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National Standardization Strategic Framework (NSSF)

The NSSF programme has now concluded

Following Professor Swann's report on the economic benefits of standardisation, the DTI, CBI and BSI recognised the need to develop a National Standardisation Strategic Framework (NSSF). The NSSF had

  • a Strategic element, which sets the direction for standardization in the UK; and
  • a Framework element, which creates a structure for ongoing implementation;

The Framework document and an A3 summary chart are available on the NSSF website along with an Annex setting out a series of implementation projects.

Whilst the NSSF had its own implementation programme, it formed a part of the wider Innovation Review.

There were annual reports on progress in implementing the NSSF.
 
Why have an NSSF?

Standards influence everything we do. They are so much a part of our daily routine that we use them without even being aware of doing so, and without giving thought to how they are created or the benefits they provide. In one form or another, they have always underpinned trade and business. Standards (including codes of practice and guides as well as formal standards) support compatibility and can drive down costs through use of common parts, specifications and methods. They can also help open markets, create new industries and realise the potential of new technologies.

But the business world and society served by the standards infrastructure are both changing rapidly. Global trade means that many of today's products are built with components sourced from around the world, which must fit together and perform as expected. Product life-cycles are becoming shorter and the pace of technological development is accelerating. Consumers are demanding ever-higher levels of safety, performance, reliability and sustainability. They are concerned that much needs to be done to improve services and standards have a part to play in meeting their expectations.

Standards are developed through agreement - and reaching an agreement takes time. The increased pace of change makes time more scarce, and creates pressure for standards to be produced more quickly. So while traditional, formal standards remain extremely important in many areas, such as construction and mechanical engineering, a fresh approach is needed to satisfy the new demands both of these established sectors and of younger industries like information technology. Indeed, infant technologies such as nano-technology and biotechnology pose new questions about when and how standards should be used to help the process of building successful industries from advanced research.

Other major economies have recognised the importance of standards for economic performance and are taking a strategic look at their standards systems. We must do likewise to remain competitive.

The NSSF is intended therefore to help 'raise the game' across the UK, increasing the number of businesses which have standards on their strategic - not just technical - agenda, and helping to ensure that we have flexible, responsive and efficient standards system.
 
Contact: Radhika Sriskandarajah, Department for Innovation Universities & Skills, Buckingham Palace Road, London SW1W 9SS.