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The ABCs oF Standards Activities



Maureen A. Breitenberg


This report is an introduction to standardization and the U.S. standards system for readers that are not familiar with this topic. It highlights some of the more important aspects of this field; furnishes the reader with both historical and current information; describes the importance and impact of standards development and use; and serves as guidance for using available documents and services. This report discusses some of the complexities of the U.S. standards system. It also provides some understanding of what is meant by a documentary standard, as well as an overview of the international and regional standards systems. In addition, it describes the U.S. Standards Strategy and the principles used in effective standards development efforts. This report also discusses the role played by private sector entities in the process and the roles played by both the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). It covers some obligations of U.S. federal agencies with respect to the use and adoption of standards. In particular, this document discusses the impact of the National Technology and Transfer and Advancement Act (NTTAA), the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Circular A-119, Federal Participation in the Development and Use of Voluntary Consensus Standards and in Conformity Assessment Activities, as well as the obligations imposed by regional and international trade agreements
NIST Interagency/Internal Report (NISTIR) - 7614
Report Number


standards, U.S. standards system, consensus, standardization


Breitenberg, M. (2009), The ABCs oF Standards Activities, NIST Interagency/Internal Report (NISTIR), National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD, [online], (Accessed May 23, 2024)


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Created August 23, 2009, Updated November 10, 2018