Standards Development

Standards Development


Since 1905, NCWM's primary function has been to develop the national standards for weights and measures.  Years prior, there was no uniformity among the various states, counties and cities for testing and approving weighing and measuring devices used in commerce.

The standards adopted by NCWM are published in:

  • Handbook 44:  Specifications, Tolerances and Other Technical Requirements of Commercial Weighing and Measuring Devices
  • Handbook 130:  Uniform Laws and Regulations
  • Handbook 133:  Checking the Net Contents of Packaged Goods
Our ability to develop quality standards is dependent on volunteer participation of regulatory officials, technology experts, manufacturers and retailers of consumer products, federal advisory officials from NIST, and consumer interests.  The organization brings the right interests together to keep pace with innovative advancements in the marketplace.

NCWM standards development flowchart


Form 15: Proposal to Amend Handbooks  

Instructions On How to Submit a Proposal to Amend a NIST Handbook:

  1.  Complete Form 15: Proposal to Amend Handbooks.
  2.  Include all necessary research and documentation with form.
  3.  Submit form by August 15 to Don Onwiler (NCWM) via email at
  4.  If possible, attend the regional association meeting(s) for the association that your proposal has been submitted to.  This will allow you the opportunity to openly discuss your proposal with the Committee members and other attendees.
  5.  Contact NCWM for assistance at (402) 434-4880.

What Happens Next?

If the regional association forwards your proposal to the National Conference on Weights and Measures (NCWM) Standing Committees, it will be considered at the NCWM Interim Meeting (January) through open hearings and committee process.  Standing Committees determine the status of agenda items for the NCWM Annual Meeting (July).  The status options listed below 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.

Agenda items from the NCWM Interim Meeting that are recommended to be moved forward by the Standing Committee are incorporated into the NCWM Annual Meeting Agenda in NCWM Publication 16.  If the item is adopted by the Conference in July, it is published in the handbook and enforceable the following January 1.

Just as it is important to have uniform national standards, it is also important to harmonize international standards.  Harmonization reduces costs of manufacturing weighing and measuring devices and cost of distributing consumer goods by reducing duplicative testing and other barriers to trade.  NCWM makes efforts toward international harmonization on several fronts, including:

  • Inclusion of Canadian officials representing Measurement Canada and Industry Canada in NCWM standards development processes
  • U.S./Canada Mutual Recognition Arrangement (MRA) on Type Evaluation
  • Participation in international meetings of legal metrology
  • Mutual Acceptance Arrangement (MAA) under OIML

Federal officials from Measurement Canada and Industry Canada have participated on NCWM committees, task groups and National Type Evaluation Program Sectors for many years.  This gives experts from both North American countries the opportunity to compare and explore best practices for standards in the market place, leading to improved harmonization.  Harmonization in turn leads to fewer trade barriers which mean lower production costs and ultimately lower costs for consumers.

The US/Canada Mutual Recognition Arrangement (MRA) goes the next step in harmonization.  Under this agreement, Measurement Canada and NCWM are accepting each other’s test reports for certain device types.  In doing so, the applicant for type evaluation can save significant costs for obtaining certifications in both countries by submitting to a single evaluation.

The International Organization of Legal Metrology (OIML) is an international treaty organization that does for countries of the world some of the things that the NCWM does for the states in the U.S., which is to provide model standards that can be used voluntarily to harmonize legal metrology requirements.  The International Bureau of Legal Metrology (BIML) located in Paris, France serves as the headquarters of OIML.  The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) actively participates in the many technical committees and subcommittees in OIML.

On occasion, NCWM will also participate when appropriate in the OIML standards development process.  NCWM Members are also invited to participate in national working groups to provide input in the international standards development process.  In turn, NCWM takes international standards into consideration as it develops similar U.S. standards.

NCWM has entered into the OIML-CS for load cells (R 60) as a utilizing participant.  This means that NCWM will accept test reports for certain issuing authorities in foreign countries for the purpose of issuing NTEP Certificates of Conformance.  This provides similar benefits as described in the U.S./Canada Mutual Recognition Arrangement.  NCWM will give consideration to possible participation in other MAA’s as the program continues to develop and expand to additional device types.