public and private responsibilities within the consensus standards system; and institutionalized mechanisms to effect systems improvement and lasting change. The following is therefore recommended:

  • RECOMMENDATION 4: The Director of NIST should initiate formal negotiations toward a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between NIST and the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). The MOU should outline modes of cooperation and division of responsibility between (1) ANSI, as the organizer and accreditor of the U.S. voluntary consensus standards system and the U.S. representative to international, non-treaty standards-setting organizations; and (2) NIST, as the coordinator of federal use of consensus standards and recognizing authority for federal use of private conformity assessment services. NIST should not be precluded from negotiating MOUs with other national standards organizations.

    In addition, all federal regulatory and procurement agencies should become dues-paying members of ANSI. Dues will support government's fair share of ANSI's infrastructure expenses.

An ANSI-NIST MOU would not be exclusive to these two parties. NIST could sign MOUs with other standards developers, for example, to facilitate use of their standards as appropriate to meet government needs. ANSI could enter into agreements with other agencies. The purpose of an ANSI-NIST MOU is to institutionalize a public division of the unique responsibilities of ANSI and NIST within the U.S. and international standards systems. The MOU will also raise the visibility, within and outside government, of federal policies mandating use of private consensus standards.

Government payment of ANSI dues, similarly, would not preclude use of non-ANSI standards or membership in standards organizations aside from ANSI. Dues payment would, however, uphold the federal government's responsibility, as a major beneficiary of the private, ANSI-accredited consensus standards system, to support its share of ANSI infrastructure and expenses. Dues from federal, state, and local government agencies presently account for less than 1 percent of ANSI dues collections and less than half of 1 percent of total ANSI revenues. Government adoption of private standards developed under the ANSI-accredited system, however, as well as participation of government experts in standards-writing committees, imposes substantial administrative costs on ANSI. These costs include managerial oversight of standardization processes; information dissemination and communication; and support for conferences and technical committee meetings, among others. Government payment of ANSI dues will enhance ANSI's ability to meet these administrative burdens and will provide for improvements in communication between the public and private standards communities. Agency dues will not, however, represent so large a share of ANSI's

The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement