GENERAL SERVICES ADMINISTRATION
Washington, DC 20405
January 6, 2004
SUBJECT: GSA Metric Program
1. Purpose. This order establishes policies and assigns responsibilities for implementing the metric system of measurement within the General Services Administration.
2. Cancellation. ADM 8000.1B is canceled.
a. The Metric Conversion Act of 1975 (Pub. L. 94-168, 15 U.S.C. 205a, et seq.), as amended by the Omnibus Trade and Competitiveness Act of 1988 (Pub. L. 100-418), established the modern metric system (System International, or SI) as the preferred system of measurement in the United States; and directed that, to the extent economically feasible, the metric system be used in all federal procurements, grants, and business-related activities by September 30, 1992.
b. This statute was implemented by Executive Order 12770, signed on July 25, 1991.
c. The Savings in Construction Act of 1996 (Pub. L. 104-289) prohibits Federal contract documents from solely specifying hard metric concrete block and hard metric recessed lighting fixtures unless the agency makes the written determination required by 15 U.S.C. 205l. This Act also requires each executive agency that awards construction contracts to designate a senior agency official to serve as construction metrication ombudsman.
4. Applicability. This order applies to all Central Office services, staff offices and regional offices.
a. Metrication means any act that increases the predominate use of the metric system, including metric training and conversion of measurement-sensitive processes and products, to the metric system, especially in business-related activities.
b. Metric system means the International System of Units (LeSysteme International d'Unites (SI)) of the International Bureau of Weights and Measures, as interpreted or modified from time to time for the United States by the Secretary of Commerce. The units are listed in the current version of Federal Standard 376B, “Preferred Metric Units for General Use by the Federal Government.”
c. Hard metric means The use of only metric (SI) measurements in specifications, standards, supplies, and services measurement, design, and manufacture using the metric system of measurement, but does not include measure, design and manufacture using English system measurement units which are subsequently reexpressed in the metric system of measurement.
d. Soft metric means the result of mathematical conversion of inch-pound measurements to metric equivalents in specifications, standards, supplies, and services. The physical dimensions are not changed.
e. Dual systems means the use of both inch-pound and metric systems. For example, an item is designed, produced, and described in inch-pound values with soft metric values also shown for information or comparison purposes.
f. Hybrid systems means the use of both inch-pound and hard metric values in specifications, standards, supplies, and services; e.g., an engine with internal parts in metric dimensions and external fittings or attachments in inch-pound dimensions.
g. Metric usage means the use of hard metric (preferred), soft metric, dual systems or hybrid systems in lieu of traditional inch-pound measurements.
h. Business-related activities 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.
a. GSA will implement the metric system in a manner consistent with the Metric Conversion Act of 1975, as amended.
b. GSA will support Federal transition and national conversion to the metric system through participation on the Interagency Council on Metric Policy (ICMP) and on Government/industry subcommittees, working panels, and groups.
c. Central Office services and staff offices and regional offices will use, to the extent economically feasible, the metric system in procurements, grants, and other business-related activities.
d. GSA will encourage industry in the change to the metric system by acquiring commercially available metric products and services that meet the functional requirements of GSA and its customers, so long as competition is maintained.
e. Specifications and standards for Federal or GSA procurement will be developed in metric when metric is the accepted industry system. Commercially developed metric specifications and internationally or domestically developed voluntary standards using metric will be adopted whenever possible. When metric is not the accepted industry system, soft metric, hybrid, or dual systems will be used during transition. As soon as practical, soft, dual, and hybrid English/metric measurements will be replaced with hard metric measurements.
f. The measurement units in which a system is originally designed may be retained for the life of that system, unless conversion is necessary or advantageous.
g. Bulk (loose, unpackaged) materials will be specified and accepted in metric units. Measuring devices and shop and laboratory equipment must be procured in metric or dual units.
h. For construction of Federal facilities, specifications will comply with the PBS Metric Design Guide (PBS PQ260). In accordance with Pub. L. 104-289, concrete masonry units and recessed lighting fixtures may be expressed in the metric system; however, specifications for these items that can be satisfied only by hard-metric may not be used unless the Deputy Associate Administrator for Acquisition Policy (MV) makes the written determination that:
(1) hard-metric specifications are necessary in a contract for the repair or replacement of parts of Federal facilities in existence or under construction upon the effective date of Pub. L. 104-289; or
(2) the following criteria are met:
(a) the application requires hard-metric concrete masonry units or recessed lighting fixtures to coordinate dimensionally into 100 millimeter building modules; and
(b) the total installed price of hard-metric concrete masonry units or recessed lighting fixtures is estimated to be equal to or less than the total installed price of using non-hard-metric concrete masonry units or recessed lighting fixtures. Total installed price estimates shall be based, to the extent available, on cost or pricing data or price analysis, using actual hard-metric and non-hard-metric offers received for comparable existing projects; and
(c) the written determination includes an explanation of the factors used to develop the price estimates.
7. Interagency coordination. Interagency coordination of metrication activity within the United States is the function of the following organizations:
a. Interagency Council on Metric Policy. The ICMP provides for high-level coordination of metric policy between Federal agencies. The Deputy Associate Administrator for Acquisition Policy (MV) represents GSA on this Council.
b. ICMP Metrication Operating Committee (MOC). The MOC coordinates appropriate interagency metrication activities and is composed of Federal agency metric coordinators. The MOC undertakes tasks assigned by the ICMP.
c. MOC Functional Area Subcommittees. Subcommittees are formed by the MOC to coordinate in specific functional areas and to keep agency officials informed of metric progress being made by industry in those functional areas as it affects Federal activities. MOC subcommittees exist in such functional areas as construction, procurement and supply, transportation, and consumer affairs. Individuals from the Services and Staff Offices having direct interest in these activities will represent GSA on the subcommittees.
