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NIST closed, all measurements invalid

-October 02, 2013

The current deadlock in Washington over the Federal budget has shut down most of the U.S. Government. That includes NIST, which houses the national standards for many physical quantities–voltage and current–and provides calibration services. With the house at the top of the measurement chain closed, all measurements made in the U.S. are hereby invalid. If you take measurements or perform calibrations, then you might as well take the rest of the day off.

If you go to nist.gov today, here's what you'll see.


All joking aside, what if your lab's calibration standard is at NIST awaiting calibration? Clearly, the calibration will be delayed. Should that delay cause your calibration to go out of date, will that affect your work? You may have test equipment that that's calibrated based on those standards you send to NIST. If the delay causes your other equipment's calibration to expire, can you still use it? Will measurements made using equipment with out-of-date calibrations be acceptable? It could be a problem, especially if you’re in a regulated industry such as medical or pharmaceutical.

On the other hand, the agencies that regulate industry are also closed. That means there's nobody to enforce the regulations for measurements, or anything else.

What if you scheduled to send your calibration standards to NIST today? What will you do, send them to NRC in Canada or NPL in the UK?

Is the government shutdown affecting you (assuming you don't work for the government that is)? What if the shutdown goes on for more than a few days? I'm not looking to start a political discussion here about who is to blame. Let's keep the talk technical.

Also see
Follow the Chain to NIST-Traceable Calibrations
A Day in the Life of NIST
Calibration and metrology, a collection of EDN articles about calibration and measurement science.

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