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nace niicap Jul 23, 2019

NACE International Institute's new Contractor Accreditation Program (NIICAP) is the first international standard to evaluate the primary capability of a coatings contractor prior to a contract award. 

NIICAP is a world-class, industry-focused and industry-managed Quality accreditation program that validates a contractor's internal processes, procedures, and practices, specifically for Quality Assurance. The purpose of the program is to increase the quality and reputation of qualified contractors throughout the entire industry.

Fully transparent, the NIICAP Accreditation process is a stellar example of the power of a globally-active industry group can have when fighting for more consistent work Quality for their members and industry stakeholders. NIICAP endorses only coating contractors and shops who have demonstrated their ability to exceed a rigorous set of standards that meet the Quality Control requirements major facility owners expect.

Owners who specify NIICAP Accreditation for their projects have a new level of certainty when evaluating RFP responses that each respondent is fully qualified to execute the work, certain QA/QC processes are in place, and staff is adequately trained for the work.

The entire business is evaluated by a team of experts through a comprehensive application outlining the contractor’s operations, processes, and procedures. A site audit is conducted by NACE auditors to confirm the practices are in force. The application and audit criteria can be found on this page, or on the NACE NIICAP website. We suggest a go/no-go internal review using the available checklists to be sure everything is addressed prior to submitting the application and scheduling the audit.

In addition to the initial evaluation, contractors are subject to ongoing annual review to maintain status as NIICAP Accredited Contractors. 

From the start, the program was designed by industry experts - owners and contractors - for the entire industry to use to improve Quality, reduce project cost and uncertainty, increase stability, and prequalify potential contractors.


“We have been looking forward to a program of this caliber in this industry to come about for some time. NIICAP is a tool, which will enable us to attract contractors that have proven their ability to provide deliverables in a timely and professional manner, with the confidence in the finished product being in accordance to our needs." -  Michael Baase, Coatings Program Manager, Kentucky Transportation Cabinet

A key feature of NIICAP is that it meets ANSI/ISO/ASQ Q9001-2008: ‘Quality Management Systems – Requirements,’ 2008.  Another is the annual audits and the experience level of the staff who conduct them. Application review is conducted by qualified QA experts and site audits are made by third-party auditors with Quality Assurance experience and industry expertise.

NIICAP works under and with an Oversight Board, comprised of eight members responsible for setting technical direction and voting on accreditation awards to contractors. In addition, the Board serves to ensure NIICAP is meeting the needs of all industry stakeholders. They also manage the review and continuous improvement program.

“The process of receiving NIICAP accreditation is very rigorous, but we decided it was worth putting in the time and effort to do the trial audit because we haven’t seen a program of such high quality before. We are eager to complete the audit process and be among the first to achieve this accreditation.” - James Hart, QC Manager, Blastco, TF Warren Group

Initially, contractors undergo a thorough process review in accordance with the relevant auditing standard. The Maintenance Accreditation Process is similar to the Initial accreditation process; however, it involves validation of known programs and work practices and is less intensive. The Renewal Accreditation process is another thorough review of all components. Per the NACE website, "The cycle consists of one (1) Initial accreditation, followed by two (2) Maintenance accreditations, and starts over with one (1) Renewal accreditation followed by two (2) Maintenance accreditations. At the end of the third year the Renewal cycle is repeated. The administrative portion is completed off site prior to the visit; the number of days for the on-site audit is dependent on various factors and changes according to the cycle point."

The NIICAP Policy & Procedure manual is focused on open communication and free of conflict of interest for all parties. NIICAP qualifies only coating contractors who have demonstrated the capabilities and competencies necessary to meet the stated owner requirements.

There are three detailed NIICAP Standards to provide a benchmark of the contractor's record-keeping and work performance. Those standards are:

  • AS-1 – NIICAP Audit Standard 1 (AS-1) Programs for Accreditation of Field and Shop Coatings Contractors.
  • AS-2 – NIICAP Audit Standard 2 (AS-2) Hazardous Waste Removal and Management Accreditation.
  • AS-3 – NIICAP Audit Standard 3 (AS-3) In-House Applicator Trade Skills Training Accreditation.


Both contractors and asset owners agree there's an ongoing benefit to the comprehensive audit process. The audits review internal training programs as well as standards of care for Quality Control. Accreditation either validates existing processes or improves management and work practices - both options provide asset owners assurance that a vendor's business practices, personnel and equipment, history, and training are in line with industry standards, and effective.

Within 3 weeks of completing the application and audit process, contractors receive the written results. Successful applicants can immediately use the NIICAP seal to market their services. Unsuccessful candidates receive a detailed report explaining why the decision was made, and an opportunity to correct the deficiencies, appeal the results, and/or reapply at a later date.


“It is regularly reported that a large portion of costly industrial coatings failures can be traced to product application. The NACE International Institute committed to delivering this programme to raise the performance, and the stature, of this critical industry. The industry experts who designed and will manage NIICAP have created a rigorous programme that will raise the bar for all stakeholders in this industry, including asset owners, in the same way that the one-of-a-kind NACE Coating Inspector Programme raised the bar for quality assurance in the coatings inspection industry in the 1980s. CIP boosts individual competencies; NIICAP will do the same for companies.” Helena Seelinger, Executive Director of the NACE International Institute

The NIICAP program offers facility owners the advantage of knowing that the industrial painting contractor who is working on their project has the experience, knowledge, and equipment to produce quality work in accordance with the local, state and federal guidelines for safety, health, and environmental compliance.






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