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TITLE: SC34 Response to JTC1 N 5985, on establishment of Special Group for Strategic Planning
PROJECT: All SC34 projects
PROJECT EDITOR: All SC34 editors
ACTION: For information
DATE: 2 December 1999
DISTRIBUTION: SC34 and Liaisons
REFER TO: 86, A Contribution on the Publication of JTC1 Standards (JTC1 N5938)
REPLY TO: Dr. James David Mason
(ISO/IEC JTC1/SC34 Chairman)
Information Technology Services
Oak Ridge Y-12 Plant
Bldg. 9113, M.S. 8208
Oak Ridge, TN 37831-8208 U.S.A.
Telephone: +1 423 574-6973
Facsimile: +1 423 574-18964
Network: [email protected]

Ms. Marisa Peacock, ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC 34 Secretariat
American National Standards Institute
11 West 42nd Street
New York, NY 10036
Tel: +1 212 642 4976
Fax: +1 212 840 2298
Email: [email protected]

SC34 Response to JTC1 N 5985, on establishment of Special Group for Strategic Planning

SC34 is glad that JTC1 is examining its viability into the next century. SC34 is quite aware of the difficulty of competing in an environment in which most of the attention and productive activity has already been transferred to consortia like the W3C. Perhaps if JTC1 wants to emulate the success of the consortia, it should emulate some of their better and more public spirited operating procedures. Whatever JTC1 does, it should retain its vital concern for due process and open discussion. SC34 suggests that JTC1 consider the following:

  • JTC1 should facilitate and encourage development of standards in electronic mode, from initial proposal, through discussion, writing, and voting, to final publication, without holding any meetings. In an electronic process, some of the current extended ballot periods could be greatly shortened, perhaps to a few days at prespecified intervals. The only organization needed is a project coordinator and/or editor, a Web site, and an electronic mail redistributor (operating such ad hoc electronic services might, of course, be a function of existing secretariats).
  • JTC1 should make all its standards and technical reports at all official levels, including the final approved level, available on the Web, at no cost to the reader. The IT industry has come to expect such distribution from the example set by the IETF and W3C. In the electronic mode of development, discussion papers and drafts on which there is still little consensus could still, as in the W3C, be restricted to active participants. Distribution of hard media, including paper and disks, might still be a source for cost recovery by the national bodies. To replace other income from selling copies of standards, national bodies might consider offering validation and certification services.
  • JTC1 should consider changing its membership requirements to facilitate direct participation of individuals and organizations, including consortia. Costs could be assessed on a sliding scale, with minimal costs to individuals, increasing according to the participant's ability to pay. The role of national bodies in organizing membership might be reexamined, now that there is no longer a need to spread across many organizations the distribution of vast quantites of paper.
  • JTC1 should make direct overtures to consortia to develop more effective ways of joint operations, including joint projects and joint "branding" of standards.
  • JTC1 should consider further flattening of its structure. The most recent reengineering eliminated several SCs and reassigned some projects at a higher level (as in the case of SC34), but the overall vertical structure is still similar to what JTC1 inherited from TC97 and is not necessary in all cases. JTC1 might consider in some cases having a structure, like that of the W3C, that reflects closely the actual projects and groups of projects. In such a structure, project teams can be formed rapidly and then disbanded when projects are finished or rolled up into higher-level groups when projects enter maintenance mode.

SC34 hopes that the examination in this strategic-planning effort will not turn into another extended "reengineering" effort: there is no longer time to move at the leisurely pace that formerly characterized organizational processes. If JTC1 wishes to remain relevant to the IT industry, it needs act quickly, by early in the year 2000.