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Requirement for Certification Bodies to provide operational metrics

As part of UKAS’s processes for continual improvement we have recently been trialling a wider roll-out of the use of a pre-visit questionnaire with a number of certification bodies, based upon those that we routinely use for the assessment of certain sectors in our testing laboratory areas. The aim of these questionnaires is to gather specific information on the operations of our customers prior to our assessment visit, hence allowing for greater efficiency during our annual head office assessments and improving the focus and value of the assessment. With respect to the information sought from certification bodies, this has included data such as the number of certificates issued, number of authorised auditors and the geographic spread of operations. The outcome of our recent trial has demonstrated the benefits and usefulness of the gathered information in helping to plan and focus the assessment activities.

In parallel to this, the International Accreditation Forum (IAF) has also been working on a publication (IAF MD 12:2013 – Assessment of Certification Activities for Cross Frontier Accreditation) that, amongst other requirements, places a mandatory requirement on Accreditation Bodies to obtain specific information. Much of the information specified in this publication is already requested in the pre-visit questionnaire trialled by UKAS. In addition to IAF MD 12:2013 IAF is also working on a document IAF MDX: 201X – ‘Mandatory Document for the Collection of Data to Provide Indicators of Management System Conformity Assessment Bodies’ Performance’. This document is still under development but when published will include requirements for the collection of further operational metrics information from certification bodies midway between annual onsite assessments.

As a result of the publication of IAF MD 12:2013, in preparation for the anticipated acceptance of this IAF Mandatory Document for the Collection of Data to Provide Indicators of Management System Conformity Assessment Bodies’ Performance’, and based upon the successful outcome of our recent trial, UKAS is now proceeding with the roll-out of an Annual Operational Metrics Questionnaire to all certification bodies (Management System, Product and Persons).

This questionnaire will take the form of an annual online survey and will need to be completed and returned to UKAS within one month of distribution. The questionnaires will be sent out roughly 7-8 months in advance of a customer’s profile date for their head office assessment. The information collected from this questionnaire will then be reviewed and utilised by UKAS in the planning of the subsequent assessment, and will help to identify specific areas that may be highlighted for particular attention, e.g. due to changes in business or markets.

Further information on IAF MDX: 201X – ‘Mandatory Document for the Collection of Data to Provide Indicators of Management System Conformity Assessment Bodies’ Performance’ will be provided to Certification Bodies nearer the time of publication. Following formal publication of this IAF document there may be a need for further technical bulletins to clarify the requirements in the document.

If you have any queries regarding this questionnaire please contact your Assessment Manager or the Accreditation Manager for the Certification Section, Nigel Overton. [email protected]

In completing the questionnaire, certification bodies will need to provide the following information:

  • Countries in which they have fixed office locations and the key activities that those locations perform;
  • Countries into which certificates are issued;
  • The scope of accredited services offered in countries with fixed office locations;
  • Details of the locations (countries) of any remote based workers;
  • Number of certificates (by certification standard) issued from each fixed office location;
  • Number of auditors (by certification standard) operating from each fixed office location;
  • The legal relationship between their head office and any fixed office locations;
  • Details of any other accreditation(s) held by foreign fixed office locations;
  • Details of external training providers, approved examination and approved training centres (Personnel Certification Bodies only);
  • Details of any relationships with or connections to other organisations from the certification bodies senior management/directors;
  • Details of any significant changes to the structure and/or operations of the certification body in the last 12 months;
  • Number of overdue surveillance or recertification audits at the time of completion of the survey;
  • Number of transfers of certification from other certification bodies, including scope details
  • Number of suspensions and/or terminations of accredited certification in the last 12 months;
  • Details of the arrangements for management and control of foreign fixed office locations and remote based staff.