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Title 15 Part 285

Title 15 → Subtitle B → Chapter II → Subchapter J → Part 285

Electronic Code of Federal Regulations e-CFR

Title 15 Part 285

e-CFR data is current as of December 12, 2019

Title 15Subtitle BChapter IISubchapter J → Part 285


Title 15: Commerce and Foreign Trade


§285.1   Purpose.

The purpose of part 285 is to set out procedures and general requirements under which the National Voluntary Laboratory Accreditation Program (NVLAP) operates as an unbiased third party to accredit both testing and calibration laboratories. Supplementary technical and administrative requirements are provided in supporting handbooks and documents as needed, depending on the criteria established for specific Laboratory Accreditation Programs (LAPs)

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§285.2   Confidentiality.

To the extent permitted by applicable laws, NVLAP will protect the confidentiality of all information obtained relating to the application, on-site assessment, proficiency testing, evaluation, and accreditation of laboratories.

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§285.3   Referencing NVLAP accreditation.

The term NVLAP (represented by the NVLAP logo) is a federally registered certification mark of the National Institute of Standards and Technology and the federal government, who retain exclusive rights to control the use thereof. Permission to use the term and/or logo is granted to NVLAP-accredited laboratories for the limited purposes of announcing their accredited status, and for use on reports that describe only testing and calibration within the scope of accreditation. NIST reserves the right to control the quality of the use of the term NVLAP and of the logo itself.

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§285.4   Establishment of laboratory accreditation programs (LAPs) within NVLAP.

NVLAP establishes LAPs in response to legislative actions or to requests from private sector entities and government agencies. For legislatively mandated LAPs, NVLAP shall establish the LAP. For requests from private sector entities and government agencies, the Chief of NVLAP shall analyze each request, and, after consultation with interested parties through public workshops or other means to ensure open participation, shall establish the requested LAP, if the Chief of NVLAP determines there is need for the requested LAP.

[66 FR 29221, May 30, 2001, as amended at 76 FR 78815, Dec. 20, 2011]

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§285.5   Termination of a LAP.

(a) The Chief of NVLAP may terminate a LAP when he/she determines that a need no longer exists to accredit laboratories for the services covered under the scope of the LAP. In the event that the Chief of NVLAP proposes to terminate a LAP, a notice will be published in the Federal Register setting forth the basis for that determination.

(b) When a LAP is terminated, NVLAP will no longer grant or renew accreditations following the effective date of termination. Accreditations previously granted shall remain effective until their expiration date unless terminated voluntarily by the laboratory or revoked by NVLAP. Technical expertise will be maintained by NVLAP while any accreditation remains effective.

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§285.6   Application for accreditation.

A laboratory may apply for accreditation in any of the established LAPs. The applicant laboratory shall provide a completed application to NVLAP, pay all required fees and agree to certain conditions as set forth in the NVLAP Application for Accreditation, and provide a quality manual to NVLAP (or a designated NVLAP assessor) prior to the assessment process.

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§285.7   Assessment.

(a) Frequency and scheduling. Before initial accreditation, during the first renewal year, and every two years thereafter, an on-site assessment of each laboratory is conducted to determine compliance with the NVLAP criteria.

(b) Assessors. NVLAP shall select qualified assessors to evaluate all information collected from an applicant laboratory pursuant to §285.6 of this part and to conduct the assessment on its behalf at the laboratory and any other sites where activities to be covered by the accreditation are performed.

(c) Conduct of assessment. (1) Assessors use checklists provided by NVLAP so that each laboratory receives an assessment comparable to that received by others.

(2) During the assessment, the assessor meets with management and laboratory personnel, examines the quality system, reviews staff information, examines equipment and facilities, observes demonstrations of testing or calibrations, and examines tests or calibration reports.

(3) The assessor reviews laboratory records including resumes, job descriptions of key personnel, training, and competency evaluations for all staff members who routinely perform, or affect the quality of the testing or calibration for which accreditation is sought. The assessor need not be given information which violates individual privacy, such as salary, medical information, or performance reviews outside the scope of the accreditation program. The staff information may be kept in the laboratory's official personnel folders or separate folders that contain only the information that the NVLAP assessor needs to review.

(4) At the conclusion of the assessment, the assessor conducts an exit briefing to discuss observations and any deficiencies with the authorized representative who signed the NVLAP application and other responsible laboratory staff.

