The White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has issued for public comment proposed revisions to Circular A-119 “in light of changes that have taken place in the world of regulation, standards, and conformity assessment since the Circular was last revised in 1998.” Comments are requested by May 12, 2014.

The more significant changes would emphasize a preference for incorporating into federal rulemaking and keeping references current to the performance-based stan- dards developed by voluntary consensus standards-development organizations, and harmonizing U.S. regulations with international requirements to avoid running afoul of international trade obligations.

The proposed revisions would include (i) more specific guidance on “how Federal representatives should participate in standards development activities”; (ii) guidance to enhance transparency about implementing the circular in rulemakings and alerting the public when agencies consider whether to participate in standards-development activities, as well as “factors for agencies to consider when incorporating standards by reference in regulation”; and (iii) directions to agencies to consult with the U.S. trade representative “on how to comply with international obligations with regard to standards and conformity assessment.” Among other matters, the revisions would address IP issues, both where standards require the use of patented technologies and whether the text of copyright-protected standards incorporated into federal regulations may be provided to the public. See Federal Register, February 11, 2014.