Domestic Programs (American National Standards) Overview
ANSI facilitates the development of American
National Standards (ANS) by accrediting the procedures of standards developing
organizations (SDOs). These groups work cooperatively to develop voluntary
national consensus standards.
Accreditation by ANSI signifies that the
procedures used by the standards body in connection with the development of
American National Standards meet the Institute’s essential requirements for
openness, balance, consensus and due process.
ANSI is often asked about the total number of
standards (and standards setting bodies) in the United States. It is estimated that in the U.S. today there
are hundreds of “traditional” standards developing organizations – with the 20
largest SDOs producing 90% of the standards – and hundreds more
“non-traditional” standards development bodies, such as consortia. This means that the level of U.S.
participation is quite expansive as the groups themselves are comprised of
individual committees made up of experts addressing the technical requirements
of standards within their specific area of expertise.
According to data provided in NIST Special Publication 806, Standards
Activities of Organizations in the United States (1996 Edition; edited by
Robert B. Toth), there are more than 93,000 standards produced and nearly 700 
organizations that cited standards development as an area of activity. Of these, the federal government is the
largest single creator and user of standards (more than 44,000 of them); the
private sector in America collectively has about 49,000 standards.
However, with the approval of the National
Technology Transfer and Advancement Act (NTTAA) of 1995 (Public Law 104-113),
federal agencies are encouraged to utilize voluntary consensus standards where
feasible and to participate as appropriate in voluntary consensus standards
development activities. Standards that
are approved as American National Standards satisfy all of the requirements of
The ANS process is designed to withstand
scrutiny, while protecting the rights and interests of every participant. In
essence, ANSs quicken the market acceptance of products while making clear how
to improve the safety of those products for the protection of consumers.
The hallmarks of the American National Standards process include:
- consensus on a proposed standard by a group or "consensus body" that includes representatives from materially affected and interested parties;
- broad-based public review and comment on draft standards;
- consideration of and response to comments submitted by voting members of the relevant consensus body and by public review commenters;
- incorporation of approved changes into a draft standard; and
- right to appeal by any participant that believes that due process principles were not sufficiently respected during the standards development in accordance with the ANSI-accredited procedures of the
As mentioned above, in order to maintain ANSI accreditation, standards developers are required to consistently adhere to a set of requirements or procedures that govern the consensus development
process. These requirements are set forth in a document known as the ANSI Essential Requirements: Due process requirements for American National Standards.
A series of
guidance documents help to further explain these procedures.
These guides are informative documents that may assist ANSI-accredited standards developers and participants understand the ANS process and its implications.
Due process is the key to ensuring that ANSs are
developed in an environment that is equitable, accessible and responsive to the
requirements of various stakeholders. The open and fair ANS process ensures
that all interested and affected parties have an opportunity to participate in
a standard's development. It also serves and protects the public interest since
standards developers accredited by ANSI must meet the Institute's essential
requirements and other due process safeguards.
 Data shown is as of 1996; newer statistics are not available.