[LEAPSECS] Who do we develop standards for?

Finkleman, Dave dfinkleman at agi.com
Sat Jan 1 12:50:21 EST 2011

Recent postings illustrate that leap seconds don't matter to most
people. It has also been pointed out that those for or against the leap
second are "a countable few." However, if it doesn't matter to most,
then it shouldn't matter if leap seconds (by some definition) remain.
There are almost always procedural work-arounds such as resynching

I have learned in my ISO work that we develop standards for those to
whom the issue matters -- not for those who are unaffected or have no
stake. In our AIAA paper we enumerate the criteria for a standard.
Working groups are appointed to develop specific standards. Each member
must be a recognized expert. Each must have a material stake in the
outcome. Membership must be balanced among industry, academia/research,
and government at least to the extent that no single group can dominate.
Finally, a minimum number of positive votes is required even if there
are few votes. Three positive and two abstentions among five involved
member bodies is not sufficient. Five positive votes are required
minimum. Five out of eight works, four out of seven doesn't. Our
paper demonstrates that the ITU-R process fulfills virtually none of the
internationally accepted criteria for a standard.

If it is a fact that the preponderance of humanity doesn't care one way
or the other, standards are desireable for the "countable few" who do
care, who must exchange precise and accurate data, and on whom the
preponderance of humanity relies without realizing it.

IMO when the misphasing of civil time and solar time becomes really
noticeable is not the issue. The issue is precise synchronization that
is as effective as we can make it (not perfect) and as enduring as
necessary within the evolution of technology as we see it. IMO, the
current scheme does not meet those criteria. Proposals to deprecate the
leap second have no substance for judging effectiveness or suitability.

Dave Finkleman

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