EMC Standards Activity:
A Standards Process Refresher

At the time this column was written, the standards committees of the EMC Society were busily preparing for all their meetings at the Fort Lauderdale EMC Symposium. The Standards Development Committee (SDCom), the Standards Advisory and Coordination Committee (SACCom) and the Standards Education and Training Committee (SETCom) will meet at their usual time on Monday morning at the start of the symposium week. A review of the activities of these committees will be reported in this column when the next EMC Newsletter is published, following the symposium.
     There continues to be interest in our standards and what is involved in doing the technical work and how to get to publication. We have asked the Chairman of the SETCom – Qiubo Ye of the Canadian Research Center – to provide a refresher on the process which we now highlight. Additions to the information were provided by Bill Ash of the IEEE Standards Association (SA staff liaison to the EMC Society) and Don Heirman, Associate Editor of the EMC Newsletter.



IEEE EMC Standards Development Process

The IEEE EMC Standards Development Process includes following seven procedures: Formation of Working Groups; PAR – Project Authorization Request; Working Group Management; Distribution of Working Group Drafts & Copyrights; Balloting Draft Standards; Appeals; and Following the Publication of a Standard. It is very important to understand and follow all these procedures to make a new standard. The on-line details of this process are found on: http://standards.ieee.org/resources/development/index.html
     This article will explain them briefly.
     First of all, a Working Group (WG) has to be formed. The WG is set up under the auspices of the EMC Society Standards Development Committee (SDCom). While it is highly desirable, but not mandatory, group members should consist of an adequate balance of producers/manufacturers, users, and general interest individuals (P/U/G). A Working Group is open to any person with a material interest in the efforts of the Working Group; participants need not be EMC Society members. The Working Group Chair should seek out members who have knowledge and experience in the field of interest, and willingness and ability to contribute to the working group’s products. The WG Chair is required to submit P/U/G classification lists of all WG members annually to the EMC Society Standards Development Committee (SDCom). The WG may define active membership requirements and the required distribution for such items as minutes, meeting notices, consensus ballots, etc. Active WG membership may include such items as a record of a commitment to attend a required percentage of meetings, return of all consensus ballots within a specified time, and the timely completion of action items.
     After the WG is formed, a PAR – Project Authorization Request – is submitted to initiate an EMC Society standard by the proposed WG Chair to the EMC Society SDCom for approval. After review and simple majority approval by the SDCom, the PAR is sent to New Standards Committee (NESCOM). Note that these forms are available on line and can be found using the URL stated above. Updates to the WG roster should be provided to SDCom/NESCOM to reflect changes in membership profile or status over time. SDCom/NESCOM may request for additional information and coordination from producers, users, and materially interested organizations.
     The WG is managed by a Chair, Vice-Chair and Secretary. The Vice-Chair acts as a backup for the Chair in case of absence or inability. The Secretary’s duty is to keep detailed minutes of all meetings, process all draft standards, etc. The WG may have a coordinator assigned by the EMC Society SDCom who will act as liaison between SDCom and the WG. The WG may have its own written policies and procedures approved by the SDCom. The WG Chair can be reimbursed for reasonable administrative expenses (reproduction of drafts, teleconferences, etc.) associated with standards development efforts. The expenses should be pre-approved, including the amount, justification, and benefit to the standards development process. The WG Chair or his/her designee is strongly encouraged to attend a specific number of SDCom meetings per year in order to present the status of the PAR to the Committee. When that is not possible, the WG is expected to submit a report to the Secretary of the EMC Society SDCom prior to each scheduled meeting of the SDCom.
     Distribution of WG Drafts is restricted generally to WG members, members of standards organizations identified as coordinating groups, and members of the EMC Society SDCom. Standards drafts being developed by WGs are IEEE proprietary and are copyrighted by the IEEE.
     The sponsor ballot process begins when the request to form the sponsor ballot group is received by the IEEE-Standards Association (SA) through the “myBallot” system. Once the request is processed by the IEEE-SA, an invitation is sent to all those that signed up in the activity area in “myProject” for this proposed standard. In order to join a sponsor ballot group you need to be an IEEE-SA member, pay a per ballot fee, or be an invited expert. For those that are not IEEE-SA members, the SDCom can either ask these individuals to join the SA or petition the SA to accept them on the balloting group as an invited expert. Note that it is required that all members of the SDCom are members of the SA. SA membership includes a nominal fee beyond that of the IEEE and IEEE EMC Society membership. WG Chairs are encouraged to also be members.

