[Federal Register Volume 75, Number 235 (Wednesday, December 8, 2010)]
[Notices]
[Pages 76397-76399]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2010-30864]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Institute of Standards and Technology

[Docket No. 0909100442-0563-02]


Effectiveness of Federal Agency Participation in Standardization 
in Select Technology Sectors for National Science and Technology 
Council's Sub-Committee on Standardization

AGENCY: National Institute of Standards and Technology, Department of 
Commerce.

ACTION: Request for Information.

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SUMMARY: The National Institute of Standards and Technology, on behalf 
of the National Science and Technology Council's Sub-Committee on 
Standards, invites interested parties to provide their perspectives on 
the effectiveness of Federal agencies' participation in the development 
and implementation of standards and conformity assessment activities 
and programs. This information will help the Sub-Committee on Standards 
develop case studies that Federal agencies can consider in their future 
engagement in standards development and conformity assessment, 
particularly for multi-disciplinary technologies, or for technologies 
involving engagement from multiple Federal agencies.

DATES: Comments are due on or before 11:59 p.m. on February 7, 2011.

ADDRESSES: Comments will be accepted by e-mail only. Comments should be 
sent to SOS_RFI@nist.gov with the subject line ``Standardization 
feedback for Sub-Committee on Standards.''

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Ajit Jillavenkatesa, 100 Bureau Drive, 
Stop 1060, Gaithersburg, MD 20899-1060, 301-975-8519, 
ajit.jilla@nist.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: On March 24, 2010, the U.S. Chief Technology 
Officer and Associate Director for Technology in the White House Office 
of Science and Technology Policy, Aneesh Chopra, announced the 
establishment of a Sub-Committee on Standards under the National 
Science and Technology Council's Committee of Technology. (http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2010/03/24/providing-leadership-standards-address-national-challenges). The Sub-Committee includes leaders of 
executive branch agencies and commissions that have an interest in, or 
are involved with, technical standards. It is co-chaired by Patrick 
Gallagher (Director, National Institute of Standards and Technology, 
U.S. Department of Commerce). Information about agencies participating 
in this Sub-Committee, and its charter is available at: http://www.standards.gov/standards_gov/nstcsubcommitteeonstandards.cfm. By 
examining the various methods that Federal agencies use to engage in 
standards-development activities in partnership with the private 
sector, the Sub-Committee on Standards intends to develop information 
on how Federal agencies may engage more effectively in the 
standardization system in a manner that is consistent with the National 
Technology Transfer and Advancement Act of 1995 \1\ and the Office of 
Management and Budget Circular A-119.\2\ In support of this objective, 
the Sub-Committee is interested in perspectives on (1) the 
effectiveness of the methods Federal agencies have used to engage in 
standards-setting activities by identifying which methods have enhanced 
or limited the public-private standards-setting processes; (2) the 
effectiveness of Federal agencies coordination with the private sector; 
and (3) the adequacy and availability of Federal resources; and (4) 
other issues that arise and are considered during the standards setting 
process which impact the process, and the timeliness, adoption and use 
of the resulting standards.
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    \1\ National Technology Transfer and Advancement Act of 1995, 
Public Law 104-113, 110 Stat. 775--784 (1996).
    \2\ OMB Circular A-119 Revised, Federal Participation in the 
Development and Use of Voluntary Consensus Standards and in 
Conformity Assessment Activities (rev. Feb. 10, 1998) ] 3, available 
at http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/rewrite/circulars/a119/a119.html.
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Request for Information

