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Informational Re-engineering of the IAF Accreditation and the Management System Certification Processes

#81
Re: Re-engineering of the Accreditation and Certification processes

By the way, Paul, do you know where in the IAF documents, the AB peer review process is described? Earlier today I saw an article from an AB Director of Sales and Marketing, which states in part
The International Accreditation Forum (IAF) oversees, evaluates and formally recognizes bodies that accredit organizations that certify management systems, products or persons.
To my knowledge, the IAF does not formally evaluate anyone, but promotes a peer-review process, whereby the IAF MLA members assess another member. I sent an email to the Secretary of the IAF. Let's see if I get an answer.:cfingers:
Thanks for the prompt, Sidney. Unfortunately I can't shed too much light on the peer review process. We are talking about a secret society, after all! :)

Not sure how the peer process works or who does the assessments - I'd like to be involved. :D
 

Sidney Vianna

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#82
Re: Re-engineering of the Accreditation and Certification processes

Unfortunately I can't shed too much light on the peer review process. We are talking about a secret society, after all! :)

Not sure how the peer process works or who does the assessments - I'd like to be involved. :D
Thank you. I went back to my copy of the ISO/IEC 17011. I only found one paragraph in the Introduction section of the document, which states, in part:
ISO/IEC 17021:2004 said:
This International Standard specifies the general requirements for accreditation bodies. Peer evaluation mechanisms have been created at regional and international levels, through which assurance is provided that accreditation bodies are operating in accordance with this International Standard. Those who have passed such an evaluation can become members of mutual recognition arrangements. Through regular re-evaluations, the continued adherence to this International Standard is assured.
I have to confess that I did not read ALL of the IAF documents, available at their website, but you would think the peer-review process would be better defined, somewhere. After all, it represents the building block for an AB to be accepted into the IAF MLA.
 
#83
Re: Re-engineering of the Accreditation and Certification processes

Paul has been vociferous in his displeasure with 17021.
There was me thinking I had been subtle! :) On this thread and others I have expressed my view of the issued Pt 1 - "it is a badly written standard developed on the basis of mutual distrust". I last voiced that on a transition assessment last week. Touch wood it hasn't come home to bite me yet.

Also through the association my CB belongs to I have said that the FDIS Pt 2 should be thrown out as it is a prescriptive nightmare (like its older sibling) and will add a whole series of bureaucratic hoops for CBs to jump through and I can confidently predict will add cost without providing any value.
But, on top of that, he has to deal with an AB that seems to impose some very strict interpretations over the requirements of that standard.
"My" AB seems to have taken a lead in trying to improve the standards of accredited certification. A stance I fully support.

My problem is the means of achieving this. Additional bureaucratic processes applied across the piece are not the answer. Requiring CBs to operate to ISO 9001 and effective accreditation body auditing of a CB / Registrar intent on satisfying the needs of its customers (and other stakeholders) would lead to meaningful certification assessments and proper management of the process as a whole by the CB.

It is possible that different AB's assess compliance to ISO 17021 in different ways.
What?

ABs being the highest level of the conformity assessment food chain and not offering standardized offerings? :sarcasm:

BTW - just to show it is not just me the Chief Executive of the ABCB has discussed this point here on the IRCA web site.
 

Sidney Vianna

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#84
Re: Re-engineering of the Accreditation and Certification processes

ABs being the highest level of the conformity assessment food chain and not offering standardized offerings? :sarcasm:
According to the IAF response I got, the AB peer review process is adequately defined here.
The mechanism by which IAF implements its objective is the IAF Multilateral Recognition Arrangement (MLA). Accreditation body members of IAF are admitted to the MLA only after a most stringent evaluation of their operations by a peer evaluation team which is charged to ensure that the applicant member complies fully with both the international standards and IAF requirements. Once an accreditation body is a member of the MLA it is required to recognize the certificates issued by certification/registration bodies accredited by all other members of the MLA.
IAF has granted Special Recognition to two Regional Accreditation Groups, the European co-operation for Accreditation (EA) and the Pacific Accreditation Cooperation (PAC), on the basis of the acceptance of the mutual recognition arrangements established within these organizations. Membership of the IAF MLA is recognized as being satisfied by membership of either the EA MLA or the PAC MLA and IAF members who are also signatories of these regional MLAs are automatically accepted into the IAF MLA. Special Recognition was granted to the Interamerican Accreditation Cooperation (IAAC) for the Quality Management Systems (QMS) MLA at the IAF Annual Meetings held in Cancun, Mexico in November 2006.
Some questions beg to be asked:
  • How often are the peer reviews performed?
  • How long, deep and effective are the peer review assessments?
  • Are peer review assessments affected by cultural and language barriers?
  • What are the qualifications and competence requirements for assessors doing AB peer-review audits?
  • What is the process for dispute resolution during and after peer-review assessments?
  • Besides ISO/IEC 17011, what are the other requirements assessed?
  • For the sake of transparency, could sanitized peer-review audit reports be posted?
  • Etc....
Since the IAF is supposed to be the pinnacle of the Accredited Certification food chain, and confidence in the operation of the AB's is paramount, I would expect to see a much better refined and defined process for peer reviews.... but what do I know?
 

Sidney Vianna

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#85
Re: Re-engineering of the Accreditation and Certification processes

It looks like Accreditation will become a regulated activity in Europe. I believe that this will have implications to AB's outside of Europe as well.

The Council of the European Union and the European Parliament have agreed a Regulation that will, for the first time, provide a legal framework for the provision of accreditation services across Europe. The Regulation, expected to be formally adopted in June this year, will apply from January 2010 and will cover the operation of accreditation in support of voluntary conformity assessment as well as conformity assessment required by legislation. Under the Regulation, accreditation, when carried out against the recognised harmonised standards, is regarded as a public authority activity and EU Member States will be required to appoint a single national accreditation body for these activities.


