Text: H.R.4687 — 107th Congress (2001-2002)All Information (Except Text)

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Public Law No: 107-231 (10/01/2002)

 
[107th Congress Public Law 231]
[From the U.S. Government Printing Office]


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[DOCID: f:publ231.107]


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Public Law 107-231
107th Congress

                                 An Act


 
   To provide for the establishment of investigative teams to assess 
building performance and emergency response and evacuation procedures in 
 the wake of any building failure that has resulted in substantial loss 
   of life or that posed significant potential of substantial loss of 
              life. <<NOTE: Oct. 1, 2002 -  [H.R. 4687]>> 

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the 
United States of America in Congress <<NOTE: National Construction 
Safety Team Act. 15 USC 7301 note.>> assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

    This Act may be cited as the ``National Construction Safety Team 
Act''.

SEC. 2. <<NOTE: 15 USC 7301.>> NATIONAL CONSTRUCTION SAFETY TEAMS.

    (a) Establishment.--The Director of the National Institute of 
Standards and Technology (in this Act referred to as the ``Director'') 
is authorized to establish National Construction Safety Teams (in this 
Act referred to as a ``Team'') for deployment after events causing the 
failure of a building or buildings that has resulted in substantial loss 
of life or that posed significant potential for substantial loss of 
life. To the maximum extent practicable, the Director shall establish 
and deploy a Team within 48 hours after such an event. <<NOTE: Federal 
Register, publication.>> The Director shall promptly publish in the 
Federal Register notice of the establishment of each Team.

    (b) Purpose of Investigation; Duties.--
            (1) Purpose.--The purpose of investigations by Teams is to 
        improve the safety and structural integrity of buildings in the 
        United States.
            (2) Duties.--A Team shall--
                    (A) establish the likely technical cause or causes 
                of the building failure;
                    (B) evaluate the technical aspects of evacuation and 
                emergency response procedures;
                    (C) recommend, as necessary, specific improvements 
                to building standards, codes, and practices based on the 
                findings made pursuant to subparagraphs (A) and (B); and
                    (D) recommend any research and other appropriate 
                actions needed to improve the structural safety of 
                buildings, and improve evacuation and emergency response 
                procedures, based on the findings of the investigation.

    (c) Procedures.--
            (1) Development.--Not <<NOTE: Deadline.>> later than 3 
        months after the date of the enactment of this Act, the 
        Director, in consultation with the United States Fire 
        Administration and other appropriate Federal agencies, shall 
        develop procedures for the establishment and deployment of 
        Teams. The Director shall

[[Page 116 STAT. 1472]]

        update such procedures as appropriate. Such procedures shall 
        include provisions--
                    (A) regarding conflicts of interest related to 
                service on the Team;
                    (B) defining the circumstances under which the 
                Director will establish and deploy a Team;
                    (C) prescribing the appropriate size of Teams;
                    (D) guiding the disclosure of information under 
                section 8;
                    (E) guiding the conduct of investigations under this 
                Act, including procedures for providing written notice 
                of inspection authority under section 4(a) and for 
                ensuring compliance with any other applicable law;
                    (F) identifying and prescribing appropriate 
                conditions for the provision by the Director of 
                additional resources and services Teams may need;
                    (G) to ensure that investigations under this Act do 
                not impede and are coordinated with any search and 
                rescue efforts being undertaken at the site of the 
                building failure;
                    (H) for regular briefings of the public on the 
                status of the investigative proceedings and findings;
                    (I) guiding the Teams in moving and preserving 
                evidence as described in section 4 (a)(4), (b)(2), and 
                (d)(4);
                    (J) providing for coordination with Federal, State, 
                and local entities that may sponsor research or 
                investigations of building failures, including research 
                conducted under the Earthquake Hazards Reduction Act of 
                1977; and
                    (K) regarding such other issues as the Director 
                considers appropriate.
            (2) Publication.--The <<NOTE: Federal Register, 
        publication.>>  Director shall publish promptly in the Federal 
        Register final procedures, and subsequent updates thereof, 
        developed under paragraph (1).

SEC. 3. <<NOTE: 15 USC 7302.>> COMPOSITION OF TEAMS.

