The U.S. Commerce Department's National Institute of Standards and Technology has established the National Voluntary Conformity Assessment System Evaluation Program to improve the acceptance of U.S. products in international markets such as the European Union, based on U.S. approvals.
Under the NVCASE program, the Commerce Department, acting through NIST, will accept requests to evaluate and recognize competently conducted conformity assessment (product acceptance) activities. The NIST evaluations will supplement those of other federal agencies to provide a basis for the federal government to assure foreign entities that qualified U.S. conformity assessment bodies are competent to satisfy foreign regulatory requirements.
NVCASE covers organizations engaged in product sample testing, product certification and quality system registration and will emphasize reliance on their accreditors where applicable. NIST evaluations, based on publicly developed requirements, will be conducted on a fee-for-service basis, resulting in a certificate of recognition to organizations that meet the requirements.
NIST will maintain lists of all recognized organizations and, in the case of recognized accredited bodies, lists of conformity assessment entities that the accreditation bodies have recognized within the scope of the program.
NIST will respond to requirements by U.S. trading partners for governmental assurances that U.S.-based conformity assessment activities are competently performed for satisfying the regulatory requirements of their governments. This can be accomplished effectively by NIST evaluation of conformity assessment activities carried out in the United States and NIST attestation to the competency of their conduct.
The establishment of this program reflects the importance of conformity assessment activities to international trade. It is intended to assist U.S. manufacturers in meeting foreign technical regulatory requirements on a cost-effective basis. The program is expected to enhance U.S. trade with other nations.
The NVCASE program stems from previously expressed needs from the private sector related to international trade. The program also will meet one of the objectives outlined in the June 21, 1991, joint communique‚ between the U.S. secretary of commerce and the vice president of the European Commission.
The 1991 agreement was reached to ensure that the European system of testing and certification would not disadvantage U.S. exporters. The secretary instructed NIST to establish a system whereby he could assure other governments that designated U.S. manufacturers, testing laboratories, standards groups, trade associations or other organizations are qualified to test and certify that U.S. products or firms meet the requirements of EC law.
For information on NVCASE, contact John L. Donaldson, chief of the Standards Code and Information Program, or Robert L. Gladhill, program manager, A629 Administration Building, NIST, Gaithersburg, Md. 20899-0001, (301) 975-4029, fax: (301) 963-2871.
As a non-regulatory agency of the Commerce Department's Technology Administration, NIST promotes U.S. economic growth by working with industry to develop and apply technology, measurements and standards.