ANSI - American National Standards Institute
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Research Study to Evaluate Financial Impact of the NTTAA


New York, Jun 03, 2003

The economic impact of increased government reliance on voluntary consensus standards resulting from implementation of the National Technology Transfer and Advancement Act (NTTAA) will be the subject of a new research project organized by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). RTI International, an independent, nonprofit corporation with a history in scientific research and technology development, will conduct the study.

Signed into law in March 1996, the NTTAA directs NIST to coordinate with other federal agencies as well as state and local governments to achieve greater reliance on voluntary standards and lessened dependence on government-unique standards. The law also encourages government employee participation in voluntary consensus standards bodies.

According to RTI, there is very little literature or documentation of the economic benefits of reliance on voluntary standards and conformity assessment systems.

RTI’s plan of action for conduct of the study calls for the development of technical and economic metrics for estimating benefits, use of an established methodology for estimating quantitative benefits from the NTTAA, the conduct of case studies with procurement and regulatory agencies, and the development of a survey instrument for use by NIST with compliant agencies.

“Voluntary standards equip the government with sound technical solutions to safety and health problems without creating additional cost and operations burdens,” explained Mark W. Hurwitz, president and CEO of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). “The outcome of this study will hopefully provide Congress and the ANSI community with the economic impact data that we have all sought for many years.”

ANSI and NIST have a history of cooperation on ways to enhance and strengthen the U.S. voluntary standards system through partnership between private and public sector interests. A series of ANSI - NIST memorandums of understanding (MoU) demonstrate the commitment by ANSI and the U.S. Government to collaborate as federal agencies rely more heavily upon voluntary consensus standards.

According to Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Circular A-119, Federal Participation in the Development and Use of Voluntary Consensus Standards and in Conformity Assessment Activities, one of the key purposes for the use of voluntary consensus standards, whenever practicable and appropriate, is to eliminate the cost to the government of developing its own standards and decrease the cost of goods procured and the burden of complying with agency regulation.

The authors of an RTI introductory memorandum cited testimony in a 2000 congressional hearing that strongly suggested that quantitative benefit-cost analyses and better communication of success stories would support OMB and NIST’s efforts with the NTTAA.

The OMB A-119 circular assigned NIST the roles of collecting information on activities of departments and agencies on an annual basis, of publishing the complied data in an annual report, and of leading a coordinating committee that monitored compliance with the provisions of the act.

For more information on the NTTAA, please visit the NIST technology services website.

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