in communities through their assessment, and where necessary re-engineering of their existing regulatory processes.   He noted that the major focus of such efforts involves achieving a change in the business culture of the agency.

Gary Basin, Administrative Project Manager of the State of Oregon’s Building Codes Division,  provided a detailed overview of ways in which the State of Oregon had achieved time and cost savings in their building regulatory processes by applying various streamlining best practices including a number that were provided by the Alliance.  He also noted how his state was making greater use of information technology and later this year would be using the Alliance’s Model Procurement Guidelines to assist them in an up-coming procurement to extend statewide the current regional e-permitting system.

Dr. Ric Jackson, Director of FIATECH closed the panel by briefly describing the work that FIATECH had undertaken to identify and assist the capital facilities building industry in achieving better efficiencies in building design, construction, operation, maintenance, renovation,  and demolition through the use of information technology.

He also opened up a dialogue with the audience over the need for the Alliance’s streamlining vision and future work products to help building departments and state and local governments facilitate the linking of the regulatory system with electronic building design, construction and operations programs.

SMARTcodes and BuildingSMART

A look at two additional developments that stress the need for the nation’s building and planning/land use systems to streamline and make greater use of information technology was provided by David Conover from the International Code Council and Deke Smith, the Chair of the National Institute of Building Standards National Building Information Modeling Standard Project Committee.

David Conover described the ICC’s SMARTcodes project that is systematically producing electronic plans review software based upon the family of the ICC building codes.   The first code being done is the International Energy Conservation Code with a working draft out for testing in the summer of 2007 and additional information on this project is found at:

Deke Smith described the work of his NIBS committee and the International Alliance for Interoperability to develop a national standard for Building Information Modeling (BIM) which would ultimately lead to the effective and efficient exchange of data between all of the professions working on the design, construction, and operation of a building.

From these presentations and the previous panel, attendees got a better understanding of the urgent need for the nation’s building and planning regulatory systems to “catch up” with information technology developments within the construction community.


Summary and Look at Program for Friday

Thursday’s program was closed at 5:35 p.m., by Alliance Secretary, Robert Wible with his offering a summary of the afternoon’s presentations and thanking the day’s speakers and conference sponsors: National Association of Home Builders,  Accela, MobileHWY, American Institute of Architects and Hansen Information Technologies.

Mr. Wible noted that while Thursday focused on the problem areas and need for streamlining, Friday morning’s program would shift to look at solutions and actions which all of the stakeholders could take together to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the nation’s building and planning regulatory processes.




Where Streamlining Efforts Have Been Successful – View from Private & Public Sectors


The second half of the National Streamlining Conference opened on Friday morning, February 16 with a panel presentation by Michael Alianza from Intel Corporation and Gary Basin from the Oregon Building Codes Division in which they shared their perspectives of “where streamlining efforts have been successful.”

Mr. Alianza described the savings that Intel Corporation is achieving from developing a “collaborative partnership approach” with jurisdictions.  Under that approach, Intel works closely with jurisdictions to streamline various aspects of their codes administration and enforcement programs to assure both safety and speed of construction.  Among such streamlined processes are:

   -   Pre-project consultation with jurisdiction 
   -   On-line permitting processes
   -   Onsite permits processing and plans review
   -   Jurisdiction approved third party plans reviews and inspections
   -   Dedicated jurisdiction field inspectors

Gary Basin detailed the progress that has been made in Oregon to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of both state and local building codes programs as a part of their effort to enhance effective enforcement of the statewide building code and facilitate both the economic competitiveness and disaster preparedness of the state.  

Among streamlined aspects of Oregon’s program are: a Master Builder certification program, statewide plans approval for repetitive buildings, a uniform minor labels program and the progress that is being made in the expansion of the regional e-permitting system to more communities throughout the state.   It was noted that these and similar streamlining activities in other jurisdictions are eliminating costs caused by unnecessary delays in the regulatory process thus saving time and dollars for government and the construction industry.   The ability to speed disaster recovery through a statewide e-permitting system also was discussed.


Panel Presentation – The Impact of A Successful National Streamlining Campaign on Insurance, Information Technology, and Economic Competitiveness and Public Safety

Keith Lessner,  Vice President for Loss Control from the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America lead off a second panel on Friday morning that focused on what the impact of a successful nation-wide streamlining campaign will be on the insurance, information technology and building regulatory communities.   In his remarks Mr. Lessner noted the crisis being faced by his industry and by homeowners over insurability and mitigating property losses and the tremendous benefit that both parties would derive from a successful national streamlining campaign and effective applications of information technology to the codes administration and enforcement process.  He also stressed the positive impact that streamlining and I.T. can have on more effective enforcement of modern building codes with disaster resistant construction provisions and speeding recovery after a major hurricane, tornado, flood or seismic event.

