Interagency Task Force for Information Technology Standards Development Reform


Stage: Active

Campaign: Legal & Policy Challenges

An Information Society's software infrastructure can be no better than the quality of its connectivity but the economy is awash with IT standards that lack specification of the conformity requirements essential to achieve interoperability. A holistic solution is desperately needed, one that does not focus on a single vendor, but rather on standards development organizations ("SDO's").

We have a global legal framework for that task in place, the Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade. But U.S. implementation of the ATBT is deeply flawed, from bright-line constitutional defects in the enabling legislation, to a near-complete abdication of government ATBT responsibilities to the private sector, to an incredible lack of education of SDO's and their members as to their legal responsibilities.

Therefore, I propose an interagency task force aimed at studying such issues and getting the message across to SDO's that they have a crucially important gatekeeper responsibility to ensure that IT standards exhibit the strategic common characteristics of interoperability, portability, and cultural and linguistic adaptability.

Corrective action is also needed for the defective ATBT implementing legislation and the unconstitutional delegation of government ATBT responsibilities to the private sector without so much as notice and comment rulemaking. There are also related problems with the U.S. implementation of the Agreement on Government Procurement, which requires that government procurement specifications be based on international standards developed under the auspices of the ATBT.

Because of overlapping subject matter legal jurisdiction and the need for coordinated action, the task force should (minimally) include representatives from eGov, the DoJ Antitrust Division, the FTC, State Dept., Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, and NIST.


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