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Mr. McCUNE. It is obvious that the purposes of the Institute and the purposes of H.R. 17424—to strengthen representation of U.S. interests in voluntary international standards and standardization activities and support establishment of a clearinghouse for standards and standardization activities—are in complete accord.
Early enactment of H.R. 17424 will provide necessary Government support to important standardization activities that need to be strengthened for the good of the overall economy, and to assure the proper competitive position of American goods and services in international trade and commerce.
This subcommittee has received previous testimony to the fact that, while the United States has excellent representation in many committees of the International Organization for Standardization, the International Electrotechnical Commission, and COPANT, such representation must be broadened and strengthened.
At the present time, there are some 115 active ISO projects and this nation participates in 74. The United States of America Standards Institute holds the secretariat of 10 committees.
The secretariat is not a secretary. A secretariat is the one who initiates the work and provides for it. This is spread through many, many nations.
Insofar as the work of the International Electrotechnical Commission is concerned, the United States participates in virtually all committees and the Institute holds the secretariat of six and the secretariat of an additional six subcommittees.
The role of the United States in COPANT activities is largely one of cooperation and advice. While we participate in some committees, it has been our policy not to seek secretariats, preferring to help strengthen the voluntary standardization activities of our South American neighbors.
Because H.R. 17424 affords, for the first time, the opportunity for the Federal Government to provide financial support for international standardization activities, I would like to present a few thoughts on why this support is necessary at this time. I want to state, however, that it is our sincere hope that the program envisioned in this legislation will become totally unnecessary in the years to come, as interest in international standards grows in American industry and required financial support by industry is obtained.
As an officer and director of the Institute, and of the former association, I am aware that the United States has not participated as extensively or as well in international standardization activities as might be expected. This was one of the primary reasons for reorganization of the Institute. As the Institute reaches its full potential under the new charter, constitution, and bylaws, we believe that industry along with trade and professional associations will support international activities and will participate in a broader range of programs.
It must be realized that industrial support for international standardization will not come overnight. The Institute must develop a program which will provide the opportunity for the development of standards and their adoption by international standards-making organizations. This is the best way to attract support. Federal assistance is necessary at this time, but, as I stated earlier, we hope such support will only be necessary on a short-term basis.
Another factor which has lessened U.S. participation is the sheer magnitude of the task, both in terms of time and required financial resources.
At present, it is necessary to raise funds for participation in international meetings, and for the support of secretariats, almost on a caseby-case basis. This is not a healthy situation simply because initiation of international projects, which tend to go on for a long time, and longrange planning are virtually impossible.
Another point regarding financial support must be recognized. It is the unfortunate case that much international standards work is of importance to industries which are fractionated, or which may not be represented by trade or professional organizations having the financial resources to support international work. Again, short-term Federal support and continuing
cooperation with private U.S. standards organizations such as the United States of America Standards Institute will provide the necessary "seed money to bring about greater support by industry, trade associations, and professional societies for international standards and standardization activities.
Of almost equal importance is the establishment of a clearinghouse service where everyone interested in standards, both established and in process, may turn for information. There does not exist, I believe, in the whole world, a single comprehensive collection and dissemination source. This has resulted in expensive and unnecessary duplication of effort and a tragic dissipation of both scarce engineering talent and financial resources.
The task of establishing a clearinghouse is both complex and expensive. It is financially beyond the capability of any single private standards organization today. Involved is the necessity to collect all standards information, both domestic and international, including both industrial standards and Government procurement specifications and standards. A clearinghouse would include translation services; cataloging; indexing; information retrieval; and a broad gaged, fast, and dynamic dissemination program to assure utilization of standards and standardization information.
The Standards Institute has done a good deal of preliminary planning but much more needs to be done. The coordination and consolidation of both information and established standards will require the full cooperation and participation of all standards making bodies. Because many of the major standards developing organizations are members of the Institute in fact, most of them—we feel confident that the job can and will be done. We prefer, quite naturally, to see this work done by private, voluntary organizations, with full and complete cooperation with Government departments and agencies.
We are moving ahead with our planning and will strengthen our capabilities in the months ahead. There will come, however, a time when Federal financial support will be required to establish the clearinghouse envisioned. This will be primarily in the development of information retrieval and dissemination systems. Such support will be possible with enactment of H.R. 17424.
I want to turn now to the specific provisions of H.R. 17424, and to offer certain suggestions designed to improve the legislation and more fully carry out its intent. In some instances, which I will spell out,
the suggested amendments are intended to clarify the purposes of the act and you may prefer to handle these matters in the committee report rather than in amendments to H.R. 17424.
We feel that the use of the term "commercial” to denote the type of standards activity and clearinghouse authorized by the bill is unfortunate because of its limited meaning. We suggest that the legislation will be strengthened by amending the preamble to read as follows:
To promote and support representation of United States interests in voluntary international standards and standardization activities, to establish a clearinghouse for standards and standardization information useful in commerce.
This may seem like a tiny point, but many persons in the standards field look upon "commercial standards” as applying only to specific products. What is intended, I am sure, by the bill is that all types of standardization activities must be promoted and supported. This would include many types of standards such as safety, acoustical, information, and terminology, which are not "commercial” per se but are certainly vitally important in "commerce.”
Section 1-page 1, líne 5-states a preference for voluntary standardization of products. We feel that the intent of this section must be carefully spelled out. It is seldom, if ever, in the public interest to standardize products. Standardization should include such characteristics of a product as definitions, methods of test, performance, and interchangeability of components, but standardization of products as a whole eliminates the competitive pressure for continued improvement and reliability. We suggest that the term "of products” be eliminated, or carefully and specifically defined in the committee report.
