During the 1920s, the National Bureau of Standards (NBS) greatly expanded the kinds of activities it undertook, leading to a sense that the agency was ubiquitous. Some of the agency’s new activities were quasi-regulatory: they sought to shape markets and make products safer. The bureau was a part of the Department of Commerce, and its expansion of market-shaping activities took place when Herbert Hoover was Commerce Secretary. In Ellis Hawley’s influential, oft-repeated interpretation of the bureau’s actions during this period, Hoover pioneered an “associational” mode of governance that emphasized industry self-regulation and rational coordination via conferences, trade associations, and other gatherings. In this essay I show how the NBS under Hoover went well beyond fostering industry self-regulation, thus suggesting the need to revise Hawley’s interpretation. This essay is divided into two main sections: the first section examines the thinking of George K. Burgess, who rose to head the NBS in the early 1920s and who put forth an ambitious vision for the bureau’s role in society, particularly around its potential to improve products on the market. The second section then examines one case of the agency’s proliferation of new organizational routines, namely those around the automobile. A close consideration of Burgess and the NBS’s new routines indicates that the NBS extended its reach far beyond its traditional bounds. Most of these novel efforts were aimed at increasing the market’s virtues.