Holding accreditation provides many benefits to a wide range of organisations. In addition to demonstrating technical competence to the local market, it can also provide confidence to overseas markets through multilateral agreements (MLAs) whereby the reports and certificates issued by bodies accredited by signatories of these accreditation agreements receive global recognition.
This benefit is essential to UKAS customers operating on the global market, so it is vital UKAS retains its EA, ILAC and IAF MLA signatory status.
This status is gained and maintained by demonstrating compliance with the requirements of ISO/IEC 17011 ‘Conformity assessment – General requirements for accreditation bodies accrediting conformity assessment bodies’, through an impartial process of peer evaluation.
UKAS, like all recognised Accreditation Bodies, submits to a programme of peer evaluation to maintain our European and international MLA signatory status and our status as the UK’s sole National Accreditation Body.
In May this year, UKAS was subject to an intense week of remote peer evaluation by a team of 13 European co-operation for Accreditation (EA) colleagues from a wide range of European Accreditation Bodies. This evaluation included observation of how we conduct remote assessments and detailed inspection of our case records, across all sections of the business, to determine the effectiveness of our assessment process. In addition, the peer evaluation team scrutinised our impartiality as well as the effectiveness of our management system and overall technical competence.
While this process was without doubt challenging, due to the necessary robustness of the evaluation, it also provided opportunities for further improvements and concluded that UKAS has robust processes and systems in place that provide confidence in the reliability of the accreditation services we deliver.
While a small number of nonconformities were raised by the team, which is not unexpected, the important outcome was that no systematic risks were identified with the UKAS system. We have taken action to address the issues raised and evidence of this has been submitted to EA for review and approval. Once these have been accepted then the EA Multilateral Agreement Council (MAC) will make an impartial decision on renewing our MLA status based upon the positive recommendation of the peer evaluation team.
Following the evaluation our evaluation team submitted their findings along with some very positive comments:
“The evaluation team was very much impressed with the expertise and knowledge of the staff and the quality and capabilities of the data management system. UKAS’ staff adherence to procedures and reference documents was remarked, as well as the quality of the assessor monitoring records, the strength of the decision-making process, including detailed assessment reporting and a good complete coverage of the accreditation scopes.”
The entire evaluation process is a testament to UKAS’ exceptional ability to work collaboratively. We would like to thank the EA evaluation team for their diligence and expertise, and all the UKAS staff who worked so hard to make this a success.