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Word from the Chairman
The Close of a Great Year

At one of this year’s Committee Weeks, someone asked how I liked being chairman of the board. My spontaneous and sincere
response was, “It’s a great job! If they ever offer it to you, be sure to accept.” As I complete my term in office, I’d like to explain why it’s such a great job and to share with you some things that I’ve learned this year about ASTM International.

Let me start with the people. After all, that’s what ASTM is — people working together on shared goals and objectives. I’ve learned that our members’ expertise in the technology covered by our standards is second to none. We have a standards development process that encourages experts to contribute. These same members also have the dedication to bring their efforts to fruition and whenever appropriate, they are pleased to mentor and assist their fellow members. Developing world-class standards is not an easy task. It requires members to function as advocates, educators, problem-solvers, accommodators, and realists. As someone once said, “We could not expect so much from lesser people.” But our members come through, time after time. And I would be remiss not to comment on the fellowship that is evident throughout our committees. Differences of opinion on technical matters do not inhibit the good feelings that flow from people who have mutual respect and truly enjoy their time together.

A second thing that I’ve learned about ASTM is its breadth. Yes, I already knew that ASTM has 134 technical committees, but 134 is just a number. The variety of activities doesn’t really sink in until you meet with the committees and hear about the work they are doing. Just for fun, take a minute and write down all the areas you think that ASTM standards cover. I’ll bet you have trouble naming 20. In fact, it might be an easier task to name the
technologies that ASTM standards don’t cover. The reality is that no other standards organization in the world has anywhere near the breadth in its portfolio that ASTM does.

I’ve also learned about the global reach of our standards. It seems that when the marketplace is permitted to select the standard that will be used, more often than not, ASTM is the standard of choice. In my opinion, this is clear recognition of the quality and relevance of ASTM standards plus the responsiveness of the ASTM process to marketplace needs. Our technical committees ensure that their standards incorporate the latest technology and meet the needs of the specifications’ users.
But with all this good news, there are some concerns that remain. One is the barriers that are erected to prevent the use of our standards. For their own purposes, some political bodies have made it difficult for the marketplace to exercise choice in their selection of standards. They may even claim that ASTM standards are only appropriate in some (or one) region of the world. But we know better, because technology is not dependent on political considerations. Rather it is in everyone’s interest to use the most appropriate and up-to-date standards. ASTM has been forthright on this issue and we must continue to be diligent.

Similarly, it is imperative that we enforce the intellectual property rights of our members. When people disregard the copyright protection that our standards possess, they are basically stealing the work of our members. This is far from a victimless action as the revenues derived from the sale of our standards and royalty fees fund almost all of ASTM’s ability to develop and publish consensus standards. Simply put, without intellectual property protections, ASTM would not be able to continue its good work. The ultimate loser would be the marketplace and people who have come to rely on our standards. So here too, we must be diligent and watchful.

Let me close with a few more reflections about our people. It has been an absolute delight this year to meet with so many ASTM members. I’ve truly enjoyed the discussions and camaraderie. Of special note are the individuals who received the ASTM Award of Merit. Their accomplishments are inspiring and each of them casts a long shadow. It is also well recognized, and worth repeating, that the members of ASTM are blessed to have a talented and dedicated professional staff who are fully focused on supporting the work of the members. The high standards met by the staff clearly set the tone for the work we do. Finally, I thank the members of ASTM’s Board of Directors. Their skills, insights, and unflagging desire to always act on behalf of the best interests of our members and to align our strategic direction with the core mission of the society have made all the difference. Serving as part of that team has been terrific.

Wayne N. Holliday
2003 Chairman of the ASTM Board

Copyright 2003, ASTM