What Is the American National Standards Institute (ANSI)?

The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) oversees the creation and dissemination of various standards and measures, including business norms and standards in the United States.

The ANSI is a private, nonprofit organization and does not develop standards itself. Rather, it oversees the creation of voluntary standards for a variety of manufacturing processes, products, systems, services, and personnel in nearly every U.S. business sector. It also works to ensure that U.S. standards are consistent with international standards, enabling U.S. products to be sold and used abroad.

Key Takeaways

  • The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) is a non-profit organization that coordinates standards and technical regulations that relate to how U.S. businesses, consumer groups, and government agencies function.
  • It doesn't develop the standards itself but helps facilitate the development through promoting standards, accrediting procedures for developing standards undertaken by its member organizations, and approving documentation.
  • The ANSI oversees the standards that pertain to terminology and definitions, rules about quality and construction of goods and products, and product testing, among others.

Understanding the American National Standards Institute (ANSI)

The ANSI provides accreditation for standards developed by other standards organizations, companies, consumer groups, government agencies, and other bodies. Its work can be seen in standardized terminology and definitions, the consistency in the makeup and performance of goods, and in the consistency in how products are tested.

The ANSI calls itself "the voice of the U.S. standards and conformity assessment system." Its mission is as follows:

To enhance both the global competitiveness of U.S. business and the U.S. quality of life by promoting and facilitating volunary consensus standards and conformity assessment systems, and safeguarding their integrity. 

The ANSI's membership is made up of more than 270,000 companies and organizations, and over 30 million professionals worldwide. For more information, check out the ANSI's website.

The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and Certifications

In addition to its role in promoting standardization, the ANSI also works to provide accreditation to organizations that provide certification of products or personnel. The ANSI is actively involved in the accreditation programs that oversee those standards.

Under the ANSI's supervision, the Accredited Standards Committee X9 (ASC X9) oversees the global financial services industry and is responsible for all financial-services standards in the U.S. In that capacity, the ASC X9 plays a key role in the introduction of new banking technologies. Examples include standards for paper and electronic checks, credit card magnetic stripes, and ATM cards.

History of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI)

The ANSI was founded in 1918 by five engineering societies and three government agencies that banded together to form the American Engineering Standards Committee. The committee changed its name to the American Standards Association in 1928, was reorganized and renamed the United States of America Standards Institute in 1966, and then finally took on its current moniker three years later in 1969.

The ANSI's headquarters are in Washington, D.C, but its operations are conducted out of New York.