Prior to 1966 there were two types of voluntary standards published by the Department of Commerce (DOC). They were referred to as "Commodity Standards" and were identified as Simplified Practice Recommendations (SPR or R) and Commercial Standards (CS).
Simplified Practice Recommendations provided lists of stock or staple items in greatest demand. They made possible a choice, in accordance with generally recognized trade practices, between "standard" items that were widely available from distributors' stock and might require factory orders and more costly production and handling methods.
Commercial Standards established technical requirements for materials, construction, dimensions, tolerances, grading, marking, or other details. These standards also defined quality levels for products, and provided for close adherence to those levels. In addition, they established uniform methods of test for achieving and determining compliance with the standards.
Although there were definite differences between Simplified Recommendations and Commercial Standards when they were initiated, through the years these differences diminished as many SPR's were revised. It was thus deemed appropriate to consolidate these two types of standards and to provide a new name to properly describe the standards being developed.
The term Voluntary Product Standard (VPS) was chosen and is currently being used to identify all voluntary standards that are now published under procedures published by the Department of Commerce in Part 10, Title 15, of the Code of Federal Regulations. VPS standards are intended to establish nationally recognized requirements for products and to provide all concerned interest with a basis for common understanding of the characteristics of the products. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) administers the VPS program on a fee for service basis.