Section 2(a) states in part-line 18—“through any appropriate international organizations or bodies or with the standards organizations or bodies of any country, for the purpose of issuing international commercial standards."
While we recognize that it may at times be necessary to participate in the work of international organizations such as the United Nations or the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, or others, we believe that preference should be stated for participation in the recognized international standards making bodies, such as the International Organization for Standardization, the International Electrotechnical Commission, and the Pan American Standards mmission. This is suggested because the operating procedures of the above-mentioned groups assure participation by all parties at interest, including producers, distributors, users, and consumer interests, which is not necessarily the case in organizations primarily representative of specific government interest.
There are just two additional provisions of the bill which I want to mention in the interest of clarifying the present language.
Section 2(b)-page 3, lines 7 and 8states that among other activities the clearinghouse should "coordinate and integrate standards and information pertaining thereto." We suggest that this provision be clarified to assure that the primary purpose of the clearinghouse is to coordinate and integrate standards information, including information on published standards, and not to coordinate actual standards development activities. The latter is, and should remain, the responsibility of each standards making body with coordination through the United States of America Standards Institute.
Section 3(c) relates to prices, fees, and so forth, for information furnished or services rendered by the clearinghouse. We feel this is highly desirable and that realistic prices, based on reasonable costs, be established.
It should be made clear, however, that prices of standards publications as such should be determined by the standards making organizations, not the central clearinghouse.
The United States of America Standards Institute appreciates the opportunity to appear and testify on this important legislation. We hope it will be enacted without delay.
I would be delighted to try to answer any questions which you may have.
Mr. Roush. Thank you, Mr. McCune. We are grateful to you for appearing here today and giving us this very thoughtful and well prepared statement on the bills which we are considering.
Mr. Anderson, do you have any questions?
Mr. ANDERSON. Mr. McCune, on page 4 you say that "it has been our policy not to seek Secretariats.” Would you care to elaborate on that point and give the reasons for it?
Mr. McCUNE. The Pan American Standards Union is quite recent. There are a number of South American countries or Pan American countries which have substantial standards programs. There are some that don't have any. There are different stages of development and it has been our feeling that they should be encouraged to undertake such work as is needed for standards development. Can I say it this way: There are world standardization bodies. Probably the prime purpose of COPANT would be for specific standards that would be primarily useful in the Pan American countries of this continent. We feel we should try to help with anything we can to assist their own standardization bodies. We would like to see them handle the secretariats for their own standards.
Mr. ANDERSON. To encourage them to take the initiative? Mr. McCune. That is right, and this body will grow and become important. There is no question about it. Their next meeting is in Guatemala City in October with representatives from all over North and South America.
Mr. ANDERSON. It seems to me that we are talking about a rather major degree of participation by the Federal Government, and you make reference to people paying the fee for this clearinghouse type of service. I heard the figure yesterday that as envisioned the cost of this legislation would perhaps be in the early years around a million dollars a year. How does that strike you as far as the scope of the activity based on your experience with your institute?
Mr. McCUNE. Well, I haven't a good fix on what portion of the money would be required by the Department of Commerce. I couldn't speak to that at all.
As far as the increased participation in the development of international standards, this work will grow. Most of this is being carried by industry at present. I think the principal part of this bill is the clearinghouse provision. No one is going to establish a world clearinghouse of standards translated, abstracted, indexed, and some of these standards are about this thick [indicating] and they have to be
abstracted and finally put on computer tapes so people can find what they want. This is a massive job and a million dollars wouldn't even touch it. It would take years and years to get this done. The amount of money in this bill depends primarily on the rate you want to attack it.
And it also depends on the fact that there are not many people who know enough about this area. You can't immediately amass a staff of knowledgeable people, and you can't do this without knowledgeable people. People who did not understand what was going on would create more misinformation than information, so this is going to take awhile to do, and it should be done very carefully with highly competent people who have to be trained although there is a nucleus available, so I can't speak specifically to your question. I hope that is an answer.
Mr. ANDERSON. Yes.
Would you care to make any comment regarding the matters brought up a few minutes ago, that is, the protection of small business interests, and the desirability of the Antitrust Division of the Department of Justice having responsibility in some of these contract areas?
Mr. McCUNE. Of course, I haven't studied the Congressman's testimony, although I listened to some of it as I sat here. I wouldn't be prepared to make a statement that representatives of small business are not engaged in this activity until I've done some checking into it.
I would like to point out, though, a point that I made in my testimony that very often one of the highly competent people working on a national standard may even be a private individual or a representative of a very small business because representation work on standards activities requires a lot of personal dedication. If you have a large group of people working on standardization, we would like to be able to send the man who understands it best in this group to represent the United States.
Very often this man is working for a local government. He has no funds, so we pick somebody else to go whose organization will support him, and this is what you have to do. The whole thrust of this bill is to help the situation.
As far as antitrust is concerned, I am not clear what is the point. Every time that you promulgate a standard to some extent it "hurts” somebody. Such standardization, I am sure, in the early days as a screw base on a lamp, that probably hurt somebody whose screw base wasn't the size it chose. Lord knows who chose it, but that was standardized long ago. And this will always be the case, and the procedures as you can see from our constitution of the United States of America Standards Institute, are that you first establish some sort of a group who are representative of the parties at interest. Nevertheless, you do sincerely try to get the parties at interest, manufacturers, consumers, and so forth. Some standards are important to consumers, other standards may only be important between two industries, as for example, a standard on a chemical that is made by one industry and bought by another industry. So, the parties at interest are not always in the same groups, but you try to establish who they are.
Then you establish committees or working groups who actually draft a standard and they come back to a sponsor and he submits it to this