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Policies

The calibration services of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) are designed to help the makers and users of precision instruments achieve the highest possible levels of measurement quality and productivity. The services listed in this catalog constitute the highest order of calibration services available in the United States. They directly link a customer's precision equipment or transfer standards to national and international measurement standards. These services are offered to public and private organizations and individuals alike.

Types of Calibration Services

  • Calibration Services
  • Special Tests
  • Measurement Assurance Programs (Maps)

NIST provides Calibration Services using well-characterized, stable and predictable measurement processes. NIST calibrates instruments and devices that are metrologically suitable as reference or transfer standards.

Special Tests are so designated for one or more of the following reasons: (1) the specific type of calibration is seldom requested, thus precluding the maintenance of a large statistical base for characterizing the measurement process; (2) the test requested is unique; or (3) the service is still under development - meaning the measurement or calibration methods are still being perfected, or all the quality-control documentation has not been completed.

Measurement Assurance Programs are quality control programs for calibrating a customer's entire measurement system. In a typical MAP, a stable artifact or set of artifacts called transfer standards are first measured by NIST and then sent to a customer's laboratory for a series of measurements. The transfer standards are then returned to NIST for re-measurement, along with the participating laboratory's results. NIST reports its comparative findings to the customer and, when necessary, offers guidance on achieving and maintaining measurement quality.

Successful use of a NIST MAP requires that the customer make periodic measurements of in-house check standards to estimate their measurement process uncertainty and to ensure that the measurement process remains in a state of statistical control. Unless a laboratory has a measurement quality assurance program to monitor its own measurement process parameters continuously, there is no value in participating in a MAP. In fact, NIST recommends that its customers establish and use a measurement quality assurance program to monitor their measurement parameters, whether or not they participate in a MAP.

Fees

NIST recovers the cost of providing calibration services by charging a fee for each calibration performed. The costs of services are updated and published annually to reflect changes in prices and services. Even so, the cost of many services varies according to your exact calibration specifications; you must therefore provide the technical contact with an exact description of work before receiving a price quote.

NOTE: Fees for NIST services do not include shipping costs or insurance.

Use of NIST Instrumentation at a User's Facility

The delivery of certain measurement services requires that NIST equipment be loaned to the customer for on-site measurements and/or calibrations. The customer agrees to be responsible for the equipment once it leaves NIST until it is returned to NIST's possession. The User will obtain appropriate liability insurance, including property damage insurance, and will be required to present evidence of insurance coverage for the equipment in an amount not less than $100,000, or alternatively, not less than the amount specified by NIST in the documentation accompanying the equipment.

Quality

NIST has implemented a quality system for its measurement services. The NIST Quality System (NIST QS) comprises policies and procedures that are documented in the NIST Quality Manual (NIST QM). NIST commits that the NIST QS be, to the extent allowed by statute and regulation, in conformity with the international standard ISO/IEC 17025 and the relevant requirements of ISO Guide 34 as they apply to the Standard Reference Materials® (SRMs) and related services that NIST delivers. In general the scope of the NIST quality system for measurement services encompasses all services listed in the NIST Special Publication (SP) 250, NIST Calibration Services Users Guide and the NIST Special Publication (SP) 260, Standard Reference Materials Catalog. For further details, consult the NIST Quality Manual for Measurement Services (NIST-QM-I).

All the measurement services listed meet rigorous criteria for quality assurance. NIST Measurement Services satisfy the most demanding and explicit requirements in that they are carried out regularly under pre-established and well-defined conditions; the measurement processes involved are well-characterized, stable, and statistically controlled; and quality-control procedures are well-defined and strictly followed. Furthermore, each Calibration Service and MAP is planned and documented to provide continuity of service over time.

Traceability

The primary purpose of the NIST Policy on Traceability is to state the NIST role with respect to traceability. The Policy presents the definition of measurement traceability used by NIST, and clarifies the roles of NIST and others in achieving traceability of measurement results for measurements both internal and external to NIST.

The NIST Policy on Traceability also addresses the role of NIST in providing its customers with the tools they need (a) to assist them in establishing traceability of their measurement results, and (b) to assess the claims of traceability made by others. This is achieved directly through the provision of NIST measurement-related products and services, through collaboration with relevant organizations, through development and dissemination of technical information on traceability, and through conducting coordinated outreach programs.

Merely having an instrument or artifact calibrated at NIST is not enough to make the measurement result traceable to reference standards developed and maintained by NIST. To establish traceability to such reference standards, there must be an unbroken chain of comparisons and each provided measurement must be accompanied by a statement of uncertainty . The measurement system by which values are transferred must be clearly understood and under control. The dates and details of each link in the chain must also be provided.

Reports of Calibration/Test Results

Reports on calibrations or other services are the property of the customer. Copies are supplied to other parties only as required by federal law or requested in writing by the customer. The results of calibrations and tests performed by NIST apply only to the specific instrument or standard at the time of test unless otherwise clearly stated.

