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[SEAOC] High prices for codes and standards on CD-ROM

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Franklin Lew:

I have to differ with you on some of your statements.  But before I start, I
am not a member of SEAOC, but am of ASCE and see this same "attitude" problem
prevailing there and in other similar organizations.  On to my comments:

>To keep membership 
>costs as low as possible, these organizations depend on profits from 
>publications (ICBO), and from seminars and classes (ICBO, SEAONC, SEAOSC, 
>etc), to underwrite the services and activities that are provided to
members.

This sounds like its to underwrite services and activities other than the
cost of providing the publication, seminar, classes, etc.  In that case, its
like some states allowing hospitals to surcharge hospital bills given to
those who have medical insurance to pay in order to cover those who can't pay
their hospital bills.  The ones who loose are those who have to go to the
hospital, or in our case, the ones who buy publications, attend seminars,
etc.  This is simply not fair.

Also, if each activity is now required to support themselves, what added
value am I getting for the dues I pay to such organizations?  The right to be
on their mailing list?

>The amount of services provided by ICBO, and the associated costs incurred, 
>may not be appreciated by folks who have not given any thought to them.  The

>UBC and other codes published by ICBO are developed and maintained by 
>building officials who serve without pay.  But the costs nevertheless are 
>significant.

I agree that those who develop such codes without pay are unappreciated.
 However, I wonder what is meant by the cost being significant?  Just what is
the cost?  How much of it uses out-dated technology?  (Publication and
distribution technology, not engineering technology.)  How much of it will go
away if the paper based publication staff is let go and the warehouses
storing the unsold stuff are emptied and sold? 

>Public employees are seldom able to have their employers pay 
>for participation in such activities, so ICBO picks up all these expenses.

Public employers?  Make that _all_ employers.  The only one's I've seen that
show up in such activities are usually principals of firms (usually looking
for contracts), college professors (publish or perish types), or local people
who decided to take a vacation day to attend.

>It also costs an arm and a leg 
>to print and mail the large volumes that contain the proposed changes, the 
>report of the decisions of the code development committee, and the
challenges 
>that are received and dealt with at the annual meetings.

If your still using snail mail to do that these days, you _deserve_ to pay
for it with an arm and a leg.  Try using E-mail, an FTP site, a list servers,
a web site, etc.

>And lets not forget 
>the staff support that must be available for all the calls to ICBO by 
>building officials and design professionals for interpretations.  A review
of 
>the non-profit ICBO's budget will show a lean operation, and certainly no 
>excess profits.

I don't know about what is meant by "lean operation", but the "no excess
profits" statement makes me wonder.  There are many ways to make an
organization's books show no profits, but still have a lot of waste.

>If the next Blue Book and/or other documents are put 
>on CD-ROM, I'd expect sales to drop, and the squeeze on budgets that much 
>tighter.

If you don't do it, some other organization will find a way to do it ... with
their version of the "Blue Book".

Sorry if I've gotten you upset, but as one of the little people who do "real
engineering", I take some offense that those people who are running the show
think they are doing a "lean" job.  They're just patting themselves on the
back.

Ray Pixley
...