Contents of the 15CFR-19.DOC file
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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE
Office of the Secretary
15 CFR Part 19
Metric Conversion Policy for Federal Agencies
dAGENCY:::Office of the Secretary, Under Secretary for Technology, U.S. Department of
dbSUMMARY:::15 CFR Part 19 Subpart B sets out Federal Government policy on the
voluntary use of the metric system of measurement by agencies, industry and the public.
In conformance with the Omnibus Trade and Competitiveness Act of 1988 (Pub. L. 100418, Sec 5164), we are revising that Subpart to remove the voluntary aspect of metric
transition for Federal agencies. The amended Subpart B provides policy direction to assist
Federal agencies in their transition to use of the metric system of measurement.
EFFECTIVE DATE: [insert date 30 day subsequent to date of publication.]
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: A. S. Whelihan, Office of Metric Programs, Rm
4845, U.S. Department of Commerce, Washington, D.C. 20230; Phone (202) 3770944.
The Omnibus Trade and Competitiveness Act of 1988 (Pub. L. 100418, 5164) declares
the metric system to be the "preferred measurement system for U.S. trade and commerce."
Federal agencies are also now required to use the metric system in procurement, grants
and other businessrelated activities, by a date certain and to the extent economically
feasible by the end of fiscal year 1992, except to the extent that such use is impracticalI*B+B+B+or is likely to cause significant inefficiencies or loss of markets to United States firms, such
as when foreign competitors are producing competing products in non-metric units.
These declarations and the accompanying report of the Congressional conferees require
this updating of the existing Federal policy document. The policy set out below was
issued as a proposed rule: "Metric Conversion Policy for Federal Agencies," 54 F.R. 41848,
October 12, 1989, which updated the policy stated in a prior notice: "Metric Conversion
Policy for Federal Agencies," 50 F.R. 27577, July 5, 1985. The updated policy has been
taken directly from the 1985 notice. However, this rule amends the earlier policy to bring
the references and text uptodate. The policy clarifies and strengthens Federal program
requirements. Implementing agency initiatives are expected.
The current text reflects comments received from the public (1 comment) as well as from
the Federal Metrication Operating Committee (MOC.) The text of the policy has been
approved by the Federal Interagency Council on Metric Policy (ICMP.) Recommended
changes from the representatives of the ICMP/MOC included updating the Federal Register
notice defining the "metric system," clarifying the term "other businessrelated activities,"
and adding agency reporting requirements. These changes were made and are
incorporated in the rule.
The only private sector response was from the American Petroleum Institute (API.) The
API commented on: (1) Section 19.23 (a), encouraging DoC to continue to coordinate
federal agency metrication activities. That section was modified in the final, although it
never mentioned DoC. However 19.22(a) refers to the Department's coordination role;
(2) Section 19.23(b), asking for a clarification of "areas where metrication is dependent
on agency initiatives." That language was clarified and became Section 19.23(c); and (3)
Section 19.23(d) pointing out that the American National Metric Council and the U.S.
Metric Association are good sources for agencies seeking information on private sector
metrication efforts. Section 19.24(d) recommends that agencies "maintain liaison with
private sector groups (such as the American National Metric Council and the U.S. Metric'B+))NNAssociation) that are involved in planning for or coordinating National transition to the
Under Executive Order 12291 the Department must judge whether a regulation is major
within the meaning of Section 1 of the Order and, therefore, subject to the requirement
that a Regulatory Impact Analysis be prepared. This policy statement is not a major rule
because it is not likely to result in (1) an annual effect on the economy of $100,000,000
or more; (2) a major increase in costs or prices for consumers, individual industries,
Federal, state or local government agencies, or geographic regions; or (3) significant
adverse effects on competition, employment, investment, productivity, innovation, or in
the ability of United Statesbased enterprises to compete with foreignbased enterprises
in domestic or export markets. Therefore, a Regulatory Impact Analysis will not be
This policy statement contains no policies with Federalism implications sufficient to
warrant preparation of a Federalism assessment under Executive Order 12612.
This action is exempt from the analysis requirements of the Regulatory Flexibility Act
because notice and opportunity for comment are not required for this policy statement
by section 553 of the Administrative Procedure Act or any other law. Therefore, no initial
or final regulatory flexibility analysis was prepared.
This policy statement does not contain a collection of information for purposes of the
Paperwork Reduction Act.
List of Subjects: Science and Technology; Metric System
For the reasons set out in the preamble, Part 19 of Title 15 of the Code of Federal
Regulations is amended as follows:'B+))NN1. The authority for 15 CFR 19 is revised to read as follows:
dAUTHORITY: 15 U.S.C. 1512 and 3710, 15 U.S.C. 205a et seq and DOO 1017
2. Subpart B is revised to read as follows:
SUBPART B METRIC CONVERSION POLICY FOR FEDERAL AGENCIES
::19.22 General Policy.
::19.24 Recommendations for Agency Organizations.
::19.25 Reporting Requirement
::19.26 thru 19.199 reserved
To provide policy direction for Federal agencies in their transition to use of the
metric system of measurement.
