ASTM in Washington, D.C.
Board Holds Spring Meeting in U.S. Capital City
This past April, the ASTM International board of directors held its first meeting of 2009 in Washington, D.C., where the city’s federal agencies, association headquarters and embassies were more than a backdrop for the 24-member ASTM leadership team. The U.S. capital city served as a platform for meeting with ASTM partners and stakeholders.
The ASTM board meets twice a year, and while the majority of meetings take place at ASTM headquarters outside of Philadelphia, Pa., since 2002, the board has held several of its meetings in major international cities. Previous meeting locations include Berlin, Beijing, Mexico City, Toronto and Stockholm. Each of these “away” meetings presents a unique set of opportunities for interaction and introduction.
“The intersection of standards and public policy made Washington, D.C., a most appropriate location for the ASTM board to meet,” says ASTM International President James A. Thomas. “The board and staff of ASTM engaged key stakeholders who shape policy, trade agreements and corporate decision-making. Meeting in D.C. demonstrates ASTM International’s commitment to serving the needs of industry and regulators, and to advance the acceptance and use of ASTM standards.” (See also Plain Talk.)
One full day of the April 26-29 meetings was dedicated to outreach, where members of the ASTM board and senior staff had face-to-face meetings with key individuals in areas where ASTM standards are globally influential. The objective: to interface with stakeholders, engage in dialogue and raise awareness about how ASTM can be a partner in achieving objectives.
Traveling in teams composed of board members and staff, 13 different groups set out into Washington, D.C., and the surrounding area. More than 50 meetings with government offices, trade associations, embassies and business councils, code bodies and a consumer advocacy group took place on April 28. (See list below for all groups involved in visits and events.)
“The message of our visits was to raise a greater awareness of ASTM as a leading provider of international standards and related technical services, and to gain a deeper understanding of current industry or regulatory challenges and trends that drive the need for ASTM standards,” says Jeff Grove, ASTM vice president of global policy and industry affairs, whose office arranged the outreach day meetings. “As a result of the contacts and insights that the board gained in Washington, ASTM is better positioned to advance its mission and objectives.”
Interaction and relationship building continued at other board functions. Some 75 guests from government and industry joined the board and staff for receptions and dinners. Also, Ambassador Shaun Donnelly, senior director, International Business Policy, at the National Association of Manufacturers, addressed the subject of U.S. industrial competitiveness in a luncheon speech.
The 2009 ASTM International board of directors. Seated, from left: Eric R. Boes, Warren O. Haggard, Sandra L. Niks, Paul H. Shipp, Peter M. Woyciesjes, Kenneth F. Yarosh (chairman, Finance and Audit Committee), Catherine H. Pilarz (vice chair); second row, from left: Torsten Bahke, James A. Luppens, Roger E. Stoller (vice chairman), Richard F. Kayser (past chairman), James A. Thomas (president), Paul K. Whitcraft (chairman), Gregory E. Saunders (past chairman), Ricardo Rodrigues Fragoso, Michael R. Withers; top row, from left: Toy S. Poole, Earl A. Ruth, Richard W. Reaves, Masami Tanaka, Mary C. McKiel, Benedict R. Bonazza, and Carroll D. Davis. Not pictured: Daniel M. Harrington and Rashid Ahmad Bin-Fahad.
Donnelly talked about NAM’s domestic and international agenda, and he reflected on current issues in trade policy: “Tariffs are yesterday’s trade agenda. What’s growing now is more nontariff barriers. Standards are the future of trade, but they have been used as trade barriers in the past. Most standards developed in the United States are science-based, not politically based.” Headquartered in Washington, D.C., NAM includes more than 1,000 companies of all sizes, and it advocates pro-manufacturing public policy to enhance the competitiveness of manufacturers.
ASTM’s D.C. Office
ASTM International is engaged in Washington, D.C., where the society maintains a presence in order to build stronger government and industry awareness. Led by Grove, ASTM’s D.C. office works to remove barriers to the acceptance and use of ASTM standards worldwide and to advance a legislative and regulatory environment in which voluntary consensus standards development can thrive. The office serves as a two-way communications channel to bring public policy to the attention of the ASTM membership and the standards community, and to interact with policymakers and governmental organizations.
In the United States, the National Technology Transfer and Advancement Act directs federal agencies to adopt private-sector standards whenever possible, especially those developed by organizations such as ASTM International that use open, formal procedures and rely on consensus among affected parties. The ASTM Washington office is a key contact in the utilization of the NTTAA by government agencies, and ASTM’s technical committees have strong, cooperative partnerships across most government agencies.
Continuing the Dialogue
Washington, D.C., proved to be an excellent spot for the society’s policymakers to convene (for details of the board’s deliberations, see ReCap). Beyond offering a conducive setting for the board to hold its semiannual meeting, the city served as a gateway to engage partner groups for mutual benefit. Many opportunities for follow-up were created.
In April 2010, the board will hold its spring meeting in Tokyo, Japan. Japan is the third largest user of ASTM standards.
Washington, D.C., Outreach Day
Professional and trade associations:
Embassies, business councils and related groups:
Standardization and research organizations:
Barbara Schindler is the director of ASTM Corporate Communications.