The Acoustical Society of America (ASA) has a branch dedicated to the development of ANSI standards, which are “voluntary consensus standards,” but also can be and commonly are incorporated into federal regulations. (For more information see this page, which is maintained by NIST.) ANSI standards can contain required and recommended sections, and are reviewed and updated over time, with technical changes made as the science matures. The ASA, working in conjunction with ANSI, is also the administrator of the U.S. Technical Advisory Groups to relevant committees and subcommittees of the International Standards Organization (ISO), in particular ISO/TC 43/SC 3, Underwater acoustics, for which ASA also sponsors the international secretariat.
Examples of ANSI/ASA standards include hearing aid performance (ANSI/ASA S3.22-2009 American National Standard Specification of Hearing Aid Characteristics) and procedures for measuring the radiated output of ships (ANSI/ASA S12.64-2009/Part 1 American National Standard Quantities and Procedures for Description and Measurement of Underwater Sound from Ships – Part 1: General Requirements.)
ASA is accredited by ANSI as a Standards Developing Organization. ASA’s Standards Committees develop voluntary consensus standards under a process that meets the requirements for openness, balance of interest, due process, appeals process and definition of consensus that is set out in the ANSI Essential Requirements and is noted in OMB Circular A119 clause 4.a. (1). The standards development process starts with the formation of a “working group,” typically consisting of 6-10 subject-matter experts and stakeholders who draft the standard. ASA membership is not required for members of the working group. Public notification that this project is beginning is given by publication in ANSI’s Standards Action. The standard is then voted on by the consensus body (in this case ANSI-Accredited Standards Committee (ASC) S3/SC 1, Animal Bioacoustics), which comprises a balanced membership of institutions, agencies, trade associations, professional societies and businesses. Membership in ASC S3/SC 1 is open to all organizations with a direct and material interest in the work of the committee (ASA membership is not required). The current membership of ASC S3/SC 1 can be found online here .
At the end of the voting period, comments arising from the ballot are considered and resolved where possible. The revised document is circulated again for final approval by the consensus body along with an additional public review period. (Occasionally an additional round of comment resolution and additional public comment period may be required. The right of appeal is available throughout the process.) Once approved the document is copyrighted and published by the ASA and made available for sale through ASA and other standards sellers.
In 2005 a working group was formed to see if consensus could be achieved on a standard on passive acoustic monitoring for marine mammal mitigation and monitoring. The original scope of the proposal concerned towed arrays only, and then in 2008 expanded to cover methods for measuring and reporting passive acoustic measurements, and was entitled “Underwater Passive Acoustic Monitoring (PAM) for bioacoustic applications”; however, since the working group has been a volunteer activity among ASA members, and the topic matter was too unwieldy, little to no progress has been made to date.
Over the past two years individuals at several U.S. federal agencies have collaborated together to encourage this standards effort to move forward. Thus the goal of this work has refocused once again on towed array PAM.