    Each Team shall be composed of individuals selected by the Director 
and led by an individual designated by the Director. Team members shall 
include at least 1 employee of the National Institute of Standards and 
Technology and shall include other experts who are not employees of the 
National Institute of Standards and Technology, who may include private 
sector experts, university experts, representatives of professional 
organizations with appropriate expertise, and appropriate Federal, 
State, or local officials. Team members who are not Federal employees 
shall be considered Federal Government contractors.

SEC. 4. <<NOTE: 15 USC 7303.>> AUTHORITIES.

    (a) Entry and Inspection.--In investigating a building failure under 
this Act, members of a Team, and any other person authorized by the 
Director to support a Team, on display of appropriate credentials 
provided by the Director and written notice of inspection authority, 
may--
            (1) enter property where a building failure being 
        investigated has occurred, or where building components, 
        materials, and artifacts with respect to the building failure 
        are located, and take action necessary, appropriate, and 
        reasonable in light of the nature of the property to be 
        inspected to carry out the duties of the Team under section 
        2(b)(2) (A) and (B);

[[Page 116 STAT. 1473]]

            (2) during reasonable hours, inspect any record (including 
        any design, construction, or maintenance record), process, or 
        facility related to the investigation;
            (3) inspect and test any building components, materials, and 
        artifacts related to the building failure; and
            (4) move such records, components, materials, and artifacts 
        as provided by the procedures developed under section 2(c)(1).

    (b) Avoiding Unnecessary Interference and Preserving Evidence.--An 
inspection, test, or other action taken by a Team under this section 
shall be conducted in a way that--
            (1) does not interfere unnecessarily with services provided 
        by the owner or operator of the building components, materials, 
        or artifacts, property, records, process, or facility; and
            (2) to the maximum extent feasible, preserves evidence 
        related to the building failure, consistent with the ongoing 
        needs of the investigation.

    (c) Coordination.--
            (1) With search and rescue efforts.--A Team shall not 
        impede, and shall coordinate its investigation with, any search 
        and rescue efforts being undertaken at the site of the building 
        failure.
            (2) With other research.--A Team shall coordinate its 
        investigation, to the extent practicable, with qualified 
        researchers who are conducting engineering or scientific 
        (including social science) research relating to the building 
        failure.
            (3) Memoranda of understanding.--The National Institute of 
        Standards and Technology shall enter into a memorandum of 
        understanding with each Federal agency that may conduct or 
        sponsor a related investigation, providing for coordination of 
        investigations.
            (4) With state and local authorities.--A Team shall 
        cooperate with State and local authorities carrying out any 
        activities related to a Team's investigation.

    (d) Interagency Priorities.--
            (1) In general.--Except as provided in paragraph (2) or (3), 
        a Team investigation shall have priority over any other 
        investigation of any other Federal agency.
            (2) National transportation safety board.--If the National 
        Transportation Safety Board is conducting an investigation 
        related to an investigation of a Team, the National 
        Transportation Safety Board investigation shall have priority 
        over the Team investigation. Such priority shall not otherwise 
        affect the authority of the Team to continue its investigation 
        under this Act.
            (3) Criminal acts.--If the Attorney General, in consultation 
        with the Director, determines, and notifies the Director, that 
        circumstances reasonably indicate that the building failure 
        being investigated by a Team may have been caused by a criminal 
        act, the Team shall relinquish investigative priority to the 
        appropriate law enforcement agency. The relinquishment of 
        investigative priority by the Team shall not otherwise affect 
        the authority of the Team to continue its investigation under 
        this Act.
            (4) Preservation of evidence.--If a Federal law enforcement 
        agency suspects and notifies the Director that a building 
        failure being investigated by a Team under this Act may have

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        been caused by a criminal act, the Team, in consultation with 
        the Federal law enforcement agency, shall take necessary actions 
        to ensure that evidence of the criminal act is preserved.

SEC. 5. <<NOTE: 15 USC 7304.>> BRIEFINGS, HEARINGS, WITNESSES, AND 
            SUBPOENAS.

