ANSI - American National Standards Institute

Domestic Programs (American National Standards) Overview

American National Standards and the value of the ANS designation

  Learn more about American National Standards and the value of the ANS       designation

 ANS Key Steps and Quick References

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.

As of 2020, more than 240 of these standards developers were accredited by ANSI; there are more than 12,000 American National Standards (ANS).

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 [1] 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 NTTAA.

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 standards developer.

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.

[1] Data shown is as of 1996; newer statistics are not available.

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