On March 7, 1996, President Clinton signed into law "The National Technology Transfer and Advancement Act of 1995." The new law, referred to as PL 104-113, serves to continue the policy changes initiated in the 1980s under Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Circular A-119 (OMB A-119), Federal Participation in the Development and Use of Voluntary Standards, that are transitioning the Executive branch of the Federal Government from a developer of internal standards to a customer of external standards. Section 12, "Standards Conformity," of the act states that "...all Federal agencies and departments shall use technical standards (defined as "performance-based or design-specific technical specifications and related management systems practices") that are developed and adopted by voluntary consensus standards bodies, using such technical standards as a means to carry out policy objectives or activities determined by the agencies and departments." The act further states that "...Federal agencies and departments shall consult with voluntary, private sector, consensus standards bodies, and shall ... participate with such bodies in the development of technical standards."
Because DOE had already adopted the guidance of OMB A-119 in its policy documents on technical standards (i.e., Order 1300.2/1300.2A and DOE P 251.1), the new law complements the existing processes and procedures of the Technical Standards Program. DOE is a recognized leader within the Federal Government on technical standards management programs. However, there are actions that have been or are being taken by the Technical Standards Program Office (TSPO) to fully implement the new law. These actions include the following:
- The TSPO has issued a revision (dated June 1, 1997) to the Technical Standards Program Procedures (TSPPs) to reference PL 104-113 and strengthen the project screening process (TSPP-2) to promote development of voluntary standards in lieu of DOE technical standards.
- The proposed revisions to DOE Order 1300.2A (i.e., DOE O 252.1) and its implementation guide (G 252.1-1) that were discussed at the recent TSMC meetings are being updated to include appropriate references to PL 104-113 and the pending revision to OMB A-119.
- Discussions are being held with the Department Standards Committee and Directives Systems management to advise them of the new public law and its impact on standards management activities within DOE.
These actions, and others being taken, are described in a September 19, 1996 memorandum from the Assistant Secretary for Environment, Safety and Health (EH-1) on PL 104-113.
PL 104-113 is a true shift in the paradigm for many Federal agencies regarding the conduct of their technical standards activities. Where DOE, in its continued transition to a "work smart", standards-based operating culture, identifies the need for new or revised technical standards, PL 104-113 compels us to focus all technical standards development efforts deemed necessary toward voluntary standards in lieu of DOE technical standards. The Technical Standards Program is and will continue to be an important element of DOE's overall strategy to effect this new operating culture. If you would like to receive additional information on PL 104-113, please contact me.