ANSI - American National Standards Institute
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Deputy Under Secretary of Commerce Ben Wu Speaks to ANSI Caucus

A Call for Enhanced Cooperation and Communication

New York, Sep 06, 2002

At a meeting of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) Caucus held earlier today, Deputy Under Secretary of Commerce for Technology Administration Ben Wu encouraged closer cooperation and communication between his office and the standards community. He is the first speaker to address members of the ANSI Caucus since its summer hiatus.

During his thirteen years on Capitol Hill as a staffer for the former chairman of the House Science Committee, and later as counsel to the Committee, Mr. Wu has become an important friend of the standards community. His remarks to the assembled group of Washington-area representatives of ANSI organizational and company members included a number of interesting insights into the Department of Commerce and its views on current international standardization initiatives, as well as a call for action for increased public and private sector partnerships.

As a part of his discussion of Commerce Department outreach efforts to other nations, Mr. Wu reported on his recent visit to China where standards were a part of the dialogue with national officials. He also relayed a story about Secretary of Commerce Don Evans' April 2002 visit to China when the local officials raised the issue of restrictive European standards that had prevented them from exporting certain lighters to Europe, about which the Secretary was able to commiserate with his hosts. In response to a question, Mr. Wu indicated that he did not think the Chinese had decided to accept only ISO standards and that was still an open issue.

Additionally, Mr. Wu mentioned that Under Secretary Phil Bond would be visiting the head of the Chinese standards bureau during a trip later this month. When Gary Kushnier, ANSI vice-president for international policy, mentioned the upcoming ANSI delegation visit to China in November Mr. Wu encouraged additional communication between ANSI and his office so that outreach activities might be better coordinated.

On a related matter, Mr. Wu indicated that his Office of Technology Administration (TA) was determined to make sure that the U.S. Foreign and Commercial Services officials, who are in the process of taking over management of standards attaché positions in U.S embassies this year, have a clear understanding of the impact of standards on international trade. This issue has been a concern of ANSI and was the subject of a recent meeting between ANSI director of public policy and government affairs, David Karmol, and Maria Cino, administrator of the U.S. Foreign and Commercial Service.

Mr. Wu also congratulated ANSI on its upcoming presentation to Commerce Department's International Trade Administration staff and urged closer cooperation and communication between his office and the standards community. He also remarked on the theme of World Standards Day- "Standards Mean Business"- and indicated it was an ideal theme from his perspective.

During the wrap-up of his formal presentation, Mr. Wu invited participation from the standards community at the upcoming Commerce TA-sponsored Technology Expo for Homeland Security that is designed to allow producers of goods and services related to homeland security to network with government procurement officials. The event is scheduled for September 18 and 19, and more information is available at www.techexpo.gov. According to Wu, Secretary Evans, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge, and leading members of Congress will speak at the event.

Following Mr. Wu's prepared remarks, he responded to questions from Caucus attendees. To a question regarding how ANSI can get more federal agencies to participate at the policy level with ANSI, he indicated that he believed encouragement from OMB was the most efficient way to effect government-wide change. On construction codes and standards, Mr. Wu indicated that funding was about to be transferred to NIST to begin a major study of the collapse of the World Trade Center - to not only identify causes of the collapse but also to identify how construction codes and standards could help avoid such catastrophic events in the future. He acknowledged the important role that standards groups would play in the study as partners with NIST.

"I strongly encourage ANSI members who have Washington-area representatives to participate in future Caucus meetings so that they, too, can benefit from interaction with officials such as Mr. Wu," said Mr. Karmol. "Simply provide me [dkarmol@ansi.org] with the names and e-mail addresses of interested parties to be placed on the e-mail notification list and we'll send information about the schedule of future ANSI caucuses, and details of time, location and program."

ANSI Caucus luncheons are held on the first Friday of each month and are free to ANSI members; today's event was hosted by the American Petroleum Institute, an ANSI member and accredited standards developer. An ANSI member provides sponsorship of each luncheon; there are currently sponsorship opportunities for the Caucus luncheons beginning in January 2003.

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