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Word From the Chairman

The following is taken from a speech delivered by ASTM Chairman Harvey P. Hack at the ASTM Annual Business Meeting held in Toronto, Ont., Canada, on June 21.

Each year about this time, ASTM provides its members an overview of the state of the Society. As we review the events of the past 12 months, the impact that technology has had on the way we do business is most noteworthy. Over the past decade, ASTM has used technology to assist in serving its members and customers, and this past year we have raised the level of technology implementation to new heights. Nowhere is this more noticeable than on the ASTM Web site.

ASTM Web Site—Ever-Improving Service to Members

Many ASTM members may have first-hand experience with the new features that have been added to the technical committee home pages. Now, each committee has its own page containing important information about the committee as well as information reserved strictly for committee members (see the HowTo article for more information). New features now on the committee home pages include:
-- Committee scopes;
-- Standards by subcommittee;
-- Online committee applications;
-- Search for publications;
-- Committee officers;
-- Committee week information;
-- Enhanced standards development forums; and
-- New standards development tools.

The recently-implemented “members only” section of these committee pages allows members to access minutes of recent and past meetings in a searchable format, view committee contact information, and update their own contact information online.

Beginning with the January 2000 meetings, the minutes of technical committee meetings have been posted on this “members only” section of the committee home pages. Committee members are informed of the availability of the minutes by e-mail. In addition, minutes of one prior meeting will be online.

New online committee rosters enable members to view contact information for any member of the committee, or even check and update their own information. This information includes current mailing addresses, phone and fax numbers, and e-mail addresses. Voting status and classification are also listed here. A nice feature is the ability to link directly to a fellow member’s e-mail address.

A series of new standards development tools are accessible from the committee home pages.

Development and balloting tools available on the Standards Development Tools Web page include:
-- The “Blue Book”—Form and Style Guide for ASTM Standards
;
-- Draft standard
templates
in MS Word;
--
Request forms for using Interactive Standards Development Forums;
--
Request forms for the development of a new standard;
--
Ballot item submittal forms; and
--
A format guide for research reports.

Member and officer tools include:
-- The “Green Book”—
Regulations Governing ASTM Technical Committees;
-- The “Red Book”—the
Technical Committee Officers’ Handbook; and
--
A strategic planning manual.
Voting tools include:
--
Proxy forms in MS Word.

Online draft standard templates help speed up the drafting process. These templates insert all of the required form and style elements specified in the Blue Book. Templates exist for all types of standards: test methods, specs, practices and guides, classifications, and terminology.

Information Delivery

Today’s standards developers must not only develop standards more efficiently, but also deliver documents in the formats users need. ASTM is keenly aware that today’s customers require:
-- Twenty-four-hour desktop access for all of their employees, worldwide;
-- Current as well as historical standards;
-- Project information, including draft standards;
-- Notice of new, revised, and withdrawn documents;
-- Standards that are easy to obtain; and
-- Standards that are reasonably priced.

More and more, users of ASTM information are obtaining standards via electronic means. Users prefer the Web for quick ordering and delivery. Customers have the option of obtaining the standards they want in their delivery mode of choice. They can download standards, receive them by fax, or by mail.

This year ASTM has made the individual volumes of the Annual Book of ASTM Standards available on CD ROM. Prior to this new development, the entire book of standards collection had been available on CD, but not the individual volumes. This new, individual CD-ROM book is now a member benefit option, whereby ASTM members working on technical committees can choose between a hard copy volume of the book of standards or a CD for their one free volume.

Also new this year, technical papers are available online. The first ASTM journal with papers on the Web is the Journal of Forensic Sciences. Papers are in PDF format and can be downloaded individually. Look for individual papers of all ASTM journals to be on the Web later this year.

Last September we launched a new section of the ASTM Web page for students learning about standards and instructors teaching standards. On this page—“Information for Students and Educators”—you will find the “Handbook of Standardization,” which briefly sums up the basics of standards in an easy-to-understand format. The Handbook is also available in print. Other information in the student Web page includes a first-hand story of ASTM standards being taught in a university classroom, historical information on ASTM, and easy availability of the ASTM video.

