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ASK OCE — June 21, 2007 — Vol. 2, Issue 4


When the question arises as to whether a system of international standards is important, the United States Standards Strategy (USSS) has a clear answer: voluntary consensus standards are nothing less than the cornerstone of the 21st century global economy.

The USSS, a policy document crafted by a broad cross-section of private and public international standards experts and organizations, states that the U.S. should be firmly committed to a sector-based approach to voluntary standardization activities, both domestically and globally.

The standardization frameworks that the USSS advocates were built upon the traditional strengths of the U.S. standards system, including consensus, openness, and transparency. The USSS places added emphasis on the need for speed in developing standards, demonstrating their relevance, and meeting the needs of public interest constituencies.

Strategic and tactical initiatives within the USSS framework were developed so that they could then be used by diverse interests to meet their own national and individual organizational objectives.

The USSS was developed over a twenty-month period through the coordinated efforts of a large and diverse group of stakeholders representing government, industry, standards developing organizations, consortia, consumer groups, and academia. It was published in December 2005.

The various participants involved express a firm commitment to developing a system of U.S. standards and standards architecture that is open, balanced, and transparent. The USSS represents the vision and diversity of the U.S. standards system and the international standards community.

According to the USSS, the U.S.-based standards system is designed to promote the public good, enhance the competitiveness of U.S. industry, and contribute to a liberalized global trading system. The USSS members see strong standards as “essential infrastructure” important to all parties. Equally vital is the ability of all stakeholders to understand the way standards function and to work towards maintaining and improving the standards system.

One of the key hallmarks of the USSS is to create an “open source” component for the creation of standards. This means that standards best practices are openly shared and can be enhanced and/or augmented by other members of the standards community.

The idea of a common cause is crucial, according to the USSS:

“It is important for public and private sectors to share this common vision, since they provide the people, the resources, the technical contributions, and the intellectual vitality that underpin the U.S. standards system. The active involvement of government at all levels and all places … is key to both the development of the vision and the implementation of a standards strategy for the U.S.”

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