The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Standards Association (IEEE-SA) announced a change to its membership process — a move the organization hopes will streamline and expedite standards development.

The IEEE said it has enhanced its corporate membership program to include a new, advanced level that offers unlimited participation in entity-based working groups along with a simpler fee structure designed to reduce costs for many companies. The changes will take effect in 2010.

"Instead of a pay-as-you-go model for every project a company participates in, we introduced a new advanced model, allowing entities to participate as a voting member for an unlimited number of projects," said Steve Mills, chair of the IEEE's corporate advisory group and senior architect in the industry standards program office of Hewlett-Packard. "We think this will result in entities bringing in more projects."

The IEEE has a long history of a standards-creation process that involves individual voting, but the standards-making body has embraced a one-entity/one-vote model in the last few years, realizing this model can yield standards much more quickly, in about two years, on average. Though a large percentage of projects still are individual-based, “There is definitely a ramp up [of entity-based voting]," Mills said.

He added that the new fee structure should make corporate voting more appealing because now entity-based working groups enable companies to engage in a wide variety of technology areas that might be complementary to their own core competencies. IEEE-SA’s entity-based working groups include corporations, government agencies, academic institutions, nonprofits and industry associations working in collaboration to advance standards.

The standards body has kept its basic corporate membership in place, allowing those members to observe entity-based working group meetings but not vote. The advanced membership level allows entities to vote in as many working groups as they want.

Mills said advanced corporate membership also allows for improved planning and budgeting, as participation in multiple entity-based projects is covered with a single, annual payment. IEEE-SA corporate-membership dues are tiered according to membership level (basic or advanced), entity type and the entity’s annual revenues.