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U.S. Standards System: Introduction

Standards Strategy

The U.S. economy is supported by a market-driven, highly diversified society, and its standards and conformity assessment system encompasses and reflects this framework. The system emphasizes standards-based solutions developed with a private-sector lead, providing greater authority to standards users and stakeholders to facilitate trade, improve quality, promote interoperability, and protect health, safety, and the environment.

In many countries, the standardization system is top down, where a single standards body – often a government agency – drives all national standardization activities. The U.S. system is bottom up, allowing standards users to drive standardization activities. This approach promotes the speed and flexibility of delivering and implementing solutions to market, encourages participation from a wide spectrum of stakeholders, accommodates input from all interested parties, and helps to prevent unnecessary or overly burdensome regulation.


In the U.S. system, standards users include industry, consumers, government regulators (who use standards as the basis for regulations), and government procurement agencies. These parties voluntarily participate in the development of standards and related policies and have the freedom to choose how they will participate and which standards they will use.

. Learn more about how the U.S. system is different

ANSI logoStandards developing organizations (SDOs) serve as “immediate responders” to the needs of standards users, and have a considerable amount of influence in the U.S. system. Most SDOs operate as independent, private-sector organizations under the ANSI umbrella. In this capacity, ANSI serves as the coordinator of private-sector technical standardization activity, also coordinating and participating in U.S. policy development for private-sector standards and conformance.

Many countries have National Standards Bodies which are either a part of the government or otherwise granted authority by the government to represent the nation internationally and to steer standards-related technical and policy developments. The U.S., on the other hand, is private-sector led, represented by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), a non-governmental, private-sector organization. ANSI’s role is not to direct the U.S. system, but rather to coordinate the diverse actors and perspectives. With neither an explicit federal mandate nor dedicated subsidization from the U.S. government, ANSI’s strength comes through its effective representation of the interests of its members constituting the U.S. standards and conformity assessment system.

U.S. Standardization System .  Learn more about the U.S. Standardization System.

The ANSI Federation of is made up of nearly 1,000 U.S. businesses, professional societies and trade associations, standards developers, government agencies, institutes and consumer and labor interests, forming the public-private partnership that contributes to and strengthens the U.S. economy. Since its founding in 1918, ANSI’s strength has been in the diversity and expertise of its membership, which includes representation from almost every U.S. industry sector.

.  More information on ANSI members and membership is available on the ANSI website.

Standards used in U.S.  next

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