In the enumeration of NIST's functions in the act, two are of particular note as they reinforce the existing mission:

  1. to assist industry in the development of technology and procedures needed to improve quality, to modernize manufacturing processes, to ensure product reliability, manufacturability, functionality, and cost-effectiveness and to facilitate the more rapid commercialization, especially by small- and medium-sized companies throughout the United States, of products based on new scientific discoveries in fields such as automation, electronics, advanced materials, biotechnology, and optical technologies;

  2. to develop, maintain, and retain custody of the national standards of measurement, and provide the means and methods for making measurements consistent with those standards, including comparing standards used in scientific investigations, engineering, manufacturing, commerce, industry, and educational institutions with standards adopted or recognized by the Federal Government.


NIST's primary mission is to promote U.S. economic growth by working with industry to develop and apply technology, measurements, and standards. It carries out this mission through a portfolio of four major programs:

  • The Measurements and Standards Program promotes the U.S. economy and public welfare by providing technical leadership for the Nation 's measurement and standards infrastructure, and assuring the availability of essential reference data and measurement capabilities.

  • The Advanced Technology Program stimulates U.S. economic growth by developing high risk and enabling technologies through industry-driven cost-shared partnerships.

  • The Manufacturing Extension Partnership Program strengthens the global competitiveness of smaller U.S.-based manufacturing firms by providing information and assistance in adopting new, more advanced manufacturing technologies, techniques, and business best practices.

  • The National Quality Program enhances the competitiveness, quality, and productivity of U.S. organizations for the benefit of all citizens, manages the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, and provides global leadership in promoting quality awareness.

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