Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What is a standard?
A: A standard is a document, established by consensus that provides
rules, guidelines or characteristics for activities or their results. (As
defined in ISO/IEC Guide 2:2004)
Q: Why are standards important?
A: Standards play an important role in everyday life. They may establish
size or shape or capacity of a product, process or system. They can specify
performance of products or personnel. They also can define terms so that there
is no misunderstanding among those using the standard.
As examples, standards help ensure that film to fit our cameras can be
purchased anywhere in the world, that a light bulb fits a socket, and plugs for
electrical appliances fit outlets. With standards, our homes, workplaces and
public buildings are safer from collapse, fire and explosion.
Q: What is conformity assessment?
A: Conformity assessment is defined as any activity concerned with
determining directly or indirectly that relevant requirements are fulfilled. (As
defined in ISO/IEC Guide 2:2004)
While a standard IS a technical expression of how to make a product safe,
efficient, and compatible with others, a standard alone cannot guarantee
performance. Conformity assessment, however, provides assurance to consumers by
increasing consumer confidence when personnel, products, systems, processes or
services are evaluated against the requirements of a voluntary standard.
Q: What is ANSI?
A: ANSI, which stands for the “American National Standards Institute”,
has served as coordinator of the U.S. private sector, voluntary standardization
system for more than 90 years.
Our mission is to enhance both the global competitiveness of U.S. business and
the U.S. quality of life by promoting and facilitating voluntary consensus
standards and conformity assessment systems, and safeguarding their integrity.
Through its members, staff, constituents, partners and advocates, ANSI responds
directly to the standardization and conformity assessment interests and needs
of consumers, government, companies and organizations.
Q: What does ANSI do?
A: ANSI coordinates the U.S. voluntary consensus standards system,
providing a neutral forum for the development of policies on standards issues
and serves as a watchdog for standards development and conformity assessment
programs and processes.
The federation also accredits qualified organizations, whose standards
development process meets all of ANSI’s requirements, to develop American
National Standards. However, ANSI itself does not develop standards. In
addition, ANSI represents U.S. interests in regional and international
standardization activities while overseeing conformity assessment activities
that promote the global acceptance of U.S. products, services, systems and
Q: Who are ANSI's members?
A: 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, all working together to
develop voluntary national consensus standards. Since it was founded 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.
Q: What is the value of ANSI membership?
A: ANSI members have a unique opportunity to successfully impact their
companies’ or organizations’ operations on a national and international level
by participating in a number of boards and councils, panels or coordinating and
policymaking committees. For a summary of ANSI member benefits,
Q: How do members participate in leadership and policy setting activities?
A: Every ANSI member has the opportunity to participate in the
Institute’s leadership/policy setting activities. As a result of a governance
restructuring completed during 2002, participation in
Institute Policy Committees is open to the general membership; in
addition, any interested ANSI member may designate a representative to obtain
information, submit comments and participate in meetings whenever logistically
Q: What are the ANSI Member Forums?
A: ANSI provides each of its major constituency groups with its own
forum. The Company Member Forum, Government Member Forum and
Organizational Member Forum have as their charge to:
Provide a forum for discussion and networking by a defined interest category;
Provide a mechanism for “early warning” of relevant trends;
Address issues of interest primarily to their membership and galvanize
implementation at their constituent level;
Identify broader-based issues to be addressed by an identified governance body;
Assume an active role in ANSI membership recruitment and retention;
Serve as the one place within ANSI where participants can represent their own
Q: What role do consumers play in ANSI activities?
A: A key component of ANSI’s mission is to coordinate the development of
safe systems, processes and products through standards development and
conformity assessment programs. Often the consumer is on the receiving end of
this and therefore plays a large role in ANSI’s process.
Q: What is the Consumer Interest Forum?
A: ANSI’s Consumer Interest Forum (CIF) reviews consumer needs and plans
and carries out programs to satisfy them. Its responsibilities include
representing, promoting and protecting consumer interests in national standards
activities. Its activities involve consumers in standards development
activities by providing U.S. representation to the international community of
consumer specialists for issues of consumer policy. In addition, it creates a
forum for discussions of consumer issues in standards development.
Q: Is ANSI a government agency?
