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When an Organization Takes On a Life of It's own

Discussion in 'Talk to the ICC Board' started by jar546, Jan 24, 2014.

  1. jar546

    jar546 *****istrator

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    There comes a time when likeminded individuals within a particular community get together to form an organization. The main purpose is for the benefit of the members of the organization to help facilitate their goals. Sometimes wanting to help a specific group of people is the driving force. These organizations are set up as non-profits and not for profit businesses. Sometimes, however, they take on a mind of their own. Please,….. allow me to explain.

    Let's look at the ICC, for example. The ICC states that

    . To me, the key word is development. We, as members, expect the ICC to develop codes for the building trades. Why, you ask? Again, I will quote the ICC as to why.
    Sounds pretty simple, yet it is a major undertaking by this organization. Back to my original thought, organizations are started for their members. As expected, the ICC addresses that too.
    Now, in order to do that, the ICC must educate their members, therefore, education is a key component of the success of the organization. So, who are the members of the ICC? Members include municipal officials, code officials, inspectors, architects, engineers, contractors, etc. Creation and maintenance of model codes and education are by far the two most important reasons the ICC exists. I want to break down those two main components as they are key to the existence of the organization.Starting with code development, there are quite a few things involved that are expensive. Code hearings, committee meetings, publication of proposed code changes, printing of code books, and more. Then there is the educational side which requires much of the same, plus the development of educational and certification programs, training materials both printed, video and web based. In order to accomplish these two main objectives requires a full time staff, a board of directors, committee volunteers and a lot of money. Now I know the ICC does a lot more as far as product evaluation, maintaining an informative website which includes databases of certified individuals, ICC ES and Legacy reports, etc. but there at some point things start to change.

    You see, at some point the organization that was started to serve the members takes on a life of its own and starts to resemble a for-profit business focused on generating revenue in order to sustain itself. Rather than controlling expenses and keeping within a strict budget, organizations find ways to generate revenue in order to keep what they have. There are people with full time and part time jobs that have benefits, there are buildings, leases, legal fees, insurance payments, event planning expenses along with the event cost itself, printing and copyright expenses, plus much, much more. As I wrote about earlier, this is a member driven organization, here to serve the members who serve the communities of many nations. If you are here to serve the members, why would you offer services that are the responsibility of the members?

    As a member of the ICC I do have an expectation that we, as an organization (notice I said "we") will keep up with changing times, technology and past experience to change the codes as necessary. In addition, there is an expectation that we receive educational support for changing codes and those just entering our fields. The ability to have technical support for code questions and situations is also key. Knowing what products have been evaluated and approved is something that we all need. What I don't need is a non-profit organization providing the same services that the members should be performing themselves such as plan review. I own a for-profit company and should not have to compete with a non-profit organization that is providing the same service just like a "business". It is difficult to write a check to your "competitor" for membership.

    If a municipality is overwhelmed with plan review, they can always hire someone to work within their local economy. If that is not an option, there are plenty of private companies that provide plan review services to supplement them. Why is a non-profit organization like the ICC infringing on it's member's jobs? How is this serving the members? At what point do you realize that this is strictly a revenue generator to keep the machine running? That is, of course if it does generate revenue and the expenses of providing that service are more than what is brought in. That just may be a really good question to ask. My point is that organizations get off kilter from their original intention and the focus becomes more about maintaining the organization and less about why it exists.
     
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  2. Mark K

    Mark K Platinum Member

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    I agree that ICC's actions are being driven by agenda that are not necessarily compatible with it's core objectives. Unlike jar546 ICC does not compete with the services I provide. Some Observations:

    ICC-ES exists to make a profit and is too often influenced by the desires of the manufacturer's. Typically the manufacturer's produce the first draft of the acceptance criteria.

    IAS exists to make a profit. There are private firms that could provide the same services.

    Given the way model codes are developed ICC does not have a special understanding as to the intent of the code. There is no reason to believe the employees hired by ICC-ES and the plan checking services, while they maybe competent, are superior to those hired by other firms. Thus the automatic deference to these organizations is inappropriate.

    While the building officials have final vote on code changes it is suggested that special interests often have a significant influence on the committee recommendations. Look at the membership of the committees. Building officials often do not have the training to allow them to evaluate code change proposals and as a result they defer to the committee recommendations and or trade groups which have their own agenda.

    ICC Dues are much lower than other organizations thus the need for other income sources. This results in less focus on the needs of the members.
     
  3. mjesse

    mjesse Sawhorse

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    I agree with both above.

    I suspect the current "agenda" of the ICC, if there is such a thing, is lobbying States to get the Codes passed at a state level.

    There are only 50 groups of voters, and potentially millions of forced customers.

    It may be a good business model, but it's far from serving the members as promised.

    I just had a crazy idea (not my first)...bear with me.

    Code publications ala-carte©2014

    You run through a checklist, online, for Codes and sections applicable to your municipality.

    e.g. I'd like a 2009 IRC hold the sprinklers, 2012 IPMC, 2008 NEC hold the AFCI, and a 2009 IBC.

