New Standards Development

The process used by ASTM to develop standards is extremely flexible, honed over 111 years to accommodate a diverse collection of activities. Test methods, specifications, classifications, practices, guides, and terminology are different categories of standards offered by ASTM. Areas ranging from petroleum, steel, and plastics to homeland security, unmanned vehicles, and sustainability have all achieved standards-based solutions via ASTM's process.

ASTM receives a variety of requests for new standards development activities ranging from a single standard to a new main technical committee. It's important to note that not all requests ultimately reach fruition. As the organizational process evolves, it may be determined that the stakeholder interest is insufficient, other standards may exist that satisfy the particular need, or that it is premature for a consensus standards program. When a request is intially submitted, ASTM maps the scope and subject area to our existing committee population. If we are able to find an appropriate venue, we coordinate with the officers of the committee and subcommittee(s) in question. If the request covers an area unrepresented within ASTM, we proceed with our new activity organizational process.

Requests to form a new ASTM standards development activity may be initiated by a company, organization, trade association, professional society, university, government agency, or a single individual.

In order to request a new activity within ASTM, there is a variety of information that should be provided. ASTM uses this information to evaluate the levels of interest and support necessary to organize the activity, facilitate consensus among the activity participants, establish an effective standards development strategy, promote the activity throughout the industry or profession, and develop successful marketing plans for the activity.

The process of building new activities within ASTM usually starts small; as it progresses, it gains momentum as well as size and relevance.

Stage one in the organizational process is the exploratory level.

  • ASTM contacted about possible development of an activity
  • Period of due diligence to gather information about the industry and the need for standards
  • A few diverse stakeholders are contacted (often from opposite sides of the issue), to see if there is enough support to proceed.

If the results are promising, we move to stage two: the planning level.

  • Meeting of key stakeholders in the given area - average number of attendees is 10-20 people.
  • ASTM-facilitated meeting
  • Agenda to determine if there is support for the standards development activity, areas in which standards needed, and if ASTM is an appropriate venue.

A planning meeting ends with a request (via formal motion) to move to stage three in the organizational process: the organizational level.

  • ASTM-facilitated meeting
  • An open meeting is held where all relevant stakeholders are invited to attend and provide input.
  • Formal motions to approve a title, scope, and structure for the activity.
  • Final motion to organize a new activity within ASTM

Through an organizational process that depends upon stakeholder interest and support, new activities are likely to reflect the needs of an industry and consequently, are more likely to have a constructive start and remain relevant.

ASTM has an effective and efficient process in place for organizing new activities and for managing existing ones. The ASTM Director, Business Development and the staff of the Business Development and Technical Committee Operations Divisions handle the administrative and management aspects involved in establishing a new activity, such as meeting arrangements, membership promotion to interested parties, facilitating meetings, assisiting with project planning, publicizing activity, etc. All technical decisions regarding a proposed activity are made by the appropriate committee members who are technical experts from industry, government, academia, and consumers, not by the ASTM staff. Specific staff resources include:

  • Staff management and administrative support for all technical committees
  • Professional editors
  • Templates for new standards
  • Web-based collaborative areas for pre-ballot standards work
  • Web conferencing
  • Electronic submittals and balloting of standards
  • Product and Personnel Certification Services
  • Proficiency testing programs
  • Interlaboratory study program
  • Training and symposia services

Forthcoming. Areas to be included are Light Sport Aircraft, Property Management Systems, and Environmental Assesment.

Light Sport Aircraft & FAA