2 Standards development processes
2.1 Communications Alliance Standards development and maintenance
The operating procedures for the development of Standards, Codes and Guidelines by Communications Alliance are provided in the Communications Alliance Operating Manual.
In summary, the objectives of the Operating Manual are to:
- adopt disciplines of project management for the control and monitoring of the development process.
- be consistent with the requirements of the Constitution.
- be flexible, open and transparent.
- enable timely outcomes.
- encourage and facilitate wide consultation with all stakeholders.
- have the objective of achieving a Consensus outcome.
- to meet the requirements under Part 21 of the Telecommunications Act 1997 and to meet the requirements for accreditation by the Accreditation Board for Standards Development Organisations.
Standards called up under telecommunications legislation
Under the Telecommunications Act 1997 (the Act), the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has the power to make Standards. A Memorandum of Understanding between the ACMA (previously the Australian Communications Authority (ACA)) and the Communications Alliance (then the Australian Communications Industry Forum (ACIF)) gives Communications Alliance responsibility for the development and maintenance of Standards that are called up under the Act. This co-regulatory approach allows the telecommunications industry to play a major role in determining what Standards are required for the manufacture, importation and use of Customer Equipment in connection with a telecommunication network in Australia.
The objectives of the Act are designed to provide a safety-net to promote the long-term interest of end users as well as promoting the development of an Australian telecommunications industry that is efficient, competitive and responsive to the needs of the Australian community.
Accredited Standards Development Organisation
Communications Alliance is an accredited Standards Development Organisation by the Accreditation Board for Standards Development Organisations (ABSDO). This accreditation demonstrates that Communications Alliance has the standing, resources, processes, neutrality and independence to develop Australian Standards.
Further information on Australian Standards can be found in the Standards Australia Standardisation Guide SG-003 on ‘Standards and other publications’ and Standardisation Guide SG-006 on ‘Rules for the Structure and drafting of Australian Standards’.
The Customer Equipment and Cable Reference Panel identifies the need for a project to develop a new document or to revise an existing document. This Panel generally establishes a Working Group whose task is typically to develop an Activity Proposal defining the work to be carried out, including the scope of work, timeframe, resourcing and deliverables.
If the activity is a revision of an existing publication (document maintenance) then the procedures in the Communications Alliance Document Maintenance Policy and Process are followed. All publications under the Customer Equipment and Cable Reference Panel undergo a periodic review every five years. The outcome of the review of a document will be a decision to revise, amend (in the case of Standards), reconfirm, to list as available superseded or to withdraw the published document.
The following lists a number of issues for consideration when prioritising a review:
- the objectives of the Telecommunications Act 1997.
- identification of key drivers, needs and gaps (both industry and consumer).
- the relative importance and usage of the Standard.
- addressing any known problems with the Standard or within the scope of the Standard.
- if there are other more appropriate mechanisms available.
- any unintended consequences arising from the review.
- any impact on existing Standards development.
- the consequence of not carrying out a review of the Standard.
- available resources of industry participants for the Working Committees for the duration of the project.
- resources of Communications Alliance project management.
- the priority and/or urgency of review request from an external party.
- the current workload of the Reference Panel.
- the industry commitment to carry out the project.
- any other related external factors.
Working Committee Operations
On CEO approval, a Working Committee is established to carry out the project. The Working Committee processes are documented in the Communications Alliance Operating Manual, including:
- representation, including voting and non-voting members.
- Working Committee responsibilities.
- the consensus approach.
- project phases, including public comment (a minimum of 60 days), process approval and balloting.
- recommendations to the ACMA for Standard making.
On completion the Working Committee’s work, the new (or revised) document is submitted for approval to publish by the Communications Alliance Board. If the publication is to be submitted to the ACMA (for making in the case of a Standard or for registration in the case of a Code), then a recommendation is developed and sent to the ACMA. Further information can be found in the Communications Alliance Operating Manual.
Queries on published Standards
As the developer and publisher of Standards, Communications Alliance provides an Expression of Intent service to address queries on the intent of existing wording of these Standards. Further information can be can in the Expressions of intent Procedure.
With respect to handling queries on Standards which have been made by the ACMA, it is important to understand that the rationale and meaning of the technical requirements is handled by Communications Alliance and the application of the Standard, including compliance issues, is handled by the ACMA.
2.2 Guidelines for Working Committee Chairpersons
Chairpersons of Standards Working Committees should wherever possible:
- be impartial and essentially unbiased concerning issues being discussed.
NOTE: It is recognised that the Chairperson is likely to have valuable input to WC discussions and wish to be able to voice their nominating organisation’s point of view so while it is ideal for the Chairperson to remain impartial and unbiased the Chairperson may participate in discussion however should avoid dominating Working Committee discussions and views.
- encourage active participation by each and every Working Committee member.
- ensure in-committee discussion remains relevant and pertinent to the scope of work and subject matter of the Working Committee.
- ensure all members have the opportunity to express their views/opinions.
- while encouraging discussion on relevant topics and ensuring all views have the opportunity for expression, assist the Project Manager to ensure wherever possible Working Committee milestones are adhered to ensure all consensus of opinions, committee resolutions/decisions are clearly understood and that what is actually recorded is agreed upon.
- strive for consensus at all times however, where diverging views cannot be reconciled or any Working Committee member maintains a dissenting view or objection to a decision agreed by a majority of the Working Committee members, assist the Project Manager to ensure the issue and differing points of view are well documented.
NOTE: This is really the role of the PM; however the Chair should check it has been recorded.
In addition, in relation to the scope of work, a Chairperson should:
- while not influencing discussion, facilitate, mediate and guide Working Committee discussion to ensure it addresses all pertinent and related issues but at the same time remains on-topic and on-track in terms of milestones.
- ensure Working Committee members are familiar with the Terms of Reference and deliverables.
- ensure members understand the purpose of the output document(s) of the Working Committee and if they are likely to be mandated by legislation, how they will be mandated and the ramifications of that on the output document(s).
- confirm that all the items of the Working Committee’s Terms of Reference have been addressed.
2.3 Guidelines for Working Committee members
Members of Standards Working Committees are expected to:
- attend Working Committee meetings on a regular basis. Meetings are conducted in person and are often supported by audio and video conferencing.
- where it is not possible for a member to attend a Working Committee meeting, ensure an apology is submitted or preferably, nominate and arrange for an alternate to attend the Working Committee meeting in their place. The Working Committee member is responsible for ensuring their alternate is fully briefed on Working Committee issues.
- actively participate in the development of the Working Committee deliverables in accordance with the Working Committee’s Terms of Reference.
- where a member is representing a nominating organisation (including an individual company), it is expected the member represents the view of their nominating organisation only and that the member would preface any personal views that those views are indeed personal views and not necessarily those of the nominating organisation.
Further guidance can be found in the Standards Australia Standardisation Guide SG-002 on ‘Structure and Operation of Standardisation Committees’ and Standardisation Guide SG-004 on ‘Roles and Responsibilities of Standardisation’.