M-12-08 -- Principles for Federal Engagement in Standards Activities to Address National Priorities


Start: 2012-01-17, Publication: 2012-02-28


The vibrancy and effectiveness of the U.S. standards system in enabling innovation depend on continued private sector leadership and engagement. Most standards developed and used in U.S markets are created with little or no government involvement. This approach -reliance on private sector leadership, supplemented by Federal Government contributions to discrete standardization processes as outlined in OMB Circular A-119, "Federal Participation in the Development and Use of Voluntary Consensus Standards and in Conformity Assessment Activities" -- remains the primary strategy for government engagement in standards development. Consistent with the Administration' s commitment to openness, transparency, and multi-stakeholder engagement, all standards activities should involve the private sector. In limited policy areas, however, where a national priority has been identified in statute, regulation, or Administration policy, active engagement or a convening role by the Federal Government may be needed to accelerate standards development and implementation to help spur technological advances and broaden technology adoption. In these instances, the Federal Government can help catalyze advances, promote market-based innovation, and encourage more competitive market outcomes. The Federal Government should clearly define its role, and then work with private sector standardization organizations in the exercise of that role.

For example, the Strategy for American Innovation describes national priorities with respect to achieving breakthroughs in health care technology and promoting clean energy. In both of these areas, the Federal Government is making substantial technology investments -- electronic health record systems and smart grid technologies -- to produce productivity gains and improve outcomes. And in both of these technology markets, interoperability standards are needed to decrease the risk that sizable public and private investments will become obsolete prematurely. To accomplish these objectives, the Federal Government, as directed by Congress, is taking a convening role to accelerate standards development, by working closely with domestic and international private sector standards· organizations. The principles and related directions to agencies outlined in this Memorandum are intended to be followed in those limited instances in which the Federal Government engages in a convening or active engagement role together with private sector standardization organizations to address a national priority. Such engagement should be undertaken pursuant to existing legal and policy obligations. OSTP, OMB, and USTR look forward to working cooperatively with you and your staffto promote engagement in standards activities that support national priorities.


Name:Owen Ambur


Name:Executive Office of the President



  • Aneesh ChopraU.S . Chief Technology Officer, Office of Science and Technology Policy

  • Miriam SapiroDeputy United States Trade Representative

  • Cass R. SunsteinAdministrator, Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs Office of Management and Budget