The second edition of ISO/IEC 17020 was published in March 2012. This updated version includes some changes that Inspection Bodies (IBs) will need to implement within your management system in order to maintain their UKAS accreditation in the future. The purpose of this letter is to explain the transition process that UKAS is putting in place to enable IB accreditation to be transferred to the new standard within an internationally agreed timeframe.
It has been agreed by the International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation (ILAC https://www.ilac.org) that the transition period will be 3 years. As the second edition was published on 1st March 2012 this means that all Inspection Bodies will need to have successfully transferred to the new standard by 1st March 2015.
UKAS began assessing to the 2012 standard at the beginning of January 2013.
In order to minimise disruption and reduce additional cost it is UKAS’s intention to undertake the assessments for transition purposes with your scheduled annual visits. During 2013 the IB will have the option of deciding whether it wishes to proceed directly with the transition assessment or whether to defer this to 2014 to allow additional time to implement and monitor the effectiveness of the new requirements. If the IB chooses to defer then during their 2013 UKAS assessment the UKAS assessment team shall raise areas where systems and procedures do not meet the new requirements of the 2012 standard as recommended findings (These are for your information only, and no evidence will be required).
From January 2014 all assessments will be conducted against the requirements of the 2012 standard.
In order for a seamless transfer of accreditation to take place it is imperative that all mandatory findings are effectively addressed before the transition deadline. Therefore any action plan for an IB’s particular transition must include appropriate time for the submission of evidence, the review of this evidence by the UKAS team, any follow-up actions and evidence review, and time for UKAS to complete its independent decision making process: It is therefore strongly recommended that corrective actions should be received by UKAS by the end of October 2014.
Shortly before each transition assessment the IB will be asked to provide a gap analysis/implementation plan demonstrating how the organisation has implemented the new requirements of the 2012 standard. This document will be used by the UKAS assessment team during the assessment process to help determine compliance and hence to make a recommendation regarding transition.
Subject to resource availability, Inspection bodies can request additional assessments if they wish to have their transition assessment earlier than the scheduled visit. If this is an option the IB wishes to consider they should discuss this with the relevant assessment manager at the earliest opportunity.
Accreditation Decision and Grant
All transition assessments shall require an independent decision to be made, based upon the recommendation of the assessment team, in order to confirm that accreditation can be transferred from ISO/IEC 17020: 1998 to ISO/IEC 17020: 2012. Actual transfer of accreditation cannot take place until all mandatory findings have been addressed to the satisfaction of the UKAS assessment team, and a final UKAS decision has been made.
Please note that existing accreditation to ISO/IEC 17020: 1998 will remain valid until transition is achieved, or until 28th February 2015.
From January 2013 all initial assessments shall be conducted against the requirements of ISO/IEC 17020: 2012.
If an IB wishes to apply for an extension to its accredited scope during the transition period then the IB will need to discuss with their assessment manager the most appropriate version of the standard to be assessed against. If an IB is deferring its transition assessment to 2014 then applications for extensions during 2013 should be considered for assessment against ISO/IEC 17020: 1998. However, once the IB has started to implement a 2012-compliant system, and particular once UKAS has begun its assessment of this, then such extension assessments should be considered for assessment against ISO/IEC 17020:2012.
Please Note: No applications for extension to scope will be accepted to the 1998 standard after the end of October 2014.
Related UKAS Publications
UKAS publications related to ISO/IEC 17020 are currently being reviewed and any necessary updates are being initiated.
For sector schemes based upon ISO 17020, UKAS is discussing the necessary steps with the individual scheme owners.
Should you require any clarification to the above please contact your Assessment Manager, or Kevin Belson – Technical Manager.