Standards development process


by J. M. Woodgate B.Sc.(Eng.) C.Eng.  MIET SMIEEE FAES Hon FInstSCE MIOA

The standards development process

Some abbreviations used in document reference 'numbers' need explaining:

AMD – amendment

f1, f2 – 'fragments'. These are individual proposals for change which are progressed to the CDV stage and then, if accepted, consolidated into one amendment at the FDIS stage.

CD – Committee Draft for comments by National Committees

CDV – Committee Draft for Vote; the first stage voting document, also known as an 'Enquiry draft'

It isn't practicable to discuss each of these documents in detail, and it would be pushing the envelope of what is allowed by BSI to appear in a publication anyway. Documents can be obtained through trade associations that are represented on the relevant BSI committee

Drafts for Public Comment

BSI's Charter and CENELEC rules require that the public is given an opportunity to comment on standards before the final vote.

Drafts for Public Comment (DPCs) on British Standards of national origin (i.e. not BS EN, BS IEC and BS ISO) can be reviewed free-of-charge on-line by registering at Other DPCs can be discovered in BSI's on-line monthly magazine Update Standards, which is available at and you can buy the drafts as hard copy.

How the voting documents and comments on them are processed

These procedures are less well-known and understood than is desirable.

Comments on a CDV can be submitted with either a positive or a negative vote. The rules are in Part 1 of the ISO/IEC Directives, which are downloadable free from the IEC web site

A positive vote may be accompanied by editorial or technical comments, on the understanding that the secretary, in consultation with the chairman of the technical committee or subcommittee and project leader, will decide how to deal with them.

If a national body finds an enquiry draft unacceptable, it shall vote negatively and state the technical reasons. It may indicate that the acceptance of specified technical modifications will change its negative vote to one of approval, but it shall not cast an affirmative vote which is conditional on the acceptance of modifications.

FDIS – Final Draft International Standard; the final voting document for National Committees to register their approval or otherwise. The rules about comments are:

Technical reasons for negative votes are submitted to the technical committee or subcommittee secretariat for consideration at the time of the next review of the International Standard.

However, this is modified by a later text, indicating that the comments are considered immediately if the vote is not passed;

If the final draft International Standard is not approved, the document shall be referred back to the technical committee or subcommittee concerned for reconsideration in the light of the technical reasons submitted in support of the negative votes.

Errors identified in the FDIS text are dealt with in this way:

The secretariat of the technical committee or subcommittee has the responsibility of bringing any errors that may have been introduced in the preparation of the draft to the attention of the office of the CEO by the end of the voting period; further editorial or technical amendments are not acceptable at this stage.

Ruritanian voting

Ruritania is a central European kingdom that is difficult to find on maps, but is featured in The Prisoner of Zenda. The Ruritanian National Standards committee votes in favour of everything, and some other National Committees tend to do the same. This can cause a really poor-quality document to pass its CDV or even FDIS stage, in spite of negative votes by, for example, the UK, USA and Germany. Unfortunately, there are a few BSI committees, as well, whose default response is affirmative, unless a committee member objects. But committee members seeing a problem in the document tend to assume that someone else will object to it, with the result that no-one does. The best default response is 'Abstain', because that does least harm if wrong. BSI Staff committee secretaries can be encouraged to check with members, or at least the Chair, for each voting document that attracts no response, about how to vote.

Getting involved

OK, your company doesn't belong to a Trade Association, or not to one that is represented on BSI's main EMC committees GEL/210 or GEL210/11, But you want to contribute, and BSI now makes this a lot easier than it used to be. Go to: and follow the relevant link. If you need (a limited amount of) free advice about how to submit a proposal, you can contact me via EMCIA.