Defining and Encouraging Effective IEC Participation

Defining and Encouraging Effective IEC Participation

This piece was originally published in the December 2016 issue of electroindustry.

Ken Gettman, Director, International Standards, NEMA

In the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), votes that determine whether a draft document will be published as an IEC standard or other deliverable are submitted by country members. Each country has its own process for determining a position that represents the interests of its industry, users, regulators, and others, but typically a specific committee is organized for each IEC technical committee (TC) in which the country wants to participate.

The IEC TCs are called technical advisory groups (TAGs) in the United States and have administrators from a broad spectrum of the electroindustry. In order for the United States to participate in the development of IEC standards and other technical activities, a TAG must be formed with an administrator, at least three members, and a technical advisor or chair. NEMA is one of the most prolific administrators of TAGs, having responsibility for 60 groups.

In addition to addressing draft documents emanating from the IEC, TAGs often develop their own proposed documents or amendments to existing documents for submittal as U.S. proposals. The process is similar to the determination of the U.S. position on distributed documents, but more effort is needed to create a technically correct and viable submittal representing U.S. interests.

It is also up to the TAG membership (or delegated authority) to identify and nominate experts to represent the United States in IEC meetings where documents under development, future work, and strategic issues will be discussed.

Current U.S. National Committee rules require that these experts be TAG members who provide their own funds to cover travel or have the backing from their parent organization and have the time to actively participate.

Contact Ken Gettman at or 703-841-3254 for more information on participation opportunities.

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