Utah Department of Agriculture and Food

UDAF's Weights & Measures Program is an International Model


UDAF’s Weights and Measures Program serves as an international model
as Program Manager Brett Gurney helps the Marianas Islands
establish an inspection system to protect consumer interests

 (Salt Lake City) The Utah Department of Agriculture and Food was honored in November when the National Conference on Weights and Measures (NCWM) sent the Department’s Weights and Measures Program Manager Brett Gurney to the Marianas Islands to help their regional Commerce Department standardize their package inspection process.  Brett trained 25 inspectors from seven island jurisdictions on the critical steps involved in building and maintaining a science-based inspection system that would ensure equitable economic activity.  

“Brett was recommended to provide this training because of his high level of expertise and his skills in a training environment,” said Don Onwiler, executive director for the National Conference on Weights and Measures.  “Brett has built a reputation at UDAF as one who understands the importance of training and professionalism,” Onwiler added. 

The entities that participated in the training included: Saipan, Tinian and Rota, Guam, Chuuk, the Marshall Islands and Palau.  Currently millions of tons of goods move among the islands without uniform oversight.  Losses due to fraud are estimated at more than $3 million annually.
“It was an honor for me to participate in this important training for these nations,” said Gurney.  “Not everyone in the weights and measures profession gets a chance to make such a positive impact on so many people. This is also a nice acknowledgement that our State program is respected nationwide, and now even worldwide,” Gurney added.

One hundred percent of Gurney’s expenses to fly to the Islands were paid for by the NCWM who was approached by officials from the Marianas Islands for assistance in improving fair commerce in their region.   

“Brett was offered this opportunity because of the quality of his program in Utah, and his previous experience training weights and measures inspectors from other states,” said Regulatory Services Director, Travis Waller.  “As a consumer it is frustrating to encounter unfair practices, and we are honored to have been asked to help consumers half a world away.”

Following Brett’s return to Utah he was asked about his trip.

Q…What did you think when you were asked to go?
A... I felt humbled, honored and excited to be selected to educate multi-jurisdictions about standardized procedures and uniform weights and measures regulations in the Micronesian region of the world.  
Q…What did you encounter as far as scales and packaging there?
A... Packaging and scales were similar to what I see in Utah.  Most packages are imported to the area from many parts of the world.  It’s important that scales are used properly when packaging products.  It’s just as important that packaged products contain the amount indicated on the label in Utah as it is in other parts of the world.
Q…What did you come away with that you can implement in your own program?
A... Do our best to maintain continued support for the program from the Department, Legislatures and other stakeholders.  Continue to have a presence in the marketplace. Small errors in packaging processes may end up costing millions of dollars to both consumers and businesses.  Training inspectors on standardized procedures and regulations is important.   
Weights and Measures Programs are essential for maintaining equity in the marketplace and reducing fraudulent practices. 
Q…What was the best part of the trip?
A... Learning how other Weights and Measures Programs operate in other parts of the world.  I enjoyed meeting the people and sharing knowledge about standardized procedures.  It was exciting to see officials from the various islands learn the concepts of proper equipment, testing methods and procedures.
Q…Any other thoughts?
A... It’s exciting to be part of something that may have a huge impact for the Micronesia region. Implementing a package inspection program that follows recognized standards helps identify errors and fraudulent activities.   

Gov. Ralph D.L.G. Torres reported earlier this year that the primary objective of this training is to educate local officials about the uniform weights and measures regulations published by the National Institute of Standards and Training (NIST). “With increased economic activity, accurate weights and measurements across the board are a priority. The Northern Mariana Islands Department of the Interior noted that the Commonwealth of NMI estimates $3 million in annual losses to fraud due to inaccurate weights and measurements in connection with more than 6,000 40-foot containers which arrive at the Saipan seaport each year. Efforts to decrease these losses and prevent fraud will positively impact our community and our regional partners,” Torres said.
The training class was the first opportunity to train stakeholders in this region of the world about U.S. standards, test procedures, and proper equipment to support local regulation compliance.” http://www.mvariety.com/cnmi/cnmi-news/local/90668-commerce-to-conduct-training-on-weights-and-measurements







posted December 9, 2016