What Is ANSI?


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Quality Glossary Definition: American National Standards Institute (ANSI)

The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) is the sole U.S. representative and dues-paying member of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). As a founding member of ISO, ANSI also plays an active role in its governance.

Each country that belongs to ISO is represented by a national organization called a "member body." Each member body has a mechanism for identifying issues and developing a national consensus on the work being done by ISO Technical Committees (TC). Different countries are members of different committees.

In the United States, this mechanism is called the ANSI-Accredited U.S. Technical Advisory Group (TAG) to the specific ISO TC, or it may be referred to as the U.S. National Committee (USNC).

TAGs in the United States are accredited by ANSI and must follow specific ANSI procedures, known as the Model Operating Procedures for U.S. Technical Advisory Groups to ANSI for ISO Activities.

The primary purpose of the TAG (or national committee) for each country is to develop and transmit that country’s position on activities and ballots related to the work of each ISO TC. These groups are formed of delegates, who are actively involved in the international negotiation and preparation of international standards.

ASQ is a member of ANSI and is accredited by ANSI to be a standards-developing organization. ASQ annually declares to ANSI that it follows and supports the consensus process of developing American National Standards.

ANSI vs ISO: List of standards

If you’re looking for this international standard …

Then purchase this American National Standard …

ISO 9001: Quality management systems—Requirements

ASQ/ANSI/ISO 9001:2015: Quality management systems - Requirements

ISO 14001: Environmental management systems—Requirements with guidance for use

ASQ/ANSI/ISO 14001:2015: Environmental management systems - Requirements with guidance for use

ISO 19011: Guidelines for auditing management systems

ASQ/ANSI/ISO 19011:2011: Guidelines for auditing management systems

ISO 31000: Risk management principles and guidelines

ANSI/ASSE Z690.2-2011: Risk Management Principles and Guidelines (U.S. Adoption of ISO 31000:2009)

ISO 26000: Guidance on social responsibility

ASQ/ANSI/ISO 26000-2010(E): Guidance on social responsibility

Statistics standards: sampling by attributes

ANSI/ASQ Z1.4: Sampling Procedures and Tables for Inspection by Attributes

Statistics standards: sampling by variables

ANSI/ASQ Z1.9: Sampling Procedures and Tables for Inspection by Variables for Percent Nonconforming

Frequently asked questions about American National Standards:

How is ASQ involved?

As the world's largest association dedicated to the advancement of quality, ASQ is committed to supporting the U.S. TAGs (and their subcommittees, known as Z-1 subcommittees) responsible for standards development in several fields:

ASQ also provides support to standards-development activities conducted by interest-focused forums and divisions through the ASQ Standards Committee. Through its involvement in international and domestic standards development, ASQ ensures that organizations have access to the quality-standards information necessary for building and maintaining a successful enterprise.

Since its creation in 1946, ASQ has recognized the advantages of using "generic" quality standards to increase performance and decrease the costs of doing business. More and more segments of the workforce and society – healthcare, service, and education, to name a few – are becoming aware of the benefits of applying quality principles and are recognizing the importance of quality standards.

To maintain this level of commitment, ASQ relies on active participation by quality professionals who can bring their knowledge and expertise to this process. Individual participation in the development of national and international standards is the cornerstone of the voluntary standards system.

How does the standards development process work domestically?

The process of creating voluntary standards in the United States is guided by ANSI’s principles of consensus, due process, transparency, and openness, and depends heavily on data-gathering and compromises among a diverse range of stakeholders. ANSI ensures that access to the standards process, including an appeals mechanism, is made available to anyone directly or materially affected by a standard that is under development. Thousands of individuals, companies, government agencies, and other organizations such as labor, industrial, and consumer groups voluntarily contribute their knowledge, talents, and efforts to standards development.

To maintain ANSI accreditation, ASQ is required to adhere consistently to a set of requirements or procedures known as the "ANSI Essential Requirements: Due process requirements for American National Standards," which govern the consensus-development process. Due process is the key to ensuring that American National Standards are developed in an environment that is equitable, accessible, and responsive to stakeholders. The open and fair ANS process ensures that all interested and affected parties have an opportunity to participate in a standard’s development. It also serves and protects the public interest, since standards developers accredited by ANSI must meet the requirements for openness, balance, consensus, and other due-process safeguards.

In summary, the hallmarks of the ANSI process include:

  • Consensus on a proposed standard by a group or "consensus body" that includes representatives from 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 and by public-review commenters
  • Incorporation of approved changes into a draft standard
  • A right of appeal by any participant who believes due process principles were not sufficiently respected during the standard’s development

The ANSI process serves all standardization efforts in the United States by providing and promoting a process that withstands scrutiny while protecting the rights and interests of every participant. In essence, ANSI standards quicken the market acceptance of products while making clear how to improve the safety of those products for the protection of consumers.

How does the voluntary standards system work?

Standards are developed in a "voluntary" system. This means that individuals and businesses in the marketplace determine the decision to use standards: No one is forced to adopt them. Note, however, that if a government agency has adopted standards within its mandatory regulations, compliance with the referenced standards is obligatory for those working with that agency.

