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ASME calls for federal oversight of standards.

ASME calls for federal oversight of standards

The United States has to bolster its world-wide influence in setting standards. What's needed is a federal commission on the standards process. That call came from the Council on Codes and Standards of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME).

It would investigate creation of a federal standards institute to provide for governmental input into and oversight of the private standards process, Melvin Green, ASME associative executive director, told the House Science, Research, and Technology Subcommittee. Mr Green claims that foreign governments expect to deal with the US government rather than with voluntary domestic standards-setting organizations in negotiating international standards. "The present participation of US voluntary standards organizations in the international arena lacks strong leadership, is loosely structured, and has limited effectiveness," he said. "Government-to-government negotiation to develop and implement reciprocal agreements is essential to continuation of free trade between other nations and the United States."

Without the involvement of the federal government, the voluntary standards organizations cannot take on the responsibilities of administering international standards committees, Mr Green testified. "From our recent experiences with administrative secretariats, there appears little likelihood that industry will provide the necessary financial support to the administrator or the qualified people necessary to represent the United States on Technical Advisory Groups."

In addition, it was noted that there is a need for government oversight and a clear, objective level of due process, supportable in the courts. Although there are mechanisms to address problems within the voluntary standards process, there is no final, binding authority such as the federal courts.

"During the past two decades there have been situations where a dominance of power by a few suppliers in an essential industry has prevented the United States from having American National Standards in some areas that are vital to health, safety, and resources," said Mr Green. This lack of consensus among members of the private-sector American National Standards Institute has prevented the United States, at times, from having an effective voice in developing international standards.

To remedy these problems, ASME is calling for the establishment of a public-private institute to accredit voluntary bodies involved in standards development. Federal and state governments, standards developers, and public interest organizations would each nominate a third of the institute's governing board. ASME emphasized the proposal was not an invitation for government takeover of the private sector voluntary standards process in the United States, but rather, a recommendation to help strengthen the existing process.
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Title Annotation:American Society of Mechanical Engineers
Publication:Tooling & Production
Date:Oct 1, 1990
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