Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

OWM Strategic Plan

OWM Strategic Plan banner
Credit: OWM/Adobe

Executive Summary | Overview 

OWM Vision

Lead the advancement of legal metrology documentary standards and practices to promote U.S. economic growth and fair trade.

OWM Mission

Establish uniformity, equity, SI use, and traceability in weights and measures by advancing national and international legal metrology standards, procedures, capabilities, and training.

OWM Values

  • Integrity – unwavering responsibility to uphold metrological standards and services
  • Objectivity and Consistency – serve as an impartial broker of legal metrological principles
  • Excellence and Expertise – provide the highest caliber of metrological services, weights and measures guidance and training, and documentary standards to our customers 
  • Cooperation and Collaboration – serve as a communication channel for stakeholders and partners, and facilitate the creation of products from a multitude of engagements

Strategic Objective 1: Prioritize and Modernize Core Activities 

Strategic Objective 2: Engage with Critical and Emerging Technologies  

Strategic Objective 3: Promote the “Why” for Weights and Measures  

Strategic Objective 4: Develop a U.S. Legal Metrology Center

Our Vision, Mission, Values, and Strategic Objectives will guide the future growth of OWM Programs and inform how we support our Customers and Stakeholders

Overview and Plan Executive Summary

Image of Summary of OWM Strategic Plan
                  Executive Summary

The Office of Weights and Measures (OWM) is the oldest office at NIST and predates the National Bureau of Standards (NBS) and the U.S. Department of Commerce. Our function is explicitly mentioned in the U.S. Constitution (Article I, Section 8, Clause 5) to “fix the standard of weights and measures”. This function might initially appear simple, yet in current practice, it is multifaceted to serve the needs of the modern-day U.S. economy and international trade.  

In practice, NIST OWM works with our stakeholders to design, develop, promote, and deliver documentary standards and technical guidance related to U.S. and international legal metrology. OWM also serves as a national legal metrology resource to promote uniformity in weights and measures across the U.S. states, promote the metric system, International System of Units (SI) use and traceability, and provide laboratory metrology training to the states, industry, and National Metrology Institutes (NMIs). We are comprised of over 30 experts who are weights and measures coordinators; physical scientists and engineers; legal, laboratory, and scientific metrologists; national and international standards experts; and training and administrative professionals. OWM is organized and operates within four (4) main programs: National Legal Metrology, Laboratory Metrology, International Legal Metrology, and Metric (SI). Learn more About Us here.

OWM developed its 5-year strategic plan to reaffirm our core programs and responsibilities, determine potential new resources, and identify future growth and development opportunities for the Office, the Physical Measurement Laboratory, NIST, and the weights and measures community at-large. The scope of the strategic plan included direct input from OWM staff and extensive feedback from both internal NIST sources and OWM’s external Customers and Stakeholders

Click here for the Executive Summary of the current OWM Strategic Plan.

Back to the Top

Strategic Objectives


Hand writing OBJECTIVE on transparent board with 1 in blue circle
Credit: Adobe Stock

1. Prioritize and Modernize Core Activities

OWM predates both the National Bureau of Standards (NBS) and the Department of Commerce and is thus the oldest office at NIST. Our deeply rooted services to “fix the standard of weights and measures” are outlined in the U.S. Constitution. This represents an immense responsibility, but this should not preclude us from critically evaluating and redefining our core activities for the modern day needs of U.S. commerce and trade.

  • Evaluate and prioritize our current and traditional products and services that support uniformity for the U.S. weights and measures system. Appropriately focus and/or redirect resources to maintain and/or create more effective products and services for the future.
  • Instill effective teamwork and remove internal programmatic barriers to promote interdisciplinary and collaborative projects and solutions.
  • Integrate and harmonize U.S. and international legal metrology standards to facilitate equitable global trade.
  • Deliver modern, customer-focused products and services, with any necessary redesign of our documentary standards, test procedures and best practice documents, technical training and web-accessible content, and technical guidance and analysis documents.


Hand writing OBJECTIVE on transparent board with 2 in blue circle
Credit: Adobe Stock

2. Engage with Critical and Emerging Technologies

As a National Metrology Institute (NMI), NIST has a responsibility to respond to the U.S. need to develop both fundamental measurement science and metrology tools and services for any deemed critical and emerging technologies. OWM needs to rethink, reimagine, and retool its capability to contribute to this important part of the NIST mission.

  • Proactively identify and analyze emerging technological issues that impact national, state, and local weights and measures systems to gain a more complete understanding of the national measurement system risks and stakeholder needs.
  • Provide guidance to stakeholders to ensure effective marketplace implementation and promote U.S. economic competitiveness.
  • Become integral to new scientific and applied metrology areas by piloting legal metrology concepts as new measurement devices, technology, and infrastructure are being developed.




Hand writing OBJECTIVE on transparent board with 3 in blue circle
Credit: Adobe Stock

3. Promote the “Why” for Weights and Measures

The field of weights and measures is like many applied technical or metrology sectors or other regulated areas that are often not noticed by the public, especially when everything is working as it should. OWM must more effectively and proactively communicate the importance of the function of weights and measures and legal metrology in supporting equitability and transparency in the marketplace and promoting fair trade and the U.S. economy. Our customers and stakeholders need to know Who We Are, What We Do, and Why They Should Care.

  • Ensure that all OWM staff have a general knowledge of the principles of legal metrology, SI traceability, and the important drivers of the U.S. weights and measures system to disseminate these concepts.
  • Conduct outreach to bridge the gaps across diverse stakeholder communities, including new industries, trade associations, and consumer groups. OWM to be present and active as the need for weights and measures is discussed.
  • Build and leverage relationships with relevant NIST standards, measurement science, and measurement services areas.
  • Develop and strengthen effective collaborations with select federal agencies, national, state, and local weights and measures associations and organizations, and other metrology-based communities.


Hand writing OBJECTIVE on transparent board with 4 in blue circle
Credit: Adobe Stock

4. Develop a U.S. Legal Metrology Center

As we reconsider our core functions, we have a unique opportunity to advance NIST OWM as an operational “Center of U.S. Legal Metrology” that can proactively respond to our stakeholders to help solve their technological and measurement needs to operate in the marketplace of the future. The Center will provide ready access to staff with expertise in weights and measures and delivery of expert technical guidance, studies of emergent issues, and selected marketplace analysis. With this new model, we will engage with stakeholders and customers to build partnerships and foster collaboration and information sharing.

  • Lead current and emergent U.S. weights and measures issues by facilitating national and international working group activities.
  • Advance a model, SI-traceable weights and measures infrastructure that is essential for present-day U.S. trade and commerce.
  • Develop a foundational model for the delivery of core products and services that is modular and flexible, allowing future problems to be addressed quickly (also integral to Objectives 1 and 2).
  • Provide access to stakeholders to a centralized hub of OWM products, services, and expertise.

Back to the Top



Created March 10, 2023, Updated June 4, 2024