ISO Plans to Produce Social
The International Organization
for Standardization will develop a standard for social responsibility,
although it’s not intended for formal certification.
The decision was made at a senior ISO management meeting
this June in Stockholm, following an international conference
in the Swedish capital. The conference provided a platform
for stakeholders to give their views on whether ISO should
address the social responsibility of organizations and,
if so, what form that assessment would take.
Stakeholder feedback was overwhelmingly positive for ISO
to develop social responsibility guidelines. Because the
feedback was so supportive, ISO decided a further feasibility
study was unnecessary and the work should be undertaken
“ISO’s decision is based on a thorough analysis
of trends and initiatives relating to social responsibility
and the active involvement of all interested groups of stakeholders,”
says ISO Secretary-General Alan Bryden. “The consensus
achieved on the way forward for an ISO contribution illustrates
the broadening of the scope of our work and the recognition
that today, ISO not only provides a growing portfolio of
technical standards, but may also supply solutions and guidance
on social and environmental issues in the global economy.
This new venture is obviously of great interest to stakeholder
groups such as consumers, NGOs, labor and regulators whose
participation and input ISO both needs and values.”
To develop the standard, ISO will set up a new working
group answering directly to its Technical Management Board.
The board will oversee the activities of the organization’s
186 standards-developing technical subcommittees. It has
already formed a task force to propose the terms of reference
and operating processes for the group’s consideration
at the TMB meeting in September.
Currently, ISO’s worldwide national standards institute
members are asked to submit candidates for a dual leadership
and secretariat to the SR working group no later than Aug.
15. Group members will be appointed by ISO members from
all stakeholder categories, although related international
and broadly based regional organizations will also appoint
ISO intends the new guidelines to add value to--but not
replace--existing intergovernmental SR agreements such as
the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights,
those adopted by the International Labor Organization and
other UN conventions.
The ISO SR conference drew 355 participants from 66 countries,
including 33 developing nations. The attendees represented
all the principal stakeholder groups: business, government,
labor, consumers, and international as well as nongovernmental
organizations. ISO’s advisory group on social responsibility--established
in 2003--provided the bulk of the discussion at the conference,
which consisted of its extensive report on worldwide SR
initiatives and the identification issues that should be
addressed in ISO’s work on SR.
“The extent to which the issues raised by the different
stakeholder groups at the conference mirrored those identified
in the advisory group’s report confirms the value
of the work it has carried out for ISO,” comments
ISO Deputy Secretary-General Kevin McKinley. “Now
it is up to ISO to address these issues and face the challenge
of developing guidelines that benefit all the stakeholders
in social responsibility.”
For more information, visit www.iso.org.
Approval Shelters Standards Developing Organizations
President George W. Bush recently
signed into law the Standards Developing Organizations Advancement
Act of 2004 (HR 1086), providing new shelter for standards
developers from treble damages liability in current antitrust
The approval amends the National Cooperative Research
and Production Act of 1993, which addressed the antitrust
treatment of certain joint ventures, such as standards development
organizations. The new bill recognizes the assistance that
SDOs provide to government agencies in developing standards
for regulatory and procurement functions and allows SDOs
the opportunity to submit a notice describing the scope
of their work with the Justice Department and the Federal
Trade Commission. That filing may avoid unnecessary and
costly litigation against organizations that have no commercial
interest with regard to the technical specifications contained
in the standards. The act provides that the federal antitrust
“rule of reason” apply to SDOs while they are
developing standards. It also limits attorney’s fees
in any antitrust case challenging an SDO’s work.
“Standards development organizations develop technical
standards that are essential to the efficient functioning
of our national economy,” explains R. Hewitt Pate,
assistant attorney general in charge of the antitrust division.
“Congress has determined that the threat of treble
damages pressures SDOs to restrict their standards development
activities at a great cost to the United States. (This act)
relieves SDOs from certain antitrust concerns and facilitates
the development of pro-competitive standards.”
