JA7.9      Approval of Software Used for Data Input to Data Registries

This section explains the requirements for approval of software used for data input to data registries for creating and registering documents required for compliance with Part 6.

The Commission shall perform acceptance testing of software when a software vendor applicant submits an application in order to determine if the applicable requirements in Reference Joint Appendix JA7 have been met.

Detailed guidance for approval of software may be provided in the Data Registry Requirements Manual.

Note: JA7.9 does not apply to approval of compliance software used for the performance method for demonstrating compliance with Part 6.

JA7.9.1 Overview

The approval procedure requires self-testing and self-certification by the software vendor applicant. The software vendor applicant shall conduct the specified tests, evaluate the results and certify in writing that the software passes the tests. The Commission shall perform spot checks and may require additional tests to verify that the proposed software is suitable for use for providing the data input for completion of the compliance documents as required by the Standards. The software vendor shall develop a user 'manual or online help screens that explain how to perform the data input procedures offered by the software. The user manual or online help screens shall be reviewed by the Commission for accuracy and ease of use.

JA7.9.2 Application Checklist

Application for approval shall conform to all applicable requirements given in Standards Section 10-109. The following is a list of the items that shall be included in an application package:

JA7.9.2.1           Software Vendor Applicant Certification Statement.

A statement from the software vendor applicant certifying the reliability and accuracy of the software when used for data input to Data Registries for creating and registering compliance documents in accordance with the requirements of Reference Joint Appendix JA7, and may reference the guidance given in the Data Registry Requirements Manual.

The template for the Software Vendor Certification Statement document may be published in the Data Registry Requirements 'Manual, and electronic versions of the Software Vendor Certification Statement template shall be made available to Software Vendor applicant upon request.

JA7.9.2.2           Compliance Document Registration Test Results.

Electronic copies of the results of the data exchange verification tests, and electronic copies of the registered documents that result from the compliance report generator tests shall be provided.

Detailed guidance to assist the applicant in performing and reporting the standardized tests may be given in the Data Registry Requirements Manual.

JA7.9.2.3           User Manual

A copy of the user 'manual for the software shall be provided in an electronic format that can be utilized by word processing software. Help screens from the software user interface, organized into an electronic document file with a table of contents is an acceptable alternative to the requirement for a user manual.

JA7.9.2.4           Application Fee and Other Administrative Requirements

Refer to Standards Section 10-109 for required application fees and additional administrative requirements applicable to approval of software used with data registries.

JA7.9.3 Types of Approval

There are two software approval procedures: full approval, and amendment to full approval. Full approval is required for all software changes unless they qualify for the amendment to full approval procedure.

JA7.9.3.1           Full Approval

Full approval is required when an applicant software service has not previously been approved by the Commission. Additionally, the Commission may require that all approved data input software tools conform to the requirements of a full approval procedure when the Standards are updated (re-approval), or whenever substantial changes are made to a software's functionality, security, or technology features. When software re-approval is mandated by the Commission, all software vendors shall be notified of the re-approval timetable. A revised Data Registry Requirements Manual may be published to provide guidance for the re-approval process.

Full approval shall ensure the software conforms to all applicable requirements for functionality and security in JA7 including but not limited to:

(a) Document data validation (JA7.

(b) Capability for data exchange with compliance report generation services approved by the Commission to generate formatted electronic documents (JA7.7),

Detailed guidance to assist with approval procedures may be given in the Data Registry Requirements Manual.

JA7.9.3.2           Amendments

Certain types of changes to software applications may be made through a streamlined amendment process. Changes that qualify for amendment approval are changes for which there are minor changes to the document registration procedures, data input requirements, or documentation output for the software. When software modifications qualify for amendment approval, the following procedure shall be followed:

(a)  The software vendor applicant shall notify the Commission in writing to provide a description of the change and the reason for making the change.

(b)  The software vendor applicant shall prepare an addendum to the user 'manual describing the change to the software if applicable.

(c)  The Commission shall respond to the software vendor applicant within 45 days. The Commission response to the applicant may:

1.  approve the modification;

2.  request additional information;

3.  refuse to approve the modification;

4.  require the software vendor to submit results of additional acceptance tests applicable to the modification; or

5.  require that the software vendor make specific changes to either the User Manual addendum or the software functionality.

The software vendor shall submit results of any required validation tests applicable to the modification. It is not necessary to resubmit software test results previously submitted that remain valid.

Any amendment to an existing software approval shall be accompanied by a cover letter explaining the type of amendment requested, and copies of any other applicable documents that are required. All items on the application checklist shall be submitted, when applicable. The timetable for approval of amendments is the same as for full approval.

(d)  With Commission approval, the software vendor may make the modified software available for use for registration of compliance documentation, along with the modified user manual or addendum to the user manual, and shall notify authorized users of the software.

JA7.9.4 Rescinding Approval (Deactivation) of Software

The Commission may rescind approval of software through various means.

