Remarks by Dr. Arden Bement
Director, National Institute of Standards & Technology
National Electrical Manufacturers Association
Board of Governors
July 18, 2002
NIST and NEMA have some important things in common.
First, we both focus heavily on standards - and we both do that on national and international scales, often by collaborating. NIST's formal mission is to develop and promote measurements, standards, and technology to enhance productivity, facilitate trade, and improve the quality of life. Our programs are multifaceted, but standards have always been a core component.
Second, NIST and NEMA both had major anniversaries recently. You had your 75th and we had our centennial. So we have both been around a long time and have a history of successfully adapting to industrial, social, and political changes and needs.
Third, both NIST and NEMA are looking to the future and focusing on many of the same areas.
- NIST's strategic focus areas, for example, include health care, which overlaps with NEMA's medical equipment division, and homeland security - with many linkages to NEMA members' interests.
- We are also focusing more than ever on reaching out to our customers, and that means you. We recently formed an Industrial Liaison Office, for example, to enhance communication with industry, especially by getting specific feedback from companies about our projects and programs. And one of the two areas we singled out for special attention was health care, again reflecting its importance to industry, the economy and the public.
- NIST's other activities overlap with NEMA's core emphases, such as electronic commerce.
Today I want to talk about our common institutional interests for the future, principally standards and trade. I will also talk a bit about our work in health care, e-commerce, and energy. And I will touch on two areas that concern all of us as Americans: homeland security and corporate responsibility.
Probably as a refresher for at least some of you, let me roll off a few statistics to give you some idea of NIST's scope of influence. We have about 3,000 scientists, engineers, technicians, and support personnel, as well as about 1,600 visiting researchers. Our FY 2002 budget is about $819 million [estimated operating budget from all sources].
We have four interrelated programs:
- Our measurement and standards laboratories,
- the Baldrige National Quality Program, which promotes organizational excellence in business, education, and health care,
- the Advanced Technology Program, which helps support high-risk private-sector research on promising new technologies with the potential for broad economic payoffs, and
- the Manufacturing Extension Partnership, in which NIST partners with 2,000 manufacturing specialists and staff at affiliated centers around the country.
Our staff represents U.S. interests in some 180 international standards committees and international industrial consortia. And with our active involvement, the Department of Commerce has 5 standards representatives overseas.
Three of those representatives are on limited appointment to the Commercial Service in U.S. embassies in Brussels, Mexico City and Brasilia. Two are NIST contractors, located in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia and New Delhi, India.
NIST and NEMA both know that standards and conformity assessment are vital to industry and commerce. We both know that they are crucial to the health and safety of the public. And we both know that they are needed to protect the environment.
Approximately 80 percent of international trade is affected by standards and the health, safety, and environmental regulations that incorporate them.
President Bush is committed to free and open trade, which starts with a level playing field based on international use of fair, performance-based standards.
The Department of Commerce is pledged to ensuring that level playing field for U.S. manufacturers and exporters by urging our trading partners to adopt market-driven performance standards, and to seek assurance of conformity to agreed-upon standards so that we can achieve the goal of "one test, one time, accepted everywhere."
The U.S. standards system serves business and industry through the combined efforts of formal standards developers and consortia that are comprised of all interested parties, including manufacturers, distributors, retailers, government representatives, commercial users and the consuming public, and academia. The issue of how consortia relate to the formal standards process is one we've been grappling with - most recently in the IT area.
We know that standards and assessment of conformity to accepted standards can-and do--improve efficiency and foster economic growth. We know that they can serve to remove or lower artificial barriers to market access.
NIST has had a long relationship with NEMA. In fact, Malcolm O'Hagan worked at NBS - NIST's predecessor -- more than a few years ago when he was a post-doctoral candidate in the Metric Office.
We place great value on our relationship with NEMA, which ranges from collaborating on standards development in areas such as fire safety and factory automation to cosponsoring standards training workshops for representatives of the Americas and the Asia-Pacific.
NEMA has been a leader among trade associations in developing a global strategy. NIST and the Commerce Department have played an important role in helping NEMA carry out this strategy. We are deeply interested in your work on the International Electrotechnical Commission's Global Relevance project -- in which international standards are written that meet global needs and recognize the importance of providing for local differences. That approach is likely to result in more flexible global standards.