The voluntary nature of the U.S. system provides certain advantages. It allows the flexibility necessary to respond to changes in technology and market demand, and anyone with a vested interest in a proposed standard can participate in its development.

However, a system such as this requires oversight. That is why the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) was formed in 1918 by five professional/technical societies and three federal government agencies, prompted by a desire to eliminate conflict and duplication in the U.S. voluntary standards development process. One of ANSI‘s goals is to ensure that the consensus process of developing U.S. standards is followed.

Today, ANSI guides the efforts of the more than 200 major standards-developing organizations.

ANSI carries out its oversight responsibilities with a rigorous system of checks and balances that ensure each and every standard that has been declared an "American National Standard" has been developed with due process. ANSI also requires that American National Standards undergo review and revision at regular intervals so that the best and newest ideas are incorporated. ANSI’s requirements provide clear and consistent channels of communication, so all parties involved know their views will be addressed. These requirements also prevent industries from influencing the development of standards in ways that would give them an unfair advantage over their competition.

How do ASQ's divisions and forums assist in the development of quality standards?

ASQ's divisions and forums have always been actively involved with the development of ASQ's quality standards. Without this input, neither ASQ nor the committees it administers could develop standards that reflect the most current technology in quality.

ASQ divisions and forums are major sources of new ideas for quality standards. Their members serve as the technical experts of ASQ and are aware of trends and practices that indicate where and when a standard might be needed.

Composed of division and forum representatives, the ASQ Standards Committee discusses ideas and determines the need for future standards. Following the consensus process established by ANSI, it also works with divisions and forums that develop new standards or reaffirm/revise existing standards.

What are the ANSI-accredited ASC Z-1 subcommittees?

ASQ is the administrator of consensus bodies called "ASC Z-1 subcommittees" that cover generic standards having application in the fields of quality, environment, auditing, or statistics.

The purpose of each ASC Z-1 subcommittee is to coordinate, review, serve as a consensus body, and adopt those ISO or IEC standards within their field as American National Standards.

Members of any of the four subcommittees may include national organizations, companies, governmental agencies, and individuals interested in contributing to the American National Standards development process.

  • Regular (voting) membership requires attendance at subcommittee meetings and voting on ballots. There is no cost to join, but travel expenses are the responsibility of the member.
  • Observer (non-voting) members are not required to travel or vote.

Why should your organization be involved in standards work?

Organizations don’t often understand the value of involvement in standards work at first. But once they become involved, they recognize the benefits.

  1. Competitive intelligence

    As a member of a Technical Advisory Group (TAG), you will see the drafts of standards and other related documents before the general public, and you will have access to information about a standard throughout the lifecycle of its development. For standards like ISO 9001: Quality management systems-Requirements, having advance knowledge of the direction and details of the yet-to-be-published standard may provide your organization with critical business information. Experts from TAGs also provide TAG members with updates on what’s happening internationally.
    Additionally, participation is an opportunity for various U.S. stakeholders to help shape the international standards that will influence the way they do business globally.

  2. Networking
  3. Members of TAGs and related committees include representatives from all sectors of the economy and represent large, medium, and small organizations, as well as universities and research institutions. Working with representatives from these organizations can provide opportunities to make new contacts and to understand and learn how different organizations do business and solve problems.

  4. Skills development
  5. The people in standards-related groups are welcoming and hardworking. If you become involved, they will help you understand the world of standards development. People in these groups are constantly completing complex, technical work with diverse groups of people, typically in a limited amount of time. These are skills with broad application, in business and life.

    By reviewing standards at every stage, you also will understand the fine details of the technical content of the standards on which you work. You will participate in discussions about those standards, which will give you opportunities to become savvy about the ways in which organizations interpret and use standards.

    Work on standards also will sharpen your negotiating skills and provide you with practical experience that will build your skills in writing, communicating, and working in teams.

  6. Prestige
  7. Being an insider in the standards-development process is an impressive role that will be appreciated by your company and your clients – and your competitors! Having your organization intimately involved with national and international standards development highlights your company’s position in the global economy and showcases the expertise your organization brings to the table.

How can your organization get involved?

Organizations are encouraged to join the U.S. TAG that is made up of six interest categories:

  • Industry
  • Government
  • Non-governmental organizations
  • Consumer
  • Labor
  • Services, support, research, and others

The membership fee is $500. A member may be, for example, a company, an organization, a government agency, or even an individual. Membership includes access to all TAG communication and requires active participation in the standards development activities related to the initiative. Members will be expected to attend a limited number of meetings throughout the year, review proposals and working documents, and respond to information or voting requests via email.

What is ASQ’s role with TAGs?

ASQ was selected by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), the official United States member to ISO, to create and administer the U.S. Technical Advisory Groups (TAG) for the development of standards related to quality, environmental management, and topic areas.

ASQ’s fundamental role is to assemble groups of experts from a variety of industries to represent a balanced, cross section of stakeholders in developing and revising standards.

How can I get involved?

If you’re interested in participating in the development of standards related to quality, environmental management, statistics, auditing, or innovation; if you would like an application to join one or more of the committees; or if you’re interested in representing your ASQ division or forum on the ASQ Standards Committee, please email the ASQ standards team at standards@asq.org.

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