Representing the Information Technology Industry perspective on the panel were Jeffrey Eiberger, Vice President from MobileHWY and Bob Benstead, Managing Director for Community Development and Regulations at Hansen Information Technologies.   In their remarks both speakers noted the importance of state and local governments involving I.T. firms in their early considerations of how to apply I.T. to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of their programs and, where necessary, to undertaking business process reengineering prior to acquiring hardware and software to enhance their codes administration and enforcement programs.   Mr. Eiberger also described the potential benefit to communities in disaster preparedness, response and recovery from the interoperability of future building department databases, effective uses of GIS and mobile inspection technologies.

Oregon’s Gary Basin provided the state and local government’s perspective on the panel.  In his remarks he described in detail the contents of a recently released report on the benefits of e-permitting and the steps that are being taken in Oregon to begin to expand their regional e-permitting system statewide.   The latter included a review of a bill currently before the Oregon State Legislature authorizing the build out of that system.  A copy of the state of Oregon study on the benefits of e-permitting is available at:  The potential benefit of both the statewide e-permitting system and a possible future statewide e-plans review system to speed disaster recovery also was shared with the attendees.


Closing Session – Action Agenda for Streamlining – What Can We Accomplish Over the Next Six Months -  Year To Make Your Work/Lives Better?


The closing session of the conference was lead by Alliance Streamlining Steering Committee members  Ron Burton, BOMA and Dr. Ric Jackson, FIATECH with input from Alliance Secretary Robert Wible.   The session involved all of the speakers and attendees in a general discussion of the next steps that the Alliance/National Partnership should take to launch a nationwide streamlining campaign, future work products of the Alliance and the relevance of the proposed revised Vision and Mission Statement for the Alliance.  

To focus this session, Alliance Streamlining Steering Committee asked of all of the stakeholder groups attending the question:   “What can we accomplish over the next 6 months, and over the next year to make your lives/work better?”

In the closing session there was general consensus supporting the revised Vision and Mission Statement (attached to program agenda) and a reaffirmation that streamlining is to make codes administration programs more effective and efficient and is not about weakening or abandoning regulatory oversight.  Conference participants ended the meeting by endorsing the undertaking a number of  projects over the next 6 to 12 months including the assembly, production and distribution of:
    -  A Streamlining Tool Kit - with one page summaries on the benefits of streamlining (to both economic competitiveness and disaster resiliency), streamlining tools and actions that stakeholders can take in their communities to undertake successful streamlining programs.

    -  A guide for local communities on how to successfully negotiate with large industries considering expanding or building new facilities in their jurisdiction.

      -   A “National Model Plan Review document for Replicable Buildings.”

      -   A “Model Streamlining Road Map for State and Local Governments”

   -  An update of the Alliance’s Model Procurement Requirements

    It was agreed that the focus of the above materials should be to help state and local governments, “enhance their economic competitiveness, public safety and resiliency to disasters.”
The Vision for the Alliance that was adopted is:  “The Alliance provides information and materials that help state and local governments enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of their building regulatory and planning processes to enable them to take actions to strengthen:  public safety, economic competitiveness and disaster resiliency.”

The National Streamlining Conference adjourned at 12:30 p.m. on Friday, February 16, 2007 with the thanks of the Alliance’s Streamlining Steering Committee to the programs speakers, attendees and the programs five sponsors:

    Platinum Level Sponsor -  Accela Corporation
    Gold Level Sponsor – MobileHWY

    Silver Level Sponsor – American Institute of Architects 
                                      -  Hansen Information Technologies

and the National Association of Home Builders who hosted the meeting.

In closing it also was noted that In addition copies of the PowerPoint presentations of many of the speakers will be posted to the Alliance/National Partnership website in Mid-March along with information on how to get involved in future streamlining activities.



The Alliance's Streamlining Steering Committee met in early March and reviewed the outcome of from the Conference and established a time table and founding sources to undertake the above projects. You can view that list of projects and their production time table by clicking here to go to the "Actions by the Alliance" report.

Members of the Steering Committee include representatives from: AIA, BOMA, FIATECH, NAHB, Boeing Corporation, U.S. Conference of Mayors and National Association of Counties.

 If you or your firm or agency is interested in supporting one or more of these projects please contact the Alliance Secretary, Robert Wible at the address noted below.


FOR MORE INFORMATION on the Alliance and the outcome of the National Streamlining Conference and learn more about how to become involved in future streamlining activities contact Alliance Secretary Robert Wible at, or 703-568-2323 or visit the Alliance/National Partnership website at


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