U.S. government information: standards and specifications
Yale University Library does not collect standards and specifications as part of its depository profile, but some of these documents can be found online or requested/purchased from the issuing organization. This guide is intended to give a brief explanation of standards and specifications issued by the U.S. federal government, and to highlight relevant search portals and online resources.
What are they?
Standards and specifications provide guidance and instruction on how goods and services are to be designed, constructed, manufactured, handled, conducted or tested.
Specifications outline requirements for specific items or services.
Standards provide guidance for more general applications.
Several United States Federal government agencies develop and issue standards and specifications, including the following:
- National Institute of Standards and Technology
- Environmental Protection Agency
- Occupational Safety and Health Administration
The General Services Administration and the Department of Defense are the two primary agencies responsible for issuing procurement standards and specifications. To identify those issued use the Index of Federal Specifications, Standards and Commercial Item Descriptions (published by GSA) and The Index of Specifications and Standards (published by the Department of Defense).
There are four basic categories of Federal standardization documents:
- Federal specifications describe essential and technical requirements for items, materials, or services bought by the Federal government.
- Federal standards serve a variety of purposes and provide standard data for reference in Federal specifications.
- Commercial item descriptions are simplified specifications intended to be used in the acquisition of products available in the commercial marketplace.
- Qualified products lists are lists of products, by plant, which have been tested for conformance with the appropriate specification requirements.
Online resources for standards and specifications