8. Coordination with the private sector. Because the private sector has an essential role in the transition to the use of metric measurements, its needs and capabilities must be considered along with those of the Federal Government. The U.S. Metric Association (USMA) and the American National Metric Council (ANMC) traditionally have been regarded as the principal representatives of private sector metric interests, plans, and conversion actions. Federal agencies, including GSA, work closely with the USMA and ANMC to aid in exchanging ideas, plans, and methods needed to fulfill the intent of the Metric Conversion Act of 1975, as amended. Coordination with other private sector organizations involved in metrication activities also may be beneficial.
9. Exceptions to metric usage in procurements, grants, and business-related activities.
a. Exceptions to metric usage may be made on an individual or class basis. Where an exception is made, it must be supported by an assessment that the use of the metric system is impractical or is likely to cause significant inefficiencies, would cause harm to the program mission, or loss of markets to United States firms and include, as appropriate, recommendations for action to facilitate future usage.
b. Except for procurements valued equal to or less than the simplified acquisition threshold, exceptions must be in writing and shall be signed by an appropriate official responsible for the business application. Exceptions relating to procurement actions should be prepared and signed by the party originating the requirement, unless another official is in a better position to make the required assessment. Class exceptions must be coordinated with the Office of Acquisition Policy and approved by the appropriate Head of Service or Staff Office (HSSO). A copy of each written exception shall be forwarded to the Office of Acquisition Policy (MV). (However, see para. 6h, above, regarding written determinations to use hard metric in specifications for concrete masonry units and recessed lighting fixtures.)
c. HSSO's should review those procurement, grant, and other business-related applications that arise on a recurring basis, and as necessary, prepare class exceptions for those cases where metric usage is [still] deemed impractical or is likely to cause significant inefficiencies or loss of markets to United States firms.
d. For purposes of the foregoing, metric usage will have occurred if any significant aspects of the Government's technical specification or other measurement sensitive statement of requirements is stated in metric consistent with subpar. 6e. Specifications, statements of work, product descriptions or other statements of requirements that are not measurement sensitive are considered to be in compliance with GSA metric policy and need not be supported by an exception.
a. The Deputy Associate Administrator for Acquisition Policy (MV) will:
(1) Ensure GSA's implementation of the metric system of measurement is consistent with Pub. L. 100-418the Metric Conversion Act of 1975, as amended and the policy and guidance of the Secretary of Commerce.
(2) Represent GSA on the ICMP.
(3) Establish GSA policy for use of the metric system of measurement and approve or disapprove deviations from that policy.
(4) Ensure appropriate GSA office representation on MOC subcommittees.
(5) Appoint the GSA Metric Coordinator to serve on the MOC and its Executive Committee and to chair the GSA Metric Steering Group.
(6) Serve as the GSA Construction Metrication Ombudsman. The Construction Metrication Ombudsman will review and respond to complaints from prospective bidders, subcontractors, suppliers, or their designated representatives related to GSA guidelines and regulations on the use of the metric system in contracts for construction of Federal buildings or for services and materials required for incorporation in individual projects to construct Federal buildings.
b. The GSA Metric Steering Group will formulate metric policy for the approval of the Deputy Associate Administrator for Acquisition Policy.
c. The Chief People Officer (C) will identify and coordinate appropriate metrication training programs for GSA employees.
d. The Associate Administrator for Citizen Affairs and Communications (X) will:
(1) Advise, coordinate, and assist in the production of all publications and audiovisuals proposed by GSA services and staff offices to inform other Federal agencies or the public of new uses of the metric system in GSA programs.
(2) Devise and implement economical, effective means for informing GSA employees of new uses of the metric system within the agency and for increasing employee understanding of the metric system of measurement.
e. Central Office services and staff offices and regional offices will:
(1) Designate an organizational element to monitor metric conversion activities for which they are responsible;
(2) Appoint an individual as their Metric Coordinator; and
(3) Develop and maintain metric guidelines applicable to their specific mission and responsibility. Guidelines will be consistent with this order, the guidance at the National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST) website (http://www.ts.nist.gov/), and guidelines and interpretations developed by the GSA Metric Steering Group (see subpar. 11.)
(4) For an industry in transition to metric, the head of each Central Office Service responsible for nationwide programs will develop policies promoting and encouraging the use of soft metric, hybrid, or dual systems.
11. Program operation.
a. The GSA Metric Program will be operated through a Metric Steering Group, chaired by the GSA Metric Coordinator, and shall include a Metric Coordinator from each affected Central Office service and staff office. The Deputy Associate Administrator for Acquisition Policy will provide general guidance for the GSA Metric Steering Group as necessary.
b. The GSA Metric Steering Group will meet as necessary to assist in achieving a uniform and coordinated approach to implementing the requirements of the Metric Conversion Act of 1975, as amended. The group will develop guidelines and interpretations.
12. Implementing actions. Heads of Services and Staff Offices and Regional Administrators, in coordination with appropriate officials, must initiate all actions necessary to implement this order.
Stephen A. Perry