How An Idea Becomes A National Standard

Virtually everyone has a stake in the national standards for weights and measures, but very few understand how they can participate in the standards development process. That’s right; you can have a direct role in developing the laws and regulations for weights and measures.   

The standards adopted by National Conference on Weights and Measures (NCWM) are contained in 3 documents:

NIST Handbook 44  -  contains the specifications, tolerances and other technical requirements for weighing and measuring devices. In other words, it describes how devices will be designed, tested, installed and how they will perform. It includes scales, meters, grain analyzers, measure containers, taxi meters, timing devices, and much more. Every state adopts NIST Handbook 44 in some form.

NIST Handbook 130  -  contains model laws and regulations, including the Weights and Measures Law, Weighmaster Law, Packaging and Labeling Regulation, Method of Sale Regulations, Engine Fuels and Lubricants Regulation and many others. States may adopt any or all of these regulations as a means of supplementing their own statutes.

NIST Handbook 133  -  contains the test procedures for checking the net contents of packaged goods.

All of these standards are subject to amendment on an annual basis. The idea for amendments can come from anyone; inspectors, consumers, manufacturers, administrators, retailers, and you.

The Process:

  1. You have identified the problem with a current standard or a void where a standard is needed. Now you need to develop a solution and get it on the agenda of a regional association. Download Form 15 to create your proposal. On Form 15, indicate the purpose, the proposal, and justification. Then designate at least one regional association where the item is to be introduced.
  1. Submit the form to NCWM and we will forward the proposal to the indicated regions for consideration at their next fall meeting. You are not required to attend the regional meeting, but we recommended that you do to answer questions and concerns.
  1. The regional association will hold open hearings followed by deliberation of the committees to determine recommendations for the items on their agendas. If your new proposal has merit, the regional association will forward the item to the NCWM committee agenda. Your idea has just landed on a national platform for consideration.
  1. All new proposals received from regional associations along with the carryover items from the previous year will appear in NCWM Publication 15. This is the agenda for the Interim Meeting held each January. You will witness a similar meeting process at the NCWM Interim Meeting, but on a larger scale. NCWM Standing Committees hold open hearings again, followed by deliberation in their work sessions. At the conclusion of the Interim Meeting, the Committees have designated the status that each agenda item will have on the NCWM Annual Meeting agenda in NCWM Publication 16 in July. The status options are Voting, Informational, Assigned, Developing, and Withdrawn and are defined as follows:
  • Voting - the item will be scheduled for a vote at the NCWM Annual Meeting in July. 
  • Informational - the Committee believes the item has merit, but they want to continue gathering input to develop it further.
  • Assigned -  the item has merit and the committee has assigned it to a subcommittee or task group for further development.
  • Developing - the item is not developed enough for Committee consideration. The item will remain on the agenda in bulletin-board fashion, but the source of the item or another designated party will be charged with developing it, not the Committee.
  • Withdrawn - the item will not be addressed at the NCWM Annual Meeting, nor will it be carried over to the next year.
  1. At the NCWM Annual Meeting in July, about 9 months into the process, open hearings are held once again. The Committees deliberate, and have the option of adding amendments to the items. Addendum sheets are printed and the Conference goes into a voting session. Items that are adopted here will become the new national standards beginning January 1 of the following year. These amendments to the standards are reflected in the respective NIST Handbooks 44, 130, and 133. Your idea has become a national standard.

Note: New items often require a lengthier process. For example, it is common for items to carry Informational status for a year or two as the stakeholders work with the committee to resolve any issues.

Hopefully this helps you to understand the process. Meanwhile, please call on us with any questions you may have at (402) 434-4880.

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May 2019