ANSI Puts Wireless Ball Back in ISA's Court

The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) confirmed to ISA shortly before Christmas that it must hear the appeal filed by Control magazine editor in chief Walt Boyes and others against the ratification of the ISA 100.11a wireless standard back in August 2009. It was ISA's handling of the appeal, which resulted in ANSI's failing to accept ISA 100.11a at its regular meeting in November.

In a letter to ISA's Industrial Automation Standards manager, Charles Robinson, dated December 15, Anne Caldas, the secretary of ANSI's Board of Standards Review (BSR), said that, in BSR's view, ISA had failed to follow due process as set out in ANSI's own Essential Requirements, which require that anyone with a legitimate interest should be able to express a view, have that view considered and have a right to appeal.

As had been reported earlier, this appeal, which, ironically relates to whether the ISA had followed its own procedures correctly, was lodged with ISA either one or two days before the expiry of the 30-day appeal period, but ISA's James Tatera did not respond, indicating that the appeal lacked the necessary detail for consideration, until two days after the expiry date, thereby rendering it impossible for the detail to be supplied before the deadline.

Misleading

Caldas' letter not only questions ISA's implementation of its own appeals procedure, pointing out that there doesn't appear to be any provision for an appeal's not being valid, but it raps ISA's collective knuckles for misleading the appellants over ANSI's procedures as well. ISA had, apparently, attempted to wash its hands of the appeal by suggesting that that it could be taken direct to ANSI whereas, in fact, as Caldas explained, it is only possible to make a procedural appeal to ANSI once the appeal has been concluded at the standards developer, in this case the ISA, level.

Sweeping aside both the suggestion that there is any such thing as a guaranteed route to approval as an ANSI standard and what appear to be hints of misconduct on the part of those making the appeal, the BSR offers ISA a stark choice. Either address the BSR's concerns and hear the appeal or have the BSR consider the existing submittal with the obvious implications that, with its concerns unaddressed, it will vote it down. ISA would then have the right to appeal first to the BSR and then to the ANSI Appeal Board, but it's clear the process would be lengthy and the outcome uncertain. It looks as if the ball and the appeal are firmly back in ISA's court.

Readers may recall that the concerns of Boyes and his colleagues go back, not just to last summer, but to June 2008, when the first draft of ISA 100.11a was approved by a narrow margin, in part because, they argued, of ISA's procedures permitting those balloted to vote "Yes with comments." In all, more than 2000 comments were received, and part of the concern related to whether those comments had been fully and adequately addressed.

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