Reporting Measurement Uncertainty

To ensure that NIST uncertainty statements are consistent across the organization and with international practice, NIST policy requires all NIST measurements be accompanied by statements of uncertainty as discussed in NIST Technical Note 1297, Guidelines for Evaluating and Expressing the Uncertainty of NIST Measurement Results, 1994 Edition.

NIST reports its calibration results, with the measurement values accompanied by the uncertainties associated with the methods, operators, and environment at NIST. Users of these calibration services will make their own measurements with the calibrated instruments or artifacts. In addition to the uncertainty indicated by NIST, other uncertainties are inherent in the instrument, associated with the method or protocol in using the instrument, with the operator of the instrument, and with the physical environment (pressure, temperature, humidity, etc.) in which the measurements are made. Thus, the measurements made with the calibrated instruments or artifacts by organizations outside of NIST have total uncertainty budgets associated with them, only one component of which is the uncertainty reported to them by NIST.

Use of Metric (SI) Units

In accordance with the Metric Conversion Act of 1975 as amended by Section 5164 of the Omnibus Trade and Competitiveness Act of 1988 and as required by related provisions of the Code of Federal Regulations, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) uses the modern metric system of measurement units (International System of Units - SI) in all publications. When the field of application or the special needs of users of NIST publications require the use of non-SI units, the values of quantities are first stated in the SI units and the corresponding values expressed in non-SI units follow in parentheses. Copies of NIST Guide for the Use of International System of Units (SI) (NIST SP811) are available upon request.

NIST measurement/test results or reports shall not be used to indicate or imply that NIST approves, recommends, or endorses the manufacturer, supplier, or user of any instruments or standards or that NIST in any way guarantees or predicts the future performance of items after calibration or test. No reference shall be made to NIST or to reports or results furnished by NIST in any advertising or sales promotions which would indicate or imply that NIST approves, recommends, or endorses any proprietary product or proprietary material.

Disclaimer

Commercial products, materials, and instruments are identified in our communications and documents for the sole purpose of adequately describing experimental or test procedures. In no event does such identification imply recommendation or endorsement by NIST of a particular product; nor does it imply that a named material or instrument is necessarily the best available for the purpose it serves.

Questions and Inquiries

The NIST Calibration Services website is intended to make the task of selecting and ordering an appropriate calibration service as quick and easy as possible. Nevertheless, when questions arise you should contact NIST for immediate clarification.

General inquiries about the NIST Calibration Services, assistance in determining the availability of services, and requests for complimentary copies of the Guide for the International System of Units (SP 811), and Guidelines for Evaluating and Expressing the Uncertainty of NIST Measurement Results (TN 1297) are to be addressed to:

NIST Calibration Services
National Institute of Standards and Technology
100 Bureau Drive, Stop 8363
Gaithersburg, MD 20899-8363
United States of America
Telephone: 301-975-2200
Fax: 301-975-2950
E-mail: calibrations@nist.gov

For technical questions concerning a specific service, directly contact the NIST staff member responsible for that calibration area.

Contracts and Signed Statements

As an agency of the United States Federal Government, Department of Commerce, the National Institute of Standards and Technology attests solely to the provisions described above. Receipt of orders by NIST does not imply acceptance of any provisions set forth in the order that are contrary to the policy, practice, or regulations of NIST or the U.S. Government. In general, NIST will not sign any affidavits, acknowledgement forms, supplier surveys, or other documents that may be required by any domestic or foreign entity for policy governing procurement of goods and services.

Please be advised that for non-U.S. government agencies, starting 01 January 2013, a new legal document (Calibration Service Pro Forma Invoice) containing the NIST calibration service terms and conditions are required for all calibration services. This document is a Calibration Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (C-CRADA) between your company and NIST. In general, this C-CRADA protects your calibration information as well as providing you with a firm price quote, explaining invoicing information, and information on the NIST quality system and traceability. In addition to the legal terms and conditions, the Calibration Service Pro Forma Invoice is used in two primary ways: 1) to create a firm price quote prior to submission of a company purchase order or 2) to create a firm price quote after receipt of a company purchase order. In either case, a signed copy of the Calibration Service Pro Forma Invoice by the authorized company representative is required by NIST. The terms and conditions of the Calibration Service Pro Forma Invoice supersede any conflicting and/or additional terms and conditions contained in a company’s purchase order. A pdf version of the Calibration Service Pro Forma Invoice is available for you to review from this webpage. If you have any questions, please contact (calibrations@nist.gov).

For U.S. government agencies, a memorandum of understanding (MOU) is required in lieu of the Calibration Service Pro Forma Invoice. Please contact Nancy Selepak (nancy.selepak@nist.gov) for MOU assistance.

Program questions: Calibrations
Phone: 301-975-2200, Fax: 301-975-2950
NIST, 100 Bureau Drive, Stop 8363, Gaithersburg, MD 20899-8363