(d) Assessment report. At the exit briefing, the assessor submits a written report on the compliance of the laboratory with the accreditation requirements, together with the completed checklists, where appropriate.

(e) Deficiency notification and resolution. (1) Laboratories are informed of deficiencies during the on-site assessment, and deficiencies are documented in the assessment report (see paragraph (d) of this section).

(2) A laboratory shall, within thirty days of the date of the assessment report, provide documentation that the specified deficiencies have either been corrected and/or a plan of corrective actions as described in the NVLAP handbooks.

(3) If substantial deficiencies have been cited, NVLAP may require an additional on-site assessment, at additional cost to the laboratory, prior to granting accreditation. All deficiencies and resolutions will be subject to thorough review and evaluation prior to an accreditation decision.

(4) After the assessor submits their final report, NVLAP reviews the report and the laboratory's response to determine if the laboratory has met all of the on-site assessment requirements.

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§285.8   Proficiency testing.

(a) NVLAP proficiency testing is consistent with the provisions contained in ISO/IEC Guide 43 (Parts 1 and 2), Proficiency testing by interlaboratory comparisons, where applicable, including revisions from time to time. Proficiency testing may be organized by NVLAP itself or a NVLAP-approved provider of services. Laboratories must participate in proficiency testing as specified for each LAP in the NVLAP program handbooks.

(b) Analysis and reporting. Proficiency testing data are analyzed by NVLAP and reports of the results are made known to the participants. Summary results are available upon request to other interested parties; e.g., professional societies and standards writing bodies. The identity and performance of individual laboratories are kept confidential.

(c) Proficiency testing deficiencies. (1) Unsatisfactory participation in any NVLAP proficiency testing program is a technical deficiency which must be resolved in order to obtain initial accreditation or maintain accreditation.

(2) Proficiency testing deficiencies are defined as, but not limited to, one or more of the following:

(i) Failure to meet specified proficiency testing performance requirements prescribed by NVLAP;

(ii) Failure to participate in a regularly scheduled “round” of proficiency testing for which the laboratory has received instructions and/or materials;

(iii) Failure to submit laboratory control data as required; and

(iv) Failure to produce acceptable test or calibration results when using NIST Standard Reference Materials or special artifacts whose properties are well-characterized and known to NIST/NVLAP.

(3) NVLAP will notify the laboratory of proficiency testing deficiencies and actions to be taken to resolve the deficiencies. Denial or suspension of accreditation will result from failure to resolve deficiencies.

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§285.9   Granting accreditation.

(a) The Chief of NVLAP is responsible for all NVLAP accreditation actions, including granting, denying, renewing, suspending, and revoking any NVLAP accreditation.

(b) Initial accreditation is granted when a laboratory has met all NVLAP requirements. One of four accreditation renewal dates (January 1, April 1, July 1, or October 1) is assigned to the laboratory and is usually retained as long as the laboratory remains in the program. Initial accreditation is granted for a period of one year; accreditation expires and is renewable on the assigned date.

(c) Renewal dates may be reassigned to provide benefits to the laboratory and/or NVLAP. If a renewal date is changed, the laboratory will be notified in writing of the change and any related adjustment in fees.

(d) When accreditation is granted, NVLAP shall provide to the laboratory a Certificate of Accreditation and a Scope of Accreditation,

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§285.10   Renewal of accreditation.

(a) An accredited laboratory must submit both its application for renewal and fees to NVLAP prior to expiration of the laboratory's current accreditation to avoid a lapse in accreditation.

(b) On-site assessments of currently accredited laboratories are performed in accordance with the procedures in §285.7. If deficiencies are found during the assessment of an accredited laboratory, the laboratory must follow the procedures set forth in §285.7(e)(2) or face possible suspension or revocation of accreditation.

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§285.11   Changes to scope of accreditation.

A laboratory may request in writing changes to its Scope of Accreditation. If the laboratory requests additions to its Scope, it must meet all NVLAP criteria for the additional tests or calibrations, types of tests or calibrations, or standards. The need for an additional on-site assessment and/or proficiency testing will be determined on a case-by-case basis.

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§285.12   Monitoring visits.

(a) In addition to regularly scheduled assessments, monitoring visits may be conducted by NVLAP at any time during the accreditation period. They may occur for cause or an a random selection basis. While most monitoring visits will be scheduled in advance with the laboratory, NVLAP may conduct unannounced monitoring visits.

