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 June 2007
News of the ASTM Board

News of the ASTM International Board of Directors

ASTM International’s board of directors last met April 23-25 at ASTM International Headquarters in West Conshohocken, Pa. The following is a summary of reports made at those meetings.

For further details on any of the following topics, contact ASTM President James A. Thomas, ASTM, 100 Barr Harbor Dr., PO Box C700, West Conshohocken, PA 19428-2959 (phone: 610/832-9598).

Appointment of the 2007 Nominating Committee

The board approved the 2007 Nominating Committee, which is charged with selecting the slate of candidates for 2008 ASTM directors and officers. The committee is composed of the three past chairs of the ASTM board and six other individuals. The following people are serving on the 2007 Nominating Committee:

• Ravinder Chona, U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory;
• Gary Hayden, C.P. Industries, Inc.;
• Dushanka Keane, E.I. Dupont;
• Ricky Magee, Columbian Chemicals Co.;
• Patrick Nolan, DDL Incorporated;
• John Yzenas, Edward C. Levy Company;
• Anthony E. Fiorato, CTL Group, past ASTM chair;
• Arthur D. Schwope, TIAX LLC, past ASTM chair; and
• N. David Smith, North Carolina Department of Agriculture, past ASTM chair.

Technical Committee Operations

Katharine Morgan, general manager of technical committee support, discussed results to date of ASTM International programs that support members in their standards writing (such as tools that accelerate standards development), enhance meetings support, increase international participation on ASTM committees and aid in the development of precision and bias statements in ASTM test methods.

Initiatives launched in the late 1990s to streamline ASTM’s balloting, editing and publication processes have yielded positive results, with members embracing Internet-based technologies. This has resulted in a more flexible balloting system, higher quality ballot items, more input via negative votes and comments, and increased transparency. Between 2000 and 2006, the average time for technical committees to develop new standards decreased by 4.5 months; revisions took on average 3.5 fewer months to complete in 2006 than in 2000.

Morgan reported that meetings support services have been enhanced, with the launch of online pre-registration in 2004 and more recent improvements to on-site member offices, with additional equipment and wireless Internet access.

Efforts to increase international participation in ASTM technical committee activities has resulted in the number of new non-U.S. members increasing sevenfold between 2000 and 2006; the number of countries represented on ASTM committees has more than doubled in that time.

Finally, Morgan showed results to date of the ongoing Interlaboratory Study Program, which was launched two years ago. The purpose of the program is to assist ASTM International committees with the many aspects of developing precision and bias statements for their test methods. There are currently 154 studies registered for support, sponsored by 56 committees; of these, 71 precision studies have been completed.

Publications Update

ASTM’s vice president of publications and marketing, John Pace, reported to the board on new initiatives within his division. Three new Web portals are being developed and will join the current Environmental Due Diligence Portal.

• An ASTM-Transportation Portal containing ASTM transportation standards with live links to referenced regulations, totaling over 9,000 documents, with search capabilities, document comparisons and access to ASTM’s Digital Library. The portal is developed for use by the U.S. Department of Transportation.

• An ASTM Medical Device Portal with similar capabilities, which is being planned in conjunction with several partner standards organizations. In addition to ASTM content, this portal will contain other U.S., international and European standards (EN) in the medical and medical device areas as well as U.S. and EU regulations and directives.

• An ASTM Biodiesel Portal containing the latest editions of ASTM standard D 6751, Specification for Biodiesel Fuel Blend Stock (B100) for Middle Distillate Fuels, and all 35 referenced ASTM standards in this area, which will keep users current with the changing specifications affecting the biodiesel industry. This advanced technology resource integrates ASTM standards and regulatory documents for  complete information solutions.

Pace also reported that the ASTM Digital Library, which was introduced in November 2006 and provides users with access to electronic versions of books, papers and chapters from nearly every piece of work published by ASTM, has been well-received.

Corporate Development and Communications

In terms of membership, the number of ASTM technical committee members continues to grow; total membership in all categories exceeded 31,000 in 2006.

ASTM director of corporate communications, Barbara Schindler, reported on her department’s services to ASTM’s committees. Staff is in the process of enhancing technical committee homepages with additional information for each committee and new graphic elements. Extended overviews will be posted for each committee (approximately 20 were completed as of Schindler’s report), showing the committee’s relationship with industry, government and regulatory bodies; activities, products and services; committee participation; liaison and Web links.

The staff of SN are undertaking a thorough review of the magazine to determine whether or not existing sections adequately serve reader and organizational needs. Other aspects under consideration are publication frequency, utilizing a combination of print and electronic models, and adding new content. Changes will take effect in January 2008.

Schindler also reported on the creation of the ASTM International Advantage Award. The award is a competition for papers addressing, in detail, the positive impact of using an ASTM standard or set of ASTM standards. Papers are due to ASTM headquarters August 31; prizes will be awarded by ASTM in the amounts of $25,000, $10,000 and $5,000. (See the information here.)

Globalization and Global Outreach

ASTM vice president of global cooperation, Kitty Kono, reported on activities in her area. Forty-seven memorandums of understanding have been signed with standards bodies around the globe, the latest being with the Russian Federal Agency on Technical Regulating and Metrology. Data collected from the MOU program shows that the number of ASTM standards adopted or referenced by countries outside the United States has grown to 3,429 standards used in 71 countries.

Earlier this year, Kono and ASTM President James Thomas visited the standards bodies of, and some trade associations and government agencies in Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay. During their tour, they followed up on the MOU signed with Uruguay and worked to build stronger relationships with national standards bodies and industry sectors in Brazil and Argentina. During their visit, a business agreement was signed between ASTM International and ABNT, the national standards body of Brazil.

