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NIST Awards $500,000 Grant to ANSI to Strengthen U.S. Participation in International Standardization

For Immediate Release: June 16, 2000

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Contact: Mark Bello
301-975-3776

New York and Washington, D.C., June 16, 2000: The American National Standards Institute (ANSI), coordinator of the U.S. voluntary consensus standards system, has been awarded a grant of $500,000 from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), an agency of the Commerce Department's Technology Administration, to further "U.S. interests in areas of international standardization and conformity assessment"-technical areas that define the terms of access to global markets.

Henry Line, chairman of the ANSI International Committee, commented on the importance of U.S. participation in standardization on an international level: "Inasmuch as standards are the common denominator in addressing the demands imposed by market forces, it is imperative that U.S. technology be appropriately positioned in all of the global forums wherein requirements are being articulated. The grant from NIST will assist in ANSI's efforts to position the U.S. at the forefront of the international standards development community."

As the official U.S. member to the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and to the International Electrotechnical Committee (IEC), ANSI is an advocate for U.S. interests in the international standards development arena. The institute is responsible for U.S. representation in all of the activities of the ISO and IEC and votes on all proposed international standards under development by these two organizations. More than 130 nations are ISO members; IEC membership totals 60 countries.

Among the United States' top 10 trading partners, levels of government support for national standards organizations in 1995 ranged from nearly 4 percent for the United Kingdom to 100 percent for Japan, Mexico, China and South Korea. The $500,000 grant from NIST is equivalent to almost 3 percent of ANSI's annual budget.

ANSI pays combined dues of almost $2 million per year to ISO and IEC and expends another $2 million per year in support of international programs and efforts. ANSI will allocate the grant money to help pay ISO and IEC dues and to support its participation in the organizations' policy-making bodies.

Funds were made available with the active support of the House Committee on Science, which authorized the funding that was appropriated by Congress in NIST's fiscal year 2000 budget. Congress specified that the grant be used solely for international standards activities.

"The grant is a symbol of the strengthened link between the public and private sectors," said Robert J. Hermann, chairman of the ANSI Board of Directors. "Through the hard work, support and determination of many ANSI members, in particular the initiative of NIST and other government agencies, we have been able to demonstrate the critical importance of a cooperative relationship between industry and government in advancing U.S. interests internationally."

"Regular U.S. representation at the grass roots level and in key policy-setting committees is critical to ensure consistency of international standards with U.S. standards and practices," said NIST Director Ray Kammer. "Just as many nations are doing, we must be alert to the potential that competitors will use international standards to advance their economic interests and to impede other countries' access to export markets. The grant will help ANSI to represent the United States effectively in ISO and IEC and in the regional activities that often result in international standards."

"This grant is a significant step forward in promoting and maintaining U.S. and ANSI participation in international standards work. It provides partial government support for our important international efforts without introducing government 'control'," commented ANSI President and Chief Executive Officer Mark W. Hurwitz.

ANSI's mission is to enhance U.S. global competitiveness and the American way of life by promoting, facilitating and safeguarding the integrity of the voluntary standardization and conformity assessment systems. The institute is the official U.S. representative to the world's leading standards bodies, the International Organization for Standardization and, via the U.S. National Committee, the International Electrotechnical Commission.

As a non-regulatory agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce's Technology Administration, NIST strengthens the U.S. economy and improves the quality of life by working with industry to develop and apply technology, measurements and standards through four partnerships: the Measurement and Standards Laboratories, the Advanced Technology Program, the Manufacturing Extension Partnership and the Baldrige National Quality Program.

Additional Contact: Stacy Leistner, ANSI, (212) 642-4931