    The objective of this request is to inform the development of case 
studies that will examine the effectiveness of Federal agencies' 
participation in standards-setting efforts led by the private sector. 
The case studies would provide agencies information on lessons learned 
from Federal agency engagement in standards development for 
technologies that are complex, multi-disciplinary, exhibit system-type 
characteristics, and involve multiple government agencies, and 
addressed specific national priorities. Issues impacting U.S. 
competitiveness such as the interplay of standards with intellectual 
property, competition, and innovation are also significant 
considerations in these technology areas. These case studies may inform 
decisions about Federal agencies' engagement in standardization for 
technologies with similar characteristics. The questions below are 
intended to help frame the issues and should not be construed as a 
limitation on comments that parties may submit. Comments containing 
references, studies, research, and other empirical data that are not 
widely published should include copies of the referenced materials. All 
comments will be made publicly available.
    The Sub-Committee on Standards is specifically interested in 
comments that address the questions below as they relate to the 
following technologies:
    1. Smart Grid.
    2. Health Information Technology.
    3. Cyber Security.
    4. Emergency Communications Interoperability.
    5. Radioactivity Detectors and Radiation Monitors (ANSI N42.3x and 
N42.4x).
    6. Other technologies involving significant Federal agency 
participation in standards setting.
    For the purposes of this notice, the term ``standards'' and the 
phrase ``standards setting'' is used in a generic manner to cover both 
standards and conformity assessment development. State and local 
governments, standards-setting organizations, industry, consumers, 
manufacturers, solution providers, and other stakeholders are invited 
to respond. Responses should identify the technologies involved as 
appropriate.

Standards-Setting Processes, Reasons for Participation and the Benefits 
of Standardization

    Emerging technologies offer great potential for delivering new and 
improved products and services in the global economy. Standards can 
enable further innovation and enhance the value of these new 
technologies. Federal law and associated policy guidance has expressed 
a general preference for Federal agencies to rely on voluntary 
consensus standards, in lieu of government unique standards, through 
the National Technology Transfer and Advancement Act of 1995 and Office 
of Management and Budget Circular A-119, which encourage agency staff 
to participate in standards-development activities led by the private 
sector, as appropriate.
    Recognizing that stakeholders participate in standards-setting 
activities for varying reasons, and in

[[Page 76398]]

order to evaluate the effectiveness of Federal agencies' participation 
in standards-setting efforts led by the private sector, the Sub-
Committee invites organizations to provide information on their 
participation, and their perceptions of Federal participation in 
standards-setting activities related to the case-study technologies 
listed above, as well as the current status of the standardization 
process for these technologies. The Sub-Committee is interested in 
better understanding: Who participates in standards-setting activities? 
What are the most important reasons for participation? What are the 
benefits of developing standards for this sector? How do the standards 
impact organizations and their competitiveness? How has standardization 
spurred innovation in the technology sector(s) that is the subject of 
your comment? What is the current phase of the standards development 
process for this technology? How has the process worked so far? When 
developing standards, how are the standards-setting processes managed 
and coordinated? Is there a strategic plan that identifies the 
standards needs and defines the standards development life cycle? Are 
there barriers to developing high level strategies for standard-setting 
activities?

Perspectives on Government's Approach to Standards Activities

    The Sub-Committee would like to identify and assess the methods by 
which Federal agencies work with standards-setting organizations, 
industry, State and local governments, and consumers to develop 
standards. The Federal Government approaches standard setting in 
various ways. Sometimes staff members from Federal agencies participate 
directly as subject matter experts in standards-setting activities that 
are led by the private sector. At other times, agencies identify their 
standards needs and requirements, and then reach out to the private 
sector to develop the standards. Sometimes, agencies fund private 
standards-setting activities to develop standards needed by that 
agency. At other times, agencies take an active role in both 
identifying standards needs and leading the standards development 
process in collaboration with the private sector. In many technology 
sectors, multiple Federal agencies with differing roles and mandates 
participate in standards-development activities.
    Responses to the following questions will help the Sub-Committee to 
better understand which methods of engagement by Federal agencies are 
most effective and why. What methods of engagement are used by Federal 
agencies to participate in private sector-led standards development? 
How transparent is each method? How effective is each method? How could 
the methods be improved? What other methods should the Federal agencies 
explore? What impact have Federal agencies had on standards activities? 
How well do Federal agencies coordinate their roles in standards 
activities in the sector of interest? When Federal agencies have been 
involved in standards setting efforts in a technology sector, how has 
the progress of standards setting efforts in this technology sector 
changed after Federal agencies became involved? Are Federal agencies 
generally receptive to input from other participants in standards-
setting activities? Does receptiveness tend to depend on whether the 
Federal agency is a regulator or a customer? In those sectors where 
Federal agencies plays a significant role in standards activities, how 
valuable and timely is the work product associated with this effort?