Kono reported on plans for the May Open House for Sub-Saharan Africa, during which ASTM hosted the leaders of 13 national standards bodies in the region at its international headquarters. The open house was conducted in cooperation with the American National Standards Institute and the National Institute of Standards and Technology, and was the fourth such event for various regions of the world.

ASTM International staff has been involved in training technical experts from MOU countries around the world in ASTM’s standards and processes. MOU signatory bodies in Bolivia, Ecuador, Jordan, Vietnam and Zambia have or will soon receive training in the use of textile or gasoline standards or the use of standards in building codes. In the Persian Gulf region, ASTM staff provided a two-day training session on ASTM’s standards process for standards executives and industry representatives of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. In its standards experts exchange program, ASTM hosted experts from Indonesia, Vietnam and Zambia in November 2006 and staff has or will follow up by visiting each standards body in these nations and providing training on ASTM standards and processes.

Lastly, Kono reported that ASTM International has offered to provide 20 sets of ASTM Standards in Building Codes to building officials and university libraries throughout Iraq. Ten sets have been distributed through David Karmol of the National Institute of Standards and Technology, who is currently stationed in Iraq.

ASTM’s director of external relations, Teresa Cendrowska, reported that two significant translations of ASTM standards are under way. The International Code Council is developing Latin American Spanish translations of the 50 ASTM standards cited in the American Concrete Institute’s Spanish version of the structural concrete code (ACI 318-05S). This project is slated for completion in October. Secondly, as a result of industry visits conducted in conjunction with the ASTM board of directors meeting in Beijing in October of last year, ASTM and the China National Institute of Standardization (CNIS) are continuing discussions on the procedures for translating standards for the metals, medical and nuclear industries.

Academic Outreach

Cendrowska reported that since the beginning of the year, staff members, with the assistance of technical committee members, have conducted campus outreach events on campus at the University of California – Irvine, Northwestern University, George Washington University and Widener University. Additional events were scheduled at Old Dominion University and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (tentatively) and in Colombia. During these events, staff and members describe ASTM’s process and give students practical examples of participation in ASTM standards development.

ASTM has made four learning modules available on CD and online for students and professors:

• Global Standards Development;
• Standards Development at ASTM International;
• ASTM International Standards and Everyday Life; and
• Standards Development and Intellectual Property.

These modules have been translated into Spanish. In addition, work is under way to tailor selected content to the interests of medical and surgical students, particularly for orthopedic medicine.

ASTM International has joined six other societies as a sponsor of the Washington Internship for Students of Engineering program. Eleven students have been selected to participate in the 2007 program. Based in Washington for nine weeks, and working with a faculty member in residence as well as the staff of their sponsoring organization, the interns learn how government officials make decisions on complex technological issues and how engineers can contribute to legislative and regulatory public policy issues. ASTM’s intern for 2007 is Saurabh Anand, a senior mechanical engineering student at the Washington University in St. Louis, Mo. Scheduled to attend law school in September, Anand, a student member of ASTM, will develop a public policy paper related to ASTM International Committee F38 on Unmanned Aircraft Systems during the course of his internship.

Economic Research Study

A two-part study on the impact of standards on corporate profitability, initiated at the request of the ASTM International board of directors, has been completed. Cendrowska reported that a qualitative study conducted by the University of Texas at Austin identified a number of benefits of standards that were common to the six sectors evaluated: non-ferrous metals, petroleum, consumer products, medical apparatus, construction and plastics. Common cross-sector benefits of standards included:

• Maintaining product quality, reliability and performance;
• Ensuring product interoperability;
• Improving market access;
• Developing consumer confidence;
• Managing regulatory and liability risk; and
• Ensuring that new standards or revisions are compatible with the firm’s product.

For the quantitative portion of the study, 250 surveys were conducted with chief and technical executives to determine the significance of standards to their business. The results of this study will be featured in the July issue of SN.

Government and Industry Relations

Jeff Grove, ASTM’s director of government and industry relations, reported on activities at his Washington, D.C., office in support of ASTM’s regulatory and industry goals.

In response to a request from the International Trade Administration and NIST, a contingent of ASTM staff and members briefed Commerce Department officials on ASTM activities in the areas of ethanol fuels, biodiesel fuels and cellulosic ethanol. Later, Thomas and Grove briefed the Secretary of Commerce’s senior policy and strategic planning staff on the role of ASTM International and the global dynamics of standardization. In late February, ASTM was invited to present at an EU-US Summit on Biofuels in Brussels.

In March, Grove made a presentation to the U.S. Ambassador to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, Constance Morella, and staff regarding ASTM International’s role in the global trading system, outreach to developing countries, and global political barriers and challenges. Grove subsequently visited with U.S. Mission staff from the U.S. Departments of Commerce and State and the U.S. Trade Representative to discuss ASTM’s global policy and trade agenda.

Also in March, ASTM conducted a daylong training program for staff from the USTR Office of Technical Barriers to Trade, ITA Office of the Standards Liaison and Foreign Commercial Service Standards Attaché for Mexico City. The program included an introduction to ASTM, briefings on key political barriers and challenges to the recognition and use of ASTM standards, and an overview of global outreach and training activities.

In February, Thomas and Grove joined representatives of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and the National Electrical Manufacturers Association in a meeting with the head of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Jeffrey Merrifield. The briefing provided an opportunity to discuss ASTM’s relationship with NRC and interest in working more closely in the future in the development of standards to meet the emerging regulatory needs of the commission.

Responding to U.S. Congressional interest in sustainable buildings and building products, ASTM is involved in the formation of a new caucus of organizations including the International Code Council Sustainable Buildings Industry Council, and the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air-Conditioning Engineers. The caucus will serve to provide educational information and technical advice for members of Congress and their staff but will not be involved in the endorsement of specific legislation. //