Standards and Technology:

Update of Information About Fee Increases for Measurement Services

RCED-90-63BR: Published: Jan 12, 1990. Publicly Released: Jan 12, 1990.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on the impact of the National Institute of Standards and Technology's (NIST) proposed price increases on sales of standard reference materials and calibration services, focusing on: (1) fiscal year (FY) 1989 sales and revenue data; (2) NIST efforts to monitor the effects of price increases on small- and medium-sized firms; and (3) NIST evaluation of proposals for new measurement services.

GAO found that NIST: (1) began a 5-year program in FY 1988 to annually raise standard reference material and calibration service prices to increase its new-measurement-service development surcharge fee to 40 percent of production costs; (2) experienced an 11-percent increase in sales of standard references between FY 1987 and 1989, while the references' real average price, adjusted for inflation, remained constant; (3) experienced a 2-percent decline in the number of calibration tests it performed between FY 1987 and 1989, while the services' real average price increased by 9 percent; (4) attributed the decline in calibration service sales to decreased spending in the defense and aerospace industries, and NIST sales and revenue data did not suggest that reference or service prices had any substantial effect on demand; (5) has begun to track its sales of references and services to samples of small- and medium-sized customers; and (6) considers such criteria as public health and safety effects, possible substitutes, and financial feasibility when evaluating proposals to develop new measurement services.

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