Since the last IAF General Assembly held in Milan, Italy in November 2015, much progress has been achieved for the implementation of IAF Strategic Plan (2015-2019). In particular, many important outcomes came out of the Frankfurt, Germany Mid-Term Meetings held in April 2016.
Improvement of the Operation of the IAF MLA. Improving the operation of the IAF Multilateral Recognition Arrangement (IAF MLA), including the MLA peer evaluation process and consistent application of relevant international standards, is an important part of the IAF Strategic Plan.
The MLA peer evaluation process. Revisions to two primary MLA related documents, IAF ML2: General Principles on the Use of the IAF MLA Mark and IAF ML4:Policies and Procedures for a Multilateral Recognition Arrangement on the Level of Single Accreditation Bodies and on the Level of Regional Accreditation Groups were published in May 2016. The revision to IAF PL3: Policies and Procedures for Expansion of the Scope of the IAF MLA is currently out for ballot to all IAF Members.
The main changes to these three documents were to:
(1) improve the rules of the peer evaluation process to allow for expansion of sub-scopes under a main-scope of the IAF MLA, in order to achieve more efficient expansion of the IAF MLA to meet the needs of the market. The IAF MLA Committee will implement the new peer evaluation approaches.
(2) further improve the IAF endorsement process for standards or normative documents, which have not yet been endorsed as scopes of the IAF MLA. This includes possible use of the scheme endorsement process of Recognized Regional Accreditation Groups, taking into account the progress of relevant working items.
The consistent application of standards. Progress is being made on the ongoing improvement of consistent application processes for relevant international conformity assessment standards among Accreditation Bodies. Recent improvements in this area support a Strategic Direction of the organization.
Coordination mechanisms among the IAF Accreditation Body Information Exchange Group (ABIEG), the IAF Conformity Assessment Body Advisory Committee (CABAC) and the IAF User Advisory Committee (UAC) are being enhanced to improve the direct communication between Accreditation Bodies (Abs), Certification Bodies (CBs), and industry/user members for specific items.
The development of an IAF online consistency forum dealing with potential inconsistencies is progressing; the forum should be available in the next few months. This forum will provide CBs, industry/user members, and ABs the opportunity to discuss issues of consistency and to work together efficiently to find solutions. The IAF CABAC will take the lead in identifying areas of potential inconsistencies.
Coordination between IAF and Regional Accreditation Groups. The continual improvement of coordination and consistency among IAF, the International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation (ILAC) and Regional Accreditation Groups is another IAF Strategic Direction where recent progress has been made.
At its meeting in April 2016, the Joint Task Force of the IAF/ILAC Executive Committees on the Regions further clarified that the application documents for ISO/IEC conformity assessment standards (developed by IAF/ILAC and the IAF/ILAC A-series documents for peer evaluation of single ABs) “shall be adopted by Regional Accreditation Groups”. However, Regional Accreditation Groups may still develop additional application documents and peer evaluation documents to meet their own specific needs. In order to promote consistency and reduce the duplication of work, the work done by Regional Accreditation Groups to develop the additional documents shall be shared with respective committees of IAF/ILAC.
A liaison mechanism between the IAF Technical Committee (TC) and Regional Accreditation Groups has been established to share the technical work programme of each Regional Accreditation Group with IAF. The IAF TC Agenda now includes the sharing of the work programme from each Region. In addition, the new approach of the TC operation as proposed requires New Work Item Proposals (NWIPs) to cover the needs of at least 3 Regions and stakeholders.
Promotion for Acceptance of the IAF MLA. Accreditation is a global tool that supports public policy and facilitates trade. Standards, conformity assessment, and accreditation are all market-based tools that can be used by government policy makers to deliver better regulation, environmental protection, public safety, fraud prevention, fair and efficient markets, and public trust. Communication and promotion of wider acceptance of accreditation, including accredited conformity assessment results and the IAF MLA by regulators and end users is a Strategic Direction in the IAF Strategic Plan.
World Accreditation Day. June 9th marks World Accreditation Day. This year, World Accreditation Day focused on the support accreditation provides as a tool for all areas in the public sector – including for national/local governments and regulators. World Accreditation Day is celebrated across the world with the hosting of national events, seminars, and press and media coverage, to communicate the value of accreditation to government, regulators and the leaders of the business community.
Public Sector Assurance website. The Public Sector Assurance website (http://www.publicsectorassurance.org/), a joint IAF, ILAC, ISO and IIOC initiative, was designed to demonstrate to government, regulators, and public sector organizations with benefits-based case studies, research, and promotional materials how standards and accredited conformity assessment can add value. The site presently contains 177 case studies, 49 research papers, and 21 supporting materials. In addition, a link on the Regulators Forum of the International Organization for Standardization's Committee on Conformity Assessment (ISO/CASCO) to the Public Sector Assurance website is now available.
Project for an IAF database of accredited management system certifications. The IAF Database Management Committee at its meeting in April 2016 agreed to develop a business case to support the building of a database and share it with IAF Members for their consideration prior to the Joint IAF-ILAC Annual Meetings in New Delhi in October 2016. Further progress in this initiative is reported in a later article in this newsletter.
Engagement with relevant international organizations. IAF and ILAC continuously enhance engagement with relevant international organizations to promote the value of accreditation and the IAF MLA to regulators and end users.
During the IAF-ILAC-ISO Joint Strategic Group meeting held in May 2016 in Dubai during the ISO/CASCO Plenary meetings, IAF and ISO agreed to develop a high level joint expected outcomes document for all ISO/CASCO certification standards.
IAF and ILAC have provided input into a research project that the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) is carrying out on international regulatory co-operation and trade. The project aims at assessing the fundamental linkages between changes in regulatory settings and the welfare of countries.
IAF and ILAC recently contributed to the revision of Recommendation on Creation and Promotion of International Agreements on Conformity Assessment and Recommendation on Recognition of Conformity Assessment Procedures and Results, two documents being developed by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) Working Party on Regulatory Cooperation and Standardization Policies (WP.6) which is a forum for dialogue among regulators and policy makers.
In June 2016, IAF provided input to the World Health Organization (WHO) “WHO Global Model Regulatory Framework for Medical Devices Including IVDs” in support of the IAF Accreditation Initiative for ISO 13485 to support regulators.
IAF is exploring opportunities to enhance its relationship with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in the field of the ISO 14065, for the accreditation of the validation and verification bodies to support the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. IAF also applied for Observer Membership in the UNFCCC in May 2016.
IAF and ILAC contributed to a Thematic Session on Regulatory Cooperation between Members Energy Efficiency organized by the World Trade Organization Committee on Technical Barriers to Trade (WTO/TBT) regarding how the IAF/ILAC network supports energy efficiency through accreditation, including through the IAF MLA for ISO14001, ISO14065, and proposed new scope for ISO 50001 energy management systems.
IAF also contributed to the Global Facilitation Partnership for Transportation and Trade - 2016 Annual Forum co-organized by the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), and the International Trade Center (ITC) for a session on "Working with Businesses for Credible, Streamlined Clearance Procedures – improving safety, security and confidence through trade facilitation".
The IAF Executive Committee, the IAF Communication and Marketing Committee, the IAF User Advisory Committee, and the IAF Secretariat continue to work actively to communicate and promote accreditation and the IAF MLA to regulators and end users.