The American National Standards Institute
ANSI has served in its capacity as administrator and coordinator of the United States private sector voluntary standardization system for more than 100 years. Founded in 1918 by five engineering societies and three government agencies, the Institute remains a private, nonprofit membership organization supported by a diverse constituency of private and public sector organizations.
Throughout its history, ANSI has maintained as its primary goal the enhancement of global competitiveness of U.S. business and the American quality of life by promoting and facilitating voluntary consensus standards and conformity assessment systems and promoting their integrity. The Institute represents the interests of its more than 1,200 company, organization, government agency, institutional and international members through its office in New York City, and its headquarters in Washington, D.C.
ANSI facilitates the development of American National Standards (ANS) by accrediting the procedures of standards developing organizations (SDOs). These groups work cooperatively to develop voluntary national consensus standards. Accreditation by ANSI signifies that the procedures used by the standards body in connection with the development of American National Standards meet the Institute’s essential requirements for openness, balance, consensus and due process.
ANSI is often asked about the total number of standards (and standards setting bodies) in the United States. It is estimated that in the U.S. today there are hundreds of “traditional” standards developing organizations – with the 20 largest SDOs producing 90% of the standards – and hundreds more “non-traditional” standards development bodies, such as consortia. This means that the level of U.S. participation is quite expansive as the groups themselves are comprised of individual committees made up of experts addressing the technical requirements of standards within their specific area of expertise.
As of January 2018, some 237 standards developers were accredited by ANSI; there were more than 11,500 American National Standards.
In order to maintain ANSI accreditation, standards developers are required to consistently adhere to a set of requirements or procedures known as the “ ANSI Essential Requirements“, that govern the consensus development process. Due process is the key to ensuring that ANSs are developed in an environment that is equitable, accessible and responsive to the requirements of various stakeholders. The open and fair ANS process ensures that all interested and affected parties have an opportunity to participate in a standard’s development. It also serves and protects the public interest since standards developers accredited by ANSI must meet the Institute’s requirements for openness, balance, consensus and other due process safeguards.
That is why American National Standards are usually referred to as “open” standards. In this sense, “open” refers to a process used by a recognized body for developing and approving a standard. The Institute’s definition of openness has many elements, but basically refers to a collaborative, balanced and consensus-based approval process. The content of these standards may relate to products, processes, services, systems or personnel.
In its role as the only accreditor of U.S. voluntary consensus standards developing organizations, ANSI helps to ensure the integrity of the standards developers that use our ANSI Essential Requirements: Due process requirements for American National Standards. A separate process, based on the same principles, determines whether standards meet the necessary criteria to be approved as American National Standards. Our process for approval of these standards (currently numbering approximately 11,500) is intended to verify that the principles of openness and due process have been followed and that a consensus of all interested stakeholder groups has been reached.
The hallmarks of this process include:
- Consensus must be reached by representatives from materially affected and interested parties
- Standards are required to undergo public reviews when any member of the public may submit comments
- Comments from the consensus body and public review commenters must be responded to in good faith
- An appeals process is required
ANSI’s use of the terms “open” and “openness” to describe standards is meant to characterize documents that have undergone this kind of consensus-based, transparent process. All ANSI-accredited standards developers follow the Essential Requirements which embrace globally-accepted principles of standardization implemented by well-recognized, international standards bodies such as the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), International Organization for Standardization (ISO), and International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC).
For more information please visit their website at: www.ansi.org, where it is possible to obtain the standards they issue.