NIST Standards Roundtable Wrestles With Question of Consortia Standards

NIST convened a Roundtable on Federal Government Engagement in Standards that included senior federal officials and industry leaders on standards.  Participants discussed the role of voluntary standards in addressing cybersecurity and other national priorities.  

OMB Circular A-119, which sets Executive Branch standards policy, recognizes a role for non-consensus consortia standards as well as for consensus standards.  When asked about the role of consortia standards in meeting federal standards needs, however, the panelists had no clear answer.  There was recognition that the market-driven consortia process can develop standards more quickly than a traditional consensus standards process and there was discussion of federal use of de facto industry IT standards.  There was concern though that federal use of consortia standards could potentially give an undue advantage to specific companies.


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