What is the American National Standards Institute (ANSI)?
ANSI is a private, not-for-profit group that supports voluntary standards and conformity assessment systems that apply to products, processes, services, systems, and personnel. According to the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), standards are “documents established by consensus that provide rules, guidelines or characteristics or their results.”
ANSI does not develop American National Standards but instead offers the ideal environment for them to be created by standard development organizations. ANSI monitors the standardization process and accredits Standards Developing Organizations (SDOs), which are public or private entities responsible for creating American National Standards.
The organization also helps create the assessment processes that SDOs use when developing standards. ANSI’s work has created a fair and diplomatic way for any interested parties to take part in standards creation.
Some SDOs accredited by ANSI include ASTM International, Underwriters Laboratories, Inc., NFPA International, ASME International, ASHRAE, CSA America, Inc., and NSF International.
The over 1,000 members of ANSI represent more than 270,000 companies, professional societies, trade associations, government agencies, and consumer and labor organizations. ANSI lobbies for over 30 million professionals and covers nearly every industry across the globe. ANSI standards not only protect and promote businesses, but they also ensure public safety and support the economy.
A Brief History of ANSI
Founded in 1918, the organization has had a long, storied history in the United States. It began when five engineering societies and three government agencies joined together to support U.S. businesses and industries.
After undergoing several name changes throughout the years, ANSI adopted its current name in 1969.
Currently, ANSI is headquartered in Washington, D.C. with an operations office in New York City. It is led by a Board of Directors and a management team and employs 90 workers.
ANSI’s Role in Voluntary Standards
With national, state and local government standards already in place, why would a company choose to join ANSI and work with voluntary standards?
Because membership and participation are completely voluntary, all ANSI’s members have extra skin in the game and are dedicated to building their businesses and helping the economy. This is done through the creation of voluntary standards, called American National Standards.
ANSI’s accreditation of Standard Development Organizations (SDOs) assures that each one maintains levels of openness, balance, consensus, and due process.
As of January 2018, the United States has 237 ANSI-accredited SDOs and over 11,500 American National Standards. The 20 largest SDOs are responsible for over 90 percent of all voluntary standards.
All American National Standards are considered “open” standards. They are developed in such a way that all interested and affected parties are given a chance to be a part of their creation. The standard development process is collaborative, balanced and uses a consensus-based approval process.
Because ANSI is the only accreditor of voluntary SDOs in the United States, businesses and consumers are reassured that the standards developed by SDOs with ANSI accreditation meet rigorous requirements. Having these standards in place allows those businesses to bring new products and services to consumers and compete locally and globally.
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