The BIPM also refers to its headquarter based at Sèvres, France that has custody of the International Prototype Kilogram and houses the secretariat for this organization and hosts its formal meetings.
The BIPM reports to the International Committee for Weights and Measures (French: Comité international des poids et mesures, CIPM), which is in turn overseen by periodic meetings of the General Conference on Weights and Measures (French: Conférence générale des poids et mesures, CGPM). These organizations are also commonly referred to by their French initialisms.
The BIPM was created on 20 May 1875, following the signing of the Metre Convention, a treaty among 59 nations (as of March 2018). It is based at the Pavillon de Breteuil in Sèvres, France, a 4.35 ha (10.7-acre) site (originally 2.52 ha (6.2 acres)) granted to the Bureau by the French Government in 1876, where it enjoys extraterritorial status, a status that was clarified by the French decree No 70-820 of 9 September 1970.
The BIPM has the mandate to provide the basis for a single, coherent system of measurements throughout the world, traceable to the International System of Units (SI). This task takes many forms, from direct dissemination of units (as in the case of mass and time) to coordination through international comparisons of national measurement standards (as in electricity and ionizing radiation).
Following consultation, a draft version of the BIPM work programme is presented at each meeting of the General Conference for consideration with the BIPM dotation. The final programme of work is determined by the CIPM in accordance with the dotation agreed by the CGPM.