Issues Considered During the Standards Setting Process

    Various factors (e.g., technology, competition, innovation, 
intellectual property rights, foreign regulations, etc.) arise and are 
considered and addressed during standards development. These aspects 
play a role in the adoption and use of the standard. The Sub-Committee 
is interested in understanding the types of issues that have been 
considered, and how these have been addressed/are being addressed. Has 
Federal agency participation in standards-setting impacted the 
consideration and resolution of these issues, and the standards setting 
processes?
    With respect to foreign regulations, the Subcommittee is interested 
in understanding how foreign technical regulations are considered and 
addressed during standards setting or conformity assessment activities. 
Are efforts made to determine whether there is potential for overlap or 
duplication with existing international standards? How are other 
appropriate international standards that may be of interest identified? 
Are efforts made to identify existing or planned regional or national 
standards that may be considered for use as the basis for foreign 
technical regulations, rather than the international standard being 
considered by the committee?
    With respect to intellectual property, the Sub-Committee would like 
to understand the approaches you have experienced or found most 
appropriate for handling patents and/or other types of intellectual 
property rights that are necessary to implement a standard. How does 
the need for access to intellectual property rights by Federal agencies 
factor into the use or development of standards? To what extent, if 
any, has the development, adoption or use of a standard, by Federal 
agencies in this technology sector been affected by holders of 
intellectual property? How have such circumstances been addressed? Are 
there particular obstacles that either prevent intellectual property 
owners from obtaining reasonable returns or cause intellectual property 
owners to make IP available on terms resulting in unreasonable returns 
when their IP is included in the standard? What strategies have been 
effective in mitigating risks, if any, associated with hold-up or 
buyers' cartels?

Adequacy of Resources

    The availability and commitment of financial resources, personnel, 
and industry expertise may impact the success of standards development. 
In some instances, changing priorities or changes in an organization's 
budget may impact the resources an agency commits to an ongoing 
project. The Sub-Committee would like to better understand the 
resources that both private sector organizations and Federal agencies 
commit to standards-setting activities, constraints on those resources, 
and how the level of resources affects the success of the effort. What 
resources are needed to successfully complete the efforts? Taking into 
account budget constraints and competing initiatives, have Federal 
agencies committed adequate resources? What resource constraints impact 
the successful completion of the standards efforts?

Process Review and Improvement Metrics

    The success and limitations of standards-setting activities and the 
associated outcomes may be studied, understood and implemented for 
continuous process improvement. Such improvements can help ensure that 
Federal agencies participation in standards activities is cost-
effective and will lead to optimal results. Responses to the questions 
that follow will help the Sub-Committee better understand what methods 
have facilitated or hindered Federal agencies participation in 
standardization, recognizing that some standards-setting activities in 
the case-study technologies may be not yet be completed. What lessons 
about standards development in complex

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technologies have been learned so far? How have these lessons learned 
been implemented? Have there been any impediments to implementing these 
lessons? How has this information been documented or disseminated, and 
implemented? What kinds of performance metrics are appropriate to 
measure the effectiveness of the standards-setting process? If any such 
performance metrics have been used, what are the results?

    Dated: December 2, 2010.
Patrick Gallagher,
Director, National Institute of Standards and Technology, Co-Chair, 
National Science and Technology Council's Sub-Committee on Technology.
[FR Doc. 2010-30864 Filed 12-7-10; 8:45 am]
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