• System Recognition (NCASR) program. This program should recognize accreditors of (a) testing laboratories, (b) product certifiers, and (c) quality system registrars. By the year 2000, the government should rely on private-sector conformity assessment services recognized as competent by NIST.
  • RECOMMENDATION 2: NIST should develop, within one year, a ten-year strategic plan to eliminate duplication in state and local criteria for accrediting testing laboratories and product certifiers. NIST should lead efforts to build a network of mutual recognition agreements among federal, state, and local authorities.

After 10 years, the Secretary of Commerce should work with federal regulatory agencies to eliminate remaining duplication through preemption of state and local conformity assessment regulation.

Standards Development

The U.S. standards development system serves the national interest well. In most cases, it supports efficient and timely development of product and process standards that meet economic and public interests. Federal government use of the standards developed by private standards organizations in regulation and public procurement has many benefits. These include lowering the costs to taxpayers and eliminating the burdens on private firms from meeting duplicative standards in both government and private markets. Although not every public standard can be developed through private-sector processes, government should rely on private activities in all but the most vital cases involving protection of public health, safety, environment, and national security.

Current efforts by the U.S. government to leverage the strengths of the private U.S. standards development system, as outlined in the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Circular A-119, ''Federal Participation in the Development and Use of Voluntary Standards," are inadequate. Effective, long-term public–private cooperation in developing and using standards requires a clear division of responsibilities and effective information transfer between government and industry. Improved institutional mechanisms are needed to effect lasting change.

  • RECOMMENDATION 3: Congress should enact legislation replacing OMB Circular A-119 with a statutory mandate for NIST as the lead U.S. agency for ensuring federal use of standards developed by private, consensus organizations to meet regulatory and procurement needs.
  • RECOMMENDATION 4: The director of NIST should initiate formal negotiations toward a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between NIST

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