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May/June 2011

News of the ASTM International Board of Directors

ASTM International’s board of directors last met April 4-6, 2011, at ASTM International headquarters in West Conshohocken, Pa. 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).

Nominating Committee

The ASTM board approved the 2011 Nominating Committee, which is charged with selecting the 2011 slate of candidates for the board. The committee is composed of the three most recent past chairs of the ASTM board and six other individuals. The following people are serving on the 2011 Nominating Committee:

  • Byron K. Hayes, W.L. Gore Associates;
  • Arlis Kadrmas, BASF – The Chemical Company;
  • Richard F. Kayser, National Institute of Standards and Technology, and past chairman of the board;
  • Jon P. Moseley, Wright Medical Technology Inc.;
  • Julia C. Schimmelpenningh, Solutia Inc.;
  • Roger E. Stoller, Oak Ridge National Laboratory and past chairman of the board;
  • Peter V. Tytell, Forensic Research;
  • Paul K. Whitcraft, Rolled Alloys Inc. and past chairman of the board; and
  • Julia B. Zimmerman, Bridgestone Americas.

Global Cooperation

New memorandum of understanding partnerships, standards experts and numerous special events highlighted the division report given by Teresa Cendrowska, vice president of global cooperation.

This year, ASTM International celebrates the 10th anniversary of its successful memorandum of understanding program and is surveying MOU participants to gather views about the program and to glean further understanding about MOU partner needs in order to strengthen relationships. With the recent additions of MOUs with the Belize Bureau of Standards and the Ministry of Development Brunei Darussalam, ASTM, as of the April board meeting, had signed MOUs with 74 national and regional organizations. Also at the time of the meeting, MOU members reported more than 6,590 citations of ASTM standards from 110 technical committees.

The Standards Expert Program, now in its seventh year, will bring standards professionals to ASTM from the standards bodies of Chile, Jordan and Malaysia this fall. The monthlong program includes detailed training about ASTM International, committee week meeting attendance, and visits to organizations and agencies in and around Washington, D.C.

An eight-member delegation from the Korean nuclear industry and government, through the sponsorship of the Korean Agency for Technology and Standards, the Korean Standards Association, Korean industry and ASTM International, participated in an intensive training program at ASTM headquarters early this year. Focused on nuclear energy standards from ASTM Committees C26 on Nuclear Fuel Cycle and E10 on Nuclear Technology and Applications, the program also delved into the U.S. standardization system, ASTM and its standards development process, and the practical application of ASTM standards. The delegates also attended the ASTM January committee week and visited public and private standards-related groups.

Also notable was ASTM’s oversight, along with the U.S. Department of Commerce, of a conference and a survey related to sustainability in building construction for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation 2011 meeting held in March in Washington, D.C. (See OutReach for more about this initiative.) And, through the work of ASTM’s trainer and technical and services consultant in India, new Subcommittee D13.40 on Sustainability in Textiles was established as part of Committee D13 on Textiles, with an Indian national serving as subcommittee chairman. Also through its consultant, ASTM’s outreach has been expanded to include Bangadesh, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

Liu Fei, ASTM’s chief representative in China, continues to engage various organizations there. The China office staff met with Jeff Hilsgen, the U.S. Embassy consumer product safety attaché, to exchange information and discuss additional outreach work. The China office staff also met with several multinational companies in Shanghai to introduce ASTM and its partnerships in China, highlight each company’s global membership and explore opportunities for cooperation related to each company’s interests and challenges in using ASTM standards. Additional meetings were held to raise awareness of ASTM standards for the environment, medical devices and sporting goods.

Academic Outreach

James Olshefsky, ASTM International director of external relations, highlighted the 2011 Jumpstart Your Career campaign in his report on academic outreach activities. A poster mailing introduced the campaign to university professors throughout the U.Ss. The campaign includes a student video contest, increased grant funding for graduate or senior design projects, podcast interviews with students discussing their experiences with standards, and an increased presence on social networking sites.