(b) The scope of a monitoring visit may range from checking a few designated items to a complete review. The assessors may review deficiency resolutions, verify reported changes in the laboratory's personnel, facilities, or operations, or administer proficiency testing, when appropriate.

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§285.13   Denial, suspension, revocation, or termination of accreditation.

(a) A laboratory may at any time voluntarily terminate its participation and responsibilities as an accredited laboratory by advising NVLAP in writing of its desire to do so.

(b) If NVLAP finds that an accredited laboratory does not meet all NVLAP requirements, has violated the terms of its accreditation, or does not continue to comply with the provisions of these procedures, NVLAP may suspend the laboratory's accreditation, or advise of NVLAP's intent to revoke accreditation.

(1) If a laboratory's accreditation is suspended, NVLAP shall notify the laboratory of that action stating the reasons for and conditions of the suspension and specifying the action(s) the laboratory must take to have its accreditation reinstated. Conditions of suspension will include prohibiting the laboratory from using the NVLAP logo on its test or calibration reports, correspondence, or advertising during the suspension period in the area(s) affected by the suspension.

(2) NVLAP will not require a suspended laboratory to return its Certificate and Scope of Accreditation, but the laboratory must refrain from using the NVLAP logo in the area(s) affected until such time as the problem(s) leading to the suspension has been resolved. When accreditation is reinstated, NVLAP will authorize the laboratory to resume testing or calibration activities in the previously suspended area(s) as an accredited laboratory.

(c) If NVLAP proposes to deny or revoke accreditation of a laboratory, NVLAP shall inform the laboratory of the reasons for the proposed denial or revocation and the procedure for appealing such a decision.

(1) The laboratory will have thirty days from the date of receipt of the proposed denial or revocation letter to appeal the decision to the Director of NIST. If the laboratory appeals the decision to the Director of NIST, the proposed denial or revocation will be stayed pending the outcome of the appeal. The proposed denial or revocation will become final through the issuance of a written decision to the laboratory in the event that the laboratory does not appeal the proposed denial or revocation within the thirty-day period.

(2) If accreditation is revoked, the laboratory may be given the option of voluntarily terminating the accreditation.

(3) A laboratory whose accreditation has been revoked must cease use of the NVLAP logo on any of its reports, correspondence, or advertising related to the area(s) affected by the revocation. If the revocation is total, NVLAP will instruct the laboratory to return its Certificate and Scope of Accreditation and to remove the NVLAP logo from all test or calibration reports, correspondence, or advertising. If the revocation affects only some, but not all of the items listed on a laboratory's Scope of Accreditation, NVLAP will issue a revised Scope that excludes the revoked area(s) in order that the laboratory might continue operations in accredited areas.

(d) A laboratory whose accreditation has been voluntarily terminated, denied or revoked, may reapply and be accredited if the laboratory:

(1) Completes the assessment and evaluation process; and

(2) Meets the NVLAP conditions and criteria for accreditation.

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§285.14   Criteria for accreditation.

The requirements for laboratories to be recognized by the National Voluntary Laboratory Accreditation Program as competent to carry out tests and/or calibrations are contained in clauses 4 and 5 of ISO/IEC 17025, General requirements for the competence of testing and calibration laboratories, including revisions from time to time.

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§285.15   Obtaining documents.

(a) Application forms, NVLAP handbooks, and other NVLAP documents and information may be obtained by contacting the NVLAP, National Institute of Standards and Technology, 100 Bureau Drive, Mail Stop 2140, Gaithersburg, Maryland 20899-2140; phone: 301-975-4016; fax: 301-926-2884; e-mail: [email protected]

(b) Copies of all ISO/IEC documents are available for purchase from the American National Standards Institute's eStandards Store at http://webstore.ansi.org. You may inspect copies of all applicable ISO/IEC documents at the National Voluntary Laboratory Accreditation Program, National Institute of Standards and Technology, 100 Bureau Drive, Room B115, Gaithersburg, MD. For access to the NIST campus, please contact NVLAP by phone at 301-975-4016 or by e-mail at [email protected] to obtain instructions for visitor registration.

[66 FR 29221, May 30, 2001, as amended at 72 FR 36347, July 3, 2007]

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