To help its strategy become reality, NEMA co-sponsored a NIST workshop on Electrical Safety Systems in the Americas in 1999.
Your organization has had frequent contacts with the Department of Commerce standards attaches in the Americas-in Mexico City and Brasilia-working on standards issues relating to the acceptance of U.S. electrical products in those markets.
NEMA's three-year Market Development Cooperator Program (MDCP) grant from the Department is helping to establish a permanent U.S. electrical industry presence in the two key Latin American countries of Mexico and Brazil. [Background: Work in these offices includes developing new or revised codes and standards, as well as market-oriented activities designed to put company representatives in direct contact with the people that influence the decision to buy products: designers, contractors, distributors and local code officials. In 1999, U.S. manufacturers exported over $4.8 billion of products to Mexico and over $268 million of products to Brazil.]
I know that NEMA hopes to build on the success of its MDCP-supported efforts in the Americas as it seeks to address the electrical industry's trade, standards and conformity concerns in China. I understand that NEMA has applied for a second MDCP grant to support the efforts in China. In addition, NEMA and NIST have worked closely over the past two years on outreach to China. In particular, NEMA cosponsored two highly successful NIST Standards in Trade Workshops on Electrical Safety Systems for the Asia-Pacific. These workshops have created a network of contacts in the region.
Later this summer we will begin planning for the 2003 cycle of Standards in Trade Workshops. We value NEMA's input to this planning and collaboration on future workshops focusing on areas of interest to NEMA member companies.
NIST has a Memorandum of Understanding with the Department's Commercial Service on support for the standards expert program. We are working closely with the Commercial Service on proposals to expand the program to additional markets.
Since there will be new standards experts located in Brussels and Mexico City next summer, NIST will provide in-depth training for them before they take up their positions.
- Our folks will contact NEMA to offer briefings on issues of concern to the electrical industry.
- We also are planning to provide standards-related training for commercial officers in general, and we would greatly value NEMA's cooperation on this.
The Department has placed China at the top of the list of expansion of the standards expert program. NIST strongly supports this expansion and would provide full technical support for this position. I expect that NEMA would also support this new position.
NIST continues to support federal agencies in implementing their responsibilities under the National Technology Transfer and Advancement Act of 1995. We've identified more than 10,000 citations of standards incorporated by reference in agency regulations. [Note: citation of a standard is different from a unique use of the standard; one standard may be cited more than once by an agency or agencies.]
Federal agencies reported doubling their use of private sector standards from FY99, for a total of 5453 reported uses in FY2000. Since 1997, agencies have increased cumulative reported use to more than 8,750 standards. Despite some duplication and overlap in citations, the pattern of reliance on nongovernment standards is clear.
NIST is developing training programs for government personnel at all levels to educate them on the value of participating in standards development activities. We believe that the standards process is strengthened by the participation of government as an equal partner to develop standards that meet both Federal and private sector needs.
Finally, as I mentioned earlier, NIST's Standards in Trade Program focuses on educating foreign government officials the value of U.S. technology, standards and processes. This is a critical element of the National Standards Strategy. NEMA has long been an important partner in this activity.
NIST has a lengthy track record of the health care sector to reduce costs and improve quality. That includes a fair share of NEMA members.
NIST is also helping to improve medical technologies. Our Advanced Technology Program, for example, has made significant, diversified investments in health care, contributing about $550 million for cost-shared projects with primary applications in this area. Major categories of investment include:
- DNA analysis & gene expression,
- health information infrastructure,
- tissue engineering, and
- drug discovery and delivery.
I know that medical diagnostic equipment is of interest to many NEMA members, so I'll give you a related example of our work. ATP is contributing to the world's first all-digital mammography system. This device, which was approved not long ago for clinical use by the Food and Drug Administration, represents a significant technological advance in breast cancer detection.
- The heart of the instrument is a unique full-field, flat-panel amorphous silicon detector that enables both high-quality imaging and reduction in exposures to radiation.
- Under an ATP project awarded in 1995, researchers from General Electric and Perkin Elmer (formerly E.G.&G) developed a new manufacturing process that promises to significantly reduce the manufacturing cost of the next-generation amorphous-silicon panels used in the detection system, making it more affordable and available to a greater number of women.
Since 1990, approximately 200 new products, processes or services have been commercialized from a broad spectrum of ATP-funded technologies, with a significant number of these innovations in health care.
