New Regulatory Policy Development: OMB’s Revised Guidance to Federal Agencies on Standards and Conformity Assessment
by Jeff Weiss
On January 27, 2016, the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) published its long-awaited revision of Circular A-119 on “Federal Participation in the Development and Use of Voluntary Consensus Standards and in Conformity Assessment Activities.” The new policy was developed through an interagency process that took into account public input received during two open comment periods since 2012. It is meant to reflect and incorporate lessons learned and experience gained in the nearly two decades since the Circular was last revised in 1998. These include developments in international trade, technology, and U.S. regulatory policy (including with respect to retrospective review, open government, and international regulatory cooperation).
At the same time, the new policy reflects the U.S. “multiple path” approach to standards – namely, that standards should be market driven, globally relevant, and developed through open, transparent, and consensus-based processes. It re-emphasizes the importance of the public-private partnership underlying the U.S. approach to standardization as the key strength of the U.S. standards system and an important driver of economic growth, competitiveness, innovation, and global trade.