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Government Affairs Overview

The standards community is often affected by a wide variety of federal, state and local legislative and regulatory proposals, many of which are not front-page news. Legislators and their staff often need a neutral source of information regarding standards and how to gain access to the appropriate developers. Additionally, government agencies use standards both directly and indirectly in their work: in regulations and laws, in procurement, and in internal operations.

ANSI’s role is as an information provider, bridging the gap between standards developers and the governmental agencies that create legislation affecting the standards community. In addition, since the passage of The National Technology Transfer and Advancement Act of 1995 (P.L. 104-113) (NTTAA) as well as the issuance of The Office of Management and Budget Circular A-119, ANSI has worked to facilitate the growing trend of government agencies using voluntary consensus standards created by the private sector as an alternative to agency-developed standards. Since the passage of the NTTAA, this trend has accelerated, as the law makes clear that this is not just a good idea, but a requirement where use of such standards is consistent with agency policy, and appropriate for agency purposes.

Public Policy

ANSI works with its members to create outreach programs to legislators, to increase understanding of the private sector standards community among agencies involved in trade and commerce issues, and to provide testimony when requested by legislative committees. These efforts are intended to give background information on the Institute and its role in domestic and international standards development, as well as to foster understanding among opinion leaders of the major role standards play in the international and domestic marketplace. To this end, ANSI works with organizations from various sectors to inform others on how ANSs are developed and the contribution that the standards community makes to the economy and the public as a whole. ANSI develops public policy positions on issues that concern the standards community through the work of the National Policy Committee (NPC).

Government Affairs

ANSI advocates greater use of voluntary consensus standards by government agencies and broader participation by agency personnel in standards development. Today, nearly every agency of government has a need for standards, whether as an element of regulatory regime or as a key part of procurement policy and operations. In fact, one important value of voluntary standards is that it aids the government in tackling its mandate to ensure public safety and health. ANSI facilitates this trend and maintains a close relationship with its government members through the Government Members Forum (GMF), which is made up of representatives from a variety of state, local and federal agencies. The GMF provides an opportunity for government members to network on issues relating to standards and to provide input on issues of specific concern to government users and participants in standards activities.

Federal Government Employees Involvement in ANSI

There are some old ethics opinions suggesting that Federal Agency employees may not serve in leadership capacities or on the Boards of non-profit entities but, as defined in the NTTAA, these opinions do not apply to involvement in activities relating to standards development, such as ANSI’s. The most recent opinion from the Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel, dated August 1998, addresses this issue clearly.


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