[Federal Register Volume 64, Number 192 (Tuesday, October 5, 1999)]
[Notices]
[Pages 54000-54001]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 99-25748]


-----------------------------------------------------------------------

DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Institute of Standards and Technology
[Docket No. 990927265-9265-01]


National Voluntary Conformity Assessment System Evaluation 
(NVCASE) Program

AGENCY: National Institute of Standards and Technology, Commerce.

ACTION: Notice.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

SUMMARY: The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) 
hereby announces the establishment of a sub-program under the National 
Voluntary Conformity Assessment System Evaluation (NVCASE) program to 
recognize bodies that accredit certification bodies to certify products 
related to telecommunications equipment. The sub-program is being 
established in accordance with NVCASE regulations in response to a 
request from a Federal Agency, the Federal Communications Commission. 
Accreditation bodies recognized by NIST may then accredit certification 
bodies to certify that specified telecommunications equipment satisfies 
designated foreign or domestic government regulatory (i.e.,mandated) 
requirements.
    The action taken under this notice addresses both generic and 
specific NVCASE requirements pursuant to U.S. Federal Communications 
Commission (FCC) requirements under FCC Docket 98-68, requirements 
relating to the telecommunications sector specified in the U.S.-
European Union (EU) Mutual Recognition Agreement (MRA), and 
requirements specified in the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) 
Mutual Recognition Arrangement for the Conformity Assessment of 
Telecommunications Equipment. If MRSs covering telecommunications 
equipment are negotiated between the United States and another country 
or region, additional specific requirements may also be included under 
this NVCASE activity.
    Sub-program requirements have been developed in accordance with 
NCVASE Regulations and with public consultation. Public input was 
obtained at two open meetings on April 27 and April 28, 1999 and from 
comments received through May 30, 1999.

DATES: Applications will be accepted beginning September 30, 1999.

ADDRESSES: Applications for recognition may be obtained from, and 
returned to, Robert L. Gladhill, NVCASE Program Manager, NIST, 100 
Bureau Drive, Mailstop 2100, Gaithersburg, MD 20899-2100, by fax (301) 
975-5414, or email at [email protected].

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:
Robert L. Gladhill, NVCASE Program Manager, at NIST, 100 Bureau Drive, 
Mailstop 2100, Gaithersburg, MD 20899-2100, telephone: (301) 975-4273, 
telefax: (301) 975-5414, email: [email protected].