The ATP is being flooded with applications this year, receiving 471 proposals before the first deadline date of June 10.
We're accepting proposals for possible fiscal year 2003 funding until September 30th of this year.
Now I want to touch briefly on e-commerce, given that this is a NEMA core business. NIST activities in this area range from:
- producing software to assist industry in building more secure systems to promote electronic commerce, and
- sponsoring a workshop to help define and suggest actions for the challenges associated with e-commerce.
Perhaps most notably, we recently released the strongest-yet encryption standard for the protection of sensitive, non-classified electronic information. While developed for the government, the private sector also uses the Advanced Encryption Standard to safeguard financial transactions and ensure privacy of digital information-from medical records and tax information to PIN numbers-for millions of Americans.
Individual consumers, financial brokers, and large corporations rely on NIST encryption standards for safe and secure electronic transactions, whether worth just a few cents or several billion dollars.
NIST has been working on encryption standards for many years; a recent economic study estimated that NIST's involvement in this area has saved private industry more than $1 billion. The new encryption can help protect our nation against terrorists, spies, criminals, and hackers.
Which brings me to homeland security, a concern to all Americans.
NIST is playing a key role in enhancing the nation's ability to prevent and respond to terrorism. Through more than 75 ongoing and newly initiated research and standards development projects, NIST is helping the millions of individuals in law enforcement, military, science, emergency services, information technology, airport and building security, and other areas protect the American public from terrorist threats. We have projects under way in the areas of :
- Safer Structures and Secure Information Systems
- Enhanced Threat Detection and Protection
- Tools for Law Enforcement
- Emergency Response
For example, you may have heard that NIST is preparing to lead an investigation into the probable causes of the World Trade Center buildings' fire and collapse following the terrorist attacks of September 11. The fact-finding investigation -- which will take about 24 months from its official start until final recommendations are made -- is one part of a three-pronged NIST response to the disaster.
We want to know:
- Why and how the World Trade Center buildings collapsed following the aircrafts' impacts;
- Why the number of injuries and fatalities were so low or high depending on location;
- What procedures and practices were used in the design, construction, operation, and maintenance of the buildings; and
- Which building and fire codes, standards, and practices are still in use and which warrant revision.
As part of the investigation, we will analyze the performance of smoke and fire detection, protection, and alarm systems, especially their robustness when there is a loss of power. Likewise, we will be looking at elevator systems used by first responders.
The other two parts of the three-pronged response are:
- a multi-year R&D program to provide the technical basis for improved building and fire codes, standards, and practices; and
- an industry-led program to disseminate practical guidance and tools to help the building and construction communities better respond to future disasters.
As some of you know, NIST engineers areworking on a project to help you meet proposed DOE regulations on the new electric power distribution transformers that you manufacture.
The proposed regulations require efficiency testing, and our engineers have worked closely with NEMA members to develop efficiency test protocols acceptable to both NEMA and the DOE.
We have also designed a very inexpensive and reliable piece of test equipment to support your efforts in applying the new regulations to your business.
We plan to demonstrate a prototype of this system in some of your factories later this year. We believe the system will allow you to conform with the new regulations without great expense.
Finally, on another very timely topic, I want to say a few words about corporate governance. Economic security is a key component to America's overall security and stability. To maintain that security, we need sound businesses with ethical, responsible leaders. CEO should stand not only for Chief Executive Officer, but also Chief Ethical Officer.
I'm sure you and your companies are focusing lots of attention on this topic, so I am not going to dwell on it.
As I mentioned earlier, one of NIST's four major programs is the Baldrige National Quality Program, which promotes performance excellence among U.S. organizations and manages the annual Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award competition.
I urge you to get a copy of the Baldrige criteria, which include sections on corporate leadership and responsibility. The criteria have been used by thousands of businesses to improve their competitive edge. Later this month, we are holding a meeting of past Baldrige Award winners and others to discuss how we might strengthen the corporate governance aspects of the criteria.
In closing, I want to emphasize again the extent of NIST and NEMA's mutual interests. I know that one of NEMA's core concerns is its relationship with government. I urge you to stay active in Washington, and to speak up and speak out regularly.
I urge you to tell Congress and the Administration what policies and programs are valuable to you and which ones are not. And now I'd like to give you the opportunity to do just that by sharing with me your thoughts about how we can work together even more productively to address the important issues facing American industry.