Lead the advancement of legal metrology documentary standards and practices to promote U.S. economic growth and fair trade.
Establish uniformity, equity, SI use, and traceability in weights and measures by advancing national and international legal metrology standards, procedures, capabilities, and training.
The Office of Weights and Measures (OWM) is the oldest office at NIST and predates the National Bureau of Standards (NBS) and the 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. Learn more About Us here.
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 other National Metrology Institutes (NMIs). We are comprised of over 30 experts that 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 groups/programs: National Legal Metrology, Laboratory Metrology, International Legal Metrology, and the Metric (SI) program.
Click here for the Executive Summary of the current OWM Strategic Plan.
Integrity – unwavering responsibility to upholding metrological standards and services
Objectivity and Consistency – serve as an impartial broker of legal metrological principles
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.
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.
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.
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 to foster collaboration and information sharing.