Flow chart summarizing EMC standards development procedures.

     Once the invitation period has closed and the sponsor ballot group is deemed to be balanced (no one interest category can be 50 percent or more of the total group), then the initial ballot can open for 30 days. At least 75% of all ballots sent out shall be returned and 75% of those returned shall be in the affirmative (75/75 rule). After the initial round of balloting, an attempt shall be made to resolve all negative ballots. Written records of this resolution process shall be maintained. The WG Chair is the key at this stage to aggressively bring the ballot to a successful conclusion. All comments shall be considered by the WG. Ballot comments marked “must be satisfied” and associated with a negative vote must be addressed. All technical and substantial changes to the draft and the comments within the scope of the ballot marked “must be satisfied” with their rebuttals or acceptance must be recirculated to the sponsor ballot group. It is not necessary to accept comments suggesting change, but all comments must be considered and those marked “must be satisfied” need to be addressed. The comment resolution may be unaccepted if there is a technical reason for that decision. If comments are out of scope or require more research, the resolution might be to consider that comment in the next edition of the standard.
     Once the balloting and comment resolution process is complete and 75 percent approval is achieved, the complete balloting package of the proposed standard is sent to the SA Review Committee (REVCOM) which makes recommendations to the IEEE Standards Association Standards Board (SASB) for approval. After the standard is recommended for approval by REVCOM and approved by the IEEE SASB, the WG Chair receives a certificate from the SA in appreciation of the work. The Chair may also identify other key members of the WG to get an acknowledgement as well.
     After the approval of the new standard, persons who have been or will be adversely affected by a standard shall have the right to appeal. Clearly all such issues should have been resolved as the standard was developed. But at times there may be an incident where there is a challenge. Appeals shall first be made to the Chair of the WG before escalation to the EMC Society SDCom. Every attempt shall be made to resolve concerns informally. If informal attempts fail to resolve a concern, the SDCom shall forward the appeal to the IEEE SASB. However, the IEEE SASB will only hear procedural appeals as technical issues are still the responsibility of the Working Group. The appellant shall file a written complaint with the WG Chair as soon as possible after an action, but not later than ninety days after the appellant knew of the action to be appealed. The complaint shall state: the nature of the objection(s), including any adverse effects with respect to the issue; and the specific remedial action(s) that would satisfy the appellant’s concerns. Previous efforts to resolve the objection(s) and the outcome of each shall be noted, and the official record of all challenged actions shall be included. Within 30 days after receipt of the complaint, the respondent (WG Chair, Vice-Chair or Secretary) shall respond in writing to the appellant, specifically addressing each allegation of fact in the complaint to the extent of the respondent’s knowledge. If the appellant and the respondent are unable to resolve the written complaint, the WG Chair shall schedule a hearing with an appeals panels, giving at least ten (10) working days notice. The appeals panel shall consist of at least three individuals who have not been directly involved and will not be materially or directly affected by any decision made in the dispute. At least two members shall be acceptable to the appellant and two members shall be acceptable to the respondent. After the hearing, the appeals panel shall render its decision within 30 days, stating findings of fact and conclusions, with reasons based on a preponderance of the evidence.
     Following the publication of a standard, the issues of maintenance for possible revisions or withdrawal of existing standards still remain, along with responding to interpretation requests. If the standard remains stable, only a reaffirmation vote is conducted where no changes are allowed. This happens as the standard approaches being five years old. The WG Chair should identify people early on in the standards development process to maintain the standard after approval. If the standard needs to be revised eventually, then the SDCom can reactivate the WG.
     A flow chart of the process is provided above which summarizes the EMC standard development procedures.


[1] Don Heirman, “IEEE Standards Association and Standards Development Process,” EMC Standards Workshop, IEEE EMC Symposium, Aug. 2006, Portland, Oregon, USA.
[2] IEEE EMC Society Standards Development Committee Policies and Procedures, Revised 11/16/09. See: http://grouper.ieee.org/groups/emc/emc/ieee_emcs_-_sdcom_mainpage.htm                                                                           EMC


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