ANSI - American National Standards Institute
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A HIDDEN WEAPON ON THE ECONOMIC BATTLEFIELD

Privatizing the Development of Certain Government Procurement, Trade and Regulatory Policies Can Help to Offset Federal Financial Burdens

New York, Jul 22, 2002

As public anxiety about the economy continues to increase, government agencies struggle to tighten their purse strings and identify funding for critical projects: establishment of the Department of Homeland Security; defense spending for the war in Afghanistan and anti-terrorism efforts; battles against a record numbers of wildfires and other environmental issues; grants for societal issues such as AIDS research and healthcare reform; and now, government efforts to alleviate public anxiety over the recent wake of corporate wrongdoings.

These pressures on government to reduce costs while maintaining critical trade, regulatory and procurement functions - all while pursuing new strategic and operational initiatives - require increased efficiency and an accelerated pace of cooperation with private-sector interests. A possible solution lies in the work of the voluntary standards development community, as privately developed (i.e., "voluntary") standards help the government fulfill its mandate to identify and implement solutions to procurement, trade and regulatory issues without creating additional cost and operations burdens.

Standards developed with a private-sector lead have seen a recent rally of support from Congressional lawmakers. A bipartisan group led by F. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) and John Conyers (D-MI) have introduced new legislation, the Standards Development Organization Advancement Act of 2001,(H.R. 4849) intended to ease the process of standards development by private organizations. The proposed law was inspired by the growing need for standards developed with a private-sector lead and public-sector support; these documents are seen as an aid to government and a benefit to industries operating in an increasingly competitive international economy.

The scope of influence of voluntary consensus standards is evidenced as they are already being recognized and utilized by such government agencies as the Department of Defense (DoD) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). These and additional examples further illustrate the importance of cooperation between the public and private sectors in adopting voluntary standards for more efficient and cost-effective systems:

The National Technology Transfer and Advancement Act of 1995 (P.L. 104-113:1996) encourages state and federal agencies to rely upon voluntary consensus standards and conformity assessment programs whenever possible. (Please visit http://ts.nist.gov/ts/htdocs/210/nttaa/nttaa.htm for additional details).
Roughly 80% of global merchandise trade is affected by standards and by regulations that embody standards, which affect virtually all products and services used or traded by the U.S. and provide U.S. industry with influence in international markets.
Participation in the development of voluntary standards allows government interests to be represented in the creation and maintenance of more than 90,000 standards the U.S. economy uses in commerce each year and more than 28,000+ standards that are maintained by the International Standards Organization and the International Electrotechnical Commission and recognized as international standards worldwide.
By relying upon private-sector-developed conformity assessment programs as part of their legislative and regulatory strategies, government agencies can reduce costs and increase efficiency by eliminating components of agency testing and licensure infrastructures, or by using government-funded conformity assessment resources only when needed, while effectively meeting responsibilities for protecting health, safety, and the environment.
At the Federal level, over 9,000 Department of Defense specifications have been replaced with private sector standards, and every agency of the Federal government files an annual report on the number of voluntary standards being used within the agency. The crucial role of standards in facilitating the interoperability for the nation's armed forces, was recognized at the DoD's 2002 Defense Standardization Program (DSP) Achievement Awards.
Collaborative work between the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and ANSI member organizations are resulting in the development of improved standards for election reform (specifically, for voting equipment and machines) and for transferring information among public safety, transportation and hazardous material incident command centers that will be used to coordinate first responders' standards needs.
Co-chaired by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the National Security Agency (NSA), the Biometric Consortium is responsible for the development of the Common Biometric Exchange File Format (CBEFF) that defines a common set of data elements necessary to support multiple biometric technologies that use physiological or behavioral characteristics to authenticate identity. CBEFF also promotes interoperability of biometric-based application programs and systems and is a candidate for approval as an American National Standard.
According to a May 15th position statement issued by EPA Administrator Christine Todd Whitman, the agency has endorsed the use of Environmental Management Systems (EMSs), including the ISO 14001 standard. The agency has adopted a policy encouraging the use of EMSs across a wide range of organizations with particular emphasis on adoption of EMSs to achieve improved environmental performance and compliance, pollution prevention through source reduction, and continual improvement.

About ANSI

ANSI is a non-profit membership organization founded in 1918 as an umbrella organization where both the private and public sectors could work together in the development of voluntary consensus standards that would benefit the entire nation. Today, ANSI administers and coordinates the U.S. voluntary standardization and conformity assessment system and has more than 1,000 companies and other organizations as members. There are 273 ANSI-accredited standards developers and more than 11,500 American National Standards developed and approved under ANSI procedures. These standards apply to all areas of industry including petroleum, information technology, electronics, textiles, medical devices, safety and health. ANSI makes standards available to the public through its website, at www.ansi.org.

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