As of March 9, 2009:
According to their website, on February 27, 2009 the International Code Council (ICC) Board of Directors adopted revisions to changes they had announced on February 5, 2009 to address code development as part of its ongoing process to update and revise procedures. Worthwhile goals for the revisions include the desire to reduce code hearing lengths and increase participation in the process. Opponents of the changes—including many structural engineers—are deeply concerned that the elimination of the second change cycle between published code editions will lead to a code that is flawed and not technically up-to-date.

Highlights of the ICC Board planned revisions include the following:

  • maintaining the 3-year publication cycle, eliminating Supplements;
  • maintaining the ICC Governmental Consensus Process;
  • dividing the codes into two groups, with each group having Code Development and Final Action Hearings occurring in the spring and fall of the same year during the first two years of the publication cycle;
  • an unveiling of all the new codes at the Annual Conference in the third year;
  • holding Code Development Hearings at the same central location every April/May; and
  • holding all Final Action Hearings at the Annual Conference at locations which will continue to rotate through the four quadrants of the United States in late October/early November.

Board President Adolf Zubia said, "the Board has maintained a close focus on our code development process, working diligently to improve procedures in a way that will best benefit our membership. These actions will make our Code Development Process more efficient and more responsive to the real life challenges that our Members face to participate in the process."

Additionally the following changes are included in the revisions announced on February 27:

  • reinstatement of the ability to make modifications at code hearings;
  • making the ruling of the Chair a final ruling regarding whether modifications are included;
  • limitation of multiple proposals and comments on the same subject from the same person;
  • making a successful Assembly action the Standing Motion at Final Action Hearings, with a two-thirds vote; and
  • accommodation of administrative updates to currently referenced standards during the transition to the new process by extending the deadline to December 1, 2011, for availability of the new editions for which reference is sought.

Many code users including structural engineers are deeply concerned, including S.K. Ghosh, Ph.D. and Susan Dowty, S.E.—president and project manager, respectively, of S.K. Ghosh Associates Inc., a seismic and building code consulting firm. In a letter addressed to President Adolf Zubia and ICC Board of Directors, Ghosh and Dowty urged, "we need to clearly communicate that we are against the announced changes to the code change process for numerous reasons. Based on discussions we have had with building officials, state officials, ICC staff, and code users-at-large, it is our opinion that many are not even aware of the changes and those that are aware, are against them."

In an addendum to their letter, Ghosh and Dowty indicate several reasons for their concern including the following:

  • The changes were announced at the beginning of February 2009, but affect the 2012 IBC. To change the code development policy at such a late date with no advance warning and no opportunity for general code user input does not allow the code user community sufficient time to make the necessary adjustments to accommodate the changes.
  • The incredibly short period being allowed to submit code changes for the 2012 IBC is not acceptable; changes for the transitional 2012 IBC are due by April 24, 2009.
  • Standard writing organizations have long-established schedules that were specifically developed so that their standards were released in time to be adopted by the latest IBC.
  • Eliminating the Supplement is highly problematic: although the Supplement may not have been widely adopted by jurisdictions, it served a very important purpose, which was to allow the code to evolve before being published.
  • The time between the code change deadline and when the code will be adopted is too long. Technological developments should ideally be codified as early as practical. The new code development schedule does not allow for this.

To learn more about the ICC Board decisions and to read the full description of the changes, visit www.iccsafe.org.