I am a bit of a code historian, so there is more to this subject than I can write at this moment. However, the feds have long history of involvement with building codes in this country. In the 1920s it was from the Chamber of Commerce and was primarily concerned with the increased cost of construction due to local codes. It has been steady ever since. In recent time, it was threats from the DOE regarding energy code development. That is why you saw the big increase in energy codes in the 2012 edition. They also tied funding for the recession bail out to what edition of the IECC was adopted, but also provided funding to help jurisdictions update their energy code.
In the 1960's there was a special interest that wanted a national building code. It was the NAHB and the design community. They wanted to the four legacy codes to come together in one national code, and they got it (the code, that is). CABO was formed and the predecessor to the IRC was written in 1971. This was the response to a call for a national code, but to keep it out of the feds hands.
Now, I see history repeating itself. We have a "national code" (the I-codes) but we are back to where we were in the 1920's where individual, local codes are driving up the cost of construction. The local governments might like their unique code, but the people are growing weary of it. The lack of definitive rules is again chaos and makes the public less trusting of the importance of the code provisions.
Times are ripe for more big changes in the code industry. I don't know what they will be, but my lessons in history tell me change is inevitable.
My lesson from society (at the moment) is to expect history to repeat itself.
This is a great book from 1969 that provides insight from the mind of a building code professional at that time. I very much enjoyed reading it and I refer to it often. In all things, not just code, the "truths" that modern people hold to dearly are often not supported by recorded history.
The best way to learn history, is from history written in history. A modern explanation of history is good, but still a copy of a copy. I'm not sure how much I trust today's society to properly provide me history. Too many folks want to rewrite it.
Thanks, for both of those.