Page 17 - Volume 8, Issue 1 Winter 2013
P. 17

                                         INTERNATIONAL STANDARDS DEVELOPMENT AND
Susan B. Blaeser
ASA Standards Secretariat 35 Pinelawn Road, Suite 114E Melville, New York 11747
 As industry becomes increasingly
global the importance of interna-
tional standards increases, as
well. How can U.S. companies, govern-
ment agencies, and other organizations
ensure that their voices are heard and
their interests are protected? The U.S.
Technical Advisory Group (U.S. TAG) is
the only avenue for U.S. stakeholders to
provide input to technical committees in the International Organization for Standardization and the International Electrotechnical Commission. The Acoustical Society of America (ASA) administers nine of these U.S. TAGs.
This paper presents an overview of the process by which international standards are developed and explains how U.S. stakeholders, working through the American National Standards Institute and the ASA, can participate in the devel- opment of standards on acoustics; bioacoustics; electroa- coustics; noise; mechanical vibration, shock and condition monitoring; and most recently, underwater acoustics.
Although there are many organizations that develop standards that are used worldwide—Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE), ASTM International, ASME, and others—this discussion is limited to standards developed under the auspices of either the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) or the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC). These two non-govern- mental and non-treaty organizations are located in Geneva, Switzerland. Although they are separate organizations, they have converged over the years in many ways so that today they follow a common set of operating procedures that are set out in the two Parts of the ISO/IEC Directives,1,2 which were most recently revised in 2011. However there are still some differences in procedures, so each organization also main-
tains a Supplement setting out those unique points.
The IEC is the older of the two organizations, having been formed in 1906. Its scope of work is limited to electrical and electronic technologies. The ISO was founded in 1947 and its scope encompasses virtually everything that is not covered by the IEC. This distinction is increasingly difficult to define as more and more products and processes are both electronic and mechanical and as ISO ventures into areas that were formerly outside its scope such as customer services, training and qualification of personnel, social responsibility,
and others.
What are international standards?
ISO and IEC standards are referred to as “voluntary con- sensus standards.” The use of a standard is generally volun-
 “Every standards development project starts when someone identifies a need.”
 tary; in most cases a user can decide to apply a standard or not to do so. If there is more than one applicable standard, the user may generally elect to choose one over the other. Standards are not laws. However, some standards are ref- erenced in law and may therefore be required for that particular application. The use of a particular standard also
may be required by contract or some other agreement.
In ISO and IEC, the term “consensus” is defined in the ISO/IEC Guide 2:2004 as “General agreement, characterized by the absence of sustained opposition to substantial issues by any important part of the concerned interests and by a process that involves seeking to take into account the views of all parties concerned and to reconcile any conflicting argu- ments. NOTE Consensus need not imply unanimity.”5 In the ISO/IEC process there are many opportunities for stakehold-
er input and for resolution of objections.
Together, ISO and IEC comprise hundreds of technical
committees and subcommittees (TCs and SCs) whose mem- bers are countries represented by the national standards body of each country. (The members are referred to as “national member bodies” in ISO and “national committees” in IEC. For convenience, we will use “national member bodies.”) There is no opportunity for individuals, corporations, or organizations to participate directly in ISO or IEC.
Each national member body may elect to become a P- member (Participating) or to become an O-member (Observing) of a TC or SC, or may not follow that TC or SC at all. Since P-members have an obligation to participate they are expected to set up a national committee to follow the work of that TC or SC. These are often referred to as “mirror committees.” In the U.S. the national mirror committees are called U.S. TAGs.
The role of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI)
Both ISO and IEC operate on a model similar to that of the United Nations—one country, one vote. ANSI is the sole U.S. member body of ISO. The U.S. National Committee (USNC) to the IEC is a division of ANSI.
ANSI contracts with U.S. stakeholders to organize U.S. Technical Advisory Groups for each subject. Those U.S. TAGs tell ANSI or the USNC how to vote.
Participation in the U.S. TAG for a particular ISO or IEC committee is the only avenue for U.S. stakeholders to have a voice in the development of ISO or IEC standards in that committee. All U.S. TAGs are formed in ANSI’s name but
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