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July/August 2009

News of the ASTM International Board of Directors

ASTM International’s board of directors last met April 26-29, 2009, at the Willard Hotel in Washington, D.C. The following is a summary of reports made and actions taken at those meetings.

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

For more information on the outreach meetings with various government agencies, trade associations, consumer advocacy groups, embassies and code bodies held in conjunction with the board meetings, please see the article "ASTM in Washington, D.C."

Appointment of the 2009 Nominating Committee

The board approved the 2009 Nominating Committee, which is charged with selecting the 2010 slate of candidates for 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 2009 Nominating Committee:

  • James Brechka, Naval Surface Warfare Center,
  • Ian R. Chin, Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates Inc.,
  • Rodney C. Conn, Evonik Degussa GmbH,
  • William H. Freeman, ASTM technical committee member,
  • Anthony E. Fiorato, past chairman of the board,
  • John T. Germaine, Massachusetts Institute of Technology,
  • Richard F. Kayser, National Institute of Standards and Technology, past chairman of the board,
  • Gregory E. Saunders, Defense Standardization Program Office, past chairman of the board, and
  • Anthony W. Thornton, Micromeritics Instrument Corp.

Revisions to ASTM Bylaws

The board reviewed revisions to the ASTM bylaws that were also approved by the membership via electronic ballot and at the May annual business meeting. The changes to the bylaws took effect upon final approval and consist of the following.

  • Because Pennsylvania law requires that nonprofit organizations identify their procedures for terminating memberships in their bylaws, the ASTM bylaws have been revised to delineate the grounds and procedures for expelling members and terminating membership. The process, which can be initiated by anyone, includes a mandatory vote of the board of directors.
  • Operational practices of the board were clarified, such as filling vacancies in the ranks of the existing board (due to resignation or other circumstances), board nomination procedures and rules for the Nominating Committee, board committee makeup and amendment procedures.

Technical Committee Operations

The board approved changes to Section F2.2 of Form and Style for ASTM Standards, inserting two new fire caveats for use in standards. The caveats had initially been drafted and approved by Committee E05 on Fire Standards and subsequently approved by the Committee on Standards.

The board also approved changes to the Regulations Governing ASTM Technical Committees, including deleting the requirement that a rationale for concurrent balloting accompany ballot item documentation and the addition of an antitrust policy. (For more information on some of these changes, see the Rules&Regs article.)

Daniel Smith, assistant vice president in Technical Committee Operations, reported that ASTM’s membership numbers continue to hold steady with ongoing increases in the numbers of non-U.S. members; the membership department is engaging in a retention program with a particular focus on retaining members from government entities. Smith reported that ASTM now has more than 4,200 student members, with more than 62 percent from outside the United States.

Timothy Brooke, assistant vice president in TCO, provided the board with a five-year review of the ASTM Interlaboratory Study Program, which assists technical committees with the various aspects of conducting interlaboratory studies. In 2005, the board approved an initial investment of no more than $4 million for the program from reserves. The purpose of the review was to assess the program and request the board’s approval of future funding of the ILS program from the operating budget. Brooke reported that, as of the meeting date, a total of 88 programs had been completed and there were an additional 248 active programs. Of the 122 technical committees that develop test methods, 74 committees have participated in the ILS program, and that number continues to increase. Since 2006, there has been growth in the number of programs registered as well as the number of programs completed each month. The board approved further funding from the operating budget beginning in 2010.

Global Cooperation

Teresa Cendrowska, vice president of global cooperation, reported on the activities of her division, including the memorandum of understanding program, the Standards Expert Exchange Program, technical assistance training and industry events.

As of the board meeting, ASTM had signed MOUs with 65 national standards bodies and regional organizations.

In October, ASTM will host four standards experts, from China, Ghana, Israel and Jamaica.

Seven technical assistance programs, in which ASTM members provide training to MOU signatories on site in each country, will be or have been conducted in 2009 in areas such as asbestos control, concrete and cement standards, crude oil testing and textiles.

The Global Cooperation division is charged with evaluating and conducting industry events in regions around the world in 2009. Events were or will be held in Dubai on amusement ride safety, in China on nuclear technology and in India on plastics.

Cendrowska also reported on ASTM’s offices and consultants working to promote and enhance the awareness and use of ASTM standards in Mexico and India; the launch of a database designed to alert national standards bodies, standards development organizations, code bodies and government agencies when revisions or withdrawals to ASTM standards occur; and the division’s ongoing use of Internet technology to enhance real-time communications with colleagues and constituents around the world.

In addition, ASTM’s chief representative in China, Liu Fei, reported on the outreach activities of his office in Beijing. The office staff regularly attends and often speaks at meetings (such as major Chinese technical committee meetings, joint U.S. Chamber of Commerce – China forums, and industry seminars), answers queries within China about ASTM and its standards and processes, hosts visiting staff and serves as an advocate for ASTM standards in Chinese local and national forums.

