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The IEC and NEMA


Overview of the IEC

The International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, is the organization that prepares and publishes international standards for all electrical, electronic and related technologies. (The corresponding standards organization for all other products and systems is the International Organization for Standardization – ISO). NEMA participates extensively in the IEC at both technical and management levels. NEMA provides the Secretariat support for six IEC Technical Committees (TCs). An IEC TC Secretary manages the day-to-day Committee activities.

IEC’s mission is to promote, through its members, international cooperation on all questions of electrotechnical standardization and related matters such as the assessment of conformity to standards in the fields of electricity, electronics, and related technologies. NEMA assists IEC efforts through extensive management and technical participation.

IEC standards are developed in a consensus process by experts from the participating countries. IEC standards are often used as a basis to globally harmonize technical requirements in IEC member and non-member countries. Although IEC standards play a critical role in developing world trade, many countries often have national differences to IEC requirements. Usually these are based on infrastructure differences or climatic conditions. NEMA is very supportive to promoting the adoption of relevant IEC/ISO standards on a sector-by-sector basis as US and North American standards.

For more information on IEC, please visit their website at www.iec.ch.

NEMA Involvement with the IEC

To facilitate the NEMA member's involvement in IEC standards development activities, NEMA sponsors the administration of a large number of US committees. These committees, called Technical Advisory Groups (TAGs), mirror the associated IEC Technical Committees and Subcommittees in whose activities they participate. The participation may be in the form of merely monitoring and commenting on draft documents issued by the committee, or may extend to leadership positions in the IEC committee.

In many cases, a US individual has been designated as an expert for participation in the draft document development within the working groups or maintenance teams of the IEC committee. The document "NEMA-IEC Involvement" provides a list of the IEC committees with pertinent US participation information and notes those committees whose US participation is administered by a NEMA staff person along with the contact information for that staff member.

IEC Masterplan 2000

The International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) has published the newest edition of its Masterplan. This document identifies six principal issues that face the IEC and eight goals that the Commission has set for itself to achieve in response to these issues, including improving market perceptions, industry involvement, conformity assessment and certification, and improving the efficiency of IEC work.

The U.S. National Committee (USNC)

Countries participate in the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) either as full or associate members. Members are National Committees each having equal voting rights. The US National Committee (USNC) is a committee of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). The USNC develops US positions and manages the participation of US delegates to IEC Technical Committees (TC) as well as the more senior participation in all the IEC management groups. The USNC has a Council, which oversees policy positions and a Technical Management Committee (TMC) to deal with all related technical issues. NEMA participates extensively in the USNC by being the Secretariat of six IEC TCs, Administrator of over 50 USNC Technical Advisory Groups, and by having representation in the USNC Council and TMC. NEMA is also represented through the USNC in the IEC Council and the IEC Standardization Management Board.

More information on the USNC may be found on the ANSI website at www.ansi.org.

Technical Advisory Groups: US TAGs

The US participation in the IEC Technical Committees is conducted through Technical Advisory Groups (TAGs). These TAGs correspond, at the national level, to the IEC Technical Committees (TCs). Each IEC TC is responsible for developing and maintaining standards in its product scope. Each TAG has a Technical Advisor (TA), Deputy Technical Advisor (DTA), if necessary, and a TAG Administrator to manage the work. TAG membership includes a spectrum of individuals representing interested parties in the U.S.

More information on the USNC may be found on the ANSI website at www.ansi.org.


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