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Going Metric, Inch By Inch


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GOING METRIC, INCH BY INCH

In what may be the all-time best--make that worst--example of foot-dragging in the history of Washington bureaucracy, the federal government will soon implement a statute that went on the books on July 28, 1866. Last summer, President Bush signed Executive Order 12770, which requires federal agencies to begin using the metric system on Sept. 30.

That means Bush put his name to the bill 125 years after Congress legalized the measurement standard for use in the U.S. and 11 years after it passed the Metric Conversion Act of 1975. Private-sector use of grams, meters, liters, and so forth will still be voluntary, but those doing business with the feds should stock up on those metric conversion kits. The law says Uncle Sam will use metric measures even in "procurements, grants, and other business-related activities." For noncompliers, a miss is as good as 1.61 kilometers.EDITED BY DEIDRE A. DEPKE


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