Election Assistance Commission
1225 New York Avenue N.W. - Suite 1100
Washington, DC 20005
|For Immediate Release||
Jeannie Layson, Sarah Litton
EAC Announces Intention to Suspend SysTest Labs
Follows Action Taken by National Institute of Standards and Technology
WASHINGTON, DC – The U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) today notified SysTest Laboratories Inc. of its intent to suspend the laboratory’s accreditation based upon actions taken by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).
SysTest is one of five laboratories that were accredited by the EAC to test voting systems under the EAC’s voluntary program. The EAC accredited SysTest on February 21, 2007 based on a recommendation from NIST.
NIST suspended SysTest due to numerous non-conformities with the NIST Handbook 150-22 Voting System Testing, which sets forth the procedures, requirements and guidance for the accreditation of testing and calibration laboratories by the National Voting Laboratory Accreditation Program (NVLAP). Non-conformities included failure to create and validate test methods, improper documentation of testing and unqualified personnel.
Section 2.4 of EAC’s Voting System Test Laboratory Program Manual requires all voting system test laboratories to hold “a valid accreditation from NIST/NVLAP.” Pursuant to Section 5.4 of the Manual, the EAC today notified SysTest of the Commission’s intent to suspend its accreditation. SysTest has three days to respond to the EAC’s action. If SysTest cannot refute the NIST suspension, the EAC will suspend SysTest requiring the laboratory to immediately halt all testing under the EAC program.
As a result of NIST’s action, the EAC program director will issue notification informing manufacturers of their right to request a change of test laboratory in accordance with the EAC program manual.
The EAC is operating the federal government’s first voting system certification program. Participation in EAC’s program by the states is voluntary. For more information about the NIST/NVLAP accreditation process and to view related documents, visit www.vote.nist.gov. For a list of registered manufacturers, accredited labs, voting systems applying for certification and other information, click here.
A chronology of SysTest interaction with EAC and NIST/NVLAP follows. The EAC notified the public and election officials throughout this process, and the information cited below is available at www.eac.gov.
- January 18, 2007 – NIST recommends accreditation for SysTest.
- February 21, 2007 – Commission accredits SysTest at public meeting.
- February 22, 2007 – First voting system registered for testing at SysTest.
- June 2, 2007 – SysTest submits first draft test plan to EAC for approval. (SysTest has submitted sixteen draft test plans. To date, only one test plan submitted by SysTest has been approved.)
- September 11, 2007 – EAC notifies SysTest of possible non-compliance with program’s requirements for single laboratory testing. (The issue was resolved to the EAC’s satisfaction.)
- March 4, 2008 – EAC requests that all accredited labs including SysTest submit their test methods due to the lack of information provided in the draft test plans.
- March 13, 2008 – EAC issues letter to NIST requesting that the following issues be scrutinized during its reaccreditation activities: 1) procedures for the assignment of staff; 2) training and certification of testers; 3) prioritization of EAC testing engagements; and 4) development and validation of test methods.
- March 17-20 – NIST conducts routine reaccreditation reviews of SysTest. (Reaccreditation reviews are conducted periodically as part of the NIST/NVLAP process.)
- May 2, 2008 – EAC issues letter to state and local election officials updating them on the progress of certification and accreditation activities. Cites laboratories’ failure to provide the necessary details to approve test plans and reports as one of the reasons for certification delays.
- July 3, 2008 – EAC requests access to SysTest’s test cases.
- July 10, 2008 – EAC issues second letter to NIST requesting an update on SysTest’s reaccreditation, citing the issues outlined in EAC’s March 13, 2008 letter: 1) procedures for the assignment of staff; 2) training and certification of testers; 3) prioritization of EAC testing engagements; and 4) development and validation of test methods.
- July 25, 2008 -- EAC notifies SysTest of possible inappropriate influence by a manufacturer in the development of test plans.
- August 4, 2008 -- SysTest responds to EAC’s July 25, 2008 letter, refuting possible manufacturer influence.
- August 8, 2008 – Letter from NIST to SysTest regarding initial reassessment findings. Reiterates EAC’s earlier concerns by stating that SysTest has no documented test methods, unqualified personnel conducting tests and concerns regarding manufacturer influence. NIST notes the need for an on-site assessment, requires SysTest to submit specific testing information and update NIST regarding testing documentation.
- October 3, 2008 -- SysTest notifies NIST and EAC of changes in its management structure.
- October 8, 2008 – EAC issues letter to SysTest regarding possible manufacturer influence over the test plan process. EAC found no improper influence, but issued strong reminder regarding practices and correspondence with manufacturers.
- October 14-16, 2008 – NVLAP conducts on site review of SysTest with EAC and NIST observing.
- October 28, 2008 – NIST suspends accreditation of SysTest.
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