As of the beginning of this year, Standardization News went online. Now on the ASTM Web site, you can access most sections of the magazine each month from the main home page, including all news sections of SN. The online version of the magazine is available about two weeks prior to delivery of the printed magazine. You may have noticed SN’s updated design, also launched this year in January. You can read the column “Plain Talk for a New Generation” by ASTM President Jim Thomas on the Web, as well as in the hard copy of SN. This one-page installment contains commentary on pertinent issues relating to ASTM and the standards scene.

We are pleased with the reader interest in the column. We are hearing from members as well as those outside the ASTM membership with their views on ASTM and the subjects covered in the column.

New Committee

A new ASTM technical committee was formed this year. Committee F34 on Rolling Element Bearings has 60 members and 11 subcommittees, covering a broad range of applications for bearings found in numerous products. The committee will begin ASTM standards development with the conversion of over 200 military standards and specs to ASTM documents. A symposium on rolling element bearings is scheduled for November 2001 and the development of a training course is being explored.

ASTM in the National and International Scene

On the national front, Jim Thomas is a member of a task force of the National Issues Committee of the American National Standards Institute, charged with developing a national standards strategy for the United States. This group developed a draft strategy that the ANSI executive committee has embraced in principal. The task group is now working on developing language to address strategy implementation.

ASTM was pleased to accept an invitation to attend the Organization for Economic Development and Cooperation (OECD) special meeting on technical barriers to trade in Paris in March. There, ASTM had the opportunity to explain its mode of standards development and state its position on elements of the World Trade Organization’s Technical Barriers to Trade Agreement. ASTM urged that various types of international standards, such as those developed by ASTM, need to be considered in the WTO process.

Last October, the ASTM chairman and president attended the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) general assembly in Beijing, China. The ASTM pilot project—wherein ISO standards are developed within the ASTM committee structure, with the ASTM technical committee maintaining responsibility for the standards’ upkeep—was referenced several times during the general assembly. Currently, the documents included in the pilot project deal with standards in the area of radiation processing dosimetry and are out to ballot within ISO Technical Committee 85. The ISO secretary general complimented ASTM for the progress that has been made and offered his support for moving the project forward.

While things are moving along satisfactorily, ASTM has had to, for the success of the project, compromise on items that may become issues for the Society in the future.

In addition to the general assembly, the ASTM delegation participated in the grand opening of an ASTM standards distribution center in Beijing. While in Beijing, ASTM representatives visited the China Association for Standardization (CAS), with whom ASTM has jointly published the Chinese-language edition of Standardization News. The seventh installment was published in June and is being distributed to 18,000 technical experts and industry representatives throughout China.

Other Initiatives

ASTM’s Technical and Professional Training program continues to be a sought-after resource on the use of ASTM standards. This year’s new course, titled “Technical Requirements for Entry into the European Union,” expands the program beyond the ASTM standard. This course was offered for the first time last month and drew attendance from a broad range of industries all across the United States.

ASTM is pleased to have signed a three-year agreement with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to conduct the ASTM volatile organic compounds course for DEP employees. ASTM will work with the DEP to educate state employees in the regulation and enforcement of state laws regarding volatile organic compounds.

On March 1, the U.S. Coast Guard issued a direct final rule to update references to more than 150 ASTM standards. Some of the standards had been over 30 years out of date. The Federal Register notice announced that the Coast Guard was amending the Code of Federal Regulations “to render current the standards incorporated by reference from ASTM.”

Our Members Make It Work

Now for some membership statistics. As of the end of 1999, ASTM had:
-- 30,932 members;
-- 20,391 main committee members;
-- 129 technical committees;
-- 1,992 subcommittees; and
-- 101,611 units of participation in the standards development process.

This activity resulted in:
-- 286 new standards;
-- 1,624 revised standards; and
-- 2,754 total standards actions.

Readers can see from the ASTM Annual Report, published as an insert in the June issue of SN and available from Headquarters, that ASTM continues to operate from a healthy financial position. The society derives most of its income, 74 percent, from the sale of publications. Demand for the ASTM standard is strong, as customers shift from preferring the traditional print copy to electronic delivery.

Every day, ASTM works to improve its already outstanding history of service to its members and to the worldwide community through the promulgation of quality standards. I thank you, the ASTM membership, for your role in making ASTM one of the first and finest standards developing organizations in the world.

Copyright 2000, ASTM

Harvey P. Hack
ASTM Chairman of the Board