U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and National Institute of Standards and Technology Workshop on Standards and Conformity Assessment
Jun 02 - 03, 2010 ( Crystal City, VA )
On June 2-3, 2010, NIST's Standards Services Division (SSD) and the U.S. EPA co-sponsored a Workshop on Standards and Conformity Assessment at EPA in Arlington, VA. The two-day event was attended by 40+ attendees from EPA and NIST. This interactive workshop was designed to educate EPA employees about the development of non-governmental consensus standards and the roles of the U.S. Government, EPA and NIST in the implementation of the National Technology Transfer and Advancement Act of 1995 (NTTAA) - the law that directs Federal agencies to adopt private sector standards, whenever possible.
On the first day presentations were delivered by NIST experts on the basics of standards and conformity assessment, the goals and objectives of the NTTAA, effective participation in the voluntary standards development process, and essential standards resources, such as the NIST Standards Information Center (NCSCI). EPA personnel presented on regulatory considerations and on how the NTTAA applies to the EPA. A presentation on WaterSense, EPA's successful product certification program which relies on private sector conformity assessment processes illustrated the impact of the NTTAA. A representative from ASTM International also spoke, supporting the partnership between the public and private sector in voluntary consensus standards development. One of the highlights of the day, based on workshop evaluations, was a competitive round of Standards Jeopardy, played using handheld polling devices, which tested the participants standards acumen.
On the second day of the workshop, Mr. Jorrit de Jong moderated, "Setting Standards: A Simulation Exercise in Strategy and Cooperation in Standardization Processes." Established game-developer United Knowledge has developed Setting Standards in cooperation with Delft University of Technology in response to the growing demand for interactive, realistic and exciting learning environments for standards education. NIST contracts with United Knowledge to deliver this one day simulation game that enables participants to acquire a feeling for the political-economic stakes in standardization, gain insight in standards-related interests and strategies, and experience the importance of standards procedures and the role of individuals in standards processes.
Negotiating a standard for existing or emerging technologies is not easy. Standardization processes often take a long time and involve painstaking efforts to both manage the process and secure an optimal outcome. Participants require knowledge and skills that reach far beyond the particular technology. Setting Standards is a simulation exercise that explores the analytical and practical skills needed to successfully engage in standards negotiations. Under the guidance of the moderator, participants negotiated a standard for a fictional next generation technology and simulated a real standardization process by role-playing and completing strategic tasks. Afterwards, a three-phased evaluation was used to reflect on their experiences, focusing on lessons for real-life standardization.
SSD will continue its standards education and training programs by working with government agencies, tailoring the training programs to meet specific agency needs. On September 20-21, 2010, in conjunction with World Standards Day 2010, a similar two-day training event will be held for NIST personnel at NIST's Gaithersburg campus. To learn more about the EPA workshop, the upcoming event at NIST or how to bring a SSD standards workshop to another agency, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.