To improve the consistency of accreditation services across Europe, the Regulation sets common requirements for national accreditation bodies, to be monitored by Member State governments. In essence, the Regulation will require national accreditation bodies:
  • To be independent from the conformity assessment bodies they accredit
  • To be objective and impartial
  • To employ competent personnel for the tasks to be carried out
  • To operate on a not for profit basis
  • Not to offer services offered by conformity assessment bodies
  • Not to compete with other national accreditation bodies
The Regulation will also recognise the European co-operation for Accreditation (EA) as the co-ordinating organisation for the national European accreditation infrastructure. National accreditation bodies will be required to be members of EA and to participate in the peer evaluation programme operated by EA as the preferred means of demonstrating compliance with the legal requirements.
UKAS has worked in close co-operation with the UK Government as the Regulation has been developed and the requirements closely mirror the accreditation system currently in force in the UK. Under the Regulation, conformity assessment bodies will be expected to use their own national accreditation body in most cases but, in other respects, UKAS customers should not be greatly affected by the implementation of the Regulation.
A related EU Decision, expected to be adopted at the same time as the Regulation, will set a common framework for future EU Directives relating to the marketing of products. The Decision establishes a model text covering elements such as the use of standards, CE marking, conformity assessment procedures and the appointment of conformity assessment bodies (‘notified bodies’). The Decision places greater emphasis on the use of accreditation in the assessment of ‘notified bodies’, again with the intention of improving the consistency of approach across Europe.
Copies of the latest texts of the proposed Regulation and Decision can be downloaded but please note that they could be amended further during the final legal processes leading up to formal adoption.
Updates on the progress of the Regulation and Decision and on the arrangements for implementation in the UK will be circulated by the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills using the Consultation on Conformity Assessment (ConCAss) mailing list. To be added to the ConCAss mailing list, contact Lisa Rogers at lisa.rogers@dius.gsi.gov.uk
 

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#86
Re: Re-engineering of the Accreditation and Certification processes

It looks like Accreditation will become a regulated activity in Europe. I believe that this will have implications to AB's outside of Europe as well.
You can imagine how much some of us are pleased by this news. :notme: So much so that when the original article was published in the May Quality World magazine here I was forced to put pen to paper - or rather finger to keyboard.

The text of my letter is reproduced here:
The article ‘Establishing Trust’ on European accreditation and EU regulation was fascinating. At the beginning a range of ‘problems’ are aired without any data to support conclusions drawn or, more importantly, the solution presented. Therefore the way forward presented by Mr McMillan of additional regulation as the answer does not ring true to me and hence I can confidently predict new regulations covering types of market surveillance, rules about CE marking, definitions and the rest will not solve an undiagnosed problem.

One accreditation body per EU country is one solution among those available to those genuinely interested in how accreditation works and how it can help provide confidence in products and management systems.
What real basis is there for a monopoly in accreditation? Surely if we examine a market in an EU country where there is a de facto monopoly (say for example the UK?) we can decide.

If this model is the future then let us look forward to improvements EU regulation will bring. If, however, this market is no better than any other then perhaps we need to look harder for a root cause – perhaps by accreditation bodies working with the industry rather than against it.
Then, rather than attempting to control a process by weight of guidance, regulation and standards we can understand accreditation and certification processes better.
 

Sidney Vianna

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#87
Re: Re-engineering of the Accreditation and Certification processes

It will be interesting to see how this develops. In the early to mid 90's, many American companies seeking certification to ISO 9001 would apply for dual (if not multiple) accreditation marks in their certificates, because there was a question about the RAB (at that time) accreditation process having no ties to any branch of the US Government.
When Europe regulates Accreditation, what would be the implications for certificates issued under other accreditation schemes outside of the EU or EEA? The IAF is not (by any means) a governmental organization. What about acceptance of other accreditation marks? Are we going to move away from the "one certificate, accepted everywhere" goal?

Concerning the monopolistic approach to accreditation, it basically formalizes what we have at present, but it does raise concerns, indeed. Even in the USA, where market competition is deemed sacred by many, we do have a few monopolistic approaches to conformity assessment. People, for the most part, resent having to deal with a monopoly.
 

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#88
Re: Re-engineering of the Accreditation and Certification processes

Another theory is that certification and accreditation bodies have not grasped who their customers are: ‘The customer is actually the organizations that use certifications as a tool in the supplier selection.’ And while certification bodies are focused on seeing the customer as the certified organization and try to keep them happy, the biggest risk to the success of the industry as a whole is if those organizations using certification to select suppliers stop using it ‘because they see it as meaningless’.
Should I start charging royalties? :tg:

Read the rest @ http://www.irca.org/inform/issue21/SRussell.html
 
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#89
Re: Re-engineering of the Accreditation and Certification processes

Thanks, Sidney. Much as I respect your views ... you can't claim to have had all the good ideas!

Interesting discussion with Simon Feary as part of the interview process. He sees the work CQI and IRCA do as being delivered through CQI members and IRCA certified auditors to the organizations that employ them / are audited by them.

... and as far as I know he doesn't know you! :lol:

What did you think of the other part of the article:
One member stated that as long as certification and accreditation bodies created profit and loss statements these conflicts will remain and increase over time: 'Consequently their credibility, and ours as an industry, will diminish’.
I don't suppose you mentioned that one at work? :lmao:
 

Sidney Vianna

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#90
Re: Re-engineering of the Accreditation and Certification processes

When the Accreditation process was devised, it became a natural expectation that it should be a self-sustaining activity, because nobody wanted to see tax-payer monies being diverted in to that type of business and the creation of another governmental bureaucracy.
 
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