ARLINGTON, Texas – Following a recent study of the lane certification process and analyzing data from lane inspections, the United States Bowling Congress determined it will implement a center certification program, featuring tiered levels of certification and a national staff of lane inspectors, over the next five years.
Details of the tiered center certification program will be announced at the 2021 USBC Convention. The USBC Equipment and Specifications Committee, which made the decision to implement the program, has delegated authority from the USBC Board to make changes to equipment specifications.
USBC also determined it will not require local associations to perform annual lane inspections as the USBC Equipment Specifications and Certifications team continues its work to fully develop the program. The decision means all bowling centers will be certified until the national staff begins center certifications in 2022.
Once the tiered center certification program is in place, centers will be inspected and assigned to a tier based on the level it meets in regard to USBC specifications. The decision to make any necessary improvements, based on the results of an inspection, will be left to the center and no longer mandated by USBC.
“The research and the discussions with stakeholders made it clear that a tiered center certification program is the right direction for USBC,” said Andrew Cain, chair of the USBC Equipment Specifications Committee. “It is our responsibility as the National Governing Body to deliver efficient and consistent inspections for all centers and allow members to see the certification level of the center.”
During the last three years, as USBC began to compile data from lane inspections, it also looked at how a national program could manage the inspection of the nearly 4,000 centers. It required evaluating staff needed and the tools required. During the evaluation, the focus turned to the time required for an inspection.
The USBC Equipment Specifications and Certifications team is examining the tools to streamline the inspection process. Additional testing of the tools will continue.
USBC also plans to hire and train a small team of national inspectors, who will coordinate with centers to efficiently conduct lane inspections throughout the country.
In recent years, USBC set out to improve the center certification process, studying the process over a three-year period and publishing its study of 64 centers and more than 1,000 lanes across 20 states. The results led to changes in the center certification process that were announced at the 2017 USBC Convention.
Data collection and analysis, including spot-checks to determine the accuracy of the data collected, confirmed a new approach to center certification was needed.
The USBC Equipment Specifications team, in coordination with the committee and a third-party consultant, then spent the next 12 months working on a tiered center certification model. It enlisted several focus groups of industry stakeholders to evaluate and build the model.
Additional education and awareness, including an ongoing dialogue with all stakeholders, will be important as the process moves forward.
Click HERE for Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) on the tiered center certification program.
Go to BOWL.com/EquipAndSpecs and click on Center Certifications to view all the work being done in this area.