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NPR 7120.10B
Effective Date: June 01, 2022
Expiration Date: June 01, 2027
Printable Format (PDF)

Subject: Technical Standards for NASA Programs and Projects

Responsible Office: Office of the Chief Engineer

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Appendix A. Definitions

Agency. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

Applicable Documents. A document or form that contains provisions (requirements) which, through reference (citation) in the source document, incorporates additional provisions (requirements) in the source document. Use only controlled, current forms. (Sources: Modified from ISO 10795, Space systems – Programme management and quality – Vocabulary, and NPR 1400.1, NASA Directives and Charters Procedural Requirements.)

Conformity Assessment. A demonstration, whether directly or indirectly, that specified requirements relating to a product, process, system, person, or body are fulfilled. Conformity assessment includes sampling and testing, inspection, supplier’s declaration of conformity, certification, and management system assessment and registration. Conformity assessment also includes accreditation of the competence of those activities. (Source: OMB Circular No. A-119.)

Consensus. A general agreement, but not necessarily unanimity. During the development of consensus, comments and objections are considered using fair, impartial, open, and transparent processes. (Source: OMB Circular No. A-119.)

Government-Unique Standard. A standard developed by and for use by the Federal Government in its regulations, procurements, or other program areas specifically for government use (i.e., it is not generally used by the private sector unless required by regulation, procurement, or program participation). The standard was not developed as a voluntary consensus standard. (Source: OMB Circular No. A-119.)

Handbook. A guidance document that provides engineering information; lessons learned; possible options to address technical issues; classification of similar item, materials, or processes; interpretative direction and techniques; and any other type of guidance information that may help the Government or its contractors in the design, construction, selection, management, support, or operation of systems, products, processes, or services. (Source: MIL-STD-967, Defense Handbooks Format and Content.) Also, a how-to document containing procedural, technical, engineering, or design information or data about materials, processes, practices, or methods. Although NASA handbooks may contain “shall” statements, they are not intended to be requirements documents. Handbooks, or portions thereof, containing procedural or process requirements may be cited in contract, program, and other Agency documents.

Impractical. Includes circumstances in which such use would fail to serve the Agency’s regulatory, procurement, or program needs; be infeasible; be inadequate, ineffectual, inefficient, or inconsistent with the Agency mission or the goals of using voluntary consensus standards; be inconsistent with a provision of law; or impose more burdens, or be less useful, than the use of another standard. (Source: OMB Circular No. A-119.)

NASA-Endorsed Technical Standards. Proven technical standards identified and recommended by NASA Headquarters offices for particular types of applications and should be considered first for use in developing technical requirements for current and future NASA programs and projects.

NASA Technical Standards. Consist of technical standards, specifications, and handbooks developed and approved by NASA Headquarters offices for Agency-wide use. NASA technical standards are assigned a prefix of “NASA-STD-,” “NASA-SPEC-,” or “NASA-HDBK-,” respectively, to the unique document number.

Other Government Agency Standards. Technical standards originated and published by Government agencies other than NASA (e.g., military (MIL), Federal (FED), Department of Defense (DoD)).

Performance Standard. A standard that states requirements in terms of required results, but without stating the methods for achieving the required results; may define the functional requirements for an item, operational requirements, and/or interface and interchangeability characteristics. (Source: OMB Circular No. A-119.)

Prescriptive Standard. A standard that may specify design requirements such as materials to be used, how a requirement is to be achieved, or how an item is to be fabricated or constructed. (Source: OMB Circular No. A-119.)

Reference Document. A document that is not incorporated by reference (cited) in a requirement and does not constitute requirements to perform activities. The document may consist of internal and external requirements and other resources considered by the Responsible Office to be useful as background information for the reader (to help in understanding the subject matter). (Source: Modified from NPR 1400.1.)

Specification. A document or data that prescribes, in a complete, precise, verifiable manner, the requirements, design, behavior, or characteristics of a system or system component. (Source: NPR 7123.1, NASA Systems Engineering Processes and Requirements.)

Standard or Technical Standard. Includes all of the following:

(Source: OMB Circular No. A-119.)

Tailoring. The process used to adjust or seek relief from a prescribed requirement to accommodate the needs of a specific task or activity (e.g., program or project). The tailoring process results in the generation of deviations and waivers depending on the timing of the request. (Source: NPR 7120.5.)

Technical Authority. Part of NASA’s system of checks and balances that provides independent oversight of programs and projects in support of safety and mission success through the selection of individuals at delegated levels of authority. These individuals are the Technical Authorities. Technical Authority delegations are formal and traceable to the Administrator. Individuals with Technical Authority are funded independently of a program or project. (Source: NPR 7120.5.)

Technical Authority Requirements. Requirements invoked by OCE, OSMA, and OCHMO documents (e.g., NPRs or technical standards cited as program or project requirements) or contained in Center institutional documents. These requirements are the responsibility of the office or organization that established the requirement unless delegated elsewhere. (Source:

NPR 7120.5.)

Technical Requirements. Requirements that discuss the design, performance, operational parameters, and constraints of equipment and systems. These are requirements that would typically be contained within a system or equipment specifications. View NASA Technical Standards at https://standards.nasa.gov/. (Source: NPR 1400.1.)

Use (as in Use of a standard). Incorporation of a standard in whole, in part, or by reference for procurement purposes; inclusion of a standard in whole, in part, or by reference in regulation(s); or inclusion of a standard in whole, in part, or by reference in other mission-related activities. (Source: OMB Circular No. A-119.) Refer to https://www.archives.gov/files/federal-register/write/handbook/ibr.pdf for information on incorporation by reference. (Source: OMB Circular No. A-119.)

Voluntary Consensus Standard. A type of standard developed or adopted by voluntary consensus standards bodies, through the use of a voluntary consensus standards development process defined in the definition of voluntary consensus standards bodies in this section. These bodies often have intellectual property rights (IPR) policies that include provisions requiring that owners of relevant patented technology incorporated into a standard make that intellectual property available to implementers of the standard on a non-discriminatory and royalty-free or reasonable royalty terms (and to bind subsequent owners of standards essential patents to the same terms). In order to qualify as a “voluntary consensus standard,” a standard that includes patented technology needs to be governed by such policies, which should be easily accessible, set out clear rules governing the disclosure and licensing of the relevant intellectual property, and take into account the interests of all stakeholders, including the IPR holders and those seeking to implement the standard. (Source: OMB Circular No. A-119.)

Voluntary Consensus Standards Body. A type of association, organization, or technical society that plans, develops, establishes, or coordinates voluntary consensus standards using a voluntary consensus standards development process that includes the following attributes or elements:

(Source: OMB Circular No. A-119.)

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