The White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has issued a revised version of OMB Circular A-119, "Federal Participation in the Development and Use of Voluntary Consensus Standards and in Conformity Assessment Activities." Circular A-119 and the National Technology Transfer and Advancement Act (NTTAA) of 1995 instruct U.S. federal agencies to consider using private-sector voluntary consensus standards instead of government-unique standards whenever possible. According to OMB, the revision was initiated "in light of changes that have taken place in the world of regulation, standards, and conformity assessment since the Circular was last revised in 1998."
The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) has been closely monitoring the OMB's revision process since it was first announced in 2012, communicating developments to ANSI members and constituents and gathering stakeholder input for coordinated responses. In February 2014 the OMB published a Request for Comment on a proposed revision to the Circular, and received comments from more than 80 stakeholders. Among the comments was a response from ANSI compiled on behalf of the standardization community, which was broadly supportive of the planned updates [see related story].
Those updates are well-reflected in the revision, which maintains a strong preference for using voluntary consensus standards over government-unique standards in Federal regulation and procurement and clarifies some guidance. ANSI is currently planning a February webinar to help the U.S. standardization community identify and understand the changes; details will be widely shared soon.
Related Federal Register is available here.