Academic Outreach

2009 is the Year of the Professor. James Olshefsky, director of external relations, reported on this and other aspects of ASTM International’s academic outreach program.

The Year of the Professor campaign is intended to make professors and other instructors aware of the resources available to help them incorporate standards and information about standards into their course materials. Campaign components include an enhanced online ASTM Students and Professors section for academics, a Professor of the Year Award, promotion of the Standards on Campus product, and in-class sessions on standardization and ASTM’s processes conducted at campuses around the world by ASTM members and staff.

Last year, the ASTM board approved funding for a graduate scholarship. Olshefsky reported that applications have been received for the first scholarship, to be awarded this year, which were being reviewed to determine a winner.

In addition, ASTM is continuing its involvement in the Washington Internships for Students of Engineering program through its sponsorship of Caitlin M. Augustin, a student studying engineering at the University of Miami, who will work with ASTM Committee E44 on Solar, Geothermal and Other Alternative Energy Sources to write a policy paper on solar technology design and implementation.

Corporate Communications

Barbara Schindler, director of corporate communications, reported on new capabilities that are expanding the reach of ASTM’s message around the globe. Selected news releases are now being translated into targeted languages. The online ASTM newsroom has been enhanced to accommodate the character sets of 36 languages for the posting of these news releases; the distribution of the releases is coordinated with the Global Cooperation division to reach individual contacts as well as media outlets in various countries.

ASTM International e-News, an e-mail newsletter distributed monthly to ASTM members, was redesigned with the January issue to give it a new look and such enhancements as forward-to-a-friend capability.

Corporate communications has also undertaken the development of videos featuring staff narrators that are used to announce committee activities and societywide initiatives. Videos are posted as links on the opening screen of technical committee home pages, on the opening ASTM Web page and as links in news releases.

Government and Industry Relations

Jeffrey Grove, vice president of global policy and industry affairs, reported on the activities of the ASTM International Washington, D.C., office with regard to federal legislation and regulation, international trade issues and corporate outreach to industry and trade associations.

The administration of U.S. President Barack Obama has requested recommendations involving how well federal policy meets public goals in rulemaking and how recommendations for improvements could lead to higher net benefits to society, less duplicative regulation, fewer unnecessary regulatory costs and increased competitiveness for manufacturers. In its response, ASTM International delineated the benefits of existing federal standards policy such as OMB Circular A-119, Federal Participation in the Development and Use of Voluntary Consensus Standards and in Conformity Assessment Activities, which encourages public-private sector collaboration in the development of voluntary consensus standards that can be used to meet regulatory objectives.

Since the 111th Congress began in January, ASTM has continued to sponsor congressional events and take part in briefings on a variety of issues that connect to ASTM standards activities. In March, ASTM helped launch a new Energy Policy Alliance. Co-chaired by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, the alliance is intended to serve as a coordination body or clearinghouse for standards organization staff who are tracking initiatives such as the smart grid, appliance energy consumption, alternative energy sources and related activities.

Earlier this year the governments of Canada, Mexico and the United States held a North American Free Trade Agreement Standards/Regulatory Convergence meeting where ASTM President James Thomas made a presentation regarding the use of ASTM standards in regulations. While numerous ASTM standards are incorporated by reference in Canadian and U.S. regulations, existing Mexican policy often makes it difficult to utilize ASTM standards for such purposes. ASTM has asked the U.S. and Mexican governments to review this potential barrier, which seems inconsistent with NAFTA and World Trade Organization obligations.

Representatives of ASTM International also made presentations at meetings of the WTO Technical Barriers to Trade Committee and at a standards and trade workshop at the Standards Institution of Israel.

Finally, Grove reported that ASTM continues to engage the executives of companies and trade associations to inform them about their industries’ involvement in standards development and to seek opportunities to work together on policy and trade issues of mutual concern. Recent outreach initiatives in Washington, D.C., have included the Gypsum Association, Bechtel Corp., Archer Daniels Midland Co., the Outdoor Industry Association and the Nuclear Energy Institute. In Brussels, recent outreach meetings have included the European Atomic Forum, BP Biofuels, SCA Paper and Tissue, and the European Organization for Packaging and the Environment.

William T. Cavanaugh Memorial Award

The board voted unanimously to honor Laura Hitchcock of The Boeing Co. with the 2009 William T. Cavanaugh Memorial Award. The W. T. Cavanaugh Memorial Award is granted to a person of widely recognized eminence in the voluntary standards system who may or may not be a member of ASTM International. The title of honorary member is bestowed upon recipients of the award. Established in 1987, the award honors W. T. Cavanaugh, who firmly established ASTM International as the world leader in the development and dissemination of voluntary consensus standards during his service as chief executive officer from 1970 until his death in 1985.