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APPENDIX C 57 Appendix C Present System of U.S. Participation In International Standards Development From a U.S. national perspective, international standards are set by three principal mechanisms. First, certain standards are set by formal U.S. government action through bilateral or multilateral arrangements. Some of these standards are handled through intergovernmental organizations, such as the International Telecommunications Union, International Civil Aviation Organization, International Atomic Energy Agency, and International Bureau of Weights and Measures. Second, certain organizationsâboth national and internationalâpromulgate documents that serve as international standards. The standards set by the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) and the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) often have this character. Table C-1 shows the diversity of U.S. nongovernmental organizations involved in standard setting. Third, coordination and direction of international standards setting are the express function of two international organizations: the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), established in 1906 to develop standards for electrical products and systems; and the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), founded in 1946 with the responsibility for standardization of many nonelectrical items. The IEC and the ISO are both headquartered in Geneva, have many members in common, and have worked together to a limited degree on certain standard-setting activities. They are, however, administered dependently and collect separate dues from members. Recently the division of work between them has become less clearly defined. Areas of overlap and competition have developed, particularly in information technology. It is important to note that international standards developed by the IEC and the ISO are nongovernmental. They contrast with the mandatory standards issued by governmental agencies to implement legislation and
APPENDIX C 58 other national requirements. Nonetheless, the nonbinding standards of the IEC and ISO have a major impact on international commerce. TABLE C-1 Top Twenty U.S. Nongovernment Standards Developers Organizations Number of Standards American Society for Testing and Materials 7,200 Society of Automotive Engineers 4,200 U.S. Pharmacopeia 2,900 Aerospace Industries Association 2,800 Association of Official Analytic Chemists 1,500 Association of American Railways 1,350 American National Standards Institute 1,330* Cosmetic, Toiletry, & Fragrance Assoc. 630 Factory Mutual 600 American Society of Mechanical Engineers 550 Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers 500 Electronic Industries Association 480 Underwriters Laboratories 465** American Railway Engineers Association 400 American Petroleum Institute 350 American Association of Cereal Chemists 350 American Oil Chemists Association 330 American Association of Blood Banks 280 Technical Assoc. of the Pulp & Paper Industry 270 National Fire Protection Association 260 *Published and copyrighted by ANSI. **Does not include draft or unpublished standards. SOURCE: National Bureau of Standards, Standards Activities in the United States, (NBS Special Publication 681) (August 1984), p. 2. The IEC has 43 âNational Committeesâ as its members. The ISO has approximately 90 âMember Bodies.â Each country participating in international standard setting will have one IEC National Committee and one ISO Member Body, which is usually the national standards organization of that country. In most countries, the IEC National Committee and the ISO Member Body are separate organizations. The United States is an exception; the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), a private not-for-profit organization, serves as both the U.S. National Committee of the IEC and as the ISO Member Body. ANSI plays the major coordinating role in the U.S. voluntary standards system. This informal system seeks to meet needs for national standards by marshaling the competence and cooperation of commerce and industry, standards-developing organizations, and public and consumer interests. Although ANSI is recognized by IEC and ISO, several U.S. organizations that
APPENDIX C 59 promulgate important standards do not recognize ANSI as the sole U.S. representative in international standard setting. In most countries, work to support the IEC and ISO is at least partially funded by the government. In the Federal Republic of Germany, for example, approximately 20 percent of the funds to support the German Standards Association (DIN) come from the government. ANSI, in contrast, does not receive direct government funding, but is supported by its members, primarily industrial companies and trade associations. In countries with centrally planned economies, the activities to support the IEC and the ISO are, of course, carried out by government organizations. Hence, in international standard-setting activities, the U.S. participants are âvolunteers,â a status that presents advantages and disadvantages. Those individuals participating are usually genuinely interested in the outcome and are therefore informed and active. On the other hand, they are sometimes at a disadvantage in that representatives of other countries are often individuals whose primary responsibility is in standard setting and who have resources and support from their governments. Technical specialists who represent the United States through ANSI in international standard setting come largely from industry, with some participation by government agency personnel and academia in particular fields. There can be considerable satisfaction to participants in developing international standards. Information at the leading edge of technology is exchanged in international working groups; meetings of ISO and IEC technical committees are frequently illuminating from a technical standpoint and represent miniature scientific congresses. On the other hand, the status of activities and individuals dealing with standards is frequently at a relatively low level in individual U.S. companies. Instead of being close to critical facets of technology, many engineers involved in standards development are far removed from technology-developing groups in their organizations. The role of U.S. government agencies in both domestic and nontreaty international standards is delineated by Office of Management and Budget Circular A119 âFederal Participation in the Development and Use of Voluntary Standardsâ (October 1982). In general, the federal government works on both domestic and international standards though agency personnel in standards activities carried out by the private standards organizations. The Secretary of Commerce has responsibility for interagency coordination and monitoring of activities of U.S. government personnel in voluntary standard setting. Table C-2 shows the extent of participation by federal agency in voluntary standards activities. The National Bureau of Standards (NBS), in the Department of Commerce, is the federal organization most involved in setting technical standards. The NBS is a nonregulatory agency that was established in 1901 to aid manufacturing, commerce, government, and academia by supplying the measurement foundationâmeasurement standards for measuring length, light, time, and temperatureâfor industry, science, and technology. NBS
APPENDIX C 60 has significant research and testing facilities. The Office of Product Standards Policy of the NBS is responsible for much national and international standards policy. This office is responsible (as are certain other government agencies in other fields) for U.S. participation in treaty-defined standards issues. For example, the office serves as the U.S. Inquiry Point for the Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade (âStandards Codeâ) of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) and furnishes technical assistance to industry and trade negotiators in addressing trade problems with other countries. In any given year between 400 and 500 of NBS's 1,600 professional employees sit on a total of about 1,000 different national standards committees. TABLE C-2 Number of Domestic and International Voluntary Standards Organizations with Which Federal Agency Personnel are Involved, October 1985 Department/Agency U.S. Domestic Organizations International and Foreign Organizations Commerce Department 66 40 Defense Department 61 4 Health and Human Services Department 58 24 Transportation Department 43 6 Nuclear Regulatory Commission 24 2 Energy Department 17 2 Housing and Urban Development 17 2 Consumer Product Safety Commission 16 1 Veterans Administration 14 0 National Aeronautics and Space Admin. 13 4 General Services Administration 11 2 Interior Department 10 2 Agriculture Department 8 3 Labor Department 6 1 Federal Communications Commission 5 6 Environmental Protection Agency 3 2 SOURCE: Report to OMB on the Implementation of OMB Circular A-119. Letter report from the Secretary of Commerce to the Director of the Office of Management and Budget, 1985.