The Office of Management and Budget Circular No. A-119, "Federal Participation in the Development and Use of Voluntary Standards," encourages government use of voluntary standards for procurement and regulatory activities. The federal Interagency Committee on Standards Policy, chaired by Stanley I. Warshaw, director of the Office of Standards Services at the National Institute of Standards and Technology, will hold a one-day seminar, Feb. 23, 1994, on the significance of recent revisions to the OMB circular.
The purpose of the open meeting is to establish a dialogue between private-sector and public standards interests to accomplish the objectives of OMB Circular A-119. The meeting will provide an opportunity for private-sector standards organizations and federal agency representatives to exchange information on changes to the circular and discuss their implications for the standards community.
First issued in October 1982, OMB Circular A-119 established policy for all federal executive branch agencies concerning the use of voluntary standards and the participation of federal employees in their development. It set forth "the policy of the federal government in its procurement and regulatory activities to rely on voluntary standards, both domestic and international, whenever feasible and consistent with law and regulation pursuant to law."
The circular directed that voluntary standards should be adopted and used by federal agencies "in the interests of greater economy and efficiency" and should be given preference over non- mandatory government standards unless use of such voluntary standards would adversely affect performance or cost, reduce competition, or have other significant disadvantages.
Revisions to Circular A-119 were issued in October 1993 by the director of OMB. The new provisions are designed to foster greater implementation of the circular and to help achieve the Administration's goal of a more efficient and effective federal government.
According to Warshaw, the changes include: clarifying policy regarding international standards; incorporating metrication objectives and promoting environmentally sound and energy efficient standards; strengthening reporting and coordination mechanisms; and appointment of a "standards executive" by each agency head.
OMB Circular A-119 assigns responsibilities to the Secretary of Commerce for policy coordination and implementation. The secretary has directed NIST to carry out these responsibilities through the Interagency Committee on Standards Policy. The NIST Office of Standards Services provides the chair and secretariat for the ICSP.
The ICSP is currently composed of representatives of the 14 federal cabinet departments, 11 independent federal agencies and two offices in the Executive Office of the President.
The seminar on Feb. 23, 1994, will start at 9 a.m. in the auditorium of the Department of Commerce, 14th Street and Constitution Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20230. For information, contact the Office of Standards Services, A603 Administration Bldg., NIST, Gaithersburg, Md. 20899-0001, (301) 975-4000, fax: (301) 963-2871.
As a non-regulatory agency of the Commerce Department's Technology Administration, NIST promotes U.S. economic growth by working with industry to develop and apply technology, measurements and standards.