Is the IEEE standards process broken?

High stakes, vendor hanky-panky and rudderless, bloated committees are pushing some working groups off track. Is there a better way?

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Those modifications are likely to be minor, similar to the tweaks college football makes each year to the much maligned formula that determines who plays for the national championship. And just as college football bowl games have a long history of crowning champions but each year seem more prolonged and controversial, the IEEE standards-setting process may be flawed but in most cases works, proponents and critics agree.

"There are definitely issues, but I think the challenge would be coming up with something that was better," Farpoint Group's Mathias says. "The problem with the process is that it needs to be open. And if it's going to be open, it's going to be open to everything: from new ideas to overt politics. I don't know what they could do to improve it."

Garretson is a freelance writer in Gaithersburg, Md. He can be reached at

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