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This is the Standards and Conformity Assessment Process Diagram which shows the standards development lifecycle including: User Requirements, Performances Standards Interoperability, Testing and Training Protocols, and Test and Evaluation.

User Requirements

The DHS S&T Standards Branch works with DHS components, program managers, and users to identify gaps in standards and test methods that ensure equipment performance and facilitate their development when needed. 

EXAMPLE:  Emergency responders count on radio communications during a response.  While new wireless technology is being developed that can further increase responders’ safety and efficiency by remotely monitoring their position, status, and health, few standards exist for wireless emergency-safety equipment.  In response, DHS S&T is working with researchers at NIST to provide technical support for the development of consensus standards for these new products to make sure the response communities’ needs are met and their safety is enhanced by this equipment.

Performances Standards Interoperability

More than anything, first responders and members of the public health community want to know if the equipment they purchase will do the job and have performance interoperability with the equipment used by other localities for events that span numerous jurisdictions and diverse emergency-responder disciplines and needs.  National standards will ensure everyone is operating in a “plug-and-play” environment.

EXAMPLE:  The Tokyo subway attacks with sarin gas in 1995 were a stark reminder that terrorists could use chemical warfare agents (CWAs) or toxic industrial chemicals (TICs) coupled with explosives to attack the nation.  While HAZMAT teams carry specialized detectors to respond to a variety of suspicious materials and chemical spills, no standards exist for their application to CWAs and TICs.  The DHS S&T, in collaboration with partners in DHS OHA, DHS Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the Department of Defense (DOD), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and NIST, is working to develop a suite of standards and test methods for handheld and fixed-site chemical vapor detectors for CWAs and TICs. 

Testing & Training Protocols

First responders and members of the public health community must receive proper training on the equipment and processes used in emergency response to ensure the protocols for each are implemented correctly and effectively. 

EXAMPLE:  The DHS is tasked with leading the efforts to establish standards that will enable first responders to detect biothreats onsite.  The coordinated effort to support the first responders will include proficiency testing and training.  See the white powder investigation case study from Dr. Jayne Morrow for an example. 

Test & Evaluation

The products, processes, and systems for which standards have been developed should undergo a process in which assurance can be granted that the standard has been properly applied.  Conformity assessments ensure a product, service, or system meets specified requirements set by a standard.  Conformity assessments can be accomplished through sampling and testing, inspection, supplier’s declaration of conformity, certification, and management system assessment and registration.  These assessments can be conducted by the manufacturer or supplier; the buyer; by a third, impartial party; or by a government regulatory agency.  Conformity assessments are beneficial to consumers, manufacturers, and regulators in that they ensure the product and service to be purchased properly functions for its intended purpose; ensures products and services produced and delivered meet the necessary criteria; and ensure health, safety, and environmental conditions are met, respectively.

EXAMPLE:  The OHA is developing a Detection Technology Evaluation and Reporting (DeTER) Program to evaluate candidate biological and chemical detection systems employed to protect the public at the federal, state, and local levels.  This voluntary “pay-to-play” program will provide a capability to conduct equipment and operational validation of biological and chemical detection technologies based on agreed-upon voluntary consensus standards at independent, accredited laboratories.

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