Multiple Accreditations - RAB - USA, JASANZ - Australia/NZ, UKAS - UK, RvA - Holland


Fully vaccinated are you?
From: Malcolm R Bell
Subject: Re: Multiple
Accreditation Marks /Bell

The query about multiple accreditation marks highlights an interesting situation.

National Accreditation Authorities (eg RAB in the USA, JASANZ in Australia/New Zealand, UKAS in the UK and RvA in Holland) were set up to accredit commercial Certification Bodies (Registrars) in their respective regions. Accreditation Agencies are normally expected to be not-for-profit bodies operating under some form of government imprimatur.

In some countries they are government departments or quasi-government agencies. Elsewhere they are independent bodies operating in agreement with, and/or on behalf of the government. The essence of an accreditation body is that it should be independent, non-commercial and non-competitive so that its accreditation decisions will be free from commercial influence.

National Accreditation Authorities were established to monitor and control the work of commercial Certification Bodies (Registrars). Certification Bodies are, in general, in business to make a profit and they might, in theory, cut corners or lower standards in order to acquire a bigger market share. Even in my own small "neck of the woods" (New Zealand) it is well known that prospective clients often search out the less demanding and/or cheaper Certification Bodies if they are just after a fast-track route to an ISO 9000 certificate on the wall. And there will always be somebody ready to oblige.

In theory (again) all Certification Bodies (Registrars) accredited by a particular National Accreditation Authority should be operating to the same standards. However, I have yet to come across any Accreditation Authority that is willing to give a guarantee to this effect.

Most Certification Bodies (Registrars) operate in just one country and hold accreditation from that country's National Accreditation Authority (NAA). This is fine until their ISO 9000 certified clients want to export. The clients then need some assurance that their accredited certifications will be recognised overseas.

Some Certification Bodies (Registrars) are multi-national companies and they may hold multiple accreditations for their operations around the world; one accreditation for each country in which they operate. This imposes a major cost burden on these large Certification Bodies. It's like having to get a new driving licence for every town you drive through. It does, however, give them a commercial advantage in selling their services to potential exporters. A multi-national CB could, for example, certify a company here in New Zealand and issue them with a JASANZ accredited certification. For an extra fee (and there always seems to be an extra fee!) the CB then arranges for its UK branch to issue the client with a UKAS accredited certification. Or perhaps its European branch could issue an RvA accredited certification.

In an ideal world all National Accreditation Authorities would mutually recognise each other's accreditations and there would be one international accreditation mark. An ISO 9000 certified company would then pay one fee to one certification body for an accredited certification that had world-wide recognition. Why don't we have this situation? It would certainly be to the advantage of the 280,000 companies that are currently ISO 9000 certified and which, through their fees, pay for the entire international certification/ accreditation infrastructure. It might not, however, be to the advantage of individual Accreditation Authorities which stand to lose income.

Imagine a fictitious county, Isovia. It has a National Accreditation Authority, The Isovian Accreditation Bureau (TIAB). There are twenty commercial Certification Bodies (Registrars) operating in Isovia, all of them accredited by TIAB. Five of the Certification Bodies are multi-nationals and between them they have 75% of the Isovian ISO 9000 certification business. The other fifteen CBs are local, small-time operators. Typically the CBs will be paying TIAB a fixed annual accreditation fee, a variable fee based on the number of clients certified by each CB and the direct costs of their six monthly assessments.

What happens if TIAB now enters into a mutual recognition agreement with other National Accreditation Authorities? The multi-national CBs will no longer need their TIAB accreditations. They will be able to continue operating in Isovia using their, say, RAB accreditation and will be able to issue their Isovian clients with an accredited certification carrying the international mark. TIAB has now lost 75% of its income.

The National Accreditation Authorities of the world have been moving towards an international mutual recognition ageement at glacial speed. To do otherwise would be akin to turkeys voting in favour of Christmas.


Malcolm R Bell...


Can we start a thread to discuss whether accreditation process adds any value to in the supply chain?
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