NVLAP vs. A2LA - NVLAP policy on acceptance of calibration laboratories


Fully vaccinated are you?
Date: Wed, 17 Mar 1999 13:13:22 -0500
From: James Cigler - nist.gov
To: JJ Electronics
Subject: NVLAP policy on acceptance of calibration laboratories

I was forwarded a copy of a string of e-mails that were generated on the ISO 25 mailserver that implies that someone at NIST doesn't recognize A2LA accredited calibration laboratories. It further brings up issues such as ISO 9000 registration and PRI/NADCAP.

It is hard for me to really understand what the issue is (or issues are) and I don't know who is being referred to at NIST as refusing to accept A2LA accreditations.

NVLAP has published policy (Policy Guide PG-1-1998) stating that we accept traceability through calibration laboratories accredited by any of our MRA partners. A2LA is one of many in this category as a result of the signing of the APLAC MRA in Tokyo in 1997.

As you indicated in your e-mail that you were awaiting a response from the heads of NVLAP and A2LA, I am responding for NVLAP. If you will provide some additional details as to the problems with someone at NIST refusing to accept your A2LA accreditation or some better idea of what the situation is concerning PRI/NADCAP, I would be happy to investigate. I certainly don't want this to come down to a flogging as you suggest in your e-mail.

James L. Cigler
Chief, Laboratory Accreditation Program


Date: Wed, 17 Mar 1999 17:56:49 -0500
From: James Cigler - nist.gov
Subject: NVLAP etc.

I am receiving second hand comments from people who are reading the ongoing controversial statements on the ISO 25 listserver regarding NIST not accepting A2LA accreditations and those performed by PRI/NADCAP. I thought I would send you some factual information that you can use as you wish.

NVLAP and A2LA are signatories to the Asia Pacific Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation (APLAC) Mutual Recognition Arrangement (MRA). It was signed in Tokyo in November of 1997. The signatories are accrediting bodies from the U.S. (NVLAP, A2LA), Australia (NATA), New Zealand (IANZ), Hong Kong (HOKLAS), Singapore (SINGLAS-SAC), Japan (JAB, JNLA), Chinese TaiPei (CNLA), and Korea (KOLAS). More are being added to the MRA as they complete their peer evaluation by international teams from the countries of APLAC. A copy of the MRA is available on the NVLAP web site at http://ts.nist.gov/nvlap.

This means that NVLAP recognizes the accreditations performed by our MRA partners as being technically equivalent to ours. This also means, as stated in the NVLAP Policy Guide on Traceability, PG-1-1998 (also on the NVLAP web site), that we accept traceability through calibration laboratories accredited by our MRA partners such as A2LA. I don't know the identity of the person at NIST who is accused by one of your suscribers as refusing to accept A2LA accredited laboratories. If anyone wishes to give me a name, I will make inquiries into the matter.

There are also some references to PRI and reluctance to accept accreditation of their calibration laboratories. Until today, I was unaware that PRI was in fact accrediting calibration laboratories. NVLAP has no way to judge whether or not PRI's accreditations of calibration laboratories are equivalent to NVLAP's. To my knowledge, they have not been assessed to ISO Guide 58 requirements (as have NVLAP and A2LA) by any international bodies such as APLAC or the European cooperation for Accreditation (EA) for their abilitity to accredit calibration laboratories. They have been assessed by the NIST Accreditation Body Evaluation Program (ABEP) to ISO Guide 58 requirements and have been recognized as a competent accreditor of fastener and metals testing laboratories under the terms of the Fastener Quality Act (FQA).

To further set one of your listserver respondents straight, NVLAP has accredited twenty- four calibration laboratories in five years, with an additional twenty-eight in process. Although these are low numbers compared to the numbers of calibration laboratories in the United States, this person's observation that NVLAP has only been able to accredit "twelve laboratories in as many years" is incorrect. We started the Calibration Laboratory Accreditation Program in May of 1994.

I would greatly appreciate you informing your participants that before they take it upon themselves to state NVLAP policies and to comment on our performance in areas which are easy to substantiate quantitatively, such as the numbers of laboratories accredited over a certain period of time, or which accreditation bodies we have mutual recognition arrangements with, that they contact us at [email protected] or visit our web site at http://ts.nist.gov/nvlap for some factual information.

James L. Cigler
Chief, Laboratory Accreditation Program
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