Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Don't ask the government to write your standard

In an earlier post, I wrote that it was a bad idea for user communities to ask the U.S. government to create their standards.

The government is seldom inclined to create new standards. The government expects user communities to form SDOs (Standards Development Organizations) to create their standards. NIST (National Institue for Standards and Technology) is interested in helping SDOs create standards and is not really interested in taking primary responsibility for new standards.

This government's hands-off approach towards standards is specified by law in the National Technology Transfer and Advancement Act of 1995 (NTTAA), Public Law 104-113, and is explained at some length in a NIST white paper:

Johnsen K, Pugh N. NISTIR 6778 Guidelines for NIST Staff Participating in Voluntary Standards Developing Organizations' Activities. US Department of Commerce, June 2002.

This Act directs Federal agencies to use standards developed by private standards sevelopment organizations, (not government agencies), whenever feasible.

Furthermore, it may be possible for individuals to sue the government for violations of NTTAA. In an opinion published by the Center for Regulatory effectiveness:

"Unless there is `clear and convincing' evidence that Congress intended to preclude judicial review under a statute, persons adversely affected or aggrieved are entitled to seek redress for federal agency violations of that statute under the APA (Administrative Procedure Act)."

There are some very practical reasons why the U.S. government is disinclined to write standards. This general area is discussed at some length in my book, Biomedical Informatics , and I'll be expanding on the issue in future blogs here.

- Jules Berman
My book, Principles of Big Data: Preparing, Sharing, and Analyzing Complex Information was published in 2013 by Morgan Kaufmann.

I urge you to explore my book. Google books has prepared a generous preview of the book contents. If you like the book, please request your librarian to purchase a copy of this book for your library or reading room.

Jules J. Berman, Ph.D., M.D.
tags: big data, metadata, data preparation, data analytics, data repurposing, datamining, data mining, biomedical informatics, federal government, medical standards, NIST, NTAA, sdo, specifications, technology transfer