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Clock Ticks Towards Close of Comment Period for Draft U.S. Standards Strategy

Public Forum provides opportunity for open dialogue

Washington, DC, Apr 15, 2005

Phil Bond, Under Secretary of Commerce for Technology at the U.S. Department of Commerce, believes that standards not only serve as the “very bedrock of our economy,” but they are also the “keys that unlock new technologies.” His observations came during opening remarks at a Public Forum to review the draft United States Standards Strategy (USSS) held earlier today at the Department of Commerce in Washington, DC.

Bond’s comments were underscored by Hratch Semerjian, acting director of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), who emphasized the importance of leveraging the long-standing partnership of U.S. private and public sector interests to maintain a level playing field in the global [standardization] arena.

The Forum was hosted by the NIST, the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), and the ANSI-administered U.S. Standards Strategy Committee to engage interested parties in a dialogue of the principles, initiatives and tactics of the draft USSS now undergoing public review and comment. The USSS is a revision of the National Standards Strategy for the United States (first edition – August 2000); its purpose is to establish a framework that can be used by all stakeholders to advance U.S. viewpoints on global trade issues, key national priorities such as homeland security and emerging technologies such as nanotechnology; consumer health and safety, and more.

Early on, the U.S. Standards Strategy Committee made a commitment to develop the Strategy in an open, balanced, transparent and participatory process in a way that will benefit the nation and the international community. During the past year, more than 100 members of the standards and conformity assessment community have participated in a development process that led to the March 7, 2005, release of the current draft. The public review and comment period extends through 5:00 pm (EST) on Monday, April 18, 2005.

“From the start, this effort has been about bringing people together, and I see a healthy representation of the private and public sectors here today,” said ANSI president and CEO, Dr. Mark W. Hurwitz. The nearly 100 attendees included representatives of various industry sectors, including small, medium and large organizations, professional societies, trade associations, labor unions, consumer and consumer representative organizations, federal and state government regulators and legislative staff, and educational institutions.

The diversity of attendees laid the groundwork for an engaging dialogue ranging from specific comments on the proposed text to questions of implementation. Several commentors identified the need to more clearly substantiate why certain initiatives or tactics are critical; this clarification will help to educate and influence those readers of the Strategy who may not have previous experience in the standardization community.

The questions and comments posed from the audience were heard and responded to by a panel comprised of:

  • S. Joe Bhatia, executive vice president - international operations, Underwriters Laboratories and chairman of the U.S. Standards Strategy Committee
  • James A. Thomas, president of ASTM International and USSSC Subgroup Chair – Introductory Material
  • Stephen Lowell, deputy director of the Defense Standardization Program Office, U.S. Department of Defense and chair of USSSC Subgroup 1 on National Priorities and Processes – Public/Private Sector Cooperation
  • William Primosch, senior director of international business policy at the National Association of Manufacturers and chairman of USSSC Subgroup 2 on International issues
  • Don Purcell, chairman of the Center for Global Standards Analysis at Catholic University and chairman of USSSC Subgroup 3 on Education and Communication

James Shannon, president of the National Fire Protection Association and chairman of USSSC Subgroup 4 on Funding the Standards System, Intellectual Property Rights and Patents was unable to attend.

Steve Oksala, vice-president of standards, at the Society of Cable Telecommunications Engineers and editor of the USSS, was also in attendance and assisted in responding to certain comments.

Comments raised during the Forum will be considered by the U.S. Standards Strategy Committee in its development of an updated draft.

For more information, see www.ansi.org/usss.

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