National Laboratory Certification Program (NLCP)

Since 1986, RTI has supported the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) by managing the National Laboratory Certification Program (NLCP). RTI conducts all aspects of the program, including the review and assessment of laboratory applications; inspections of applicant and certified laboratories; design, preparation, and distribution, scoring performance testing samples; identifies problem areas, and monitors corrective actions. These activities are designed to identify issues before they impact drug test results. We operate all aspects of the NLCP, including the inspection program for forensic drug testing laboratories and the manufacture, distribution, scoring, and reporting of proficiency testing (PT) samples.

Our team verifies laboratory procedures, data, and documentation, drawing on our extensive experience in forensic toxicology, which includes management and bench-level experience in Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)–certified drug testing laboratories. We also assembled and manage more than 100 expert consultants from academia, the military, and forensic toxicology laboratories to serve as NLCP inspectors.  

From the beginning of the program to 2020, the NLCP has accredited 147 Laboratories across the US, two in Canada, and one Initial Instrumented Testing Facility (IITF) in Canada. We have performed over 3800 inspections and shipped more than: 

  • 12,000 Initial Urine PT Samples
  • 142,500 Maintenance Urine PT Samples
  • 13,100 Oral Fluid Pilot PT Samples
  • 3,000 Hair Pilot PT Samples
  • 900 Sweat Pilot PT Samples

The HHS-certified laboratories accredited under the NLCP are known as the “gold standard” in the drug testing industry. In fact, many states require drug testing to be performed by HHS-certified laboratories and many private-sector employers also choose these laboratories to test job applicants and employees.

We have been the government’s sole contractor for the NLCP project since its inception because of our ability to meet SAMHSA’s goals of ensuring accurate testing and maintaining the reliability of the entire drug testing process, thus helping reduce the impact of substance abuse on America’s communities.

We provide annual training on topics including new technologies, case studies and study results from special projects open to all HHS-certified laboratory staff and NLCP inspectors. Additionally, we have developed a web-based series of courses on analytical methods in workplace drug testing. The NLCP publishes a newsletter Drug Testing Matters on topics written by subject matter experts that are of interest to the drug testing community. As of 2020, the NLCP has published 20 of these newsletters.  

For more information about the NLCP, please email or call 919.541.7242.


Please click here to view the Updated Introduction to the National Laboratory Certification Program (NLCP) course at no charge.

These additional NLCP training courses are available for NLCP inspectors and HHS-certified laboratory personnel:

  1. Introduction to the National Laboratory Certification Program
  2. Annual NLCP Inspector/Lab Director Workshop Archive
  3. Responsible Person Responsible Technician Training
  4. Inspections and Inspector Reports
  5. Analytical Methods for Specimen Validity Testing
  6. Analytical Methods in Workplace Drug Testing – Chromatography
  7. Analytical Methods in Workplace Drug Testing – Immunoassay
  8. Analytical Methods in Workplace Drug Testing – Sample Preparation
  9. Analytical Methods in Workplace Drug Testing – Mass Spectrometry
  10. Liquid Chromatography-Tandem Mass Spectrometry (LC-MS/MS): Processes & Data Review

To request access, please email or call 919.541.7242.

*If you are having an issue accessing a course or the Account Center (, there is a known issue with Internet Explorer on some computers that sometimes causes the site to not load. If it is possible, please use a different browser such as Google Chrome, Firefox or Safari. We are currently working to resolve this issue as quickly as possible.