Many organisations are familiar with inspectors and auditors who independently help assess that standards and regulations are being respected or “conformed to”. But how do we make sure that they are doing this correctly and fairly? Accreditation is the independent evaluation of such conformity assessment bodies against recognised standards to ensure impartiality and competence.
To raise awareness about the importance of accreditation, the International Accreditation Forum (IAF) and the International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation (ILAC) organise World Accreditation Day each year on 9 June. In 2016, the event looks at how we can use accreditation to support public policy.
Standards, together with conformity assessment, can be used by government policy makers to deliver better regulation, environmental protection, public safety, fraud prevention, fair and efficient markets, and public trust.
Certification, calibration, testing, inspection, and validation and verification, are all forms of accredited conformity assessment activity. They are a great asset to the public sector as a way of meeting government policy objectives. For example, accreditation may assist a department of justice in ensuring that forensic labs performing activities like DNA analysis are reliable and follow best practice. Other areas benefitting from accreditation include health, safety, environmental protection, and construction.
Government and regulators can use accreditation and other conformity assessment tools to:
- help businesses improve performance, while minimising risk and promoting trade
- deliver and enforce policies
- become more proficient in their own work.
The ISO Committee on conformity assessment (CASCO) has produced a number of standards related to conformity assessment practices. These are referred to as the CASCO Toolbox and cover topics such as the operating of testing laboratories, marks of conformity, accreditation, and the mutual recognition of conformity assessment results.
It is through the application of national and international standards that governments, procurers, and consumers can have confidence in calibration and test results, inspection reports, and certifications.
- ISO/TS 22003 Food safety management systems – Requirements for bodies providing audit and certification of food safety management systems
- ISO/IEC 17020 Conformity assessment – Requirements for the operation of various types of bodies performing inspection (AS/NZS ISO/IEC 17020:2013)
- ISO/IEC 17021-1 Conformity assessment – Fundamentals of product certification and guidelines for product certification schemes (AS/NZS ISO/IEC 17021.1:2015)
- ISO/IEC 17024 Conformity assessment – General requirements for bodies operating certification of persons (AS/NZS ISO/IEC 17024:2013)
- ISO/IEC 17065 Conformity assessment – Requirements for bodies certifying products, processes and services (AS/NZS ISO/IEC 17065:2013)
ISO and IAF have produced a brochure Accreditation: a global tool to support public policy which is focused on how accreditation can help Government agencies.