Status of Technical Manuals Specifications and Standards 9/1998
This report covers specifications, standards, and amendments received in the period from 1 August 1998 through 30 September 1998. Special emphasis has been placed on documentation in the category TMSS (Technical Manual Specification & Standards). However, other documents with widespread appeal are also included.
MIL-STD-883E, Notice 2, 08/24/98: Test Method Standard Microcircuits.
This new change notice for the much-used standard on test methods for microcircuits contains 3 new test methods: 2002.4, 2007.3, and 2015.12. Replacement pages are also included for introductory page iv, and methods 2003.7 page 3, 2009.9 pages 5 & 6, 2012.7 page 2, 5005.13 pages 7 and 12, and 5011.4 pages 2, 4 and 11.
Quality Control/Assurance and Inspection
FYI: The ISO 9000 series documents are in the revision process. The documents under review are the ISO 9000, Quality Management Systems - Concepts and Vocabulary, ISO 9001, Quality Management Systems - Requirements, ISO 9004, Quality Management Systems - Guidelines, and ISO 10011, Guidelines for Auditing Quality Systems.
The new series is geared to provide a business-oriented process approach, with easier to understand requirements. Also, the work is attempting to provide for a broader application of the standards, beyond the traditional manufacturing sector. Compatibility with EMS (Environmental Management Systems) is another issue faced by this round of revisions.
The U.S. TAG (Technical Advisory Group) is expecting to get comments back to ISO on committee response by December 1, 1998. We can expect to see drafts for public review and comment after the committee has resolved all issues brought up by this round of internal scrutinization. At this point, all comments are strictly from within the committee, so the drafts are not yet available for public viewing.
At this point release of the revised documents is slated for the second half of 2000. Users of the documents should be expecting not to have to rewrite their QMS (Quality Management System) documentation, so that the transition to the new revision levels should not be difficult. Changes should center on terminology, scope, customer satisfaction requirements, continuous improvement requirements, and increased management responsibility and "resource assurance."
Technical Manuals Specifications and Standards
MIL-STD-3002, 08/05/98: Preparation of Illustrations for Stock List Publications.
This standard replaces MIL-I-28947C. The document type has been changed to Standard Practice since it describes administrative type information regarding data acquisition. Most of the changes from the MIL-I-28947 to this document involve format changes due to different requirements for standards as opposed to specifications.
MIL-M-81754A, Inactivation Notice 2, 04/04/98: Manual, Technical, Weapon Systems Technical Documentation List, Preparation of.
This document is inactive for new design, but can be used for replacement purposes.
World Standards Day, September 23, 1998: The NIST/ANSI Summit Towards a National Standards Strategy to Meet Global Needs
Taking advantage of the conjunction of ANSI (American National Standards Institute) meetings and World Standards Day, ANSI and NIST (the National Institute for Science and Technology -- formerly the National Bureau of Standards) staged a summit to discuss issues that face the standards community during this period of harmonization of standards.
There were several major themes to this summit, which I will discuss below. First, there was the issue of the process of harmonization and the progress the standards and trade communities have made towards the goal of "one standard, one test, one market." Secondly, there was the issue of the political issues that have evolved during this harmonization period and how different organizations are dealing with new realities. And thirdly, there was the issue of ANSI's representation of the U.S. standards community and the U.S. in general, coupled with the urgent need that ANSI has for funds to support this effort.
On our first subject, the process of harmonization, the consensus of most of the speakers (and there were quite a few speakers for a one-day session) was that even though the structure for harmonization has been created, the short term impact has been to "balkanize" or fragment the marketplace. Manufacturers are finding that more countries are setting up unique regulations along with the testing facilities to verify these regulations. So, many countries that previously have not paid particular attention to standards are now using this era as a business opportunity to set up a conformance structure that burdens manufacturers as never before. Also, with the introduction of national requirements that may not be as rigorous as within the U.S. there is concern that we may see a real drop in the safety level of products (imports).
U.S. Standards Organizations (SDO's), relying in large measure on the participation of technical experts, have not been prepared for the politics of harmonization. As Tom Castino, President and CEO of Underwriters Laboratories Inc., stated "UL's goal [is to] ensure that standards are harmonized based upon need, capability and user demands, [with] requirements that reflect safety concerns developed through a team-based approach." With the U.S. getting only one vote in the forums that we can participate in, we are discovering we are involved in a political process, not a technical one.
For example, the former Standards Officer at the U.S. Mission to the European Union, Helen Delaney, provided the meeting with some concrete examples of European harmonization creating barriers to trade for U.S. companies. The first is the closed nature of the European harmonization efforts. "European technology," states Ms. Delaney, "is regularly accepted into American standards, and European companies through these standards, can and do influence the technical regulations of the United States." However, the opposite is not true. U.S. companies who regularly trade with Europe and U.S. technical experts cannot involve themselves in the European standards process unless they have manufacturing facilities in Europe.
Secondly, European law gives added protection to European products by providing for "presumption of conformity" for products using a European Harmonized Standard. These products get the CE mark and can go straight to market. However, for products built or tested to other standards (i.e., U.S. voluntary standards) no such presumption exists. The result is that many European markets are being closed to products without the CE mark. As Ms. Delaney states, "The presumption that only a European Harmonized Standard can meet essential requirements is one that we need to examine seriously. I don't think that anyone would challenge the notion that a society that can put a man on the moon can also product a standard that will meet European safety requirements for roofing shingles."
SDO's have responded to the concerns of their constituencies in a number of ways. Some have started to create bilateral agreements on their own, as in the case of NFPA. Organizations taking this route are working nation by nation to see that their standards are accepted. Another response has been to position a Standards Body as being equivalent or on a par with the International Standards of ISO (International Organization for Standardization), IEC (the International Electrotechnical Commission), and ITU (the International Telecommunications Union). Organizations such as ASTM are positioning themselves as having standards that are world class and working towards seeing that their standards are as widely accepted as the International Standards.
Smaller SDO's find themselves in a much more difficult position. Unable to promote themselves in the International arena, they find their ability to influence the course of harmonization diluted by the inequality of the voting structure within ISO, IEC and ITU. When each European country gets one vote, and the U.S. gets one vote, the political process does not reflect the impact on the marketplace of the U.S. economy. These SDO's need ANSI's help in ensuring them a place at the table in the future standards discussions.
In working towards providing the U.S. with more impact on the standards process worldwide, NIST will be giving ANSI a six million dollar grant to support its work with non-U.S. organizations. This underlines the government's concern that if not well monitored, the politics of the standards harmonizing process can lead to a significant loss of market share for U.S. exporters.
Claudia Bach is President of Document Center, Inc., an information delivery service based in Belmont, CA. The company has complete collections of specifications and standards from both government sources and industry associations. She can be reached by phone at (650) 591-7600, by fax at (650) 591-7617, or by e-mail at email@example.com, or see http://www.document-center.com.
For more information on standards see Document Center's Home page Welcome to Document Center . This article was originally published by the Society for Technical Communication. If you'd like to know more about this association for technical writers see: www.stc-va.org