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The National Technology Transfer and Advancement Act of 1995 promotes federal use of voluntary standards as an alternative to agency-developed standards.
Why Standards Matter > Module #1 > Lesson #1
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A Word About Standards . . .
Establishing a baseline of common terms and definitions

Standards are something that most of us accept as part of our everyday life. But they have become such an integral part of our existence that the average person gives little or no thought to everyday products and services and how they work. They make modern conveniences possible: light bulbs fit into lamps, electronic files are transferred over the Internet, trains move between states because the tracks are the same gauge, and the list goes on.

When the formal U.S. standards system was established nearly a century ago, standards were primarily developed to support manufacturing and mechanical processes. In the present day, standards offer benefits to all segments of business and industry, government and consumers. They simplify product development, reduce unnecessary duplication, lower costs, increase productivity, promote safety, and permit interchangeability, compatibility, and interoperability. They help to advance scientific discovery, and keep people safe by minimizing injuries and protecting key environmental resources.

A standard is "a recognized unit of comparison by which the correctness of others can be determined." Another definition is "a set of characteristics or qualities that describes features of a product, process, or service."

The term standardization actually encompasses a broad range of activities and ideas – from the actual development of a standard to its promulgation, acceptance and implementation. It also includes the methods of evaluating whether products, processes, systems, services and personnel comply with a standard – this evaluation is known as conformity assessment.

Standards development and assessing conformity to standards go hand-in-hand.

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