Standards Incorporated by Reference (IBR-ed) in Regulations
The government uses voluntary consensus standards in a variety of ways, including to establish internal procedures, aid in developing regulations for public safety and welfare, and improve the efficiency of the procurement process. When adopting a voluntary consensus standard into a regulation, federal agencies are permitted to incorporate the standard by reference – that is, without publication of the standard itself – in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR).
For a standard to be incorporated by reference or “IBR-ed,” the agency must determine that the standard is “reasonably available” to the class of persons affected by the anticipated regulation. “Reasonably available” simply means that the standard is accessible to any potential user. It does not require that the standard be available without a fee.
Standards do not lose their copyright protection just by being referenced, and they can be made reasonably available in a number of different ways. For example, some standards developing organizations make certain IBR-ed standards available on an online, read-only site – like the ANSI IBR Portal. And many others make standards available at reasonable prices, at discounts, or without charge to consumers, policymakers, and small businesses. There is not one single way to make standards reasonably available.