    (a) General Authority.--The Director or his designee, on behalf of a 
Team, may conduct hearings, administer oaths, and require, by subpoena 
(pursuant to subsection (e)) and otherwise, necessary witnesses and 
evidence as necessary to carry out this Act.
    (b) Briefings.--The Director or his designee (who may be the leader 
or a member of a Team), on behalf of a Team, shall hold regular public 
briefings on the status of investigative proceedings and findings, 
including a final briefing after the report required by section 8 is 
issued.
    (c) Public Hearings.--During the course of an investigation by a 
Team, the National Institute of Standards and Technology may, if the 
Director considers it to be in the public interest, hold a public 
hearing for the purposes of--
            (1) gathering testimony from witnesses; and
            (2) informing the public on the progress of the 
        investigation.

    (d) Production of Witnesses.--A witness or evidence in an 
investigation under this Act may be summoned or required to be produced 
from any place in the United States. A witness summoned under this 
subsection is entitled to the same fee and mileage the witness would 
have been paid in a court of the United States.
    (e) Issuance of Subpoenas.--A subpoena shall be issued only under 
the signature of the Director but may be served by any person designated 
by the Director.
    (f) Failure To Obey Subpoena.--If a person disobeys a subpoena 
issued by the Director under this Act, the Attorney General, acting on 
behalf of the Director, may bring a civil action in a district court of 
the United States to enforce the subpoena. An action under this 
subsection may be brought in the judicial district in which the person 
against whom the action is brought resides, is found, or does business. 
The court may punish a failure to obey an order of the court to comply 
with the subpoena as a contempt of court.

SEC. 6. <<NOTE: 15 USC 7305.>> ADDITIONAL POWERS.

    In order to support Teams in carrying out this Act, the Director 
may--
            (1) procure the temporary or intermittent services of 
        experts or consultants under section 3109 of title 5, United 
        States Code;
            (2) request the use, when appropriate, of available 
        services, equipment, personnel, and facilities of a department, 
        agency, or instrumentality of the United States Government on a 
        reimbursable or other basis;
            (3) confer with employees and request the use of services, 
        records, and facilities of State and local governmental 
        authorities;
            (4) accept voluntary and uncompensated services;
            (5) accept and use gifts of money and other property, to the 
        extent provided in advance in appropriations Acts;
            (6) make contracts with nonprofit entities to carry out 
        studies related to purpose, functions, and authorities of the 
        Teams; and

[[Page 116 STAT. 1475]]

            (7) provide nongovernmental members of the Team reasonable 
        compensation for time spent carrying out activities under this 
        Act.

SEC. 7. <<NOTE: 15 USC 7306.>> DISCLOSURE OF INFORMATION.

    (a) <<NOTE: Records.>>  General Rule.--Except as otherwise provided 
in this section, a copy of a record, information, or investigation 
submitted or received by a Team shall be made available to the public on 
request and at reasonable cost.

    (b) Exceptions.--Subsection (a) does not require the release of--
            (1) information described by section 552(b) of title 5, 
        United States Code, or protected from disclosure by any other 
        law of the United States; or
            (2) information described in subsection (a) by the National 
        Institute of Standards and Technology or by a Team until the 
        report required by section 8 is issued.

    (c) Protection of Voluntary Submission of Information.--
Notwithstanding any other provision of law, a Team, the National 
Institute of Standards and Technology, and any agency receiving 
information from a Team or the National Institute of Standards and 
Technology, shall not disclose voluntarily provided safety-related 
information if that information is not directly related to the building 
failure being investigated and the Director finds that the disclosure of 
the information would inhibit the voluntary provision of that type of 
information.
    (d) Public Safety Information.--A Team and the National Institute of 
Standards and Technology shall not publicly release any information it 
receives in the course of an investigation under this Act if the 
Director finds that the disclosure of that information might jeopardize 
public safety.

SEC. 8. <<NOTE: 15 USC 7307.>> NATIONAL CONSTRUCTION SAFETY TEAM REPORT.

    Not <<NOTE: Deadline.>> later than 90 days after completing an 
investigation, a Team shall issue a public report which includes--
            (1) an analysis of the likely technical cause or causes of 
        the building failure investigated;
            (2) any technical recommendations for changes to or the 
        establishment of evacuation and emergency response procedures;
            (3) any recommended specific improvements to building 
        standards, codes, and practices; and
            (4) recommendations for research and other appropriate 
        actions needed to help prevent future building failures.

