In 2006, the U. S. Department of Justice (DOJ) National Institute of Justice (NIJ) Office of Science and Technology requested the establishment of a NVLAP program to accredit laboratories that test ballistic- and stab-resistant personal body armor to support the voluntary minimum performance standards developed for NIJ by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Office of Law Enforcement Standards (OLES).
NIJ is the research, development, and evaluation agency of the U. S. DOJ and is dedicated to researching crime control and justice issues. NIJ provides objective, independent, evidence-based knowledge and tools to meet the challenges of crime and justice, particularly at the state and local levels. NIJ develops standards and test methods for law enforcement and corrections equipment, including body armor, and operates the NIJ Compliance Testing Program (CTP). NIJ’s testing program exists to ensure that law enforcement and corrections officers have the best information available about the performance and safety of equipment tested by the CTP, and participation by applicants in this program is voluntary.
NVLAP may accredit any laboratory that meets NVLAP administrative and technical requirements; NIJ has additional requirements. Laboratories performing compliance testing services for the CTP in accordance with NIJ Standards must be independent, third-party laboratories which are located and which perform all testing within the United States. Additionally, all laboratories must be free of and demonstrate their freedom from any actual or potential conflicts of interest with respect to other services they and/or their parent organization, subsidiaries and affiliates may provide, particularly regarding services pertaining to consultation on the design and manufacture of the types of products for which a laboratory will perform NIJ compliance testing services.
Section 7.7.2 of ISO/IEC 17025:2017 requires a laboratory “monitor its performance by comparison with results of other laboratories, where available and appropriate.” NVLAP is not aware of any widely available interlaboratory comparison for personal body armor. Laboratories may choose to organize interlaboratory comparisons among themselves, but NVLAP does not require participation in interlaboratory comparison in the body armor program. If an appropriate interlaboratory comparison becomes available, NVLAP may require participation and will notify all laboratories of requirements.