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Prepared Remarks by Dr. Arden Bement
Director, National Institute of Standards & Technology
World Standards Day Dinner
Washington, D.C.
October 16, 2002


On behalf of the National Institute of Standards and Technology, I would like to welcome everyone to this well-deserved celebration of the accomplishments of the nation's voluntary standards community.

And, I join Commerce Secretary Don Evans in extending my appreciation for the essential contributions that you and your organizations make to industry, the economy, and all of society.

We, at NIST, value our partnership with ANSI and its members, and we are committed to making the most of this relationship.

We share the goal-and the responsibility-of strengthening the standards infrastructure, nationally and internationally.

At home, we are making progress as we work to foster greater use of voluntary consensus standards in the federal government. Our most recent status report on these efforts found that agency- reported use of voluntary consensus standards has increased ten-fold since 1997.

Internationally, we continue to work with our colleagues from the private sector to champion the merits of U.S. technologies and practices.

For example, NIST scientists and engineers participate on 180 international standards committees as well industrial consortia that develop and recommend specifications.

Events since last September 11th dominate much of the public agenda. They also figure prominently in the decisions and actions of business. This, regrettably, is fact. It is a reality that is especially relevant to the standards community-in two ways.

First, now more than ever, there is a vital need for high-quality, consensus standards in cybersecurity, communications, database management, and in other technology areas fundamental to homeland security.

The public and private sectors-through some of ANSI's member organizations-are collaborating to address these issues. To get the job done, we must cooperate even more effectively.

At a major conference last week on security and competitiveness, I said that streamlining the voluntary standards process and decision making would benefit the nation in the area of security standards - and more broadly. The response I received - actually, the lack of response - told me that we still have a long way to go in communicating the importance of the standards process.

And while I'm on communications: I think we can gain greater appreciation about the importance of this task of streamlining and involvement if we make it clear that there would be concrete spillover benefits in terms of trade and adoption of U.S. technologies. The fact of the matter is that we are in a standards system competition with others, especially the EU, and we need to make sure that our system is as nimble as possible if we are going to make it attractive to emerging economies.

That we can accomplish these tasks is my second point. As diverse as it is and as contentious as it can sometimes be, the standards community stands out as a model of cooperation among different interests. Its quiet technical contributions have delivered enormous benefits to individuals, to organizations, and to society. This is a model for the world to live by. It is a model that we need to communicate more actively.

Before I sit down, I would like to add my congratulations to William Daley. His
leadership while at the helm of the Department of Commerce and, now, at SBC Communication makes him a most deserving recipient of the Ron Brown Award. We need the help of more people like Bill Daley.

Bill, NIST's 3,000 employees send their best regards.

Thank you.