    They put it together in one book (I'll buy three copies) and give you an e-version free.

    mj
     
  4. fatboy

    fatboy Administrator

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    It can be ala-carte...........it's called amending at adoption............I rather just have the 97 U-Codes myself...........and most of our amendments reflect that.
     
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  5. mjesse

    mjesse Sawhorse

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    Understood.

    We do that too, but it's a lot of paperwork.

    Wouldn't you like to buy a book with all your amendments included?

    How much would expect you pay? $100, $200, .....$500?

    But wait....if you order in the next 20 minutes, we'll include a free red pen and package of stop-work orders
     
  6. steveray

    steveray Sawhorse

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    MJ...You are on fire today!...Not literally. Stop rolling on the ground..... We did get that at one point. We got our 2003 IBC and IRC with our 2005 CT amendments built in...It was awsome! Until we amended it in 2009 and 2011 and 2013.... But I don't think the money is in it for them publishing wise and do not believe they will ever do it again.
     
  7. Phil

    Phil Sawhorse

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    Getting back to jar546's original post. I had not thought about the conflicts with private companies doing plan check. The ICC is not only competing with the small individual, they are competing with large companies that provide plan check services. This post makes me wonder about the future; where is the ICC going; what services will they be providing in the future. I just looked at the general purpose of the ICC in there bylaws and it includes "the lessening of the burdens of government through the performance of certain services for the benefit of federal, state and local governments in connection with the administration of building law and regulation." The only true, full ICC members are the governmental members who have representatives with voting rights. All the rest of us our can only provide support.

    Mark - I don't think there is anything unique about the ICC ES catering to manufactures needs. Provided they do it with honesty and integrity, it is a system that has been working. The ICC-ES provides standards and evaluation service where products are evaluated consistently with over sight. Look at the IBC itself. Most of the structural provisions in the code has been deferred to industry organizations like ACI, AISC, AFP&A.
     
  8. rshuey

    rshuey Sawhorse

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    We amended the IPMC and had to ask for copyright from ICC. We aren't allowed to print it, just allowed to host on our site. Cost 1500/year. They are crazy
     
  9. jar546

    jar546 *****istrator

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    Bump. This subject will not be going away quietly or drift into the forgotten abyss.
     
  10. Frank

    Frank Sawhorse

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  11. rogerpa

    rogerpa Silver Member

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  12. rogerpa

    rogerpa Silver Member

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    It doesn't hurt that we have 60000+ residential builders that are required to own a code book as condition of having their license renewed. I don't know how many plumbers or mechanical licensees.
     
  13. jar546

    jar546 *****istrator

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    Bumpity bump bump
     
  14. Michael.L

    Michael.L Sawhorse

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    Bureaucratic bloat is virtually inevitable in any government agency or NGO. The reasons are simple: (1) They have a monopoly (often, one that you are required to participate in under penalty of law); (2) They are under no marketplace-driven economic pressure to be lean, efficient, competitive, or focused on serving their customers.

    When has any "temporary" government institution ever completed its mission and ended itself? NGOs are no different.
     
  15. Mark K

    Mark K Platinum Member

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    Certain monopolies are protected while others are not.

    The adoption of a model code by a governmental entity creates a monopoly. This is legal if the legislature, not a local entity invoking home rule authority, clearly articulates a desire to displace competition and if the adopting entity actively supervises the monopoly. This means that the adopting entity must have the authority to modify the model code. Failure to exercise a right to modify the model code has in some circumstances been considered evidence of a failure to actively supervise the monopoly.

    If these conditions, which reflect the State Action Doctrine, are not met the adopting entity can be sued under the anti-trust laws which includes the potential for treble damages. I suspect that a number of jurisdictions have potential anti-trust liability. The only thing saving them is that either most potential plaintiffs are not aware of this issue or that the plaintiff has not been properly motivated to press the litigation.

    The monopoly created by ICC-ES with the support of the membership of ICC has no antitrust immunity.
     
  16. Michael.L

    Michael.L Sawhorse

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    To be clear, I'm not saying that all such monopolistic organizations are bad. I applaud the adoption of building codes, provided they are sensible, reasonable, fair, well-defined, and not onerous.
     
  17. Mark K

    Mark K Platinum Member

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    My statements were to inform about the legality. The law recognizes that in some circumstances monopolies can be legal if properly adopted and implemented. Whether they are bad or good is irrelevant from a legal perspective. These rules exist because monopolies often create problems and hopefully these requirements will act to constrain the power of the monopoly.
     
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  18. conarb

    conarb Sawhorse

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    We had that with parts of the nation on the UBC and other parts on the SBC, they were setting minimnal standards of health and safety, the ICC went too far, now we are mandating how much energy a man can use, how much water he can use to take a shower or flush a toilet, and the extreme of enforcing civil rights, telling a man he has to increase the width of his doors or mandating the color and width of the stripes in his parking lot.

    What I want to know is why? Why did we have to merge and create one national code that fancies itself an international code? The UBC moved to Washington DC and rented a headquarters that cost three times the going DC average rents because it was a "green building", why?
     
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