for standards within the international trading system, the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT). Through a network of national inquiry points, GATT members are required to notify each other when considering new regulations and conformity assessment requirements that affect imports from other nations. (GATT obligations concerning standards and conformity assessment are discussed in detail in Chapter 4.) The office is also the U.S. contact point for ISONET, an information exchange network for members of the International Organization for Standardization, despite the fact that ANSI is the U.S. member body of ISO. Other Office of Standards Services activities discussed in the next two chapters include laboratory accreditation and conformity assessment system recognition; coordination of the National Conference on Weights and Measures, which promotes uniformity and effectiveness in state and local measurement programs; technical assistance programs in several developing overseas markets; and assistance to the U.S. Trade Representative and other trade agencies with technical standards and conformity issues that affect international trade policy.86

In conjunction with its role as the U.S. GATT and ISONET inquiry points, the Office of Standards Services maintains an extensive library of information about both U.S. and international standards, including mandatory and voluntary standards. This library, the National Center for Standards and Certification Information (NCSCI), is open to the public, responds to telephone and written inquiries, and disseminates standards information through announcements in the ANSI Reporter. Through its Standards Code and Information (SCI) Program, Standards Services compiles directories of public and private organizations with standards and conformity assessment activities and publishes basic informational reports on various topics. With a staff of 10 and a combined annual budget of approximately $1 million, however, SCI and NCSCI have been unable to pursue as proactive an outreach effort as would be possible with greater resources. For example, NCSCI receives approximately 10,000 requests for information per year. These divide about evenly between questions about domestic and foreign standards and conformity assessment matters. Increased efforts at publicizing the service—for example, through advertisements in industry and trade publications—would likely swamp the center's capacity to respond to inquiries.87 A 1993 special publication from SCI, a report on ISO 9000 quality system standards, became its most requested document; however, lack of resources for printing and mailing has limited dissemination of the report.88

Federal Use of Voluntary Consensus Standards

Many federal agencies besides NIST are active in developing and using standards. Procurement standards set by the DoD and the GSA together represent the majority of federal standards. Regulatory agencies such as EPA, OSHA, CPSC, and FDA account for approximately 8,500 active federal standards. Federal regulations and procurement standards are distinct from voluntary consensus

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