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Word from the Chairman
Relevant, Effective, Efficient… and Collegial

One year ago, at the December 2003 Committee Week, I joined then-ASTM Chairman Wayne Holliday in the receiving line at his final chairman’s reception.

The first words I heard from people welcoming me into my new position as 2004 chairman were “Congratulations,” “Best wishes,” and “Let me know if there is anything I can do to help.” This continued throughout the year from long-time members, spouses, people attending their first meeting, and ASTM staff.

Similarly, at the executive subcommittee meetings I attended throughout this year, tough questions and comments were always (well, almost always) accompanied by words of encouragement and compliments for the organization. At board meetings, challenging issues were addressed with the required integrity and thoroughness but always in the spirit of people working together for the greater good. Thank you for the pleasure of working with you.

I shouldn’t be surprised. The past three chairmen (Wayne Holliday (2003), Richard Schulte (2002), and Donald Marlowe (2001)) all cited in their final notes to you the overwhelming importance of your contributions to making ASTM International the success that it is. You willingly volunteer considerable amounts of your time (supported by your organizations’ resources) to achieving your individual objectives while at the same time enabling industries to prosper and society to benefit. We do this because the work is relevant, the ASTM process is efficient (and is ever-improving), and we see the results of our work having a positive effect. And the working environment is respectful, most of the time friendly, and sometimes even fun.

In preparing to address ASTM members at meetings and in responding to your questions, I invariably learned things about ASTM International that increased my appreciation for, and understanding of, the breadth and depth of our organization. It occurs to me that many of you might not know a lot of interesting facts about ASTM. I will use this opportunity to try to impress you with all that I have taken in.

To begin with, some general facts about ASTM International of which you may not be aware.

• Founded in 1898, ASTM is among the oldest standards development organizations in the world. (American Society of Mechanical Engineers: 1880; British Standards Institution: 1901; Deutsches Institut für Normung (Germany): 1917; International Organization for Standardization (ISO): 1947.)
• Although membership in ASTM is required to vote on balloted standards, our meetings are open to all interested parties.
• ASTM’s income is $33 million, approximately three quarters of which comes from the sale of publications — our intellectual property.
• Our finances are in excellent shape, allowing us to invest strategically and tactically for the benefit of our stakeholders.
• In addition to investing in its present and future as a standards developer, ASTM also invests in its staff. Forty-four staff members received tuition assistance in 2004.
• ASTM communicates to 96 percent of its membership through e-mail. This means a great deal of committee — and even Society — business, such as the mailing of meeting minutes and election of members of the board of directors each year, is conducted via e-mail.
• ASTM President Jim Thomas serves on the boards of directors of the American National Standards Institute and the National Committee for Clinical Laboratory Standards.
• In furtherance of our mission as a Pennsylvania non-profit corporation, ASTM provides cash and in-kind services and materials to a broad spectrum of local, educational, and international organizations.

ASTM’s greatest resource is its membership. In addition to learning first-hand what wonderful people the Society is honored to have as members, I have also discovered that:

• ASTM has 30,026 members, with:
—20,500 participating members (this number has increased each of the past five years from 17,400 in 1999).
—4,610 informational members.
—1,135 organizational members (stay tuned for increased benefits for this category in an upcoming issue of SN).
—2,500 student members (all since this membership category was initiated in 2003).
—The remaining number in various smaller categories.
• The participating members are active in ASTM’s 136 committees and 1,890 subcommittees.
• Of the 20,500 eligible candidates (among participating members), approximately 30 receive the Society’s highest honor each year, the ASTM Award of Merit, making them fellows of the Society.
• Four thousand five hundred members hail from 117 countries outside the United States.
• Each year, as part of their membership benefit, participating ASTM members receive a free volume of the Annual Book of ASTM Standards, in hard copy, on a compact disc, or as a continuously updated, “virtual volume” accessible via the ASTM Web site.

