White Paper: Best Practices in Electronic Plan Submittal, Review, Tracking, and Storage

29 Nov, 2007

FIATECH publication highlights problems with traditional system and discusses the cost and time savings of a digital method.

The Alliance for Building Regulatory Reform in the Digital Age at FIATECH, with funding from the American Institute of Architects and Avolve Software, announced this week that the organization has published Best Practices in Electronic Plan Submittal, Review, Tracking, and Storage as well as an Elected Officials Guide companion piece. The publication is targeted towards state and local jurisdictions that have turned to information technology to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of their building code, land use, and planning regulatory processes.

The white paper highlights current problems associated with the traditional system -- including submitting, reviewing, and storing paper blueprints -- and compares it with cost and time savings being achieved by a number of jurisdictions that have moved to digital receipt, review, tracking, and storage.

Among the many benefits noted in the paper are:

  • increased completeness and accuracy of plans submitted by architects and contractors
  • reduced plan review times by 50%
  • reduced number and shortened time frames for corrections to plans
  • a tool to measure productivity of building department staff
  • reduced travel to and from building departments to resubmit plans
  • increased revenues to jurisdictions by getting buildings completed and on tax rolls faster

"The aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and the need for communities to put in place business processes that enable their communities to build back faster, better, safer, and at less cost coupled with the growing green movement has significantly stimulated interest amongst state and local governments and their stakeholders to streamline their regulatory processes and wherever appropriate incorporate information technology into their codes administration, planning, zoning, and land use processes," explained Robert Wible, project manager for the Alliance for Building Regulatory Reform in the Digital Age at FIATECH. "When we looked at the status of e-plan submittal and review several years ago, the software tools were not there to make it a reliable tool to enhance government efficiency. Our look this past year found that situation had changed."

The white paper and Elected Officials Guide also provide case studies showcasing communities where such tools are now being used. The white paper and guide were developed to serve as catalysts for more jurisdictions to go online with these systems and motivate the software industry to continue their enhancement of these programs.

The white paper was released at the International Code Council's annual meeting held in Reno, Nevada in early October. The Elected Officials Guide will be released in early December by Alliance partners, the National Governors Association, National Association of Counties, National Association of State Chief Information Officers, National Emergency Management Association, and the U.S. Conference of Mayors.

Following on this work, the Alliance at FIATECH will be launching two new projects. The first will look at developing state legislation and regulation models to provide single state-wide plan reviews for replicable buildings and the second will focus on developing an elected official's guide to negotiate with large companies that are considering moving into their communities.

Copies of Best Practices in Electronic Plan Submittal, Review, Tracking and Storage (PDF) and the Elected Officials Guide (PDF) can be downloaded from the FIATECH Web site.