connect. One opportunity for such collaboration is the multinational manufacturing R&D initiative known as Intelligent Manufacturing Systems (IMS). NIST, for example, worked closely with an IMS project that aims to integrate the STEP standard with machine tool control. Projects that span national boundaries provide excellent opportunities to sharpen your global focus on manufacturing systems and processes.
We also must sharpen our focus on standards. Within the business community, there is growing chorus of calls for adoption of globally relevant, internationally recognized standards and elimination of duplicative testing to assess conformance with standards and regulations. Few would argue with this objective unless the resulting standards confer unfair advantage on the technology of foreign competitors. While many U.S. manufacturers and other businesses are alert to this danger, most companies do not participate in the development of standards at home or internationally. While they are idle, these businesses might see the international playing field that we hear so much about begin to tilt away from them, placing them in an uphill struggle for unfettered market access.
I encourage you to learn more about the new standards initiative launched last week by the Department of Commerce. As part of this initiative, the department will host industry-specific roundtables to gather input from companies on the most pressing standards issues and priority foreign markets. I invite the manufacturers here to participate. To ensure the future competitiveness of U.S. manufacturing, we—government and industry—must attend to all the important details.