JA7.9.4.1           Procedures that Initiate Deactivation

(a)  All software is deactivated when the Standards undergo substantial changes, usually occurring with each Standards update. However, the software shall remain approved to provide data input to Data Registries for creating and registering compliance documents for projects that have been permitted under the prior versions of the Standards.

(b)  Any software can be deactivated by a letter from the software vendor requesting that the software be deactivated. The deactivation request shall briefly describe the reasons that justify the need for deactivation.

(c)  Any "initiating party" may commence a procedure to deactivate a software tool according to the steps outlined below. The intent is to provide a means whereby serious software errors, flawed numeric results, improper document output not discovered in the software approval process can be verified, and a corrective course of action determined. In this process, there is ample opportunity for the Commission, the software vendor, and all interested parties to evaluate any alleged errors in the software functionality.

JA7.9.4.2           Challenging a Software Tool and Initiating Deactivation

A description of the process for challenging a software tool or initiating a deactivation procedure follows:

(a)  Any party may initiate a review of a software tool approval by sending a written communication to the Commission's Executive Director. (The Commission may be the initiating party for this type of review by noticing the availability of the same information 'listed here.) The initiating party shall:

1.    State the name of the software that contains the alleged errors;

2.    Identify concisely the nature of the alleged errors in the software that require review;

3.    Explain why the alleged errors are serious enough in their effect on document registration compliance to justify a deactivation procedure; and

4.    Include appropriate data electronically (in a format agreed to by the Commission staff) and/or information sufficient to evaluate the alleged errors.

(b) The Executive Director shall make a copy or copies of the initial written communication available to the software vendor and interested parties within 30 days. Comments from interested parties shall be received within 60 days of the acceptance of the original application.

(c) Within 75 days of receipt of the written communication, the Executive Director may request any additional information needed to evaluate the alleged software errors from the party who initiated the deactivation review process. If the additional information is incomplete, this procedure will be delayed until the initiating party submits complete information.

(d) Within 75 days of receipt of the initial written communication, the Executive Director may convene a workshop to gather additional information from the initiating party, the software vendor and interested parties. All parties will have 15 days after the workshop to submit additional information regarding the alleged program errors.

(e) Within 90 days after the Executive Director receives the application or within 30 days after receipt of complete additional information requested of the initiating party, whichever is later, the Executive Director shall either:

1.    Determine that the software need not be deactivated; or

2.    Submit to the Commission a written recommendation that the software be deactivated.

(f)  If the Commission approves the software deactivation, it shall take effect 60 days later. During the first 30 days of the 60 day period, the Executive Director shall send out a Notice to Data Registries, Enforcement Agencies, and other Interested Parties announcing the deactivation.

JA7.9.4.3           Burden of Proof

All initiating parties have the burden of proof to establish that the review of alleged software errors should be granted. The deactivation process may be terminated at any time by mutual written consent of the initiating party and the Executive Director.

The software vendor may use the 180 to 210-day period outlined here to update the software, get it re-approved by the Commission, and make available for use by authorized users, the revised version of the software that does not contain the errors initially brought to the attention of the Commission.

JA7.9.5 Software User Manual

Each software vendor is required to publish a Software User 'Manual. This requirement may be met with help screens incorporated into the software user interface, however, a printed version which includes all help screen items must be submitted with the application. The Software User Manual provides guidance for building permit applicants and enforcement agency officials to enable correct use of the software, and assists with preparation of registered documentation used for submittals to enforcement agencies and other parties to the construction project.

The Software User Manual shall describe the specific software procedures for completing compliance documents for use for registration. The manual shall provide instructions for preparing the data input and utilizing the completed formatted documents for registration.

Software User Manuals shall be written in a clear and concise manner and with an organization and format that will allow users to quickly locate the topic and understand the instructions. Also, software vendor shall make electronic copies of their user manual available from their Software product website to all building departments in California.

The following sections describe the information that shall be included in all software user manuals. It also presents the required organization for that information.

JA7.9.5.1           Energy Commission Approval

This section includes a copy of the official Energy Commission notice of approval of the software tool. It shall include the date of approval, and may include an expiration date for approval as well. The Energy Commission will provide this notice upon completion of evaluation and approval of the software tool.

JA7.9.5.2           Software Capabilities

This section shall discuss the software capabilities, providing explanation of how to access these capabilities, and the purpose for each of these features.

JA7.9.5.3           Preparing Basic Documents

This section shall cover the basic use of the software to prepare each of the applicable Compliance Document types. Reference may be made to the users’ 'manual, but this section should include a complete summary of all document creation methods or commands necessary to complete the required compliance documents.

JA7.9.5.4           Sample Compliance Documentation

This section shall include an example of the applicable compliance documentation for a sample building. The building need not be overly complex, but the example should, however, include example documentation for all Compliance document types that would normally be submitted for any occupancy types administered by the Data Registry.