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Seismology Committee Charging for Opinions

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Dennis Wish wrote:

The SEAOC Seismology Committee was preparing to launch a website at the end
of 1999 to help field questions from the engineering community on
interpretation of the 97 UBC .... I reviewed the minutes for the December
1999, February and April 2000 meetings and discovered that a few members
considered the SEAOC Website as a great revenue producing service and
suggested that since ICBO was charging to answer technical questions that
the SEAOC Seismology Committee might do the same. Fortunately, the
suggestion was not pursued.......

This really upset me when I read the comments. Not only was the Seismology
Committee choosing only specific questions to answer and essentially
ignoring those that did not have a clear consensus among other
associations - they would purposely avoid questions in which SEAOC differed
in their publications from other associations whose work had become part of
the 97 UBC provisions. In other words - avoid the conflicts. Not only was
the Seismology Committee being selective of the questions, they would
respond in three months and would provide no additional follow-up. ...>


I reviewed the portion of the meeting minutes you mentioned in your post. It seems that the person who suggested the Opinion service and charge a fee is/was one of the ICBO Engineers who answers or give opinions on code related topics.

The reason I state this is simply to point out that perhaps this person was aware that ICBO was implementing this new fee based opinion service and thought that maybe SEAOC could do the same for either less money or deliver a more concrete opinion with references. I would be for that since I also feel that ICBO is charging too much for a "we think this is the intent" letter that holds as much as weight as each building official assigns to it. A Seismology Opinion would hold more weight to me than an ICBO opinion as an engineer, but probably vice versa for a building official.

The seismology members who attend these meetings are names most of us are probably familiar with and we hear about frequently. I am sure they are twice as busy every day than I am, and I have little time to do anything "voluntary". I know you want the most for your buck when you join a professional association, but we also have to be realistic. These people have limited funds, time, and most importantly seemingly less influence on the code bodies to make changes or give opinion. That is why I think they mentioned selective responses ... would you expect them to reply to a post asking them what Ct stands for in the Method A period calculation for free every time it was asked? I think the point I'm trying to make is the seismology committee is not a full time job ... it would be difficult to expect them answer every and all requests for opinion. I would also not mind paying a "small fee" for the time and effort in researching a well thought out opinion, even if I didn't agree with the opinion. I would only ask that the fee be small and that the answer be generally available to the public since we don't want to start paying 100 bucks for work that has already been performed (By the way, this would have been great if all the steel joints tested privately were submitted to SAC for evaluation and inclusion in the prequalification determinations - maybe it was, I'm not sure). Maybe I'm a little too optimistic on that one. 

We can't expect everything to be given to us by SEAOC simply by joining. Someone actually has to work to get answers, and that person(s)  likely has a life outside of engineering. I think the blue book goes into detail on most issues, but I would have liked the opportunity to choose between ICBO and SEAOC to get an opinion. 

I think the people who know, should get compensated for that knowledge and their willingness to share the knowledge. I guess it comes down to figuring out what is fair in terms of price and expectation of results.

My two cents,

San Francisco, CA

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