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Special Publication 980: A partnership for advanced measurement standards

Political humor is no stranger to tales of rivalries among Government agencies, including even the military services; stories of voluntary cooperation are rare. But occasionally there are accounts of successful cooperative efforts that have yielded results far greater than expected. This report is about one such effort,which has existed for over three decades. It involves a little-known element within the Department of Defense (DoD), the Calibration Coordination Group (CCG), and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) of the Department of Commerce.

For over 33 years the CCG and NIST have had a working relationship to provide the military services with required measurement standards and expertise, and to schedule the calibration of military laboratory standards at NIST in the most efficient and cost-effective way. They have also had to anticipate totally new technologies and the measurements that they would require, so that the necessary research and standards development could take place in a timely manner.This benefited not only the military services but also American industry. Yesterday's military technological innovations often become today's industrial products. With the measurement infrastructure already developed, U.S. industry is in a unique position to capitalize on new products and gain a competitive edge in the new world economy.

On the occasion of the one-hundredth anniversary of NIST (and the 33rd of the CCG) it seemed an appropriate time to tell the story of how this partnership came to exist and to provide some highlights of what has been accomplished over these years. Besides coordinating routine calibrations of military standards for the three services at the NIST laboratories the CCG has sponsored close to 500 technical research projects to develop new standards and measurement methods in anticipation of technological advances. Since NIST also serves as the nation's primary civilian standards agency, the results of these projects quickly found their way into the country's commerce. The results, not always easy to document, have in many cases provided the source for new product development and entrepreneurial startups.

In the following pages we have documented some of these engineering projects and their results, not only for archival purposes but also to honor the efforts of the people who had the foresight to recognize the initial problems and generate solutions with far-reaching results.

This NIST Centennial Special Publication is dedicated to the staff of the National Institute of Standards and Technology and to the members of the metrology organizations of the military services, past and present.

Gerome Reeve, Radio-Frequency Technology Division, NIST retired, and Dr. Raju Datla, Optical Technology Division, NIST, Editors

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SP 980: A partnership in advanced measurement standards 

sp980.pdf (14.1 MB)