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Quality Infrastructure is a framework utilized by countries to support commerce, trade, and the establishment of policy objectives.
Through the use of quality Infrastructure, developing countries can gain access to international trade, have their services and products recognized internationally, and benefit from improved quality and compliance of products, services, and systems.
On March 25, 2021, the Women in Standards welcomed Warren Merkel, who serves as Leader of the Standards Services Group in the Standards Coordination Office of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to provide an overview of quality infrastructure and the important role Standards plays within its framework.
Quality infrastructure is used throughout the world and is made up of 4 pillars.
It’s noted that quality infrastructure has evolved to include conformity assessment as a separate pillar, but previous models included it under accreditation. Conformity assessment is recognized as playing a unique role and because it can exist without the requirement for accreditation, it was added as a separate pillar.
Standardization is the thread that runs through all pillars. Standards establish the process for taking measurements performed by conformity assessment bodies and then accredited by accreditation bodies.
For countries wishing to implement quality infrastructure, they can implement one or pillars at a time. And make use of the quality infrastructure in place in other countries. As an example, they can use standards developed by other countries.
The international standardization system is an example of standards available to all countries. The World Trade Organization (WTO), Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) Agreement sets the definition for international standardization and as long as a standards developer meets the guidelines established in the WTO TBT, they can be considered as an international standard.
Warren Merkel serves as Leader of the Standards Services Group in the Standards Coordination Office of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), Gaithersburg, MD, USA. Programs under his responsibility include engagement with government agencies on standards and conformity assessment issues, and operation of the World Trade Organization Technical Barriers to Trade Inquiry Point for the United States. Mr. Merkel also served as co-convener of ISO/CASCO Working Group 44 on the revision of ISO/IEC 17025, General requirements for the competence of testing and calibration laboratories.
Prior to his current position, Mr. Merkel was Chief of the National Voluntary Laboratory Accreditation Program (NVLAP) at NIST from 2003 to 2006. After leaving NIST for six years to teach chemistry, he returned to serve as Chief of NVLAP from 2012 to 2015.
From 1996 to 2003, Mr. Merkel was employed by the American Association for Laboratory Accreditation (A2LA), most recently as Technical Manager. From 1992 to 1996, he worked as an Investigative Chemist in the Defense Logistics Agency Analytical Product Testing Center in Philadelphia, PA.
Mr. Merkel holds a B.S. in Chemistry from Temple University and a M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction from Bloomsburg University.
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