NIST Announces Software Testing, Materials Property Efforts

Computer scientists at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) launched a project to standardize the way companies report their software testing and to determine how helpful the common format data are for potential purchasers.

NIST says testing of business software generates information about customer satisfaction and qualities that make programs easy to use, such as effectiveness and efficiency.

Participants in the project include both producers and buyers, including Boeing Co., Compaq Computer Corp., Eastman Kodak Co., Fidelity Investments, Hewlett-Packard Co., Microsoft Corp., State Farm Insurance Co. and Sun Microsystems Inc.

In other news from NIST, the Materials Science and Engineering Laboratory invited others in the materials property data community to join an effort called Materials Property Data Markup Language (MatML).

NIST says the goal of the effort is to create a standard markup language for Web based materials property data collections and thus improve the utility of these data.

While current hypertext markup language specifies elements of Web page design, it contains no mechanism for tagging or specifying any of the hundreds of materials properties that materials scientists and engineers need to know about. MatML will develop a markup language that will describe the data source, material and material properties.

Ultimately, this project could allow researchers to easily use electronic materials property data from multiple sources in models, simulations or distributed databases.

For more information or to join the MatML effort, contact project leader Ed Begley at NIST, 301-975-6118 or begley@nist.gov. Visit the MatML Web site at www.ceramics.nist.gov/matml/matml.htm

California Nursing Group Launches Tool To Improve Outcomes

lambert art march 00The use of quality tools continues to grow in the health care sector.

As evidence, the California Nursing Outcomes Coalition (CalNOC) showcased a tool to improve the quality of nursing care at a January conference. CalNOC's statewide nursing outcomes database compiles information about participating hospitals' nurse staffing practices and links it to patient safety and health outcomes indicators.

According to Deloras Jones, CalNOC chair, the database provides the first standardized methodology that enables a hospital to compare its nursing quality to an aggregated benchmark.

The data can be used in three ways:

* To guide internal quality improvement efforts at participating hospitals.

* To provide a foundation for studies linking skill mix, educational level and other factors with indicators of health and safety.

* To make evidence based public policy decisions that affect patient safety, educational planning, health systems design and nurse staffing.

A summary report with aggregated data was presented at the January conference. CalNOC is also collecting data on patient satisfaction with nursing care, pain management, patient education and discharge planning; RN nursing education; and restraint prevalence. These data will be available in future reports, and collection of data on other quality indicators is under consideration.

For more information, call 800-646-4262 or 916-553-7528.

Mentoring Program Assists Small IT Firm

RS Information Systems (RSIS), an information technology (IT) company, began its second year of partnership in Raytheon Systems Co.'s mentor-protégé program.

RSIS is using Raytheon's technical assistance to support its move toward the Software Engineering Institute/Capability Maturity Model (SEI/CMM) Level 2 assessment and accreditation.

The Air Force invited RSIS to serve on a panel as one of three successful teams during a mentor-protégé conference in November 1999. RSIS is applying SEI/CMM processes and procedures in its work at the Office of Naval Research in Virginia.

RSIS says its primary mission is to become one of the premier black-owned IT companies in the country.

Telecommunications giant US WEST reports its service quality data shows the company exceeded commitments for 1999, by reducing the number of 30-day primary held orders and improving out-of-service trouble reports repaired within 24 hours. For 2000, US WEST has committed to further improvements in these areas and in business office access, including reducing the average time a customer spends on hold by nearly half.


Micrografx Inc. announced a $500,000 agreement to sell software to DuPont for its Six Sigma documentation and modeling efforts. DuPont put Six Sigma in place companywide last year, with a goal of $1 billion in annualized savings this year from improved operating efficiencies.


The British Standards Institution submitted a proposal to the International Standards Organization, known as ISO, Central Secretariat for creation of a new ISO technical committee on the subject of occupational health and safety management system standards. ISO circulated the proposal for official voting, saying a survey early last year showed national support for such a proposal.


PricewaterhouseCoopers and Carnegie Mellon University jointly developed benchmarking tools to analyze how e-businesses stack up against their competition and how they can do better. For information on the E-business Maturity Model Assessment, visit www.e-business.pwcglobal.com


A call for papers was issued for Pakistan's Sixth International Convention on Quality Improvement to be held Nov. 14-15 in Lahore. The program, in English, will focus on implementation of total quality management, including approaches, methodologies, tools and case studies. Abstracts should be submitted. For further details on the call for papers or to register for the conference, contact Farooq Sarwar at the Pakistan Institute of Quality Control by fax at 92-22-7554656-5113102 or by e-mail at piqc@brain.net.pk


Barry Coleman resigned as chief executive of the Australian Quality Council. Norbert Vogel has served as acting chief executive since the resignation.

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