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ISO Decision on Normative Referencing Promotes "Multiple-Approach" Method of Standards Development


New York, Dec 03, 2002

Efforts to promote standards development efforts that respond directly to market needs were advanced recently with the issuance by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) Technical Management Board (TMB) of a new policy statement on normative references.

A November 27, 2002, circular letter issued by ISO confirms decisions taken by the TMB earlier this year that documents published by other bodies may be referred to in a normative manner if a set of conditions specified by the policy statement is met. These conditions include, among others, that the relevant ISO committee recognize the document and that it [the document] is widely accepted and publicly available. While the statement does acknowledge that, whenever it is necessary to make normative reference to another publication, it is preferential that the reference be made to an appropriate ISO or IEC text - it does not preclude the reference to a non- ISO or IEC document.

According to the policy, which refers specifically to Subclause 6.2.2 of Part 2 of the ISO/IEC Directives (4th edition, 2001), the provision for making normative reference to, rather than reproducing text from, another document has a number of benefits. Key among these is a reduction in unnecessary and duplicative expenses to standards developers, participants, experts and users of standards; the minimization or elimination of redundancy; and an increase in the speed of development while preserving the scope and global relevance of ISO documents.

"The statement encourages ISO committees to consider whether the ISO document or documents within their area of responsibility may normatively refer to one or more documents already in existence that meet the needs of global users," explained Steven Cornish, ANSI international program director and ANSI representative to the ISO TMB.

Normative references to non-ISO or IEC publications that are accepted and used globally may provide greater flexibility to best serve the specific needs of particular communities or sectors and establish a worldwide implementation of standards in cooperation and concert with standards of other bodies - including those produced by U.S. standards developers - rather than in competition with them.

"It is an underlying theme of the U.S. National Standards Strategy that we articulate to our colleagues around the world that the ISO and IEC systems find ways to work effectively with existing standards that are globally relevant, rather than have their technical committees start projects that duplicate existing standards," explained Gary Kushnier, ANSI vice-president of international policy. "We believe that this policy statement represents significant progress in this regard."

ISO Normative Referencing Policy Statement

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