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Across the Security Spectrum
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 August 2006 From the Editor's Desk
E-mail Maryann Gorman

Across the Security Spectrum

Since the early 20th century, defense and other government agencies have been using private-sector voluntary consensus standards to aid in their missions of protecting citizens and military personnel. A broad array of ASTM International standards are called upon every day in the procurement of materials and materiel, the standardization of testing methods and new technology, and the transfer of that technology from industry to the military and vice versa.

This month’s feature section on ASTM International standards that help ensure security highlights this long history of public-private standards development cooperation. The articles here cross technical committee boundaries to include decades-old committees such as D02 on Petroleum Products and Lubricants and newly-minted ones like Committee E54 on Homeland Security.

For example, a featured standard in David Pamplin’s article on the military procurement of diesel fuel, D 975, Specification for Diesel Fuel Oils, was initially developed by Committee D02 in 1948. The first document of its kind to specify this petroleum product, D 975 has a long history of reflecting the latest advancements in diesel fuel through its many revisions. Beginning with a Midwestern pilot program in 2000, the Defense Energy Support Center decided to tap into the benefits of procuring its diesel fuel to this one non-government standard, benefits that included millions of dollars in savings across several years and the elimination of high-sulfur diesel fuel. Thanks to the success of this program, the DESC is launching initiatives to purchase other grades of diesel fuel, including marine, ultra-low sulfur, and biodiesel.

While tested standards like D 975 continue to be relevant to defense needs, at the other end of the timeline lie two brand new standards development efforts within Committee E54, which was formed in 2004. These new activities reflect security technologies and concerns that could only be dreamed of in the 1940s.

In her article, Elena Messina of the National Institute of Standards and Technology describes the many capabilities of new-generation urban search and rescue robots. These amazing unmanned helpers can go where search and rescue personnel cannot, and provide visual evidence of conditions or survivors’ whereabouts, hazardous substance detection, and more. In Committee E54, government agencies are joining with US&R robot manufacturers and other stakeholders to begin the complex process of standardizing performance requirements for this burgeoning technology. Laurie Locascio, also of NIST, introduces one of Committee E54’s newest standards, E 2458, Practices for Bulk Sample Collection and Swab Sample Collection of Visible Powders Suspected of Being Biological Agents from Nonporous Surfaces. This practice will help field personnel safely and efficiently collect powder samples that could be dangerous biological agents, creating a standardized process that was lacking during the 2001 anthrax attacks.

This month’s feature articles cut across technical committee boundaries (also represented are Committees F12 on Security Systems and Equipment and E50 on Environmental Assessment, Risk Management and Corrective Action) to show how both new and longstanding ASTM committees continue to meet the standardization needs of government and the private sector in protecting citizens and military personnel in dangerous times.

Maryann Gorman
Editor in Chief

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