The United States Government’s National Standards Strategy for Critical and Emerging Technology (USG NSSCET) aims to strengthen U.S. leadership and competitiveness in advanced technologies that are critical to the nation’s economy and national security. This strategy will help accelerate private sector-led standards efforts for critical and emerging technologies (CETs), contributing to interoperability, facilitating access to global markets, and ensuring U.S. competitiveness and innovation. The USG NSSCET outlines how the United States will work with like-minded partners and allies to advance our competitiveness, protect the integrity of standards-developing ecosystems, and ensure the long-term success of our innovation ecosystem.
The CETs that this strategy focuses on include:
- Communication and networking technologies
- Semiconductors and microelectronics
- Artificial intelligence,
- Biotechnologies, technologies,
- Renewable energy generation and storage
- Quantum information technologies
- Automated and connected infrastructure
- Advanced and networked sensing and signature management
A full list of USG CETs can be found here.
Standards are essential to commerce, allowing technologies to work seamlessly and businesses to operate smoothly. They provide industries and innovators with a common language that facilitates trade, simplifies transactions, and enables people to work together toward greater common goals that cut across disciplines and borders. Standards play a critical role in supporting the emergence and growth of new technologies that enhance U.S. competitiveness in the global market. Through its Standards Coordination Office (SCO), the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) supports the development of international documentary standards by identifying technical areas where they are needed, convening stakeholders, and providing technical and scientific guidance and expertise to stakeholder groups.
The U.S. private sector leads standards activities globally, with substantial contributions from government and academia. To effectively coordinate efforts, NIST and the U.S. government work closely with ANSI, the sole U.S. representative to the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC). ANSI serves as a strong voice on behalf of the United States standards community, protecting and strengthening its impact domestically and internationally. The U.S. Government’s strategy is intended to support and complement the ANSI U.S. Standards Strategy, with a focus on CETs. Industry consortia and other private-sector groups often complement the roles of NIST, ANSI and ANSI-accredited SDOs, working together to develop standards to solve specific challenges. To date, this approach has fostered an effective and innovative standards system that has supercharged economic growth and worked for people of all nations.
NIST and the USG NSS CET
The CHIPS and Science ACT of 2022 codifies NIST’s role as a convener, leader, and Federal coordinator for international standards and provides a blueprint for investments in pre-standardization research that leads to innovation, cutting-edge science, and translational research (Public Law 117-167, Section 10254, codified at 42 U.S.C. § 18951). As the leader in standards for the Federal government, NIST can coordinate policy and regulations to create an environment that facilitates U.S. private and public sector engagement and influence in international standards; reduce barriers to standards participation for U.S. industry, especially small and medium-sized innovators; ensure that the United States continues to be a welcoming location for hosting international standards events; and facilitate professional development in standards-setting through training, education and mentorship programs.
NIST’s research programs identify the kinds of measurements that future technologies will require. NIST has a long history of leadership in the development of standards for CETs. Nearly 570 technical staff at NIST participate in over 300 standards development organizations and more than 3,000 different standards activities to support domestic and international priorities. NIST’s research in measurements to define the application and performance of CETs is important to U.S. national and economic security. U.S. leadership in these CET areas, including leadership in standardization, will determine the Nation’s position in the emerging global economy in the coming decades.
In addition to highlights provided in the White House USG NSSCET fact sheet, with NIST leading implementation across the USG to implement objectives focused on Investment, Participation, Workforce, and Integrity and Inclusivity, NIST has specific exemplar CET standards efforts noted below that showcase NIST’s role in CETs:
- Artificial Intelligence (AI) – Executive Order (E.O.) 13859 directed the Secretary of Commerce, through NIST, to issue “a plan for Federal engagement in the development of technical standards and related tools in support of reliable, robust, and trustworthy systems that use AI technologies.” In response to the E.O., NIST released in 2019 the U.S. Leadership in AI: A Plan for Federal Engagement in Developing Technical Standards and Related Tools. The plan was developed with broad public and private sector input and outlines a deep, consistent, and long-term engagement in AI standards development activities in the United States. As an outcome of this plan, NIST collaborated with experts from more than 240 organizations through a consensus-driven, open, transparent, and collaborative process on the development of an AI Risk Management Framework (AI RMF). The AI RMF, released by NIST in January 2023, contains voluntary guidance that describes the taxonomy of AI risks and a structured way to map, measure and manage them. NIST continues to work closely with the AI community to incorporate key concepts from the AI RMF into international standards related to nomenclature, data capture and analysis, trustworthiness, and risk management.
- Biosystems and Biomaterials – NIST fosters innovation and builds confidence in quantitative biology and biomaterial measurements across government and industry to support the bioeconomy. Through extensive outreach and collaboration with academia and the private sector, NIST led the development of a framework for the development of the first meaningful methods to compare cell quantity measurements. NIST’s recent work has focused on collaborations with a wide range of stakeholders to implement the approach for cell therapy and regenerative medicine applications. NIST chairs and administers the U.S. Mirror Committee to ISO/TC 276: Biotechnology, which develops standards for all sectors of biotechnology. NIST has created an inclusive, collaborative environment among over 40 organizations to best represent U.S. interests while promoting international cooperation on the development of emerging biotechnology and biomanufacturing technology through global standards.
- Advanced Wireless Communications – NIST serves as an independent, unbiased convener for the development of trusted communication and measurement standards. As cellular networks, systems, and technologies rapidly advance, scientists and engineers often refer to future high-speed wireless communications as simply “next-generation” or “NextG.” NIST is helping to create the technologies and methods that industry can use to build and evaluate 5G-and-beyond systems. NIST has a central role in making NextG a reliable and ubiquitous technology by rigorously measuring and testing all the parts of the wireless ecosystem and using those measurements to help the communications industry develop standards for these new networks and devices. NIST launched the NextG Channel Model Alliance in 2015 as a consortium that works to advance breakthrough measurement, calibration, and channel modeling approaches needed to support the commercialization of next-generation wireless networks, including 5G and beyond. To date, the alliance has brought together more than 200 global participants from academia, industry and other government organizations.
- Quantum Information Technology –An emerging research focus at NIST is to understand the potential for quantum-based technology to transform security, computing and communications, and to develop the measurement and standards infrastructure necessary to exploit this potential. Quantum computing promises to unfold the power of computing exponentially through the use of subatomic particles called qubits, which can exist in a multidimensional state instead of a binary one used by traditional computing. NIST called on the public to assist in the development of new algorithms that would protect quantum computers from attack through a Call for Proposals for Post Quantum Cryptography Standardization. The announcement called upon the world’s cryptographers to develop encryption methods that could resist attack from a quantum computer. NIST revealed the first group of winners from this six-year competition in July 2022. These quantum-resistant algorithms are under consideration for the basis of a quantum cryptography standard for Federal information systems, and will also be available for voluntary adoption by the private sector. NIST helps to advance quantum information technology and standardization through joint institutes, JILA and the Joint Quantum Institute (JQI), the Joint Center for Quantum Information and Computer Science (QuICS), and through support for the Quantum Economic Development Consortium (QED-C), a consortium of stakeholders, convened by NIST, that aims to enable and grow the quantum industry.
For additional information related to U.S. standardization efforts, please visit https://www.standards.gov/.
For additional information related to NIST’s mission and how NIST partners with industry, academia, and other Federal agencies to help solve critical technical challenges, please visit https://www.nist.gov/.