|ASTM International Opens Doors of Standards House to Regional
Communication and relationship building took center stage during
a recent Open House at ASTM International Headquarters in West Conshohocken, Pa. The event, held on Nov.
29 and 30, welcomed leaders of the National Standards Bodies of
22 Latin American and Caribbean countries, as well as Canada.
Over the course of the two-day program, attendees engaged in frank,
interactive discussion about global standards and the needs of
their particular countries, while also learning more about ASTMs
consensus standards development process from ASTM members representing
both government and industry. According to Kathleen (Kitty) Kono,
ASTM vice president, global cooperation, the goal of the Open
House was to lay the foundation for greater dialogue and collaboration
between ASTM and the standards developing organizations (SDOs)
of countries across the Americas region.
By hosting the standards leadership from nations throughout the
Americas, we can better facilitate and open lines of communication
between ASTM and the SDOs in the region, notes Kono. Listening
to their issues and concerns creates greater awareness on how
ASTM can support their needs and how they can increase their participation
in our consensus process.
Spirit of Cooperation and Participation
In their opening remarks, Kono and ASTM President James A. Thomas
set the tone for the program, welcoming international guests to
what Thomas predecessor William Cavanaugh referred to as a standards
house, where all are welcome to participate.
You have come here hoping to learn about the ways we can work
together in a spirit of cooperation to improve the development
and use of standards in each of your countries, remarked Thomas.
ASTM shares the same goal. This Open House is an expression of
our interest in improving relationships between our organizations.
Your input and ongoing participation in our consensus process
is truly necessary if we are to continue to meet not only your
nations needs, but the needs of the global marketplace for standards
that are of strong technical quality and market relevancy, he
Thomas was joined in the opening segment of the program by Dr.
Mark Hurwitz, president and chief executive officer of the American
National Standards Institute (ANSI) and Linda Lusby, president
of COPANT, the Pan American Standards Commission, which represents
the collective standards needs of nations throughout the Americas.
Hurwitz discussed the United States standardization system and
the unique roles of and cooperation between ANSI and ASTM. Both
he and Lusby echoed Thomas sentiments for the need to increase
dialogue and to combine efforts to reach common goals.
It is critically important for all of us to work closely together
to pursue development and access to standards that will improve
trade and help secure the future prosperity of the Americas region,
Unique Public-Private Partnership Model
Open House speakers emphasized to their international audience
the unique relationship between the public and private sectors
in the United States concerning standards development. To educate
Open House guests on the growing partnership between ASTM and
the U.S. government, speakers were featured from the U.S. Food
and Drug Administration (FDA), Environmental Protection Agency
(EPA), and National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).
Representatives from each of these organizations described their
relationship with ASTM and emphasized the importance of the 1996
National Technology Transfer and Advancement Act (NTTAA). The
NTTAA transferred the responsibility for the development of technical
standards from the federal government to private sector consensus
standards organizations when feasible and appropriate
The NTTAA struck a chord with the audience who were interested
in how it has influenced standards development in the United States.
Thomas noted, The NTTAA is a powerful statement that has led
to new levels of cooperation between the public and private sectors
in the area of standards. He said that more than 1,000 federal
employees participate on ASTM technical committees and over 3,000
ASTM standards have been adopted or incorporated by reference.
In his presentation, the FDAs Don Marlowe, who also served as
2001 chairman of the ASTM Board, discussed how the agency ensures
that the quality and safety of products regulated by his agency
is enhancednot compromisedby the use of voluntary consensus
standards. During the question and answer session that followed
his presentation, Marlowe responded to attendees' concerns about
how government agencies could justify participation in private
sector SDOs and not be obligated to regulate using the resulting
voluntary consensus standard. Marlowe emphasized that "although
the government's participation in private-sector standards development
can create a situation in which the government agency strongly
favors a standard, the nature of the consensus process makes it
impossible for the government to impose its will on the marketplace.
Meeting the Global Market Needs of Industry
To help educate attendees on how standards developed out of the
ASTM consensus process play an integral role in global business
strategies, the Open House program featured presentations from
several industry representatives.
Providing an industry view of the ASTM standards process, ASTM
board member Luis Ordónez, president, EfiTerm, S.A. de C.V., a
Mexico-based consulting firm, emphasized how focused enterprises
move in a market direction and relevant voluntary standards are
market driven. Ordonez also noted how ASTM favors and promotes
balanced participation from members representing various levels
of the producer-consumer chain.
Also participating in this portion of the Open House program were
ASTM Board members who spoke about ASTM committees representing
the steel, petroleum, and construction industries. Vice Chairman
of the ASTM Board Wayne Holliday, of LTV Copperweld, provided
an overview and history of ASTMs oldest committee A01, on Steel, Stainless Steel, and Related Alloys, discussed recent
standards development, and outlined the committees global participation.
Next up was David Smith, assistant commissioner of the North Carolina
Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, who offered perspective
on the global makeup and reach of Committee D02 on Petroleum Products and Lubricants, ASTMs largest committee
with representatives from 43 countries. Rounding out the industry
segment was Dr. Anthony E. Fiorato, president and CEO, Construction
Technology Laboratories, Inc., who discussed the work of several
of ASTMs committees developing standards that impact the construction
MOU Approach Praised
An overriding theme of the two-day event, which was simultaneously
translated in both English and Spanish, was the need to establish
more formal lines of communication that will enhance ASTMs ability
to support the needs of its neighbors throughout the Americas.
Both Thomas and Robert Meltzer, ASTM vice president of Publications
and Marketing, discussed ASTMs initiative to create memoranda of understanding
(MOUs) with developing nations. The MOU approach serves to promote
communications between ASTM and each nations standards developing
organization, and promote knowledge of the standards development
activities of each organization. ASTM had recently signed MOUs
with the National Standards Bodies of Colombia and Uruguay; representatives
of both organizations were in attendance at the Open House.
The MOU approach drew praise from attendees and Kono assured that
ASTM would remain vigilant in pursuing formalized agreements with
By setting up a process for increased dialogue and cooperation
with our international neighbors, we can more effectively involve
them in helping to shape the future of ASTM standards so they
meet the needs of their own countries, comments Kono.
Setting the Stage for Future Success
As the Open House wound down and attendees prepared to embark
on a closing bus tour of historic Philadelphia, many felt that
the event had achieved its goal of creating a foundation for enhanced
dialogue and future cooperation. In his closing remarks, Thomas
summed up the value of the program.
Our candid and engaging discussion over the past two days helped
both ASTM and our guests from the Americas to better understand
each other and how we can work together in the future, noted
Thomas. This event is just the beginning of what we hope will
be increased collaboration and openness, which has been the hallmark
of ASTM and our consensus process. We look forward to working
with our neighbors to increase our mutual success in the months
and years ahead. //
Copyright 2002, ASTM