Accreditation: Protecting the Value of Accredited Certification - Randy Dougherty, The IAF Chair -

Randy Dougherty
The IAF Chair

IAF_CHAIR

My name is Randy Dougherty, and I am the elected President of the International Accreditation Forum, commonly known as IAF. IAF members are nationally-based accreditation bodies (ABs), such as the Japan Accreditation Board (JAB) in Japan, well as associations of certification bodies (CBs) such as the Japan Association of Management Systems Certification Bodies (JACB). IAF, along with its sister organization ILAC, operate mutual recognition arrangements (the IAF MLA and ILAC MRA) so that goods, services and personnel can tested, inspected, or certified once and accepted everywhere.

International standards for management systems began with the publication of ISO 9001 in 1987.  Third party certification to ISO 9001 began soon after; and accreditation of certification bodies soon after that.

Since 1987, ISO has published a host of management systems standards: ISO 9001 for quality management systems, ISO 14001 for environmental management systems, ISO 22000 for food safety management systems and ISO/IEC 27001 for information security management systems, just to name a few.

The conformity assessment committee of ISO, known as CASCO, has published a number of standards establishing requirements for conformity assessment. Two standards are pertinent to accredited certification to management systems standards: ISO/IEC 17011 for accreditation bodies (ABs) and ISO/IEC 17021 for management systems certification bodies (CBs). The standards establish requirements intended to ensure the impartiality and competence of accreditation and certification so that stakeholders, such as government, industry and consumers, can have confidence in the conformity assessment results, e.g. confidence in accreditation certifications to ISO 9001 or ISO 14001.

Certification to management systems standards has proven value to the certified companies, to their customers and to other stakeholders. Companies certified to ISO 9001 are more likely to provide conforming products or services that fulfill the expectations of their customers.  Companies certified to ISO 14001 are more likely to have a reduced environmental footprint and reduced pollution.

In my opinion the greatest risk to the value of certification to the management systems standards comes from commercial pressures from industry to keep costs low combined with competition among CBs. These pressures can cause some CBs to have inappropriate relationships with consultancy bodies to gain new clients. The pressure to keep costs low can result in CBs not paying enough to have competent auditors, or not having sufficient time for conducting the audits.

Accreditation of CBs, to ensure conformance to ISO/IEC 17021 and IAF application documents, helps to reduce these risks to the value of management systems certification.

 

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