The Metric Program coordinates metric transition activities under the Metric Conversion Law (View the current one by searching for the terms: Metric Conversion Act, Metric System or Weights and Measures.), 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
- Metric Act of 1866 (14 Stat 339) PDF legalized the use of the Metric System in the U.S. The law was amended by the America Competes Act of 2007 PDF (U.S. Public Law 110-69), replacing the old metric system definition with the International System of Units (SI)
- Metric Conversion Act of 1975 (15 U.S.C. 205a et seq.) amended by the Omnibus Trade and Competitiveness Act of 1988. View the current Metric Conversion Act by searching for the terms: Metric Conversion Act, Metric System, or Weights and Measures.
- Fair Packaging and Labeling Act (FPLA)
- Savings in Construction Act of 1996 PDF
- Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century of 1998 (Public Law 105-178, Section 1211(d))
- Presidential Executive Order 12770 of July 25, 1991 PDF (FR 56 35801-35803)
Federal Policies and Regulations
- Metric System of Measurement: Interpretation of the International System of Units for the United States on May 16, 2008 (FR 28432-28433) PDF
- Metric Conversion Policy for Federal Agencies PDF (1991, 15 CRF Part 19 1170 et seq.)
- Federal Acquisition Regulation System (FAR), 7.103(o) – Ensuring that agency planners include use of the metric system of measurement in proposed acquisitions 15 U.S.C. 205b (See 11.002(b)) and agency metric plans and guidelines
- U.S. Department of Commerce Department Administrative Order (DAO) 201-21 (1995)
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.
- Treasury PDF
- United States Agency for International Development (USAID) PDF
- Veteran Affairs PDF
Examples of Federal Agency Metric Policy Implementation
- General Services
- Construction and Facilities Management
- Metric Transition Plan, Implementation and Guidance PDF (Directive 0100)
- Design Manual Index PDF
- VA Signage Design Guide
- National Cemetery Administration (NCA) Facilities Design Guide PDF