National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), 2009

The Standards Services Division (SSD) within the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) publishes information related to standards and conformity assessment as a service to producers and users of such systems—both in the government and in the private sector. This report provides a basic introduction to the U.S. standards system; explains what is meant by the term documentary standard and provides an overview of the U.S., international and regional standards systems. In addition, it describes the principles used in effective standards development efforts.

This report discusses the role played by private sector entities in the standards process, including the role played by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). It also discusses the U.S. Standards Strategy (USSS), which provides a roadmap for reliable, market-driven standards in all sectors.

In addition, it covers some obligations of U.S. federal agencies with respect to their use and adoption of standards. In particular, this document covers the impact of the National Technology and Transfer and Advancement Act (NTTAA), the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Circular A-119, Federal Participation in the Development and Use of Voluntary Consensus Standards and in Conformity Assessment Activities, as well as the obligations imposed by international and regional trade agreements.

The report is intended to provide basic information to help educate U.S. government agency officials, legislative staff, industry, and other standards professionals to make informed decisions regarding standards development policies and the effective allocation of limited standards development resources. It is also hoped that this report will serve as a starting point for further study and discussion on some of these important issues.

Download The ABC’s of Standards Activities