Standards-setting is dominated by private groups, but government does its share. Despite its name, the National Bureau of Standards does not set standards, but cooperates with private groups that do. Other agencies' standards fall into four groups: design standards, safety standards, standards of identity (requirements for what a processed food product must contain) and performance standards. Some are voluntary; most are mandated by law, regulation or contract. Here is a sampling:

Consumer Product Safety Commission-- Safety standards for such products as power mowers, cribs, toys, cellulose insulation, matchbooks, bicycles, children's sleepwear and fireworks.

Federal Aviation Administration--Design and performance standards for aircraft, airplane engines, airplane parts and navigational equipment.

Food and Drug Administration--Standards of identity for products like mayonnaise, ketchup and ice cream; safety standards for microwave ovens. (The FDA is authorized to set standards for medical devices but has not yet done so.)

National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health--Performance standards used to certify protective equipment such as respirators.

Nuclear Regulatory Commission--Design standards for nuclear reactor components and systems, from instrument panels to containment buildings

Treasury Department's Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms--Design standards for devices measuring the alcoholic content of beverages, standards of identity for distilled spirits and small cigars.