Over 50 stakeholders from the private sector and federal government gathered on December 4 in Capitol Hill for an event highlighting how voluntary standards support effective regulation. The event, titled "What Do Airplanes, Robots, Toys, Flat Screen TVs, Amusement Parks & 3D Printing Have in Common?," was co-sponsored by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM).
Scott Cooper, ANSI's vice president of policy, gave opening remarks at the event, which was co-sponsored by ASTM International, Underwriters Laboratories (UL), and the American Bar Association. Mr. Cooper noted how even though standards and conformity assessment are often thought of as operating "behind the scenes" -they remain the crucial components of technical development, reliability, interoperability, and safety of nearly every product, process, or system that society at large relies on every day—from toys to TVs, for example. He emphasized: "In the global economy, international acceptance has become a key priority as markets for innovative technologies expand worldwide. Globally recognized standards and conformance measures are critical tools for ensuring that new and complex products can be accepted across national borders."
Mr. Cooper also noted how U.S. standards and conformance system considers the views of all interested parties in a balanced way, highlighting how accessibility to all stakeholders - large and small, public and private - means that needs can be met quickly through innovative, collaborative solutions based on the consensus of the broadest group of experts.
Erik Glavich, director of legal and regulatory policy at NAM, moderated the discussions. Joan Lawrence, senior vice president of standards and regulatory affairs at the Toy Industry Association (TIA) spoke about the the public-private partnership between regulators and industry with respect to voluntary standards, and the toy industry's response to emerging risks in the market (magnets and batteries for example), noting the need for international cooperation.
Clark R. Silcox, general counsel of the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA), noted NEMA's standards setting process and government involvement and highlighted the importance of voluntary standards in response to advancements in technology. Another session with James A. Thomas, president of ASTM International, covered the use of voluntary standards by federal agencies, and the global relevance of standards. Jeff Weiss, senior advisor for standards and global regulatory policy at the U.S. Department of Commerce, highlighted governing statutes, including OMB Circular A-119 and forthcoming updates to the document. Robert A. Williams, vice president of emerging markets at UL, discussed how UL develops standards for a wide range of sectors and applications.