ASTM’s technical committees work like well-oiled machines; with the Society being over 100 years old, it’s not surprising that:

• Thirteen thriving ASTM technical committees are 100 or more years old.
• Three committees are less than a year old (E54 on Homeland Security Applications, E55 on Pharmaceutical Application of Process Analytical Technology, and F39 on Normal and Utility Category Airplane Electrical Wiring Systems). ASTM’s new committee development has never been stronger.
• More than 9,000 people participate in Committee Weeks each year.
• To each Committee Week, ASTM staff ship, set up, use, tear down, and ship out approximately 5,000 [2,268 kg] pounds of material, including a complete set (77 volumes) of the Annual Book of ASTM Standards, computers, printers, and displays.
• ASTM conducted 27 symposia in 2004. Symposia, which technical committees organize to provide a forum for the dissemination of cutting-edge technological information, are part of the ASTM Education Services department, which also provides continuing education in the use of ASTM standards through its Technical and Professional Training.

Out of these meetings and educational activities, ASTM’s technical committees develop the standards that fuel commerce around the world.

• There are 11,400 ASTM International standards, including more than 5,000 test methods.
• Through revisions, reapprovals, new introductions, and withdrawals, we formally address approximately 25 percent of our standards each year.
• ASTM oversees Proficiency Test Programs for seven committees. These statistical quality assurance programs help laboratories to assess their performance by comparing their data against other international participating labs.
• Operating on the campus of the National Institute of Standards and Technology, ASTM’s Cement and Concrete Reference Laboratory inspects laboratories and provides test samples for proficiency testing, generating income of approximately $2.6 million.
• The Journal of ASTM International, ASTM’s new online initiative, published 136 peer-reviewed articles in 2004 in seven topic areas: materials performance and characterization; civil engineering and building materials; petroleum and chemical engineering; nuclear science and technology; environmental science and technology; medical, health, and safety; and general technology.

I’ve been very impressed with ASTM’s ongoing initiatives in information technology, which in today’s business and information environment is the key to long-term viability and success.

• We invested $5.8 million in IT in 2004, and will invest nearly $7.3 million in 2005.
• These investments enable behind-the-scenes operational improvements as well as services that benefit members and customers 24/7 around the world.
— Access to and purchase of standards, including redlined and historical versions.
— Access to standards actions in progress, known as work items.
— Ballot review and voting (1,200 e-ballots were cast in 2003).
— Access to meeting agendas and minutes as well as committee rosters.
— Access to virtual meetings, which combine teleconferencing and real-time Internet viewing and editing.
• There are 15,000 user sessions per day on the ASTM Web site.
• In 2003, 225,000 documents were downloaded from the ASTM Web site.

Finally, no discussion of “what I learned in ASTM this year” would be complete without mentioning ASTM’s considerable work in both the U.S. and international arenas.

• Fifty nations use nearly 2,500 ASTM standards from 109 different technical committees in their regulations or national standards.
• ASTM has memorandums of understanding with 32 developing nations that allow the Society to assist with the signatories’ standards development and training needs.
• ASTM cooperation with China continues to develop. In 2003 and 2004, ASTM signed agreements with the Standardization Administration of China, the China National Institute of Standardization, and the Shanghai Institute of Standardization, the latter two of which enable Chinese professionals to join ASTM in their country and in their currency.
• ASTM (along with its partners, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, the American Petroleum Institute and CSA-America) is opening an office in Beijing, which will help to build cooperative and enduring relationships with Chinese governmental and industry standards associations.
• We are regular participants in the Pacific Area Standards Congress and the Pan American Standards Commission, local regional standards organizations.
• ASTM members administer 193 technical advisory groups within ISO.
• The U.S. Agency for International Development has designated ASTM a “private voluntary organization.” Through the PVO program, USAID works to bring together U.S. private voluntary organizations and their in-country non-government partners in international development efforts.
• Since 2001, ASTM International has held three Open Houses at its West Conshohocken, Pa., Headquarters for Latin American, Caribbean, U.S. and Canadian standards executives; Asia-Pacific standards executives; and U.S. federal standards executives.
• Thanks to the recent hiring of Jeff Grove, ASTM has full-time representation in Washington, D.C., at our new offices on L Street, near the Washington offices of other U.S.-based international standards developing organizations. With his background in organizational advocacy and Congressional work, Jeff will be responsible for building strong government and industry awareness, recognition, and support for ASTM.

Guided by the concepts of relevance, effectiveness, efficiency, and collegiality, ASTM’s future is bright. Let me be the first to say to incoming Chairman David Smith, “Congratulations and best wishes. Let me know if there is anything I can do to help.”

Arthur D. Schwope
2004 ASTM Chairman of the Board of Directors

Copyright 2004, ASTM International

2004 Chairman of the Board Arthur D. Schwope