Discussion on Distribution Policy for NACE/ISO Standards

For many years, NACE International has worked with the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), the U.S. member of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), to adopt ISO standards. Recently, NACE received notice that ISO no longer allows free distribution of nationally adopted ISO standards. In accordance with NACE’s agreement with ANSI, NACE is now required to charge its members for nationally adopted ISO standards. These nationally adopted ISO standards include ANSI/NACE MR0175/ISO 15156, ANSI/NACE RP0300/ISO 16784-1, and NACE SP0115/ISO 15589-2. Standard pricing for these ISO standards went into effect on July, 1, 2015.

Since 2006, NACE has offered complimentary standards as part of its member benefits, and 162 of its 165 standards remain complimentary. Additionally, NACE members receive preferential pricing on all nationally adopted ISO standards. The change in the distribution policy for nationally adopted ANSI/NACE/ISO standards, however, has sparked discussions among NACE members. Some support the NACE/ISO collaboration, while others question whether the policy change is justified. This article presents member commentaries favoring each position.

We Must Be Involved in ISO to Influence the Standards Activities Process

By Tom Weber, Past Chair, NACE Technical Coordination Committee.

How does NACE International’s ISO engagement strategy serve to enhance its profile internationally? The strategy is very simple. If ISO standards are to be integrated into international corrosion-related engineering, construction, and maintenance practices, why shouldn’t the largest corrosion technical society in the world engage itself in the process? It must be kept in mind that ISO is a multinational organization supported by 162 participating member countries from six continents, which includes the United States (a founding member of ISO).

NACE is an independent, corrosion-specific technical society that is also multinational. Unfortunately, it is not supported by the international legal framework that ISO has for implementing standards into an international engineering arena. This is illustrated by the fact that adoption of ISO standards for energy related projects by publicly and privately held multinational corporations and governments (of which there are many outside of North America) is widespread. These entities often have a strict policy of adopting of ISO standards because there is frequently a legal obligation to do so whenever possible and wherever in the world they are operating, consulting, or contracting because of legislated mandates by their home government. It would not benefit us in NACE to disregard this reality. Since NACE’s standards are among the best corrosion standards in world, it will not serve our collective interest to have our standards go unused by some in the international user community simply because of legal restrictions or corporate directives. We must be involved in ISO in order to influence the process of standards activities and the resulting content.

Many are operating under the misconception that participation of NACE members in the development of ISO standards could somehow eventually relegate NACE standards as obsolete or secondary in the world arena of corrosion standards. With the sheer size of NACE (its current membership count is at 36,000-plus), we have the largest pool of corrosion experts in the world. This means we do not have to defer to ISO standards or halt any NACE standards activities that may parallel ISO standard activities. The co-adoption by NACE and ISO of ANSI/NACE MR0175/ISO 15156 is a strong example that shows we don’t have to make a choice of “either-or”; it is a cooperative co-adoption by both organizations.

It is important for us to know that many other standards organizations in countries outside the United States that participate in developing corrosion-related ISO standards are continuing their standards activities unabated within their national or continental corrosion organizations, and there is no reason we shouldn’t do the same in NACE. The need for NACE standards for domestic and international corrosion mitigation practices and projects will always remain. Coupled with an important role as a reference basis for NACE educational courses and for government corrosion mitigation regulations and guidance, the relevance of NACE standards will continue as strong as ever.

In order to facilitate NACE members’ participation in ISO standards activities, the following interchange activities were initiated by the NACE Technical Coordination Committee (TCC) and approved by the NACE Board of Directors:

  1. NACE may submit an ISO standard (with TCC approval) to be adopted as a proposed adopted American National Standard. This would subject the ISO standard to NACE participant review and allow the ISO standard to be amended with annexes to include or remove provisions to reflect the consensus of the NACE corrosion community.
  2. Conversely, any NACE member may propose to initiate the process of presenting a NACE standard to ISO for adoption (with TCC approval) through the NACE Specific Technology Group (STG) or Technology Management Group.

This two-way route keeps the standards adoption door open between the two organizations while allowing corrosion standardization needs by the international community to be served by both organizations. These procedural provisions within NACE demonstrate that there is room on the international corrosion stage for two very viable organizations to coexist and interact within the context of their respective global profiles.

Do the Real Advantages of ANSI/ISO Participation Compensate for Having to Pay for Access to NACE Standards?

By Norm Moriber, Former Western Region Director

Like all NACE members, I received an “Important Announcement” that included the following: “Recently, NACE received notice that ISO no longer allows free distribution of nationally adopted ISO standards. In accordance with NACE’s agreement with ANSI, NACE is required to charge members for nationally adopted ISO standards.” There was no information offered about attempts to negotiate with ISO on behalf of the NACE membership.

This raises several questions about the agreement with ANSI and the value of continuing that agreement. Was this ISO “policy” part of that original agreement? If it was, why was that not shared with NACE membership at the time? If it was recently added, why was there no opportunity for discussion and feedback? Do we really have a voice in shaping ISO policy? If ISO is dictating changes to internal NACE operations, what decisions will ISO make for us in the future?

NACE members have devoted countless volunteer hours (typically with employer support) and unparalleled expertise to the development of the finest corrosion control standards available anywhere. ISO was not involved in the development of those standards, yet it now expects full ownership and the right to charge those who did develop these documents. NACE leadership recognized the fundamental unfairness of selling member-developed standards to those same members whose efforts made those standards possible. Providing NACE standards as a membership benefit was an important recognition that members are not merely customers but stakeholders in the association. Is it any less unfair for ISO to charge NACE members for access to those standards?

MR0175 is one of the three NACE standards accepted by ANSI/ISO for putting their name on our work and one of the best-known and most-referenced corrosion control standards anywhere. ISO certainly anticipates considerable revenues, and the benefit to NACE members is a discounted sale price (no specifics, but the best estimate is 15%). Lost is the incentive to join NACE to obtain these standards as a benefit of membership.

Twenty-five years ago, NACE was struggling to improve its international reputation. One of the core objectives of the association’s strategic plan was to become recognized as the worldwide leader in the development of corrosion control standards. Acceptance of NACE standards by ISO was targeted as a key part of the pathway to that objective, and compliance with their rules seemed to be a reasonable sacrifice. Times have changed. NACE must realize that we are the recognized world leader in the development of corrosion control standards. That recognition has been achieved through the efforts of NACE members who embraced the concept of sharing best practices, and ISO had little to do with it. Now we are being told that the fruits of those efforts are the exclusive property of those who did not contribute to them.

What are the real advantages of ANSI/ISO participation? Certainly, there are some benefits to ISO recognition in the international arena, but do they outweigh the costs to NACE collectively and to its individual members? One significant disadvantage became obvious with the recent SP0169 balloting fiasco. In anticipation of submitting SP0169 for ISO recognition, adherence to ANSI rules prohibited consideration of the technical merits of negative ballots (formerly the cornerstone of the NACE ballot resolution process); and the updating of that standard was based on popular compromise rather than the pursuit of technical excellence. The end result was pretty good, but sound engineering too often had to be sacrificed to expediency.

The time has come for the Board of Directors to either explain to the membership why this situation is good for NACE or reconsider the “partnership” with ISO.

Author’s note: The preceding commentary was based on discussions with and comments from members and officers of NACE’s San Francisco Bay Area Section.

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