An Updated Look at OMB Circular A-119; Voluntary Consensus Standards

From: SSRN

An Updated Look at the Federal Policies Governing How Agencies Use Voluntary Consensus Standards in Regulatory, Procurement, and Science Documents

Bruce Levinson


Voluntary consensus standards are a salubrious antidote to the pervasive cynicism about public institutions; the consensus standards process demonstrates that industry, civil society, academia, and government benefit the world by working together through a stable, sustained, and voluntary framework. This document provides an overview of the policies which govern participation by Executive Branch agencies in the development and use of voluntary consensus standards and conformity assessment activities. Also examined is the nuanced federal approach to standards which are not developed in accordance with consensus procedures. Although these “market-driven consortia” standards are often developed by industry for industry, this type of standard can be of use to federal agencies in scientific, procurement, and regulatory applications.

The policies discussed below reflect the White House’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs’ (OIRA) January 2016 update to OMB Circular A-119 which was revised to better serve America’s economy in an increasingly interdependent world.

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