standards committees. After public comments are reviewed and committees reach consensus, the NFPA membership votes as a whole on adoption of standards as voluntary national standards. NFPA is also actively involved in public fire protection, fire analysis and research, government relations, and public education. Its standards are used in the fields of aviation, chemicals, engineering, hazardous materials, health care, marine fire protection, and signaling systems, among others. It also publishes the National Fire Codes and National Electrical Code, which are referenced in many state and local building regulations.48

Consortia Standards consortia are a response to the rate of technological advance outpacing consensus standards development in some industry sectors.49 They focus particularly on compatibility standards. Examples include the Corporation for Open Systems (COS) and the Manufacturing Automation Protocol (MAP) user group. COS, a vendor consortium, was established to promote the Open Systems Interconnection (OSI) suite of computer interconnection protocols. Currently, COS is active in testing OSI products for conformance to the standards. By contrast, MAP is a user consortium, created to pressure vendors of manufacturing automation systems to develop compatible products.

Participation in standards-setting is generally limited to consortium members. Requirements for openness, consensus, and due process are less strict than in other standards-developing organizations, primarily to speed the development process. In fact, standards produced by consortia represent a hybrid stage between de facto industry standards and full consensus standards. To gain acceptance of their standards in the marketplace, consortia may seek after-the-fact accreditation of the standards through ANSI procedures. This is particularly the case, for example, for consortia wishing to promote international acceptance of their standards through ISO and IEC.

American National Standards Institute

The American Engineering Standards Committee was formed in 1918 as a federation of several prominent SDOs. In the 1960s, after several name changes, it became the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). Its principal missions are to coordinate and strengthen the U.S. voluntary consensus standards development system; to promote awareness and use of voluntary standards; and to represent U.S. interests in international standardization bodies.50 ANSI is a nonprofit organization with annual revenues in 1993 of $16.7 million.51 ANSI membership includes approximately 1,300 companies; 35 government agencies; and more than 260 technical, trade, labor and consumer groups.52

ANSI's organizational structure is decentralized (see Figure 2-2). ANSI's intent is for standards developers and users in different industry and technology sectors to be able to manage the development of standards at the level and

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