The American Society of Mechanical Engineers, ASTM International
and the National Fire Protection Association spearheaded
the effort, which was applauded by the American National
“ANSI congratulates the work of many in the standards
community that has culminated in the passage of HR 1086,”
says David Karmol, ANSI vice president of public policy
and government affairs. “The Institute will continue
to support the needs of standards developers and edify our
constituency on the intent of the legislation.”
For more information, visit www.ansi.org.
Targets China for Quality Venture
The American Society for Quality
recently partnered with a Chinese training company and a
Chinese government-appointed organization to widen the quality
movement in that nation.
The effort is a product of ASQ’s 1998 International
Position Statement, a document that focuses on the deployment
of the quality movement around the world, especially in
manufacturing-heavy countries such as China. However, for
the effort to be successful in the unique legal, business
and social climate of China, it requires an approach different
than that deployed in other parts of the world. The solution
is the establishment of a limited liability operating unit--ASQ
China LLC--in a partnership with Plexus China and a Chinese
government-appointed organization called CCIC. Together,
these entities will form a joint venture known as ASQ-CCIC
Service for Quality Co. Ltd. The organization will provide
operational oversight for ASQ’s quality training and
certification activities in China.
The Chinese National Certification Administration, which
has responsibility for all areas of quality in China, approached
ASQ about the opportunity. The administration became acquainted
with ASQ through discussions with the China State Bureau
of Technical Supervision, which translated ASQ’s CQE
exam into Mandarin.
Although the Chinese venture holds much promise for that
country and its trading partners, it also has some specific
challenges, such as:
Protecting intellectual property
Handling financial transactions into and out of China
A government bureaucracy whose transparency can vary from
region to region
Obtaining reliable information on market needs
Language and culture differences
A memorandum of understanding addressing the basic elements
of the relationship between the CNCA and ASQ will be signed
at a ceremony at ASQ’s annual Quality Congress. The
partnership initially plans to introduce ASQ CQE and HACCP
training and certification, although other training and
certification programs could be offered in the future.
Anyone wishing to become involved in quality training
or certification activities in China would be required to
complete ASQ’s Registered Training Provider or Registered
Exam Provider training.
For more information, visit www.asq.org.
Effective IT Implementation Improves Health
The adoption of information
technology alone will not have a major impact on the quality
of health care most Americans receive, according to recent
testimony at a key House subcommittee by David Schulke,
executive vice president of the American Health Quality
Doctors need support and information for their quality
assurance efforts to succeed in delivering safer and more
effective care, said Schulke. He stressed that information
technology can be a valuable tool for improving processes
of care--if applied effectively.
“The promise of IT will not be realized by simply
automating current practices,” Schulke testified.
“The most important work to be done is to help physicians
use IT to see how they can improve and then lower the barriers
to make those changes.”
The subcommittee will hold a July 17 hearing to examine
ways the federal government can encourage greater use of
IT in health care.
Studies show that physicians can use IT to track patient
outcomes, analyze whether care is actually being delivered
as intended, help doctors more reliably provide quality
care and highlight inefficiencies. Despite this potential,
only about 8 percent of practices have invested in IT. Major
barriers include an assumption that physician practices
don’t need to improve, concern about the financial
investment required and perceived initial loss of productivity
while personnel learn how to use new technology, Schulke
“Providers and practitioners need support that goes
far beyond what IT vendors can and typically do provide,”
he noted. “They need support from health care systems
change experts who can help office practices re-examine
the way they provide care and help them implement solutions.”
The national network of quality improvement organizations
will begin next year to focus intensively on promoting the
adoption, implementation and effective use of health care
IT in every state--an effort endorsed by the American Medical
Association, the American Academy of Family Physicians and
other key national organizations.
For more information, visit www.ahqa.org.
U.S. Government Aims to Boost Manufacturing
A memorandum of understanding
signed by top government officials this month should make
it easier for small manufacturers to tap into Department
of Defense technologies and expertise.
The MOU, signed by Under Secretary of Commerce for Technology
Phillip J. Bond and Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for
Advanced Systems and Concepts Sue Payton, is aimed at stimulating
job growth and technology transfer in the manufacturing
sector through the Manufacturing Extension Partnership.
