For ten years, we, Ulrich Harmes-Liedtke and Juan José Oteiza have been working on measuring and comparing the development level of a country’s quality infrastructure (QI). This challenging task occupied not only us but also colleagues from metrology, standardisation and accreditation bodies, and other consultants. Those responsible for QI in international development cooperation asked themselves the same question.
Our publication in 2011 of a PTB Working Paper was finally the first systematic attempt to measure QI development internationally. The study sample included 53 countries, predominantly members of the BIPM and signatories of the ILAC-MRA and IAF-MLA. We investigated the relative development status of QI in the selected countries based on data provided by professional organisations for metrology, standardisation and accreditation. Already then, we found a clear correlation between the development status of the economy and the QI of a country.
Even though this publication triggered a specific response, the reactions remained cautious overall. Some colleagues expressed even fundamental concerns about measuring QI output, fearing possible misalignment of incentives and gaming of indicators.
A few years later, however, we observed a growing interest in data within the QI community. In the immediate environment of PTB’s International Cooperation community, our colleague Martin Kaiser, jointly with colleagues in Africa, developed a stocktaking document, grouping QI technical competencies in continental countries in a traffic light system. A bit later, Martin Kellermann developed a Rapid Appraisal Toolkit for QI with the World Bank and PTB support. The design of both tools benefitted from expert interviews.
In 2019, the renewed interest prompted us to re-start measuring QI, this time in 70 countries. The biggest obstacle for this type of research is obtaining data on accredited conformity assessment bodies. We had to visit the accreditation body’s website in each country covered, count and systematise the data. Again, we used only publicly available data published by formal QI bodies. Our study showed a remarkable growth of quality infrastructure in the countries surveyed and confirmed the link between economic and QI development.
The 2019 study was presented on several occasions and received various comments from practitioners and researchers. A significant criticism from development circles was that many developing countries were missing in our sample. We took this critique to heart and set out to cover as many countries in the world as possible in a new study. German development cooperation again supported this project through PTB funding, which enabled us to collect data from 184 economies.
In April 2021, we have published the Global Quality Infrastructure Index Report 2020.
The study benefitted from three panel discussions with metrologists, accreditors, and development cooperation staff. Suggestions and criticism helped us to refine and simplify the GQII formula. In the report, we explain the historical context of the QI development in the Northern and Southern Hemisphere countries. This contextualisation facilitates the understanding of the GQII report.
Currently, our team is preparing an online presentation of the GQII Report 2020 for 21 April at 12:00 (noon) UTC/GMT. We invite everyone interested in QI to attend this event.
During the event, experts of QI organisations from different continents and international development representatives will comment on the GQII. We will also give an outlook on further activities around QI data and analytics. The GQII programme is an open platform and an invitation for joint research and knowledge dissemination around QI.
We look forward to your participation and ask you to disseminate the information about the GQII in interested circles.
HARMES-LIEDTKE, U. & OTEIZA DI MATEO, J. J. 2019. Measurement and performance of Quality Infrastructure. A proposal for a global quality infrastructure. Buenos Aires and Duisburg: Mesopartner and Analyticar.
HARMES-LIEDTKE, U. & OTEIZA DI MATTEO, J. J. 2011. Measurement of Quality Infrastructure. Discusion Paper. Braunschweig: Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt.
Kellermann, M. (2019). Ensuring Quality to Gain Access to Global Market: A Reform Toolkit. Washington and Braunschweig, Worldbank and PTB.
PTB (2020). Pan-African Quality Infrastructure (PAQI) Stocktaking document for the development of QI, Braunschweig