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Metric Policy

The Metric Program coordinates metric transition activities under the Metric Conversion Act, including transition of all federal agencies (Executive Order 12770). U.S. metric legislation and policy authorizes the Secretary of Commerce to direct and coordinate the federal agency metric transition and to assess progress. Federal agencies implement formal policy and plans for using the SI (metric system) and report transition progress. The use of the SI in federal agency programs relating to trade, industry, and commerce is intended to support industry's voluntary adoption of the SI.

U.S. Metric System (SI) Legal Resources

Diplomatic Treaties

The Convention of the Meter Signed in Paris in May 20, 1875 by seventeen countries, including the United States. May 20th is now celebrated as "World Metrology Day"


Federal Policies and Regulations

Federal Agency Metric Transition

The Executive Order and the Metric Conversion Law designates the SI (metric system) of measurement as the preferred system of weights and measures for use in trade and commerce, and requires the use of the SI system, to the extent economically feasible, by each federal agency and department in its procurements, grants, and other business-related activities. Metric usage is not required if its use is impractical or is likely to cause significant inefficiencies or loss of markets to United States firms. Guidance on implementation of Federal Government Metric Conversion Policy can be found in NIST SP 814.

Federal agencies and departments are required to formulate transition plans and to communicate them to the Metric Program at NIST. Heads of departments and agencies must establish effective process for a policy and program level review of proposed exceptions to metric usage, as well as to take initiatives to increase use of SI in industry, and seek out ways to increase understanding of the metric system of measurement through educational information and guidance and in government publications.

Progress Report Guidelines

Annual Metric Progress Report Guidelines (FY2019) PDF - Deadline: May 1, 2020

Annual Metric Progress Report Guidelines (FY2018) PDF - Deadline: May 1, 2019

Report Examples:

Federal Agency Metric Policy Implementation Examples

General Services Administration

USAID Acquisition and Assistance Policy

Veteran Affairs

Federal Agency Measurement Unit Collaboration

In collaboration, NOAA and NIST are preparing to discontinue the use of the U.S. survey foot and adopt the international survey foot in a move towards more precise positioning in surveying, mapping, and engineering is a practical solution to a long-term problem. Ending this will eliminate confusion and unnecessary costs. Improved measurement uniformity and accuracy will benefit stakeholders, including the States and professionals in the surveying, mapping, and engineering fields. NOAA National Geodetic Survey (NGS) has long used the meter as its official unit of measurement and this will not change. Currently, both the international foot and U.S. survey foot are based on the meter, and in fact all U.S. customary units are based on the International System of Units (SI). 



Created November 4, 2009, Updated May 1, 2020