ANSI - American National Standards Institute
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NIST Announcement: Federal Use of Private-Sector Standards Doubles

New York, Mar 06, 2002

In a statement issued earlier this week by the Commerce Department's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), during Fiscal Year (FY) 2000 federal agencies doubled their use of private-sector standards in regulations and procurement actions. This conclusion, which was summarized in the Fourth Annual Report on Federal Agency Use of Voluntary Consensus Standards - a congressionally mandated report produced annually by NIST, further indicates that the progress is intended to increase government efficiency while reducing compliance burdens.

Under the National Technology Transfer and Advancement Act (NTTAA), signed into law in 1996, federal agencies are directed to adopt private-sector standards whenever possible, especially those developed by established bodies using open, formal procedures that rely on consensus among affected parties. According to the report, during the FY 2000 reporting period, 28 agencies and cabinet-level departments used 5,453 so-called voluntary consensus standards in new or revised regulations and specifications issued - double the number reported during the previous fiscal year. Equally important, these agencies introduced only 16 government-unique standards and eliminated 537 existing ones.

"Many agencies made significant progress in decreasing their use of unique in-house standards while increasing their reliance on voluntary consensus standards developed in the private sector, with federal participation," said NIST's Belinda Collins, who chairs the Interagency Committee on Standards Policy.

The report also indicates that a four-year decline in federal employee participation in private-sector standards bodies has slowed to four percent (4%), as compared to 12 percent (12%) in 1999. Attributed to staff attrition, budget cuts and streamlining of agency standards programs, the decline is predicted to level off within the next year "as standards programs reach their steady state."

Commenting on the findings, Dr. Mark W. Hurwitz, ANSI president and CEO, stated, "Several years ago, during development of the U.S. National Standards Strategy, it became apparent that industry and government shared a common vision: that standards development is a global effort focused on market needs and facilitated by full and open cooperation and collaboration among participants worldwide. The definitive actions taken by Federal agencies to demonstrate their increasing reliance upon the private-sector-led voluntary consensus standards and conformity assessment community will lead to significant tax savings for U.S. consumers and benefits for the entire nation."

The Fourth Annual Report on Federal Agency Use of Voluntary Consensus Standards (NISTIR 6846) and the three previous annual reports are available in Adobe Acrobat format at Click on "NTTAA Annual Reports on Implementation." To receive a hard copy of the report, contact Kevin McIntyre, (301) 975-4907.

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