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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"

Legislation

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 (FY2020) PDF - Deadline: May 1, 2021

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

Report Examples:

Federal Agency Metric Policy Implementation Examples

General Services Administration

National Institutes of Health

Occupational Safety and Health Administration

USAID Acquisition and Assistance Policy

Veteran Affairs

Announcement:  Federal and State Measurement Unit Change

In collaboration, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and NIST have taken action to provide national uniformity in the measurement of length. The final decision to retire the U.S. survey foot was published in the Federal Register (October 5, 2020) announcing the deprecation date of December 31, 2022.

  • Beginning on January 1, 2023, the U.S. survey foot should not be used and will be superseded by the international foot definition (i.e., 1 foot = 0.3048 meter exactly) in all applications. Either the term foot or international foot may be used, as required for clarity in technical applications.
  • The preferred measurement unit of length is the meter (m) and surveyors, map makers, and engineers are encouraged to adopt the International System of Units (SI) for their work.
  • Although the SI is the preferred measurement system for trade and commerce in the United States, trade practice may continue to use non-SI measurement units, such as the U.S. customary system of measurement. The relationship between SI length measurement units and the U.S. survey foot and associated non-SI units published in the FRN will be incorporated in the upcoming edition of NIST Special Publication (SP) 811, Guide for the Use of the International System of Units (SI) before December 2022.
  • Updating state statutes is an important part of the implementation process. The National Society of Professional Surveyors (NSPS), American Association for Geodetic Surveying (AAGS), and NOAA National Geodetic Survey (NGS) have collaborated to create template legislation to aid state adoption and transition to the international foot. State government stakeholders are encouraged to review and customize the language, as needed. These legislative resources also include statutory text that has already been proposed or enacted by states.
  • FR DOC 2020 FR 21902 (Published October 5, 2020) - Deprecation of the United States (U.S.) Survey Foot.

Resources

Contacts

Created November 4, 2009, Updated October 14, 2021