|Effective, Efficient, and Relevant Standardization
The following is adapted from a speech delivered by ASTM Chairman Arthur D. Schwope at the Societys Annual Business Meeting held in Kansas City, Mo., on June 16.
There are three qualities that I believe define the state of ASTM International: effective, efficient, and relevant. In the year since the last state of the Society annual business meeting address, steps taken by ASTM in standards development and delivery have served to enhance these qualities in ASTMs service to its constituents.
As a world leader in standards development, ASTMs effectiveness is continually demonstrated through its responsive, best-in-class practices. The Society continues to be at the forefront in the use of technology to help our members develop standards at the highest levels of efficiency, while also increasing the accessibility of ASTM standards to the global community. It is through our best-in-class processes, and of course the hard work and expertise of our membership, that we see the relevance of our efforts: namely high quality, market-relevant standards that make products and services safer, better and more cost-effective.
As we review the events of the past 12 months, particularly noteworthy is the impact that technology has had on the effectiveness and efficiency of our organization. Our information technology strategy is focused on empowering members, customers, and other stakeholders to serve themselves 24/7 through the Internet. We are achieving the vision of this strategy through three important initiatives.
Work Item Registration: Launched in 2003, ASTMs work item registration system adds a new dimension of openness and transparency to ASTMs consensus standards development process. As a progress report on the effectiveness of and interest in this new system, in its first year, approximately 5,000 work items have been registered. Each work item has its own Web page containing information on scope, technical content, and development status as the item moves into and through the balloting process.
My ASTM: Later in 2003, ASTM rolled out My ASTM, a personalized access page on the ASTM Web site for members and customers. My ASTM customizes access to the ASTM Web site based on each users interests and participation in ASTM. This service enables users to log in on the ASTM home page and then access ASTM information via three personal gateways:
My Standards, an access page to ASTM standards of their personal interest;
My Committees, which directly leads to the technical committees on which members participate; and
My Journals, which takes users to any journals to which they subscribe.
Online Volumes: In November, ASTM introduced the Annual Book of ASTM Standards online, providing members and customers with digital Web access to any volume and section. This online feature offers the benefit of weekly updates of any new and revised standards that belong to the volume. As an added option, these virtual volumes can be configured to offer users access to redlined and historical versions of standards.
ASTM Web Site
In addition, ASTM has recently launched a revamped Web site, offering visitors a new look and feel, improved navigation, and quicker and easier access to a wide range of information. The media will also benefit from the improvements to the ASTM Web site. The new site features a revamped and enhanced newsroom geared toward serving the needs of editors and reporters. For example, there is a new feature called Story Tips for Reporters that gives examples of the use of ASTM standards in everyday life. Also for the first time, reporters looking for a particular topic can now perform a keyword search of ASTM news releases. In addition, news is posted directly onto the Web from ASTM Headquarters, allowing for the immediate release of news and information.
To better assist our global constituents in their use of the ASTM Web site, the Society has recently added a Google site translation engine. Available through a dropdown menu on the home page, the Google engine provides numerous foreign language options for viewing the ASTM Web site, including Spanish, French, German, Italian, and Portuguese. All Web pages in HTML are translated. Words within graphic elements and downloadable PDF documents, such as standards, are not translated. However, the document summaries of all standards are available in the other languages.
New Logo Policy
As you peruse the enhanced ASTM Web site, you will also find the new ASTM logo policy. The policy sets forth new guidelines for the use of ASTMs logo and provides electronic files of logos on the Web site. Important aspects of the new policy are:
Members no longer need to contact ASTM or gain written permission to use the logo.
ASTM provides graphic elements of the logo right on our Web site.
Organizational members can access specific logos for publicity purposes.
Individual members may put the logo on letterhead, business cards, and Web sites.
Use of Internet Tools
A review of key online data from 2003 shows that ASTM members are embracing the Societys technology strategy, frequently using ASTMs Web-based tools in their standards development work. In 2003, there were 143 virtual meetings and 1,211 e-ballots cast.
The growth in online tools and information available for downloading on the ASTM Web site has resulted in healthy use of the site during the past year. The ASTM site averages 14,663 user sessions per day. In 2003, a total of 224,981 documents were downloaded from the ASTM Web site.
Journal of ASTM International
Also on the ASTM Web site, an exciting new product made its debut this past January. The Journal of ASTM International is ASTMs first online-only journal. It provides a rapid method for the publication of technical papers for the international scientific and engineering communities.
Journal articles are peer-reviewed and edited by an editorial board of approximately 50 well-respected technical experts. Members and customers have quick and convenient access and searching capabilities with the new journal. They can access papers by downloading them individually or by subscribing to the journal as an individual or organization.
