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National Standards Strategy for Critical and Emerging Technology (NSSCET) Release

Remarks as prepared.

It’s a pleasure to be here with all of you today. This is truly an exciting time for our country, and I am honored to be in a room filled with technology innovators and standards leaders. 

Today’s event gives us a look into the future of international standards development in a rapidly changing technological and international landscape that presents new challenges to our global competitiveness. The combination of political and technical changes requires us to adapt, because our continued leadership is never guaranteed.

I spent over 30 years of my career at NIST, went to academia for a few years, and then returned to serve as NIST director and the under secretary of commerce. I am proud of how NIST supports the private sector-led standards system in the United States as we carry out our mission to ensure our nation’s economic and national security in the context of today’s rapidly changing global economy.

At NIST, we develop many kinds of standards — we are well known for the physical reference materials that people use to validate and benchmark the measurements they make — all over the U.S. and all over the world. Some recent examples are research grade test materials for COVID-19 and monkeypox, along with all types of reference artifacts, like the ones used to measure the strength of steel.

But a top priority for us at NIST and the department as a whole is our work to assist the private sector in the development of documentary standards across a broad range of industries, from manufacturing to biotechnology to telecommunications, just to name a few.

And I cannot overstate the importance of coordination and cooperation with the private sector on standards development. It is one of the main reasons all of you are here today.

Let me state first and foremost: The private sector-led approach to standards development is vital to the nation’s technology and innovation leadership, which ensures our economic and national security.

And considering the current global competition landscape, it is also very clear that there is a national need to promote and quicken the development of both emerging technology and the standards that support it.

U.S. Government National Standards Strategy for Critical and Emerging Technology

The U.S. Government National Standards Strategy for Critical and Emerging Technology that we are launching today complements and aligns with ANSI’s United States Standards Strategy.

Our strategy is part of a broad emphasis across the government on strengthening U.S. competitiveness and innovation. It is meant to enhance and focus the U.S. government approach by supporting the private sector and ensuring U.S. leadership in international standards development.

The need for a new and robust U.S. government standards strategy is clear because of recent developments that we cannot ignore: (1) We face new challenges to U.S. competitiveness; (2) the pace of technology development is increasing; and (3) although we currently have a leading role in many areas of standards development, we cannot assume that this will automatically continue.

As you may know, other leading world economies, including China and the EU, have released their own standards strategies. This reflects the simple reality that standards are critical to a country’s economic competitiveness in today’s global economy, a reality borne out by the fact that 93% of global trade is impacted by international standards, according to ITA. The U.S. Government National Standards Strategy for Critical and Emerging Technology presents a strategic and proactive vision that builds on what has made the U.S. approach to standards so successful over the last several decades — and it will ensure that our nation is effectively positioned to address some of the emerging challenges in international standards development.

Our long-standing approach has been a good one. It has resulted in international standards that (1) are technically sound; (2) are favorable to U.S. stakeholders, allies and like-minded partners; and (3) ensure U.S. access to global markets. The U.S. economy and the American people have benefited greatly from this approach.

Faced with emerging challenges, it is essential that we, the U.S. private- and public-sectors, must be fully engaged in international standards development — promoting our technical solutions, particularly in all critical and emerging technology areas — and working closely with our like-minded partners and allies. I want to stress here that it is not our aim to exclude any country from the international standards system. This is a very important point. It is also important that our like-minded partners and allies share this vision — and that they do not exclude U.S. private sector stakeholders from their respective systems.

The United States and our international partners must continue to uphold the integrity of international standards development, and ensure that the integrity of standards development organizations, or SDOs, in every technical area, is not compromised.

We maintain that standards should always be developed in accordance with the World Trade Organization’s Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) Committee decision that articulates principles of transparency, openness, impartiality and consensus, effectiveness and relevance, and coherence.

Working With the Private Sector  

I am excited and proud that NIST will lead execution of this new strategy.

As the director of NIST and the under secretary of commerce for standards and technology, I have directed my team to coordinate across the U.S. Department of Commerce and the interagency to strengthen our involvement in standards development efforts — and ensure that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

In keeping with NIST tradition, this implementation will be accomplished from beginning to end with private sector stakeholder engagement as a core value.

We look forward to working alongside the private sector community as we move forward together in renewing our commitment to U.S. leadership and engagement in standards.

NIST is ready to go — working together with all of you — and our international partners.

We are listening, and we welcome your thoughts on the implementation of this important strategy. In addition to today’s event, we will launch listening sessions to better understand the barriers to more effective engagement in standards development across technology areas. Of course, we will also work closely with ANSI, SDOs and industry leaders to conduct these events. We encourage you to watch NIST’s web page for updates on our activities.

By taking these actions, we will support both ANSI’s U.S. Standards Strategy and our first U.S. Government National Standards Strategy for Critical and Emerging Technologies. We will lead the way as the U.S. government supports the private sector in this effort. The agencies have demonstrated their commitment to the USGNSSCET through their actions and partnerships including:

  • NSF updated its proposal and award policies and procedures to incentivize participation in standards development activities, as part of NSF-funded research.
  • BIS published an interim final rule (IFR) that introduced a broad definition of standards-related activities to reduce risks associated with international standards participation for U.S. companies when Entity Listed organizations participate. To make sure federal policy was not limiting contributions to technical standards, USPTO, NIST and the U.S. Department of Justice Antitrust Division withdrew a 2019 Policy Statement on Remedies for Standards-Essential Patents Subject to Voluntary F/RAND Commitments.
  • NTIA, NIST and the FCC coordinate U.S. government participation in the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) and work with the Alliance for Telecommunications Industry Solutions to ensure participation by international standards delegates at North American-hosted 3GPP meetings.

These actions demonstrate a commitment to realizing the potential set forth in the strategy. Our collaborative engagement in international standards development is crucial to our collective success.

I welcome the discussion today and in the coming weeks, months and years as we work together. Your input will inform our work and drive U.S. technology and innovation leadership. Together, we must move quickly to preserve our leading role in this challenging landscape. 

There is much more work to be done, but let’s take a moment and appreciate this exciting time we are in! I look forward to hearing and seeing the great things we will accomplish together through this public-private partnership.

Thank you again for the opportunity to speak with you today.

Created May 5, 2023