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American National Standards Institute (ANSI)

While standard setting organizations (SDOs) such as ASTM establish testing standards and facilities such as FSTC test according to those standards, the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) oversees the SDOs. This is accomplished by accrediting those whose procedures meet ANSI guidelines, known as the Essential Requirements, for openness, balance, consensus and due process. Additionally, in a separate process, ANSI ensures that the standards promulgated by SDOs meet the necessary criteria for approval as American National Standards. In other words, that the standards approved by organizations such as ASTM are actually developed according to ANSI procedures.

ANSI procedures incorporate the following requirements:

  • Consensus by a group or "consensus body" that is open to representatives from all materially affected and interested parties
  • Broad-based public review and comment on draft standards
  • Consideration of and response to comments submitted by voting members of the relevant consensus body as well as by the public
  • Incorporation of submitted changes that meet the same consensus requirements into a draft standard
  • Availability of an appeal by any participant alleging that these principles were not respected during the standards-development process.

ANSI was founded in 1918 through the collaboration of five engineering societies, including ASTM, and three government agencies. It is a private, nonprofit membership organization of almost 1,000 business, educational, governmental, scientific, technical, professional, labor, consumer, trade and international bodies. Its primary goal is 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.

It is estimated that in the U.S. today there are hundreds of traditional SDOs - with the 20 largest producing 90% of the standards. At year-end 2003, about 200 standards developers were accredited by ANSI.
ANSI promotes the use of U.S. standards internationally through its membership in the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) and the efforts of industry and government volunteers who work on the international technical committees. Often, U.S. standards are adopted internationally, thereby facilitating the worldwide sale of products.