How To: Understand Committee Structure

Cicely Enright

An ASTM International technical committee — any one of about 150 — serves as an organizing approach for standards work. These committees cover about 90 industry sectors. Over ASTM’s history, committees have been organized in areas from metals and nonmetals to a diverse array of materials and subjects where standards are needed in the marketplace.

Most committees share the same basic structure for their activities. Main committees have broader representation than subcommittees, and they serve as another check in the consensus development process before review by the Committee on Standards, which happens ahead of publication. The illustration (right) provides further details. If you have any questions, please contact your staff manager.

Main Committee

Each main committee is a semi-autonomous group approved by the ASTM board of directors and is responsible for developing standards in a given subject area.


Are formed as needed to address specific subjects or areas within the scope of the main committee. These areas include technical as well as administrative and strategic planning functions.

Task Groups

Task groups are small working groups responsible for a specific assignment (development of a draft standard or implementation of an interlaboratory study) within a given time period. Task group members need not be members of ASTM.


The Regulations Governing ASTM Technical Committees contains a good amount of information related to ASTM technical committees. From “Formation, Merger, and Discharge of Committees” and “Committee and Subcommittee Membership Assignment” to “Classification of Committee Members” and “Classification of Committees,” the Regs addresses this central aspect of ASTM organization. READ MORE about how these groups function. And remember that each committee has its own bylaws about committee-specific operations that have been approved through consensus. If you have questions, please contact your staff manager.

Industry Sectors

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