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May/June 2009
Rules&Regs

Revising a Standard: It’s About Time

Knowing When to Review a Standard

Understanding the Regulations Governing ASTM Technical Committees (once known as “the green book”) and Form and Style for ASTM Standards (formerly “the blue book”) is necessary for anyone developing ASTM International standards. Rules&Regs explains some of the key points of these documents.

ASTM International standards are known around the world for their up-to-date technical quality and market relevance. This awareness is due to the expertise of the members developing standards as well as to the process detailed in Section 10.5 of the Regulations Governing ASTM Technical Committees, which covers the review of standards. Understanding the timing involved in revising a standard — and when review of a standard is necessary to ensure its continued existence — is an important subcommittee responsibility.

While revisions can be proposed and considered by the responsible subcommittee at any time, all standards need to be completely reviewed by the subcommittee, and then balloted for reapproval, revision or withdrawal, within five years of the last approval date of the standard.

If a subcommittee has not taken any action on a standard as of Jan. 1 of the sixth year since its last approval date, ASTM International headquarters automatically issues a ballot to withdraw the standard. The overdue standard is then placed on the next available concurrent subcommittee and main committee ballot.

If the standard has not received a new approval date by Dec. 31 of the eighth year since the last approval date, the standard will be administratively withdrawn. ASTM notifies the main committee and subcommittee chairs (as well as the chairs of other committees that reference the standard) of this action pending withdrawal.

In addition, Section 10.5 notes provisions for editorial changes that can be made at any time without being balloted. Section 10.5.4.1 states:

“Editorial changes are of two types: (1) those which introduce no change in technical content, but correct typographical errors, modify editorial style, change non-technical information, or reduce ambiguity, and (2) those which correct typographical errors in substance (essential information that could be misused). In the latter case, the year designation of the standard is changed.”

In an acknowledgment of the sometimes overlapping interests of ASTM committees, Section 10.5.1, Coordination with Other Committees, offers guidance on maintaining liaison relationships between committees and providing review of standards to related committees. Finally, Section 10.6, Withdrawals, states that all withdrawn standards are to be listed in the contents of the Annual Book of ASTM Standards in which the standard formerly appeared for three years. Withdrawn standards are represented in these volumes by a single page that provides the title, scope, former committee jurisdiction, reason for withdrawal, any replacement standard and the date of withdrawal.

A pdf of the regulations can be downloaded by clicking here.