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Understanding the Value of Standards, participation, International Meetings and Workforce development Among topics discussed

June 6, 2023

As part of ongoing efforts to gather private-sector input on implementation of the U.S. Government National Standards Strategy for Critical and Emerging Technology (USG NSSCET), the InterNational Committee for Information Technology Standards (INCITS) and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) co-hosted a June 6 listening session during the INCITS Officers Symposium, in Denver, Colorado.   

The session brought together private-sector stakeholders and representatives, from NIST’s Information Technology Laboratory, with opening remarks provided by INCITS Executive Board Chair Laura Lindsay and keynote remarks by NIST Senior Advisor for Standards Policy Dr. Jayne Morrow.

Using a workshop format, participants addressed questions covering the four strategy objectives of investment, participation, workforce, and integrity and inclusivity. 

The following questions drew the most discussion during the event: 

  • What are the most important challenges faced by the private sector when participating in standards development activities for critical and emerging technology (CET), and how can these challenges be addressed?
  • How can we incentivize academia to work closely with industry and open standards organizations to facilitate standards development and cross-pollination of ideas between these communities?
  • How can we grow the technical capacity of the standards workforce through education and experience?


Understanding the Value of Standards

Participants agreed that many business leaders do not understand the value of standards for emerging technologies, which affects participation in standards development activities.  They cited the lack of common methods to measure the impact of standards for precompetitive technologies as a root cause.  The mismatch between product and standards development timelines was also cited as a contributing factor.  Participants suggested enabling standards leaders to “share standards success stories” could help decision-makers see standards participation as a valuable tool to increase an organization’s success.

Engagement and Participation

Participants shared that increased engagement and participation from academia would benefit standards development.  The mismatch between the length and scoping of many funding models, coupled with sustained long-term participation in standards development activities needed to produce results, is as a significant barrier to increased participation.  The ability to articulate the value of standards within the academic tenure process is also a barrier.

Challenges in Hosting International Standards Meetings

Several participants addressed the importance of and challenges to hosting international standards meetings in the U.S.  Domestically held meetings allow for greater attendance by U.S. stakeholders from small businesses and academia, who may have limited resources available for travel to and participate in standards meetings.   For members of the international standards community, lengthy visa processing times, in some cases over a year, are a barrier that has resulted in meetings being relocated outside the U.S.  Virtual connections to meetings held outside of the U.S. often face connectivity issues, which can leave the U.S. and like-minded countries out of the decision-making process in critical areas. 

Supporting Workforce Development

There was agreement among the participants that a key piece of building a sustainable standards workforce is to ensure that college graduates understand the value of standards and how to leverage standards in their work.  One solution is to create programs that articulate the paths from ideas to standards and how to navigate the standards development process. Attendees also noted that the qualities of successful standards professionals, such as critical thinking, diplomacy, negotiation, analysis and synthesis, attention to detail, and tenacity, are similar to the qualities of successful leaders. Therefore, standards work can also serve as leadership training.

Maturity Levels of CET Areas

Participants discussed the different maturity levels and the nature of the technologies across CET areas.  Some CET areas are well-formed, standing on a robust foundation of standards development and some are still in early research and development phases.  Focused discussions during the early phases of CET area development should be used to roadmap and identify gaps, which can be used to target resources and funding.


Created April 3, 2024, Updated April 4, 2024