The people who founded ASTM were looking for a better way of doing things. When the best iron and steel standards were needed to build our country, ASTM found a better way to produce them. ASTM was at work when our country was at war, filling its needs, and providing technical solutions to problems we had never faced before. Whether it was oil spills or safe ski bindings, ASTM responded to the needs of the times with better ways of doing things.
Today's needs are no less challenging than yesterday's. There are those of us who now need to operate in a global environment, who need access to foreign markets, and who need standards to take them there. If our members need an ISO standard, for instance, they will find ASTM a willing partner. We work hard and invest resources, both financial and human, in the support of ISO Technical Advisory Groups (TAGs), ISO secretariats, and other ISO activities. And we will continue to do so. We are proud of our track record in ISO. Even so we believe, like our forefathers, that good things can be made better.
To that end, we have proposed a new kind of partnership with our sister organization in Geneva. Our proposal would create a new kind of ISO/ASTM standard, one that would combine the best of what we both have to offer. The ASTM standards that would become ISO/ASTM standards would have no ISO counterparts, that is, they would be standards that do not currently exist in the ISO. Under our proposal, ASTM would submit a selected group of standards directly to the appropriate ISO technical committee, but the ASTM committee would retain responsibility for the development and maintenance of these standards. ASTM's input would be the same -the same broad-based constituency with all the pieces intact, the same high quality technology, the same market relevance, the same commitment to maintenance. ISO would provide additional input via its member bodies and technical experts; and the standards would be balloted as Draft International Standards (DISs).
What we are proposing is a marriage of two systems of standardization, a marriage that will strengthen both organizations by their union. Nothing that presently exists would be disturbed, but the world would have at its disposal new international standards containing the best of ASTM-the quality and market relevance that is known around the world; and the best of ISO-its member body acceptance process. We are proposing the creation of the strongest international standard ever-a standard that can be both de facto and de jure-an international standard with unprecedented commercial power.
At this writing, our proposal is being considered in Geneva. We have reason to believe that there are many in the international community who are intrigued by our idea; others who are excited by it and who already support it wholeheartedly. If accepted, our proposal will create a new, more dynamic relationship between ASTM and ISO. It will increase the number of ISO standards that are used in the United States and around the world. It will be another international option, an attractive, commercially practical alternative. In other words, a better way of doing things.
James A. Thomas
President, ASTM International
Copyright 1999, ASTM International