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September 15 Deadline Set for DoC-Sponsored SDO Roundtable

How Can the DoC Work More Effectively with the SDO Community to Advance U.S. Trade Interests?

Washington, DC, Sep 09, 2003

The Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), in cooperation with the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), is hosting a roundtable to gather input from U.S. Standards Development Organizations (SDOs) on standards-related issues affecting international trade.

The event will be held from 1:00 – 4:00 p.m. on Tuesday, October 21, 2003, at the NIST campus in Gaithersburg, Maryland. It is the latest in a series of roundtables organized in connection with the eight-point standards initiative announced by Commerce Secretary Don Evans in March. A number of industry sector-specific roundtables organized by the International Trade Administration (ITA) have already been held.

Because of time limitations, participation at the October 21 meeting is limited -- only ten to twelve (10-12) SDOs will be invited to make presentations. Those selected will provide a sample of U.S.-based SDOs representing various sectors, varying sizes of organizations, and varying levels of participation in international standards development activities. Written submissions will also be accepted from any SDO and made available to participants. The event itself will be open to all interested parties, on a space available basis.

Each invited SDO will be asked to make a five-minute presentation addressing one or more of the topics listed in the SDO Roundtable Discussion Guide (see below) and/or other pertinent comments; a one-hour open discussion will follow the presentations. The focus will be on what the Department should and should not do, and what current activities are working and should be continued.

The outcome of the meeting, including submitted comments, will be reported to the Secretary of Commerce.

ANSI-accredited standards developers and other SDOs interested in participating should notify, by return e-mail, both JoAnne Overman at NIST ( and David Karmol at ANSI ( by Monday, September 15, 2003. SDOs should indicate the sector(s) they represent, their size, and the extent of their involvement in international standards and conformity assessment activities.

Presenters will be chosen and final invitations will be issued the week of September 22.

SDO Roundtable Discussion Guide

As a guide to the input that the Department of Commerce seeks, each five-minute presentation is requested to focus on one or more of the topics listed below:

  • What are the highest priority standards-related issues facing your organization and its constituents?

  • What efforts are being made to educate industry about the importance of standards development? Have they been successful? What more needs to be done?

  • How is the issue of the growth of consortia being addressed within the SDO community? Can consortia be fully integrated into the U.S. standards system? What has been tried that has been successful? What changes will be necessary on both sides for this to occur?

  • At the international and regional level, a phenomenon called “forum shopping” is creating some serious problems; interests that lose in one international, regional, or national forum move on to another where opposing interests are less well represented. In a time of limited industry and government resources, it becomes almost impossible for these sectors to effectively participate in a multitude of different forums. How is that being handled? What more (if anything) needs to be done?

  • Providing adequate consumer representation in standards development activities continues to be an issue. What more needs to be done? What has been tried that seems to be effective? Under what conditions or for what types of activities should consumer representation be sought?

  • Funding is always an issue for the SDO community. What changes have been made or new efforts undertaken to address this issue? What problems lie ahead?

  • What issues have arisen in working cooperatively with Government agencies?

  • What other issues will be facing the standards community during the next decade?

  • Are there particular areas where improved coordination between the Department of Commerce and other federal agencies would be helpful?

  • What programs now sponsored by NIST and/or the Department of Commerce are most helpful to the standards community?

Background information

The DoC eight-point initiative is aimed at establishing a framework to address the relationship between foreign standards and the international competitiveness of U.S. companies, in the hopes of reducing the barriers to export markets caused by foreign governments' adverse policies on standards and technical regulatory requirements. The initiative incorporates assessment, training, warning systems, dialogue with industry and more.

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