Serving Industry and Consumers
ASTMs track record of bringing diverse stakeholders together to achieve common goals has been in evidence once again during the past 12 months. The formation of four new technical committees and the progress made by numerous existing technical committees has brought this commitment to the forefront.
ASTM Committee F38 on Unmanned Air Vehicle Systems was formed in July 2003 to develop safety and performance standards for this dynamic field of the aviation industry. The Federal Aviation Administration played an influential role in the formation of Committee F38 in early 2003, encouraging the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International to approach ASTM to help gather stakeholders under the ASTM umbrella in a standards-writing committee. The formation of ASTM Committee F38 follows a similar FAA action in 2002 that was the impetus for ASTM Committee F37 on Light Sport Aircraft. F38 brings together a diverse range of stakeholders from around the world and is a shining example of the critical role that standards play in marketplace expansion.
The focus on national security in the United States was the driving force behind the formation of another new ASTM technical committee. ASTM Committee E54 on Homeland Security Applications was formed in 2003 at a time of increasing focus on homeland security following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Recognizing the critical role that standards have in its efforts, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has played an active role in Committee E54, attending the first organizational meeting and placing numerous members on the committee.
ASTM Committee E55 on Pharmaceutical Application of Process Analytical Technology was formed in December 2003 following a U.S. Food and Drug Administration overhaul of regulations governing drug manufacturing, the first such overhaul in 25 years. E55 got its start after the FDAs Center for Drug Evaluation and Research contacted ASTM in 2003, requesting a series of briefings from ASTM on its standards development process. Following a subsequent planning meeting, Committee E55 was formed to develop consensus standards focused on the development and adoption of innovative process improvements in pharmaceutical manufacturing. The committee is chaired by Don Marlowe of the FDA, who is also a former ASTM board chairman.
ASTMs newest technical committee F39 on Normal and Utility Category Airplane Electrical Wiring Systems was approved by the board at its last meeting in April. Once again, the FAA was involved in the formation of this aviation-related standards committee. After requesting the standards development community to submit proposals, the FAA selected ASTM International as the home of this important new standards initiative. F39 is focused on the development of standards related to small airplane electrical wiring system design, fabrication, installation, modification, repair, documentation, and inspection and maintenance procedures to ensure safe designs. You will be hearing much more about Committee F39 in the months ahead.
ASTM International continues to reach out to countries throughout the world to increase global input in standards development and reduce barriers to the use of ASTM standards.
Our efforts include:
The ongoing signing of memorandums of understanding with developing countries around the globe,
Conducting and participating in cooperative training sessions with standards bodies, and
The signing of business agreements with various nations, which facilitate international participation in the ASTM standards development process.
It is also important to note that ASTM standards are used as the basis of regulations and standards in 50 countries around the world.
To date, ASTM International has signed MOUs with the national standards bodies of 29 countries. The purpose of these agreements is to strengthen the relationship between ASTM and signatories in developing nations, allowing ASTM International to assist that countrys national standards body in their standards development and adoption efforts.
In China, ASTM International signed two agreements that make it easier than ever for Chinese professionals to participate in global standards development. As a result of an October visit by ASTM senior staff to the China National Institute of Standardization and the Shanghai Institute of Standardization, cooperative agreements between ASTM International and both of these organizations were put in place.
The agreements address cooperative training, membership, and distribution of ASTM publications in China. Currently, ASTM is hosting an intern from the Shanghai Institute of Standardization for a two-month period to understand fully ASTM operations and standards development process.
In September 2003, leaders of standards developing organizations from 16 nations gathered together at ASTM International headquarters for an Open House for Asia Pacific Standards Leaders. Jointly sponsoring the event with ASTM International was ASME International and Underwriters Laboratories, in cooperation with the American National Standards Institute and the National Institute of Standards and Technology. The centerpiece of the program was an open and frank interchange of ideas and concerns among the more than 40 participants and speakers, regarding the current and future state of international standardization.
ASTMs board of directors held its most recent meeting this April in Berlin, Germany, at the headquarters of Deutsches Institut für Normung, the German Standards Institute. As part of this event, ASTM and DIN hosted a workshop titled Standardization in the Global Marketplace. Speakers from industry and government in both Germany and the United States offered expert perspectives on the role of standardization in todays materials markets. An article on this workshop appeared in the July issue of SN.
Effective, efficient, and relevant standards development. Thank you to each ASTM member around the world and to our Headquarters Staff for making these the qualities that ASTM embodies more every day. It is only through your hard work that ASTM develops and maintains some of the finest international standards available today.
Arthur D. Schwope
Chairman of the Board
Copyright 2004, ASTM International