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DNDO GRaDER Guidance for Users

The Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction (CWMD) Office was established in December 2017 by consolidating primarily the Domestic Nuclear Detection Office, a majority of the Office of Health Affairs, as well as other DHS elements.

For current information related to CWMD, please visit the following:

The Department of Homeland Security helped create and accepted American National Standards Institute (ANSI) N42 consensus standards for six (6) categories of radiation detection equipment, as well as for data formats and training. Vendors originally submitted detectors through the Department of Homeland Security Office of Science and Technology (S&T) for testing against ANSI standards in 2005 and 2006. Unfortunately, none of the detectors then tested met all of the consensus standard requirements.

The Domestic Nuclear Detection Office (DNDO) is now the office responsible for coordinating federal efforts to detect and protect against the unauthorized importation, possession, storage, transportation, development, or use of a nuclear explosive device, fissile material, or radiological material in the United States. Sec. 1902 of the Homeland Security Act of 2002, Pub. L. No. 107-296, added by Sec. 501 of the Security and Accountability For Every (SAFE) Port Act, and renumbered by Pub. L. No. 110-53, directs the Department Domestic Nuclear Detection Office to "carry out a program to test and evaluate technology for detecting a nuclear explosive device and fissile or radiological material..."

The Graduated Radiation/Nuclear Detector Evaluation and Reporting (GRaDERSM) Program provides a continuing means of independently testing and evaluating (T&E) commercially available radiological and nuclear (Rad/Nuc) detection equipment against ANSI N42 performance standards to ensure that only the best radiation detector capabilities are funded by government procurement and grant programs. GRaDER will provide performance and operationally relevant technical information on these systems to Department components, other federal agencies, and state, local and tribal governments and first responders.

Primary Objectives

The primary objectives of GRaDER are to:

  • Encourage vendors to develop better radiation detection and identification products that satisfy consensus standards, government unique technical capability standards, and evolving Homeland Security mission requirements.
  • Develop a test program that will provide data needed to make radiation detection device acquisition and funding decisions, and identify the radiation detection and identification products available that satisfy consensus standards and Homeland Security mission architecture requirements.
  • Develop an easily interpreted display of key test results that may be made available to all stakeholders, such as state and local users.
  • Standardize instrument testing and test results reporting to assure valid comparisons and easily interpreted reports.
  • Provide the infrastructure for the development of high integrity test data.
  • Develop a Government Post-Market Surveillance (GPMS) program to track product quality and market experience with instruments already evaluated in the GRaDER Program.

Testing and Evaluation Process

The testing process includes two phases.

GRaDERSM Program Overview
Radiation/Nuclear Detectors for Prevention

How DNDO & NIST do product surveilance on tested products.

The first phase will involve testing in DNDO accepted laboratories participating in the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) National Voluntary Laboratory Accreditation Program (NVLAP) accreditation process against existing unclassified, consensus based ANSI N42 standards. Subsets of the requirements in these consensus standards will be used to determine DNDO compliance levels. These subsets emphasize radiation detection capability over environmental performance.

The second phase will entail testing at DNDO-designated government facilities against more challenging threat based government-unique technical capability standards (to be published), and sources under realistic operational and environmental conditions.

All testing is voluntary and at the vendor's expense.

Compliance will periodically be verified through post market surveillance by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), and compliance levels will be adjusted if consistent performance is not demonstrated.

GRaDER verification may include audit and/or testing at the government's discretion, and as part of the GPMS program. Any additional costs for government verification of conformity will be at the manufacturer's expense. Manufacturers may elect to have their test results included in a DNDO-published GRaDER Evaluated Equipment List (GEEL), which may be used by federal, state and local authorities in making procurement and grant decisions. If a manufacturer does not agree to such publication, the test results will be treated as proprietary and be releasable only to federal agencies.

The incentive to participate in the GRaDER Program comes from government procurement and grant programs award criteria. Future grant awards may require that equipment purchased with federal funding meet certain standards.

Last Updated: 01/23/2023
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