Mandatory Standard

A standard set by government. A procurement standard specifies requirements that must be met by suppliers to government. A regulatory standard may set safety, health, environmental, or related criteria. Voluntary standards developed for private use often become mandatory when referenced within government regulation or procurement.

Performance Standard

A standard that defines a product's characteristics in terms of how it is to function. Because this type of standard leaves open to the designer the issue of how the product achieves the desired functionality, performance standards are considered less restrictive of innovation than design standards.

Voluntary Consensus Standard

A standard arising from a formal, coordinated process in which key participants in a market seek consensus. Use of the resulting standard is voluntary. Key participants may include not only designers and producers, but also consumers, corporate and government purchasing officials, and regulatory authorities.


Conformity Assessment

The determination of whether a product or process conforms to particular standards or specifications. Activities associated with conformity assessment may include testing, certification, accreditation, and quality assurance system registration.


The process of evaluating testing facilities for competence to perform specific tests using standard test methods. The test methods for which a facility seeks accreditation may or may not be associated with a particular certification program.


The process of providing assurance that a product or service conforms to one or more standards or specifications. Some, but not all, certification programs require that an accredited laboratory perform any required testing.

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