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Quality Assurance Programs


NIST currently coordinates a number of quality assurance programs that participants use to identify and understand community-wide measurement challenges, improve the accuracy of their measurements, and demonstrate an effort to comply with various regulations. These programs offer the opportunity for laboratories to assess their in-house measurements, and participation in a quality assurance program in conjunction with the use of reference materials has been shown to improve the comparability and precision of data over time.

All programs are administered through one portal, QAP HUB, allowing account holders to receive communication on upcoming program offerings and to register for any that are of interest to their laboratory. NIST distributes the requested samples, and participant data is compiled and analyzed for accuracy, precision, and concordance within the community. Reports and certificates of completion are sent to participants. Each program conducts periodic workshops that offer opportunities to discuss results as well as methodological advancements.

NIST has extensive experience in the administration of interlaboratory comparisons and quality assurance programs. For more information, please see our listing of historical programs. While quality assurance programs are conducted similarly to proficiency testing (PT), NIST programs are not PT and are not designed to pass strict evaluation of laboratory performance. Proof of participation in NIST QAPs may be adequate to demonstrate proficiency in some communities, but the use and distribution of each participant’s study results for this purpose will be at the discretion of the participant only.

Cannabis Laboratory Quality Assurance Program (CannaQAP)

CannaQAP was developed to help Cannabis testing laboratories demonstrate and improve measurement comparability and/or competence. Examples of laboratories that may benefit from participation in CannaQAP include:

  • Forensic laboratories developing quantitative analytical methods to facilitate controlled substance determinations
  • Laboratories testing Cannabis products for quality control (safety and ingredient labeling)
  • Regulators performing inspections or market surveys to evaluate product compliance
  • Researchers conducting clinical trials on efficacy of cannabinoids

For more information, contact us at  QAPHUB [at] (QAPHUB[at]nist[dot]gov) or cannabis [at] (cannabis[at]nist[dot]gov).

Clinical Measurements Quality Assurance Program (ClinQAP)

As part of a revamp of QAP offerings in 2021, NIST, in collaboration with the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS), established the Clinical Measurements Quality Assurance Program (ClinQAP) to support the measurement needs of the clinical community. The ClinQAP provides an opportunity for clinical testing laboratories to improve comparability of their measurements, as well as for NIST to assess community needs for reference materials, workshops, and other measurement services. Studies will focus on marker compounds, metabolites, and other clinically relevant measurands in appropriate matrices (e.g., human and animal serum, whole blood, urine, human milk). Future ClinQAP studies may address additional clinical measurement challenges such as contaminants and forensics, as needs are identified. If you have any suggestions for studies or would like more information regarding ClinQAP and other NIST QAPs, please send your request to QAPHUB [at] (QAPHUB[at]nist[dot]gov) or clinqaq [at] (clinqap[at]nist[dot]gov).

Dietary Supplement Laboratory Quality Assurance Program (DSQAP)

As part of a revamp of QAPs in 2021, NIST reestablished the Dietary Supplement Laboratory Quality Assurance Program (DSQAP) in collaboration with the NIH ODS to support the measurement needs of the dietary supplement community. Participants measure concentrations of nutritional and toxic elements, fat- and water-soluble vitamins, fatty acids, active and/or marker compounds, and contaminants in samples distributed by NIST. Future DSQAP studies may address additional areas such as authenticity, as needs are identified. If you have any suggestions for studies or would like more information regarding DSQAP and other NIST QAPs, please send your request to QAPHUB [at] (QAPHUB[at]nist[dot]gov).

Food Nutrition and Safety Measurements Quality Assurance Program (FNSQAP)

As part of a revamp of QAPs in 2021, NIST has established the Food Nutrition and Safety Measurements Quality Assurance Program (FNSQAP) as part of the NIST Food Safety Program. Participants measure concentrations of nutrient components (e.g., minerals, vitamins, fatty acids, dietary fiber) and contaminants (e.g., toxic elements, pesticide residues) in food samples, including infant formula, distributed by NIST. FNSQAP is designed to assist laboratories in the development and validation of new analytical methods, in improving the quality of their analytical measurements, and in supporting compliance with a number of federal regulations enforced by the US FDA, USDA, and other international bodies. Future FNSQAP studies may address additional food safety areas such as authenticity, protein food allergens, and microbial contaminants, as needs are identified. If you have any suggestions for studies or would like more information regarding FNSQAP and other NIST QAPs, please send your request to QAPHUB [at] (QAPHUB[at]nist[dot]gov).

Marine Analytical Quality Assurance Program

Starting in 1987 NIST has partnered with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to underpin measurements made on the marine environment.  These program resulted from a collaboration between the National Marine Fisheries Office of Protected Species Marine Mammal Health and Stranding Response Program (MMHSRP) and NOAA’s National Ocean Service (NOS).  The collaboration with the MMHSRP has continued since 1987 while the collaboration with NOS was continuously supported by the NOS National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science (NCCOS) National Status and Trends Program through 2007.  NIST continues to provide quality assurance services for NOAA NOS through its participation in the Hollings Marine Laboratory (HML) partnership in the form of training and technology transfer.  For MMHSRP, NIST provides protocols for the collection, processing, and banking of marine mammal tissue and fluids and archives them in The NIST Biorepository.  NIST also administers both formal interlaboratory comparison exercises and informal interlaboratory studies to aid in the harmonization of measurements made on marine mammals for assessing exposure, stock assessment, and health.


CONFIDENTIALITY STATEMENT:  It is our policy that participants' laboratory identification numbers remain confidential and known only to them and ourselves.

Created April 10, 2009, Updated July 9, 2024