The National Bureau of Standards (NBS) was established by an act of Congress on March 3, 1901. The Bureau's overall goal is to strengthen and advance the Nation's science and technology and facilitate their effective application for public benefit. To this end, the Bureau conducts research and provides: (1) a basis for the Nation's physical measurement system, (2) scientific and technological services for industry and government,(3) a technical basis for equity in trade, and (4) technical services to promote public safety.
During the 1970s, the NBS began to develop computer security standards for use by federal government agencies based on its authorities stemming from the Brooks Act of 1965. In 1977, with technical assistance from the National Security Agency (NSA), NBS adopted the Data Encryption Standard (DES) as the national standard for cryptography. For the first time, a published cryptographic standard became available for civilian agencies, and it quickly was adopted by business users and the American National Standards Institute as the basis for many industry standards. NBS also began to validate commercial products implementing DES, thereby increasing users' confidence in the products' conformance with the Federal standard. As a consequence, DES is gradually becoming used for many applications.