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ISO Programs - Overview

Overview

The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) is a worldwide federation of national standards bodies from more than 145 countries, one from each country. ISO is a non-governmental organization established in 1947 and based in Geneva, Switzerland. Its mission is to promote the development of standardization and related activities in the world with a view to facilitating the international exchange of goods and services, and to developing cooperation in the spheres of intellectual, scientific, technological and economic activity. ISO's work results in international agreements which are published as International Standards and other types of ISO documents

ANSI is the sole U.S. representative and dues-paying member of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), and as a founding member of the ISO, ANSI plays an active role in its governance.

ISO Organizational Structure

The primary governance groups of ISO are:

  • The ISO General Assembly, which is the annual meeting of all ISO members, and its agenda typically includes actions relating to the review of the ISO annual report, approval of ISO’s multi-year strategic plan, and ISO’s finances.
  • The ISO Council, which meets twice a year and is responsible for the development of ISO’s multi-year strategic plan, the development of the ISO annual budget, ISO’s relations with other external organizations, and other political/strategic decisions and the general operations of ISO. The ISO Council consists of the principal officers of ISO and eighteen elected member bodies, including ANSI for the USA. ANSI is one of five permanent members to the ISO Council.
  • The ISO Technical Management Board (ISO/TMB),which meets three times each year and reports to and advises the ISO Council on all matters concerning the organization, coordination, strategic planning, and programming of the technical work of ISO. The ISO/TMB consists of the ISO Vice President for Technical Management and twelve elected member bodies, including ANSI for the USA. ANSI is one of four permanent members of the ISO TMB.
  • ISO Technical Committees and Subcommittees. ISO standards are developed by technical committees comprising experts from the industrial, technical and business sectors which have asked for the standards, and which subsequently put them to use. These experts may be joined by others with relevant knowledge, such as representatives of government agencies, testing laboratories, consumer associations, environmentalists, academic circles and so on. The experts participate as national delegations, chosen by the ISO national member institute for the country concerned. These delegations are required to represent not just the views of the organizations in which their participating experts work, but of other stakeholders too. According to ISO rules, the member institute is expected to take account of the views of the range of parties interested in the standard under development and to present a consolidated, national consensus position to the technical committee.

Through the American National Standards Institute, the USA has immediate access to the ISO standards development processes. ANSI participates in almost the entire technical program of the ISO (nearly 80%), and administers many key committees and subgroups (nearly 20% of all ISO TCs and SCs).

Part of ANSI’s responsibilities as the U.S. member body to the ISO includes accrediting U.S. Technical Advisory Groups (U.S. TAGs). The primary purpose of these TAGs is to develop and transmit, via ANSI, U.S. positions on activities and ballots of the international technical Committee.

Reference Documents

For additional procedures, guides and forms, please visit the ISO Document Library.

Further Resources

Important sources for more information:

  • The official ISO web site
  • The ISO Standards Developers Information Site, which provides a comprehensive library of procedural documents, forms, guidance and training materials and other useful information for the development of ISO Standards.
  • ISO Technical Committee Business Plans, which provide information on the work programs of ISO standards development committees, as well as market environments, dynamics, and needs that shape the development of these work programs and the resulting ISO standards. These business plans are available to the general public for review and comment.
AN INTRODUCTION TO STANDARDS: WHY, WHERE AND HOW ARE THEY DEVELOPED?
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