SEC. 9. <<NOTE: 15 USC 7308.>> NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF STANDARDS AND 
            TECHNOLOGY ACTIONS.

    After the issuance of a public report under section 8, the National 
Institute of Standards and Technology shall comprehensively review the 
report and, working with the United States Fire Administration and other 
appropriate Federal and non-Federal agencies and organizations--
            (1) conduct, or enable or encourage the conducting of, 
        appropriate research recommended by the Team; and
            (2) promote (consistent with existing procedures for the 
        establishment of building standards, codes, and practices) the

[[Page 116 STAT. 1476]]

        appropriate adoption by the Federal Government, and encourage 
        the appropriate adoption by other agencies and organizations, of 
        the recommendations of the Team with respect to--
                    (A) technical aspects of evacuation and emergency 
                response procedures;
                    (B) specific improvements to building standards, 
                codes, and practices; and
                    (C) other actions needed to help prevent future 
                building failures.

SEC. 10. <<NOTE: 15 USC 7309.>> NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF STANDARDS AND 
            TECHNOLOGY ANNUAL REPORT.

    Not <<NOTE: Deadline.>> later than February 15 of each year, the 
Director shall transmit to the Committee on Science of the House of 
Representatives and to the Committee on Commerce, Science, and 
Transportation of the Senate a report that includes--
            (1) a summary of the investigations conducted by Teams 
        during the prior fiscal year;
            (2) a summary of recommendations made by the Teams in 
        reports issued under section 8 during the prior fiscal year and 
        a description of the extent to which those recommendations have 
        been implemented; and
            (3) a description of the actions taken to improve building 
        safety and structural integrity by the National Institute of 
        Standards and Technology during the prior fiscal year in 
        response to reports issued under section 8.

SEC. 11. <<NOTE: 15 USC 7310.>> ADVISORY COMMITTEE.

    (a) Establishment and Functions.--The Director, in consultation with 
the United States Fire Administration and other appropriate Federal 
agencies, shall establish an advisory committee to advise the Director 
on carrying out this Act and to review the procedures developed under 
section 2(c)(1) and the reports issued under section 8.
    (b) <<NOTE: Deadline.>> Annual Report.--On January 1 of each year, 
the advisory committee shall transmit to the Committee on Science of the 
House of Representatives and to the Committee on Commerce, Science, and 
Transportation of the Senate a report that includes--
            (1) an evaluation of Team activities, along with 
        recommendations to improve the operation and effectiveness of 
        Teams; and
            (2) an assessment of the implementation of the 
        recommendations of Teams and of the advisory committee.

    (c) Duration of Advisory Committee.--Section 14 of the Federal 
Advisory Committee Act shall not apply to the advisory committee 
established under this section.

SEC. 12. <<NOTE: 15 USC 7311.>> ADDITIONAL APPLICABILITY.

    The authorities and restrictions applicable under this Act to the 
Director and to Teams shall apply to the activities of the National 
Institute of Standards and Technology in response to the attacks of 
September 11, 2001.

SEC. 13. AMENDMENT.

    Section 7 of the National Bureau of Standards Authorization Act for 
Fiscal Year 1986 (15 U.S.C. 281a) is amended by inserting ``, or from an 
investigation under the National Construction Safety Team Act,'' after 
``from such investigation''.

[[Page 116 STAT. 1477]]

SEC. 14. <<NOTE: 15 USC 7312.>> CONSTRUCTION.

    Nothing in this Act shall be construed to confer any authority on 
the National Institute of Standards and Technology to require the 
adoption of building standards, codes, or practices.

SEC. 15. <<NOTE: 15 USC 7313.>> AUTHORIZATION OF APPROPRIATIONS.

    The National Institute of Standards and Technology is authorized to 
use funds otherwise authorized by law to carry out this Act.

    Approved October 1, 2002.

LEGISLATIVE HISTORY--H.R. 4687:
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HOUSE REPORTS: No. 107-530 (Comm. on Science).
CONGRESSIONAL RECORD, Vol. 148 (2002):
            July 12, considered and passed House.
            Sept. 9, considered and passed Senate, amended.
            Sept. 17, House concurred in Senate amendment.

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