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The NVCASE sub-program to recognize bodies 
that accredit certification bodies to certify telecommunications 
equipment is being established in accordance with the NVCASE 
Regulations (15 CFR 286.2(b)(3)(ii)) and in response to requirements as 
described in FCC GEN Docket 98-68 (FCC 98-338), adopted on December 17, 
1998, and FCC Public Notice DA 99-1640, released August 17, 1999. This 
sub-program also supports NIST's responsibilities as a designating 
authority for the United States in both the Telecommunication Equipment 
Sectoral Annex of the U.S./EU MRA (which may be located at http://
www.iep.doc.gov/mra/mra.htm) and the APEC MRA for Conformity Assessment 
of Telecommunications Equipment (which may be located at http://
www.apii.or.kr/telwg/mraTG/mraTG-frame.html).
    As referenced in this notice, telecommunications equipment covers 
network terminal attachment and other equipment subject to 
telecommunications regulations, including wire and wireless equipment, 
transmitters, and terrestrial and satellite equipment, whether or not 
connected to a Public Telecommunications Network.
    Generic and specific requirements for this NVCASE sub-program have 
been established in accordance with NVCASE regulations (15 CFR 286.5). 
Public input on the establishment of sub-program requirements was 
received during two workshops held at the Department of Commerce on 
April 27 and 28, 1999. These workshops were announced in the Federal 
Register on March 19, 1999 (64 FR 13543). Follow-up comments from the 
public were accepted through May 30, 1999.
    NIST will apply the generic requirements contained in the 
International Organization for Standardization/International 
Electrotechnical Commission (ISO/IEC) Guide 61--``General Requirements 
for Assessment and Accreditation of Certification/Registration 
Bodies,'' to all applicant accreditation bodies. Certification bodies 
applying to recognized accreditation bodies are to be assessed against 
the requirements of ISO/IEC Guide 65--``General Requirements for Bodies 
Operating Product Certification Systems.'' These generic requirements 
will be supplemented by specific requirements contained in individual 
NVCASE program handbooks, available on request from NIST.
    For the FCC Telecommunications Certification Body (TCB) program, 
established in FCC Docket 98-68, NIST will apply requirements contained 
in the Docket and information published subsequently by the FCC. The 
FCC TCB programs requires that TCBs be accredited to both ISO/IEC Guide 
65--``General Requirements for the Competence of Testing and 
Calibration Laboratories.'' The FCC has determined that a prospective 
TCB which is already accredited to ISO/IEC Guide 25 by NIST's National 
Voluntary Laboratory Accreditation Program (NVLAP), the American 
Association for Laboratory Accreditation (A2LA), or another recognized 
body will not have to obtain another Guide 25 accreditation, provided 
that the equipment it certifies is covered by the scope of its 
accreditation.
    Organizations seeking to operate as Conformity Assessment Bodies 
(CABs) for the purposes of certifying products relating to 
telecommunications equipment covered under the provisions of the U.S.-
EU MRA and APEC MRA must be accredited to ISO/IEC Guide 65; however, 
they are not presently required to be accredited to ISO/IEC Guide 25. 
Both the U.S.-EU MRA and APEC MRA (Phase I) also provide for a separate 
role for testing laboratories accredited to ISO/IEC Guide 25 for 
specific test methods. A separate NVCASE sub-program to recognize 
accreditors of testing laboratories is also being established to meet 
this requirement.
    As stated in the NVCASE regulations (15 CFR 286.4), the NVCASE 
program is operated on a cost reimbursable basis. It is open for 
voluntary participation by any U.S.-based body that conducts activities 
relating to conformity assessment falling within the program's

[[Page 54001]]

scope. Pursuant to this notice, NIST will accept applications from 
accreditation bodies that are interested in being recognized to 
accredit certification bodies under the FCC TCB program, the 
telecommunications equipment sectoral annex of the U.S./EU MRA or the 
APEC MRA if they meet the above criteria. Prospective accreditation 
bodies must submit a complete application and required fees by October 
30, 1999 in order to be included in the initial group to be evaluated.
    Accreditation bodies seeking recognition for the purposes of the 
FCC TCB program may begin accepting applications from candidate TCBs 
immediately. To ensure fairness in the process, initial applications to 
become a TCB will be handled as a group. All such applications filed 
and accepted by November 15, 1999 by an accreditation body which has 
applied to NIST for recognition will be handled in the first group of 
TCBs. Applications received subsequently will be considered on an as-
received basis for evaluation after the initial group of applicants has 
been considered.
    The evaluation of the first group of accreditation bodies applying 
for NVCASE recognition will begin on or about November 15, 1999. All 
accreditation bodies that have submitted a complete application and 
required fees to NIST by October 30, 1999, will be included in this 
initial group. Applications received subsequently will be considered on 
an as-received basis for evaluation after the initial group of 
applicants has been considered.
    NIST expects to announce recognition of qualified accreditation 
bodies on or about March 1, 2000. At about the same time, NIST also 
expects to identify and list an initial group of qualified certifiers 
for each of the areas noted. Certifiers listed under the provisions of 
the telecommunications equipment sectoral annex of the U.S./EU MRA or 
under the APEC MRA will be designated by NIST as conformity assessment 
bodies. Certifiers listed under the provisions of FCC Docket 98-68 will 
be nominated to the FCC for designation as TCBs.
    Notwithstanding any other provision of law, no person is required 
to respond nor shall a person be subject to a penalty for failure to 
comply with a collection of information subject to the requirements of 
the Paperwork Reduction Act unless that collection of information 
displays a currently valid Office of Management and Budget (OMB) 
Control Number. This notice involves a collection of information 
approved under OMB Control No. 0693-0019.

    Dated: September 29, 1999.
Karen H. Brown,
Deputy Director.
[FR Doc. 99-25748 Filed 10-4-99; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3510-13-M