This year, ASTM is again a sponsor of the Washington Internships for Students of Engineering Program, aimed at providing a student with the opportunity to research and present a paper on a topical engineering-related public policy issue that is important to ASTM. (See OutReach for information on this year’s intern.)

ASTM International continues to award grants and this year will recognize a faculty member with the ASTM International Professor of the Year Award. Grant funding may also be given to up to two high-potential graduate students with a Graduate Scholarship, which consists of $10,000 to be used for educational expenses. Up to five $500 mini-grants will also be awarded to assist university students in completing graduate or senior capstone design projects.

In 2010, 46 classes with a total of 426 students used the Standards on Campus program, through which a professor can register online for up to 10 standards to be used in a curriculum. Students then download the standards for $10. Thus far this year, 264 students in 26 classes have downloaded standards through this initiative.

ASTM members and staff continue to be invited to speak to university classes and at university events such as the February career fair at Drexel University, Philadelphia, Pa.

Corporate Communications

In her report to the board, Barbara Schindler, ASTM director of corporate communications, focused on the project to enhance ASTM Standardization News online. The work to revamp SN online will allow real-time posting of new content, news organized by industry sector, additional subject-related information and expanded opportunities for promotion. From building construction to metals to energy, ASTM news will be posted as soon as it is available in one or more of several sector groupings, which will enable users to access information in a particular interest area. Each industry sector group will also aggregate relevant information about new standards, work items, papers and publications, training courses, meetings and proficiency testing programs. The bimonthly print version of the magazine will still be visible on the new SN homepage, which will link to a digital version of the most recent issue.

Global Policy and Industry Affairs

Jeff Grove, vice president of global policy and industry affairs, updated the board about the ASTM International’s Washington, D.C., office and its work in support of ASTM’s mission and strategic objectives. ASTM, along with some 90 other entities, responded to a Federal Register notice seeking public comment on the effectiveness of federal engagement in private sector-led standardization. The request for information by the National Institute of Standards and Technology and the National Science and Technology Council Subcommittee on Standards particularly sought recommendations on standards development for multidisciplinary technologies that cut across multiple federal agencies. ASTM made several recommendations that included pursuing an enhanced model of public/private collaboration and strategic government engagement in standards activities, ensuring the ability of industry and government to choose from a broad portfolio of relevant standards, removing foreign technical regulations that act as a barrier to global regulatory convergence for emerging technologies and considering new development models in emerging areas so that standards organizations and selections are made under a merit-based review process. In addition to submitting its own response, ASTM also provided input for comments from the American National Standards Institute and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Grove reported that the European Delegation to the World Trade Organization Non-Agricultural Market Access negotiations has introduced a proposal to create an official list of international standardizing bodies and a requirement that all WTO members shall use international standards from those organizations to meet WTO rules for trade and regulatory purposes. The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative and the U.S. Department of Commerce have begun to engage counterparts from Europe to review and discuss the proposal informally. (See OutReach and ProVocative, for more, as well as a joint letter sent to the U.S. Trade Representative on the topic.)

Legislation is being considered by the U.S. Congress that references ASTM International standards in such areas as biofuels, air quality, water quality, steel and metals, and food equipment. The ASTM Washington office is working with Congress and ASTM technical committees to provide information about standards in these and other areas.

ASTM’s Washington office staff regularly meets with representatives of agencies, companies, trade associations and consumer organizations about ASTM’s interest in developing any needed standards and to explain organizational objectives. Recent meetings have included the U.S. Energy Association, 3M, GE Energy, standards executives from the U.S. Department of Transportation and the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and the federal environmental executive at the White House Council on Environmental Quality.

In Europe, ASTM International has engaged APCO Worldwide since 2008 to raise greater awareness of and support for ASTM there. To date, about 150 meetings between ASTM staff and European government officials, companies, trade associations, consumer organization and ASTM members in Europe have been held. Grove noted that while about 17 percent of total ASTM document sales take place in the European region, regulatory barriers to the acceptance of ASTM standards exist that complicate greater utilization in many sectors. This year is expected to be transformative as the European Commission is slated to propose revisions to the European standardization system; one of the revisions is likely to involve greater flexibility to use consortia standards in complying with EU regulatory and procurement requirements.
European outreach has also included programs in Belgium, Germany and Spain, which has led to invitations for ASTM to be involved in meetings and programs about medical device standards, biofuels and metals. Additional involvement in ASTM committee work has also resulted from these efforts.

