In a March 30 Federal Register notice, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) stated that issues in the standards and conformity assessment areas may have emerged or evolved since the Circular was last updated in 1998, and sought input on how additional or more specific guidance on standards and conformity assessment will assist agencies engaged in rulemaking, procurement, and other activities.
In its role as the coordinator of the U.S. standards and conformity assessment system, ANSI developed a consensus response on behalf of the standardization community. The response was informed by comments solicited and received from a broad cross-section of ANSI's membership, which includes industry, standards developers, government agencies, and conformity assessment bodies. [see related news item]
The ANSI input document affirms that standards and conformity assessment activities are inextricably linked to all facets of our national economy and are vital to the continued global competitiveness of U.S. industry.
The March 30 notice from OMB also announced a free public workshop on Circular A-119, which was held on May 15 at the NIST campus in Gaithersburg, Maryland. This workshop featured presentations from key government officials, industry, and experts on standards and conformity assessment issues, including a panel on "Views on Circular A-119 from the Private Sector," which was moderated by ANSI president and CEO Joe Bhatia.
"Since the NTTAA became law in 1996, there has been a sizeable increase in government reliance in voluntary consensus standards and private-sector conformity assessment programs," explained Mr. Bhatia during his remarks at the May 15 workshop. "For example, the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 mandates compliance with American National Standards for all-terrain vehicles and toy safety, developed by the Specialty Vehicle Institute of America and ASTM International, respectively. And the 9/11 Commission prominently endorsed an American National Standard for disaster and emergency management, which was developed by the National Fire Protection Association."
"In both of the examples I mentioned, and in literally hundreds more I could share, participation in private-sector standardization activities by government agency representatives resulted in ‘just the perfect solutions' from both perspectives - government and industry."