Getting a Better Understanding of the Metric System:

Implications if Adopted by the United States [Report and Executive Summary]

CED-78-128A: Published: Oct 20, 1978. Publicly Released: Oct 20, 1978.

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Many believe that a decision has already been made to adopt the metric system in the United States. In fact, many think that conversion is mandatory, especially among small businesses and the general public. Although the Metric Conversion Act of 1975 provides for a continuation of the existing policy allowing for voluntary conversion, the current policy has been misinterpreted and, within this context, attempts have been made to convert to the metric system.

The 1975 act and its legislative history show that national policy is not to prefer one system over another, and there is insufficient evidence to support or refute the belief that conversion to the metric system in the United States is inevitable. Costs will be incurred for education, converting computer systems and databases, changing laws, maintaining inventories, and changing product sizes. Before voluntarily deciding to convert, there should be a clear understanding of the policy, knowledge of the costs of benefits involved, an assessment of the impact on the sector involved and any related sectors, and a determination of the impact on consumers.

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