ASTM also continues to be engaged in the European-American Business Council and in shaping policy issues considered as part of the Transatlantic Economic Council, which seeks to increase economic cooperation and reduce barriers to international trade.

Certification Programs

A report on the ASTM certification programs and a review of proposed bylaws revisions for the program were presented by Timothy Brooke, vice president of certification, training and profiency testing. A new board standing committee on the subject has been established with five members; the group first met in March and approved general operations manuals as well as recommended an additional manual for personnel certificate programs to avoid confusion with certification programs.

ASTM has been awarded a contract by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to administer a certification program for biobased product labeling. The program began accepting applications in February. (See feature for more.) There have been other inquiries about product certification from several other ASTM committees that are in the exploratory stage. Certificate programs have been established for the ASTM Test Monitoring Center rater program, which is under the technical guidance of Committee D02 on Petroleum Products and Lubricants, and for the ASTM technical and proficiency training course based on ASTM E2600, Guide for Vapor Encroachment Screening on Property Involved in Real Estate Transactions. (See feature for more information.) Additional inquiries have been received that are now being explored.

The board approved changes to the bylaws of the Committee on Certification Programs that help clarify the committee’s function.

Technical Committee Operations

The board approved revisions recommended by the Committee on Technical Committee Operations to Sections 11.6.1, 11.7 and 11.7.1 of the Regulations Governing ASTM Technical Committees, clarifying conditions for concurrent ballots and rapid balloting.

Robert Morgan, a director in Technical Committee Operations, reported on ASTM International’s mercury initiative — an effort to remove references to mercury from its standards due to bans on the transport and use of the substance in the United States. After the initiative was undertaken beginning in 2006, staff discovered that more than 850 standards were affected. A task group formed by Committee E20 on Temperature Measurement has worked since that time, in cooperation with industry and government agencies, to help ASTM committees with affected standards to phase out references to mercury. To date, committees have eliminated reference to mercury in more than 200 standards, and Committee E20 is developing a new standard on digital thermometers as a potential non-mercury alternative. Moving forward, ASTM staff and Committee E20 plan to maintain communication with technical committees, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and industry representatives to continue work on the aforementioned draft standard and to provide consistent updates to the database of standards still referencing mercury.

Daniel Smith, assistant vice president of technical committee operations, reviewed information about primary membership category trends for the period March 2010 to March 2011. Participating members have been increasing since 2002, and this category is up a total of 20 percent. Participating members are slightly ahead this year compared to 2010, and international members have expressed interest in organizational membership. In addition, a process has been put in place to identify government members in the member committee services database in order to report and understand trends for these categories in the future; staff managers are continuing efforts to obtain needed government participation in technical committee activities.

Smith also gave a status report on the units project that ASTM staff undertook in 2008 to gain a better perspective of the use of inch-pound units and the international system of units (SI) in ASTM International standards. The project began with a staff assessment of the units approach in each of ASTM’s 12,000 standards and advanced to the incorporation of a tagging system that enables automated reports on standards units usage. The goals of the project are to encourage all committees to consider using SI units to garner the widest possible use of their standards and to get all ASTM standards in compliance with one of four options: SI only, combined (SI and inch-pound), inch-pound and no units. Since the launch of the project three years ago, the number of standards not in compliance with any option has been reduced by 31 percent, and now more than 5,000 standards use SI rational units; all new standards developed since 2008 are in compliance. The project should take two to three years to complete.

William T. Cavanaugh Memorial Award

The board voted to honor Emanuel Horowitz, Ph.D., retired professor of materials science and engineering, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Md., with the 2011 William T. Cavanaugh Memorial Award. The Cavanaugh 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 on recipients of the award. Established in 1987, the award honors William 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.