A: No. ANSI is not a government agency and therefore it has no regulatory
authority to address complaints about consumer products or services—including
products or services that purport to comply with an American National Standard.*
However, ANSI does serve as a conduit for information exchange between the
public and private sector. ANSI assists in the cross-communication of
public-sector views to U.S. organizations and companies and private-sector
views to government officials. Staff in ANSI’s Washington D.C. headquarters
takes the lead in maintaining key government relationships and monitoring
public policy issues in the area of standards and conformity assessment.
*If you have a complaint about a
consumer product or service, you are advised to contact the appropriate federal
or state regulatory body for assistance. A list of federal agencies is given on
the Consumer Resources page.
Q: What role does the government play in ANSI’s activities?
A: Since the time agencies of the federal government joined the five
societies as founders, the ANSI federation has enjoyed a cooperative
relationship with various segments of the federal government. This is very
beneficial for U.S. citizens as voluntary standards help the government fulfill
its mandate to ensure public safety and health and provide sound technical
solutions to today’s critical issues without creating additional cost and
Representatives of numerous U.S. government agencies actively participate in
the activities of ANSI and its accredited bodies.Approval of the National
Technology Transfer and Advancement Act (P.L. 104-113) in the mid-1990’s also
helped to encourage federal agencies to rely upon and participate in the
voluntary standards and conformity assessment systems. In addition, the
National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST), an agency of the U.S.
Department of Commerce, has officially recognized ANSI’s role as U.S.
representative to the ISO, IEC and many regional standards organizations.
Q: To what extent does the Federal government rely on voluntary standards?
A: One of the best examples of confidence in the ANS process is
Congress’s 1996 passage of the National Technology Transfer and Advancement
Act. This law requires federal agencies to increase their reliance upon—and
participation in—the voluntary consensus standards and conformity assessment
systems. The National Institute of
Standards and Technology (NIST), an agency of the Department of
Commerce, recently reported that the number of federal government agencies and
cabinet-level departments making use of voluntary consensus standards in new or
revised regulations in fiscal year 2000 was more than double the number
reported the previous year.
Q: Does ANSI develop standards?
A: ANSI establishes the consensus procedures that are the basis for the
development of American National Standards. We then accredit standards
developing organizations that operate in accordance with these procedures, and
approve their draft standards provided they are developed via this process.
Q: What are American National Standards?
A: American National Standards (ANSs) are essential tools used in every
industry. Today, there are some 9,500 American National Standards that have
been developed and approved in accordance with the
ANSI Essential Requirements. American National Standards are voluntary
and serve U.S. interests well because all materially affected stakeholders have
the opportunity to work together to create them. ANSI-approved standards only
become mandatory when, and if, they are adopted or referenced by the government
or when market forces make them imperative.
American National Standards are voluntary and serve U.S. interests well because
all impacted stakeholders work together to create them. ANSI-approved standards
only become mandatory when, and if, they are adopted or referenced by the
government or when market forces make them imperative.
Q: What subjects are covered by American National Standards (ANS)?
A: American National Standards provide dimensions, ratings, terminology
and symbols, test methods, and performance and safety requirements for
personnel, products, systems and services in hundreds of industries.Many ANS
make it clear how to improve the safety of products for the protection of
consumers, including products such as baby cribs, bicycle helmets, home
appliances, lawn mowers, ladders, etc.
Q: If ANSI doesn’t create standards, who does?
A: ANSI accredits standards developers to create standards. Accreditation
is defined as the procedure by which an authoritative body gives formal
recognition that a body or person is competent to carry out specific tasks. (As
defined in ISO/IEC Guide 2:2004)
Presently, there are more than 220 ANSI-Accredited Standards Developers
including organizations like ASTM International, Underwriters Laboratories,
Inc., NFPA International, ASME International, ASHRAE, CSA America, Inc. and NSF
Accreditation ensures adherence to ANSI's cardinal principles. ANSI-Accredited
Standards Developers develop American National Standards in many different
areas. ANSI supplies standards developers with effective procedures and
management services to ensure efficient use of their time and financial
resources, and promotes the timely development of standards. ANSI, in
cooperation with these standards developers identifies the need for a standard,
sets priorities for its completion, then assures that all impacted stakeholders
have an opportunity to participate. Audits oversee the integrity of the ANSI
process, regularly ensuring adherence to the ANSI procedures and safeguarding
the value of the ANS designation.
Q: Does ANSI work only within the United States?
