ANSI and ANAB: What’s the Difference?

Image depicting ANSI (American National Standards institute) and ANAB (ANSI National Accreditation Board) are different organizations.

The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and the ANSI National Accreditation Board (ANAB) are separate organizations. A common source of confusion is the difference between ANSI and ANAB. The biggest difference between ANSI and ANAB is their scope of work. ANSI serves as the U.S. voice in international standards organizations, while ANAB provides specific accreditation services in various industries across multiple countries.

The Main Difference Between ANSI and ANAB

The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) is a private, non-profit organization that coordinates and administers the U.S. voluntary standards and conformity assessment system. The ANSI National Accreditation Board (ANAB) is a wholly owned subsidiary of ANSI that provides accreditation, assessment, and training services.

While ANSI and ANAB go hand in hand, there are multiple differences to be aware of. The main difference between the two organizations has to do with their scope of work:

  • ANSI — coordinates the U.S. private-sector-led standards and conformity assessment system, and the organization serves as the U.S. voice in international standards organizations.
  • ANAB (the subsidiary of ANSI) provides specific accreditation services and training to organizations in various industries across multiple countries.

ANSI Represents the U.S. Voluntary Standards Community

ANSI serves as a strong voice on behalf of the U.S. voluntary standards community. ANSI is the official U.S. representative in regional and non-treaty international standards development bodies, including the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and, via its U.S. National Committee, the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC).

ANSI Does Not Develop Standards

ANSI is not itself a standards developer; rather, the Institute oversees the creation, promulgation, and use of thousands of standards that have a direct impact on businesses in nearly every sector. ANSI does accredit standard developing organizations (SDOs) and sets the ANSI Essential Requirements to ensure that the development of American National Standards is a fair and responsive process that is open to all directly and materially interested parties.

ANSI Is Involved with the Development of American National Standards (ANS)

An American National Standard (ANS) is a voluntary consensus standard that is developed in accordance with ANSI’s Essential Requirements: Due process requirements for American National Standards and subject to ANSI’s neutral oversight, accreditation of consensus procedures, approval process, appeals process, and procedural audit.

By accrediting the procedures of standards developing organizations and approving their documents as American National Standards (ANS), ANSI facilitates the development of ANS. This process serves and protects the public interest since standards developers accredited by ANSI—and the ANS they develop—must meet the ANSI Essential Requirements for openness, balance, consensus, and due process. To date, ANSI has accredited 240 standards developing organizations and has approved more than 13,000 American National Standards.

Foreman checking on shipping containers making sure they adhere to voluntary standards like American National Standards.

ANAB Is an Accreditation Agency

Accrediting bodies, such as ANAB, develop evaluation criteria based on the requirements in ISO/IEC 17011 relating to specified requirements. They also conduct peer evaluations to assess whether or not accreditation standards, such as ISO/IEC 17025 and ISO/IEC 17065, are met. Institutions and/or programs that request an accreditor’s evaluation and that meet an accreditor’s criteria are then “accredited.”

ANAB accredits management systems certification bodies, calibration and testing labs, product certification bodies, personnel credentialing organizations, forensic test and calibration service providers, inspection bodies, police crime units, greenhouse gas validation and verification bodies, reference material producers, and proficiency test providers. ANAB’s accreditation services help to build confidence and value in products, personnel, services, and systems worldwide.

Laboratories, certification bodies, certificate courses, and other organizations are not “ANSI-accredited.” Rather, they are “ANAB-accredited.”

ANAB Accredits Certification Bodies

Certification bodies (CBs) are organizations that can provide compliance certifications. ANAB accredits CBs that display competence to audit and certify businesses adhering to management systems standards. For example, ANAB accredits certification bodies to ISO 9001 Quality Management Systems (QMS), ISO 14001 Environmental Management Systems (EMS), ISO 27001 Information Security Management Systems, ISO 22000 Food Safety Management Systems, ISO 45001 Occupational Health and Safety Management Systems, and many other industry-specific requirements. Accreditation from ANAB assures the impartiality and competence of the CB and fosters confidence and acceptance of the CB’s certifications by users in the public and private sectors.

ANAB Offers Accreditation-Focused Training Courses

In addition to offering professional accreditation services and a customer-focused accreditation process, ANAB offers training to professionals and businesses looking to increase their knowledge with highly qualified instructors and experienced industry professionals. ANAB provides a multitude of self-paced, on-site, or private training courses (as well as free webinars) with the goal to help individuals and organizations implement an accreditation program. There are courses are on general accreditation topics or specialized courses for labs, forensics, product certification, management systems certification, aerospace, validation and verification, and credentialing.

ANSI and ANAB’s Work In Conformity Assessment and Global Trade Is Aligned

Although ANSI and ANAB provide distinctly different conformity assessment services, both organizations are related. Together, ANSI and ANAB help protect public health and safety, drive U.S. innovation, grow a more effective workforce, and foster global trade and market access. These two organizations are dedicated to furthering the impact of standards and conformity assessment to improve health, safety, consumer confidence, and a thriving economy.

ANSI and ANAB’s Involvement in Conformity Assessment

Conformity assessments provide a passport of trust, allowing goods and services to circulate globally between economies, without the need for additional (and often duplicative) conformity assessment activities—such as testing, inspection, certification, and validation/verification—in the importing economy.

While ANSI plays a coordinating, administrative and educational role in conformity assessment, ANAB plays a performing role in conformity assessment activities, assessing the competence of conformity assessment bodies via accreditation services in just about every discipline.

Chart depicting ANSI and ANAB's roles in conformity assessment.

ANSI and ANAB’s Involvement in Global Trade

Standardization is linked to all facets of the economy and vital to global competitiveness. In fact, 93% of global goods exports rely on conformance to standards, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce.

ANSI is the official U.S. representative in regional and non-treaty international standards development bodies, including the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and, via its U.S. National Committee, the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC). ANSI promotes the use of U.S. standards internationally, advocates U.S. policy and technical positions in international and regional standards organizations, and encourages the adoption of international standards as national standards where they meet the needs of the user community. ANSI is also active in regional and international activities that facilitate trade and market access by providing capacity-building assistance and engagement opportunities with emerging economies on standards, trade, infrastructure, and good regulatory practices.

As an accreditation agency, ANAB helps facilitate world trade by ensuring that products and services meet international standards and regulations. In this way, accreditation builds trust between trading partners, reduces trade barriers, promotes fair competition, encourages innovation, and contributes to sustainable development.

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