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ANSI White Paper: Understanding the U.S. Voluntary Consensus Standardization and Conformity Assessment Infrastructure

New York, Jul 27, 2005

“Shaped over more than a century by the changing face of this nation’s history, culture and values, the U.S. standardization system reflects a market-driven and highly diversified society. . . .” So begins the American National Standards Institute’s new white paper, Overview of the U.S. Standardization System: Understanding the U.S. Voluntary Consensus Standardization and Conformity Assessment Infrastructure.

Published shortly following release of the new World Trade Organization (WTO) report on the linkages between standards and trade, the ANSI document distills and summarizes how events of the past century have helped to shape the United States’ approach to standardization. Emphasis is given to market-driven standards-setting activities and the methods of assessing conformance to standards. The paper also highlights system characteristics such as flexibility, openness, balance and responsiveness.

“With nearly 100,000 standards and a tremendous diversity of players at the table, our standards system is very complex, yet very effective in meeting the needs of the marketplace,” explained Gary Kushnier, ANSI vice-president of international policy. “The U.S. ‘bottom-up’ approach to standards development is a marked contrast from other standardization and conformity assessment approaches around the world. This paper will prove useful to foreign bodies or individuals who have previously had difficulty understanding the decentralized structure of our system.

“I believe the Overview will prove to be an important tool in educating all stakeholders on how the voluntary standards development process in the U.S. operates,” added Ms. Heidi Hijikata, standards liaison at the International Trade Administration in the Department of Commerce. “The paper helps to emphasize the ongoing relationship between industry and government on issues related to standards, trade and the U.S. economy.”

The paper is available on ANSI Online for download, and may be freely shared.

[see related story: WTO Standards Report Explores the Role and Impact of Standards on Global Trade]

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