ANSI - American National Standards Institute
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NIST Standards in Trade Workshops Educate the World on U.S. Standards Practices

December workshop to cover standards and codes in the cement and concrete sector

New York, Nov 25, 2002

Designed to provide timely information to foreign officials on U.S. practices in standards and conformity assessment, the Standards in Trade Workshops of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have reached over 600 people in the last five years. By inviting foreign standards officials to come to the U.S. for a general education of the American standardization system, the program aims to assist developing countries with their technical infrastructure while enhancing opportunities for US businesses and products. The program includes participation and input from standards developing bodies, consumer advocacy agencies and various industry representatives.

At the onset of the SIT program, "the workshops were meant to serve as a 'crash-course' type of introduction to the standards process in the United States," said Libby Parker, team leader of the program. Foreign participants were introduced to U.S. technology and principles in metrology, standards development and application, and conformity assessment systems.

In the last two years, the workshops have taken a more specialized or regional approach, centering workshops on a particular industry or issue. A further step was taken when the program put a notice in the U.S. Federal Register soliciting input from the private sector for recommendations on workshop topics. Recommendations identified specific industry sectors and targeted countries or geographical regions of the world, and topics have ranged from electrical safety, legal metrology, and automotive to laboratory accreditation, focusing on the key issues in these areas. Inclusiveness throughout the life of the program has imparted the important roles of all players in the standardization process.

By reaching out to U.S. stakeholders for input, NIST has succeeded in making the process more open and transparent. Participation in the workshop over time has shown an increase in involvement from the U.S. standards community. "Members of the standards community and industry see the value of the workshops and want to offer support," said Parker. The workshops are primarily underwritten by NIST, though some sponsors have stepped forward with additional financial backing.

According to Parker, the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) is a key to the partnership between government and private sector and in promoting participation in the workshops. "NIST takes care to explain the umbrella of the ANSI Federation in the general standardization process," she noted. "And as a representative of the standards community, ANSI is a vital component and source of support."

Each workshop is a one to two week long program that offers a comprehensive overview of the roles of the U.S. government, private sector, and regional and international organizations involved in standards development and conformity assessment practices. Specific workshop objectives are to: (1) familiarize participants with U.S. technology and practices in metrology, standardization, and conformity assessment; (2) describe and understand the roles of the U.S. government and the private sector in developing and implementing standards; and (3) develop professional contacts as a basis for strengthening technical ties and enhancing trade. The SIT workshops are a major activity of the Global Standards and Information Group (GSIG) in the NIST Standards Services Division (SSD).

For the next SIT workshop, NIST and ANSI-accredited standards developer ASTM International are collaborating with other key stakeholders and ANSI members, including the International Code Council (ICC), the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) International, the American Concrete Institute (ACI), the National Ready Mixed Concrete Association (NMRCA), and the Portland Cement Association (PCA). Slated for December 9-13, 2002 in Miami Beach, Florida, the workshop will be held in conjunction with ASTM Committee meetings and will cover standards and codes in the cement and concrete sector. The workshop will bring together government and private sector representatives from six countries in the Americas including, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador and Mexico.

The workshop is open to participation by interested parties at no cost, on a space available basis. An attendance form must be submitted to NIST in order to participate. Please contact Libby Parker at NIST at libbyparker@nist.gov or 301-975-3089 for more information about the workshop.

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