International Standards and Conformity Assessment for all electrical, electronic and related technologies

March 2011


Faster standardization

SMB decision on reduced CDV voting time

SMB (Standardization Management Board), the IEC's decision-making body that reports to the CB (Council Board), held its first meeting of 2011 on 16 February in Geneva. SMB is responsible for the overall supervision of the IEC's standardization work. In this respect, it manages TC (Technical Committee) and SC (Subcommittee) work, reviewing, planning and allocating work in both existing and new sectors.

Reducing CDV voting time

One of the items on the agenda concerned a proposal by the Finnish NC (National Committee) to reduce the CDV (Committee Draft for Vote) enquiry time from the current five months to three.


There are several stages in the standards development process. CDV is the next to last one. CDV is the "enquiry stage", the last possible moment at which changes can still be made to the content of an International Standard. CDV is also the time at which the future standard can be made available for public comments during a 60-day enquiry stage.

One-year trial period

The CDV period currently runs for five months. The SMB decided that three TCs that work in fast-moving technical fields and produce a considerable number of publications could reduce that enquiry time for IEC draft standards and shorten their CDV voting period from five months to three months. The three are IEC TC 40: Capacitors and resistors for electronic equipment, IEC TC 86: Fibre optics, together with its three SCs (Subcommittees) and IEC TC 100: Audio, video and multimedia systems and equipment, including its eleven TAs (Technical Areas).


The three selected TCs are therefore, at their own discretion, to work for the coming year on the basis of a three-month CDV voting period. The results of their experiences and of the P (participating)-members of the TC/SCs will enable SMB to then review the matter and take an informed decision as to whether it is possible to extend the practice to all IEC TCs.

From paper to electronic documents

The current voting times for IEC International Standards date back to the early 90s when participants were still working in a paper-based environment. Electronic submission of files did not exist and experts were dependent on reams of pink and green sheets circulating from one source to another, to which they added their hand-written or sometimes typed comments for final collection.


Today, that situation is very much different. All experts and contributors have easy access to e-mail. In addition, various NCs make use of the IEC's Collaboration Tools package, which provides them with an easy platform for development and discussion of standards at a national level. The electronic world has made a tremendous change to how documents can be circulated and how each individual can provide input faster and with less effort.


  • Extract from a Council document of 1974 underlines the monumental task of dealing with manuscript or typed comments submitted on paper for the Voting Report.
  • Current electronic tools allow fast communication and immediate transmission of documents.
  • The current voting times for IEC International Standards date back to the early 90s when participants were still working in a paper-based environment.



Find out more