National Technology Transfer and Advancement Act
The National Technology Transfer and Advancement Act of 1995, or the NTTAA, was signed into law on March 7, 1996. The NTTAA directs Federal agencies with respect to their use of private sector standards and conformity assessment practices. The objective is for Federal agencies to adopt private sector standards, wherever possible, in lieu of creating proprietary, non-consensus standards.
The guidelines used by agencies to assess and report their conformity with the requirements of the NTTAA are detailed in Office of Budget and Management (OMB) Circular A-119 ("the Circular"). The Circular establishes the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) as the agency responsible for coordinating conformity assessment activities, and requires NIST to report annually to OMB on the progress that federal agencies have made toward using voluntary standards.
Among other things, the NTTAA directs NIST to bring together federal agencies as well as state and local governments to achieve greater reliance on voluntary standards and decreased dependence on in-house standards. To illustrate, when government agencies discovered a need for a standard, they had, in the past, created and adopted unique, proprietary standards when voluntary consensus standards already existed that effectively addressed those needs. The result was an unnecessary government standard that created confusion and added expense for those who had to comply with it.
In order to prevent this kind of occurrence, the NTTAA requires that federal agencies adopt private sector standards, particularly those developed by Standards Developing Organizations (SDOs), wherever possible in lieu of creating proprietary, non-consensus standards. NIST encourages and supports federal agencies in their efforts to comply with the Act. NIST is also charged under the NTTAA with helping federal agencies to identify potentially useful standards used in manufacturing, commerce, industry and educational institutions. Through this activity, federal as well as state and local government agencies will be able to avoid the unnecessary development of government unique standards.
Finally, the NTTAA requires that NIST create guidance on conformity assessment activities. This guidance outlines Federal agencies' responsibility for evaluating the efficacy of their conformity assessment activities. In order to use its resources most efficiently, each agency is responsible for coordinating its conformity assessment activities with those of other appropriate government agencies and with those of the private sector. This guidance applies to all federal agencies which set policy for, manage, operate or use conformity assessment activities and results, both domestic and international, except for activities carried out pursuant to treaties.
To read more about the NTTAA or view the annual reports to Congress click here.
To view more standards-related laws, policies and guidance in the United states click here.
In summary, the NTTAA directs NIST to:
- Coordinate with other Federal agencies, as well as state and local governments, to achieve greater reliance on voluntary standards and lessen dependence on in-house standards
- Assist Federal agencies in comparing standards used in manufacturing, commerce, industry, and educational institutions with the standards developed by the Federal Government
- Coordinate greater use by Federal agencies, states and local governments of private sector standards via the Interagency Committee on Standards Policy (ICSP)
- Emphasize where possible the use of standards developed by private, consensus organizations.
- Create guidance on conformity assessment activities [read NIST recommendations]