A: ANSI works extensively with national, regional and international
standards bodies to ensure American interests are well represented in the
development of global standards. International standards support the worldwide
sale of products and services; they also prevent regions from using local
standards to favor local industries. ANSI’s membership in regional and
international organizations permits U.S. delegations to influence the
development and content of regional and international standards and conformity
assessment programs, and enhances U.S. position in the global marketplace.
Q: Who are ISO and IEC?
A: ANSI is the official U.S. representative to the
International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the
International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) via the U.S. National
ISO develops, coordinates and promotes international standards for a wide range
of business sectors. ISO standards include technical product specifications,
procedures and guidelines for services, personnel, and management system
standards for quality (ISO 9000) and the environment (ISO 14000).
IEC is the global organization that prepares and publishes international
standards for all electrical, electronic and related technologies. The
USNC serves as ANSI’s channel for U.S. interests in international
electrotechnical standards, certification, and other related matters into the
Q: Does ANSI develop the U.S. position on ISO and IEC standards?
A: Yes and No. ANSI and its U.S. National Committee for the IEC (USNC)
help to govern both organizations by serving on their respective governance
bodies. ANSI accredits and the USNC approves U.S. Technical Advisory Groups
(U.S. TAGs) to develop and transmit, via ANSI or the U.S. National Committee,
U.S. positions on activities and ballots of the international technical
Q: Is participation occurring only at the international level?
A:The U.S. is actively participating in key regional activities around
the world. To broaden the participation of ANSI in the development of policy
positions regarding regional standards and conformity assessment activities,
Regional Standing Committees were formed to coordinate U.S. activities,
respond to initiatives and advise ANSI on matters relating to the Americas;
Europe, the Middle East and Africa; and the Asia-Pacific region.
Q: How does ANSI ensure the integrity of the U.S. voluntary consensus standards
A: The effectiveness and strength of the ANS process lies in a system of
checks-and-balances. ANSI provides a fair and open process designed to protect
the rights and interests of every participant. Our procedures allow everyone
with an interest in the subject covered by a standard to participate, either as
a member of the consensus body or through public comment, and to have their
comments considered.The right to appeal and regular audits of accredited
standards developers are an integral part of this process.
Q: How can I comment on a draft standard?
A: For those wishing to submit public comments, ANSI produces a
web-based, weekly publication called Standards Action that contains
proposals for new standards, as well as revisions, reaffirmations and
withdrawals of existing standards. It also includes proposed revisions to
ANSI’s Procedures as well as revisions to international standards proposals and
developments. ANSI offers a free e-mail service alerting subscribers when the
most recent edition has been published. The web address is:
Q: How is ANSI involved in assessing the conformity of products to standards?
A: ANSI governs several accreditation*
programs for certification activities including products, laboratories,
systems, and personnel. ANSI does not conduct tests or technical evaluations of
products, systems or services. Similar to the accreditation of standards
developers, ANSI accredits other organizations to serve as third-party product,
system and personnel certifiers.
*Accreditation is the procedure by which
an authoritative body gives formal recognition that a body or person is
competent to carry out specific tasks. (As defined in ISO/IEC Guide 2:2004)
Q: Is there also a National Conformity Assessment Policy for the United States?
A: Yes. Through the implementation of the National Conformity Assessment
Principles for the United States (NCAP), ANSI is able to articulate the
principles for U.S. conformity assessment activities that will allow consumers,
buyers, sellers, regulators and other interested parties to have confidence in
conformity assessment processes, while avoiding the creation of unnecessary
barriers to trade. It is intended to complement the principles of the U.S.
standards system as described in the NSS. Standards are just good ideas unless
products, processes, systems and personnel conform to them.
Q: Does this mean that ANSI’s conformity assessment programs extend beyond the
A: Via U.S. representation to both ISO and IEC, as well as to many other
regional organizations, ANSI’s conformity assessment policy activities promote
global acceptance of U.S. products, services and personnel by helping to reduce
duplicative marking requirements and certification costs and by helping to
ensure a level playing field.
In addition, ANSI advocates worldwide acceptance of U.S. certifications.
Working to counter redundant and costly barriers to trade in the global
marketplace, ANSI is involved in several international and regional
arrangements for mutual recognition of equivalency across boundaries. As a
member of groups such as the International Accreditation Forum (IAF), the
Inter-American Accreditation Cooperation (IAAC) and the Pacific Accreditation
Cooperation (PAC), ANSI pursues and actively promotes multilateral arrangements
for such recognition.