The MEP is a program of the Commerce Department’s
Technology Administration. It’s a nationwide network
of resources managed by the National Institute of Standards
and Technology. The new partnership will help small manufacturers
become more competitive.
“The president has long underscored that strong
national security provides for strong economic security,”
Bond states. “By developing synergies in defense programs,
our manufacturing sector will have greater economic opportunities
for development and expansion.”
Potential projects covered in the MOU include:
Using the national MEP network to accelerate the transfer
of technologies and technical expertise from the DOD to
manu-facturers to reduce costs, increase the warfighter
supplier base, expand direct relationships with smaller
manufacturers and grow awareness of new technology
Identifying geographic concentrations of defense manufacturers
to assess the specific needs of the marketplace as they
relate to urgent defense needs
Assessing critical manufacturing processes for defense production
Supporting the development and de-ployment of a set of specific
performance- based standards for high-tech defense manufacturing
processes and supply chain interactions
Other areas likely to be addressed under the MOU are workforce
training and supply chain rapid response.
Download a copy of the MOU at www.nist.gov.
ISO Committee Prioritizes Public Participation
A recent workshop hosted by
the International Organization for Standardization’s
Consumer Policy Committee (COPOLCO) examined ways the organization
can maximize public participation and satisfaction with
internationally standardized products and services.
The workshop, “Regulation, Co-regulation, Self-Regulation--Who’s
at Risk? Legislation and Standards: Partners in Consumer
Protection,” explored the ways voluntary standards
and services meet consumers’ expectations for safety,
performance, fitness, pricing and redress. Additional topics
addressed were: ways in which consumers participate in the
decision-making processes of international standardizing
bodies and public policy deliberations; the differing benchmarks
for public participation in terms of national and international
standards; and whether an international process standard
on consumer and public interest participation would be beneficial.
Agreeing that public participation is generally beneficial
to the formation of standards, the committee agreed to form
an electronic working group to examine consumer representation
as part of ISO’s effort to revise its Horizon 2010
strategy document. The group will collect information from
members on existing standards regarding public participation
and consider benchmarking consumer representation in ISO.
In conjunction with this effort, COPOLCO also agreed to
establish a liaison with the Consumers International group
on global governance. CI representatives provided COPOLCO
with an overview of their research project, which explores
the degree to which consumers participate in the world and
influence the work of ISO, the Codex Alimentarius and the
World Trade Organization.
For more information, visit www.iso.org.
New ISO Standard Established for Satisfying
The International Organization
for Standardization recently announced a new standard to
help organizations gratify dissatisfied customers.
ISO 10002 is a complaints-handling process designed for
easy integration into established quality management systems--especially
ISO 9001:2000, which requires top management to focus on
customer satisfaction and continual improvement. It provides
instructions on the delivery of a complaints-handling process
that provides responsive treatment to unhappy customers,
and focuses on problem areas for improvements and cost savings
“At the same time, the standard is complete enough
for stand-alone implementation, or in support of other quality
management and customer satisfaction tools,” says
Bill Dee, a member of the working group that developed ISO
10002. The standard gives complete guidance--including principles,
issues for consideration and structural aspects--for the
management of the overall complaints-handling process, with
numerous checklists, sample forms and practical examples.
For more information, visit www.iso.org.
Project and Program Management Processes
Effective program and project
management doesn’t just make work easier, it also
contributes to a healthier bottom line. That was the finding
in a recently released study which reports that organizations
with project and program management processes in place are
more profitable than those without them.
The survey revealed that of those organizations which
systematically align projects and programs to their overall
business strategy, nearly 75 percent reported they are either
very profitable (exceeding goals) or gaining momentum and
increasing profitability. The finding confirms that companies
which consistently prioritize and manage projects for maximum
organizational value realize greater financial returns and/or
exceed business goals.
Additionally, organizations with infrastructures able
to manage and oversee major initiatives also realize tangible
results. Sixty-two percent of companies with active project
management offices reported “healthy” or “very
The survey was performed by project management firm Robbins-Gioia
both online and with senior-level IT professionals at the
META Group conference this spring.
For more information, visit www.robbinsgioia.com.