company does its work. However, compliance with some external standards is a necessity for all firms. The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulates many manufacturing processes to protect worker safety, while the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) sets standards for the sanitation of meat processing facilities. Independent inspection and audit of production play a key part in the enforcement of process standards such as those set by OSHA and USDA.18

Firms may also perform—or hire independent auditors to perform—assessments of their procedures for ensuring product quality. This process-management approach to quality assurance, pioneered by W. Edwards Deming, is reflected in the internal quality programs of numerous manufacturers. It is also formalized in quality management system standards, such as the ISO 9000 series published by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO)—a private, international standards-developing organization in Geneva, Switzerland, with membership including national standards organizations from most countries of the world.19 It is also reflected in the Department of Commerce's Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award criteria. These standards furnish objective criteria for evaluating aspects of a firm's quality assurance processes. They also serve as one avenue for diffusion of best practices in quality assurance throughout industry as manufacturers invest the effort needed to adopt and conform to them.20

Public Welfare

Standards are an important means of promoting societal goals, such as protection of health, safety, and the environment. Government agencies at the national, regional, state, and local levels administer thousands of regulatory standards or technical regulations. These govern the characteristics of the products and services that manufacturers produce and the materials and processes that they use in producing them. Some regulatory standards are developed by government agencies, but many are developed within the private sector and adopted by government. OSHA and USDA guidelines noted above are examples of process-oriented regulations. The National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration's automobile bumper and air bag standards are examples of product-oriented regulations. Standards for treatment, storage, and distribution of drinking water have been developed by the private, non-profit NSF International and are used by the Environmental Protection Agency, state governments, and many public and private water utilities.21

In addition to federal standards, a range of regulations applies in the United States at the state, regional, and local levels. Building codes enforced by public inspectors set parameters for electrical wiring, plumbing, materials, and other aspects of construction. Many public jurisdictions apply water and air quality standards setting limits on pollutants and toxins that may be emitted into the

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