Q: How can I learn more about ANSI and the standardization and conformity
A: ANSI has designed a variety of sources in order to further disseminate
information about the standardization and conformity assessment community:
ANSI Online is
a comprehensive news and information source for members, the press and the
general public providing the most current details on the Institute and the
latest national, regional and international standards-related activities.
Standards Action is a weekly electronic newsletter
announcing standards development activities and soliciting comments on draft
national, regional, international and foreign standards.
ANSI Reporter is a quarterly news magazine providing
in-depth coverage of major national and international standardization
activities with commentary and opinions on their marketplace, legislative and
public policy impacts.
is a free, bi-weekly electronic newsletter that keeps ANSI members and
constituents up to date on the latest standards and conformity assessment news,
events and publications.
Tradeshows provide ANSI’s members and constituents with
an opportunity to interact directly interact with staff to learn more about the
Institute’s programs and services for the standards and conformity assessment
Bureau provides meeting planners with access to top
executives in the standards and conformity assessment industry who can provide
insights, share expertise and educate both private- and public-sector interests
through keynote addresses, lectures and panel discussions.
Q: How can I obtain standards and standards-related information?
A: ANSI has several websites offering standards-related information, as
well as direct access to documents:
The eStandards Store (eSS)
creates a business-to-consumer site providing immediate access to ANSI’s
inventory of more than 60,000 standards available in an electronic format.
Purchases may be made with a credit card or with a prepaid deposit account.
NSSN, a National Resource for Global
Standards (www.nssn.org or
www.StandardsMall.com) is a preeminent online database providing
information about developing and approved standards, the NSSN functions like an
online “Standards Mall” and facilitates access to the more than 300,000
standards tracked by ANSI.
(Standards Tracking and Automated Reporting) is a more powerful
search engine within the NSSN, and features an e-mail-based service that
conducts a daily search and automatically sends a customized e-mail to
registered users when specified standards within their identified area of
interest have new activity.
Network Site Licensing is a business-to-business service, where users
can gain easy, electronic access to ANSI’s collections of standards. Contracts
may be arranged by contacting ANSI’s Electronic Sales department.
Q: What other services are available from ANSI?
A: ANSI has expanded to become more than just the organization that
administers and coordinates the U.S. voluntary standardization and conformity
assessment system. Today, it offers many services that reach out to all members
and interested parties.
ANSI offers both print and electronic advertising at
competitive rates. Display and classified advertising space is available in the ANSI
Reporter, and banner advertising space is available on the Institute’s
Seminars: Throughout the year, ANSI hosts a variety of
conferences and seminars, including its Annual Conference and related World
Standards Week events, which provide forums for discussion and information
exchange about a variety of issues of interest to the standards community.
Please refer to the ANSI Online “Meetings & Events” page for a complete
listing of upcoming events.
Education and Training:
ANSI’s instructor-led and web-based education and training programs are
designed to teach members of the standards and conformity assessment community
how to be smarter, quicker, more efficient, and more effective as they
participate in national, regional and international voluntary standardization
ANSI’s e-learning program allows users to enhance their professional
development, access up-to-date information on standards and prepare for
national and international standards participation as they learn at their own
pace through ANSI’s online courses. Web-conferencing, a supplement to ANSI’s
traditional instructor-led courses, also provides for cost-savings by cutting
down on travel and lodging expenses and allows participants to learn at their
own computer rather than in a classroom.
Through its Education and Training program, ANSI is reaching out to colleges and
universities in an effort to more fully integrate content regarding standards
and conformity assessment into higher education curricula and research
institutions and to help move the standards research and education agenda
Services: ANSI administers a number of registration
programs that assign unique identification systems for common applications such
as credit cards and frequent shopper cards, as well as for less obvious
applications such as organization identification embedded within software
applications. In most cases, this is a unique responsibility assigned to ANSI
in its capacity as the U.S. member body of ISO or IEC.
Services: When business information needs extend
beyond what is easily found in a database or reference book, ANSI’s standards
professionals are available to assist in the identification of U.S., foreign
national, regional, and international standards and conformity assessment
activities in all industry sectors. Fee-based research services are available
at an hourly rate by contacting the ANSI customer services team.
Q: How do I get in touch with ANSI?
A: You can contact us via
e-mail at any time. Our office addresses are also shown below:
ANSI Headquarters (DC office)
1899 L Street, NW, 11th Floor
Washington, DC 20036
25 West 43rd Street, Fourth Floor
New York, New York 10036