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NIST Selects New Chief of National Voluntary Laboratory Accreditation Program

For Immediate Release: June 10, 2003

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Contact: Mark Bello
(301) 975-3776

Warren Merkel, a laboratory-testing and accreditation authority with public and private-sector experience, has been chosen to lead the National Voluntary Laboratory Accreditation Program (NVLAP) at the Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), beginning June 30, 2003.

Before joining NIST, Merkel was the technical manager for the American Association for Laboratory Accreditation (A2LA). As NVLAP director, he will oversee accreditation of testing and calibration laboratories in eight major product and service categories, from environmental analyses and radiation dosimetry to testing of information technology security and various types of products.

NVLAP accreditation confirms that laboratories demonstrate compliance with quality and procedural requirements, satisfying relevant federal regulations and conforming to requirements jointly established by the International Organization for Standardization and the International Electrotechnical Commission, known as ISO/IEC 17025.

The result of rigorous third-party evaluations, NVLAP accreditation helps to ensure that test results and calibration certificates provided by accredited laboratories will be recognized nationally and internationally. This can eliminate the need for additional testing and evaluation to prove compliance with health, safety and environmental regulations or to fulfill market requirements.

NVLAP programs for assessing the capabilities and competence of calibration and testing laboratories are established in response to Congressional mandates and requests from federal agencies and private-sector organizations. Currently, there are some 750 NVLAP-accredited laboratories, including more than 100 located outside the United States.

At A2LA, a membership society that offers private-sector accreditation services, Merkel coordinated development of new accreditation programs and served as technical liaison with laboratory users, industry groups, government agencies and international peers. He previously had served as the organization’s operations manager, overseeing the day-to-day activities of all A2LA accreditation programs.

Prior to joining A2LA in 1996, Merkel was a chemist at the Defense Personnel Support Center where he planned, performed, evaluated and reported results of chemical, mechanical and dimensional testing, and audited and monitored textile laboratories in the center’s Qualified Laboratory Program.

“Under Warren’s leadership, NVLAP will continue to meet growing demand by both federal agencies and private-sector organizations for third-party assurance that tests and calibrations are competently conducted,” says Mary Saunders, NIST’s chief of Standards Services.

C. Douglas Faison, the program’s acting chief since December 2002, will continue as NVLAP’s senior calibration program manager.

As a non-regulatory agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Technology Administration, NIST develops and promotes measurement, standards and technology to enhance productivity, facilitate trade and improve the quality of life.