The term "metric system", as used in this document, means the International System
of Units (SI) established by the General Conference of Weights and Measures in 1960, as
interpreted or modified from time to time for the United States by the Secretary of
Commerce under the authority of the Metric Conversion Act of 1975 and the Metric
Education Act of 1978.
'B+))NNThe term "other businessrelated activities", as used in this document, means
measurement sensitive commercial or business directed transactions or programs, i.e.
standard or specification development, publications, or agency statements of general
applicability and future effect designed to implement, interpret, or prescribe law or policy
or describing the procedure or practice requirements of an agency. "Measurement
sensitive" means the choice of measurement unit is a critical component of the activity,
i.e. an agency rule/regulation to collect samples or measure something at specific
distances or to specific depths, specifications requiring intake or discharge of a product
to certain volumes or flow rates, guidelines for clearances between objects for safety,
security or environmental purposes, etc.
dSec.19.22 General Policy.
The Omnibus Trade and Competitiveness Act of 1988 (Pub. L. 100418, 5164)
amended the Metric Conversion Act of 1975 to, among other things, require that each
Federal agency, by a date certain and to the extent economically feasible by the end of the
fiscal year 1992, use the metric system of measurement in its procurements, grants, and
other business-related activities, except to the extent that such use is impractical or is
likely to cause significant inefficiencies or loss of markets to United States firms, such as
when foreign competitors are producing competing products in non-metric units.
(a) The Secretary of Commerce will appoint a Commerce Department Under
Secretary to assist in coordinating the efforts of Federal agencies in meeting their
obligations under the Metric Conversion Act, as amended.
(b) Federal agencies shall coordinate and plan for the use of the metric system in
their procurements, grants and other businessrelated activities consistent with the
requirements of the Metric Conversion Act, as amended. Federal agencies shall encourage
and support an environment which will facilitate the transition process. When taking
initiatives, they shall give due consideration to known effects of their actions on State and'B+))NNlocal governments and the private sector, paying particular attention to effects on small
(c) Each Federal agency shall be responsible for developing plans, establishing
necessary organizational structure, and allocating appropriate resources to carry out this
Each agency shall:
d(a)::Establish plans and dates for use of the metric system in procurements,
grants and other businessrelated activities;
d(b)::Coordinate metric transition plans with other Federal agencies, State and
local governments and the private sector;
d-(c)::Require maximum practical use of metric in areas where Federal
procurement and activity represents a predominant influence on industry standards (eg:
weapon systems or space exploration). Strongly encourage metrication in industry
standards where Federal procurement and activity is not the predominant influence,
consistent with the legal status of the metric system as the preferred system of weights and
measures for United States trade and commerce;
d (d)::Assist in resolving metricrelated problems brought to the attention of the
agency that are associated with agency actions, activities or programs undertaken in
compliance with these guidelines or other laws or regulations;
d,&(e)::Identify measurementsensitive agency policies and procedures and ensure
that regulations, standards, specifications, procurement policies and appropriate legislative'B+))NNproposals are updated to remove barriers to transition to the metric system;
d(f)::Consider cost effects of metric use in setting agency policies, programs and
actions and determine criteria for the assessment of their economic feasibility. Such
criteria should appropriately weigh both agency costs and national economic benefits
related to changing to the use of metric;
d(g)::Provide for full public involvement and timely information about significant
metrication policies, programs and actions;
(h)::Seek out ways to increase understanding of the metric system of
measurement through educational information and guidance and in agency publications;
d(i)::Consider, particularly, the effects of agency metric policies and practices on
small business; and
d(j)::Consistent with the Federal Acquisition Regulation System (48 CFR), accept,
without prejudice, products and services dimensioned in metric when they are offered at
competitive prices and meet the needs of the Government, and ensure that acquisition
planning considers metric requirements.
dSec.19.24 Recommendations for Agency Organization.
Each agency shall:
(a) Participate, as appropriate, in the Interagency Council on Metric Policy (ICMP),
and/or its working committee, the Metrication Operating Committee (MOC), in
coordinating and providing policy guidance for the U.S. Government's transition to use
of the metric system.
'B+))NN(b) Designate a senior policy official to be responsible for agency metric policy and
to represent the agency on the ICMP.
(c) Designate an appropriate official to represent the agency on the Metrication
Operating Committee (MOC), an interagency committee reporting to the ICMP.
(d) Maintain liaison with private sector groups (such as the American National
Metric Council and the U.S. Metric Association) that are involved in planning for or
coordinating National transition to the metric system.
(e) Provide for internal guidelines, training and documentation to assure employee
awareness and understanding of agency metric policies and programs.
dSec.19.25 Reporting Requirement.
Each Federal agency shall, as part of its annual budget submission each fiscal year,
report to the Congress on the metric implementation actions it has taken during the
previous fiscal year. The report will include the agency's implementation plans, with a
current timetable for the agency's transition to the metric system, as well as actions planned
for the budget year involved to implement fully the metric system, in accordance with this
policy. Reporting shall cease for an agency in the fiscal year after it has fully implemented
metric usage, as prescribed by the Metric Conversion Act (15 U.S.C.205b(2).)
dD Sec.19.26 thru 19.199 (Reserved)
Robert M. White, Ph.D.
Under Secretary for Technology