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Key Federal Law and Policy Documents: NTTAA & OMB A-119

OMB Circular A-119 and the National Technology Transfer and Advancement Act establish and clarify U.S. policy to increase Federal reliance on voluntary consensus standards

The National Technology Transfer and Advancement Act (NTTAA) directs Federal agencies to adopt voluntary consensus standards wherever possible (avoiding development of unique government standards) and establishes reporting requirements. NIST roles have the following objectives:

  • Guide government agencies in conducting
    and reporting on standards and conformity assessment activities.
  • Promote the use of standards developed by non-government organizations.
  • Coordinate with Federal, state, and local agencies to foster greater reliance on voluntary consensus standards.
  • Work through the Interagency Committee on Standards Policy (ICSP) to foster this reliance.

OMB Circular A-119, revised by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) in January 2016, spells out the government strategy for standards development. It promotes agency participation on standards bodies, specifies reporting requirements on conformity assessment activities, and informs agencies of their statutory obligations related to standards setting.

NIST Guidance on Federal Conformity Assessment Activities (15 CFR Part 287) outlines Federal agencies’ responsibilities for using conformity assessment to meet respective agency requirements in an efficient and cost-effective manner for the agency and its stakeholders.

NIST is responsible for coordinating standards and conformity assessment activities and reporting government-wide progress annually to OMB

Responsibilities of Federal Agencies

Under NTTAA, Federal agencies are responsible for evaluating the efficacy of their conformity assessment activities. Each agency must coordinate its activities with those of other appropriate agencies and the private sector.

This applies to all federal agencies that set policy for, manage, operate, or use conformity assessment activities and results, both domestic and international—except activities carried out pursuant to treaties.


Additional Information




Created May 31, 2016, Updated April 8, 2021