Patrick-Murray Administration's Division of Standards Celebrates Weights and Measures Week March 6-12, 2011, Continues Effort to Inspect Thousands of Devices Each Year
Weights and Measures: Educating Today for Tomorrow
National Weights and Measures Week is March 6-12, and the theme of the week is "Weights and Measures: Educating Today for Tomorrow." As technology continues to improve, education is always a top priority for regulatory officials who are responsible for oversight of software-driven electronics that measure our fuel and weigh our food.
Through testing and certification, the Division of Standards ensures retail scanners charge consumer the appropriate amount, check item pricing compliance at stores, make sure gas pumps are properly dispensing gas, and check other devices to provide consumers with a high level of trust in the marketplace.
The first weights-and-measures law was signed by President John Adams on March 2, 1799, making this week the perfect time to recognize weights-and-measures operations in Massachusetts and around the country. In 1905, the National Conference of Weights and Measures was first established and convened.
"During the last 106 years, we have seen advancements from mechanical devices to highly sophisticated, software-based weighing and measuring instruments," said Charles Carroll, the Director of the Division of Standards. "Today's inspectors represent a new generation of highly trained officials with expertise ranging from software security to motor fuel chemistry."
The Division of Standards operations include nine, full-time field compliance officers who perform annual testing and certification of commercial devices to ensure their accuracy. Last year, the Division conducted inspections on approximately 7,000 gas pumps, 3,800 scales, and 700 home fuel delivery metering systems. The Division provides weights-and-measures services to 108 towns with populations under 5,000, and contracts those services with another 56 communities. Last year, consumer and merchant savings totaled $22 million.
Weights and Measures Week, which overlaps with National Consumer Protection Weeks, serves as a reminder of the value that our society receives for a very small investment in weights-and-measures inspection programs. The cost of a regulatory presence varies from state to state, but averages around 70 cents per person per year, and the full return on that investment can be realized in one trip to the gas station.
The Division of Standards is a member of The National Conference on Weights and Measures, a professional nonprofit association of state and local weights and measures officials, federal agencies, manufacturers, retailers and consumers. NCWM has developed national weights and measures standards since 1905. The organization brings the right interests together to keep pace with innovative advancements in the marketplace.
The Patrick-Murray Administration's Division of Standards enforces laws, rules, and regulations relating to weights and measures and the use of weighing and measuring devices in commercial transactions. It consistently checks item pricing and pricing methods at retailers throughout Massachusetts. The Division is part of the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation. For more on the Division and the Office, visit www.mass.gov/consumer and the Office's Consumer Connections blog, and follow the Office on Twitter @Mass_Consumer.