Using accreditation to underpin technical decisions in Sri Lanka
Making Accreditation Mandatory in Sri Lanka for Taking Technical Decisions
In order to create a quality conscious culture in Sri Lanka, it was the view of the Cabinet Ministers that technical measures on the issues related to quality, environment, food safety, occupational health and safety, energy etc. must be controlled and monitored through stipulated standards and technical regulations.
The Cabinet of Ministers of Sri Lanka has taken a decision and proposed to implement relevant regulations by making conformity assessment procedures such as testing (including medical testing and calibration), inspection and certification mandatory and using accreditation as a means of providing assurance and trust on consumers. The proposal contains following main three activities;
a) To use regulations and implement conformity assessment procedures such as testing, inspection and certification by regulators for controlling activities in relation to quality, environment, food safety, occupational health and safety, energy etc.
b) To update regulations in which conformity assessment procedures are not mentioned and/or accreditation is not used as a means of acceptance and to include statement to reflect “not to use any facility that is not assessed and accredited”.
c) To develop a conformity assessment framework which is composed of testing laboratories, inspection bodies and/or certification bodies as applicable, within and outside the regulatory bodies to facilitate accreditation.
Attention has also been drawn on the frequently questioned market fairness issues related to the assurance of safety and public utility measures in relation to accuracy of water meters, electricity meters, taxi meters etc.
Hon. Minister of Science, Technology has requested from relevant Ministries and Regulatory bodies to take immediate measures to comply with the above Cabinet Decision.
Delivering confidence in Forensic Science (Mauritius)
The Mauritius Forensic Science Laboratory (MFSL) is accredited to ISO 17025 in order to be on a par with international best practice and to be able to collaborate with the International forensic community. Accreditation has enabled the laboratory, which is an autonomous body under the aegis of the Prime Minister’s Office, Home Affairs Division, to:
- Demonstrate competence through regular proficiency testing programs and the continuous monitoring of staff
- Improve the management relating to the chain of custody of items/samples under examination
Further information is available on the Mauritius Forensic Science Service website.
Control units for cash registers
Shops and other businesses that sell goods or services against payment by cash or cards, use cash registers with a certified control unit. The purpose of the cash register is to stop tax fraud and protect legitimate businesses. The law on cash registers applies in principle to all organizations that receive payment in cash or card. The control unit that sits connected to the cash register shall be certified. There must also be a manufacturer declaration saying that the cash register and the certified control unit works and is tested together. Only accredited certification bodies are allowed to certify control units. There are certain activities that are not affected, such as taxis, distance- and home selling and goods and slot machines.
Further information is available on the Swedish Tax and Revenue service website. (in Swedish)
Supporting anti-terrorist protection
The Department of Homeland Security’s BioWatch Program provides early detection of a bioterrorism event and helps communities prepare a coordinated response. The combination of detection, rapid notification, and response planning helps federal, state, and local decision-makers take steps to save lives and mitigate damage.
BioWatch is managed by the Office of Health Affairs in the Department of Homeland Security, supported by other federal agencies, and operated by a network of scientists, laboratory technicians, emergency managers, and public health officials in each of the 30+ BioWatch jurisdictions.
The BioWatch QA Program ensures that the BioWatch Program continues to provide actionable results with high confidence to local public health decision makers. The QA Program was established in 2011 to ensure field and laboratory operations are conducted according to program policies, protocols, and QA and quality control (QC) requirements to ensure the defensibility of results. Laboratories must be accredited to participate.
Further information is available on the Government website.
Accreditation supports the reliability of odorology in crime scene investigations
Odorology, or the science of smells, is an identification method of human scents by specially-trained dogs. Based on the uniqueness of human odours, it is used in criminology for judicial identification. Thanks to their highly developed sense of smell, highly-trained dogs can compare a human scent collected from an object on a crime scene with scents from several people, including that of a suspect or victim. To date, no international standard on the training of those dogs exists.
The Technical and Scientific Police Division (Sous-Direction de la Police Technique et Scientifique, SDPTS), part of the Directorate-General of the French National Police, was already accredited for fingerprints and wanted an extension of its accreditation to have this activity acknowledged, leading to the development of a new scheme.
The ISO/IEC 17025 standard – General requirements for the competence of testing and calibration laboratories was applied to address this request. The scent sampling is not covered by accreditation as it is collected outside the laboratory, even if the latter must make sure that all upstream elements and phases are under control. In order to thoroughly cover all aspects of testing and evaluation, a technical assessor in sensory analysis as well as a technical expert, whose activity is to train dogs to scent detection, worked closely together.
Accredited in September 2016, this laboratory is, so far, the only one in France benefiting from an accreditation for such an activity.
Picture source: DICOM YM
Accreditation ensures reliability of paternity testing
UK Courts can ask for a scientific DNA paternity test to check the parentage of a child if parties cannot agree on whether a DNA test should be done. Paternity tests, instructed by a Court, can only be carried out in a laboratory that is accredited for this scope to ISO/IEC 17025.
Further information is available on the HM Courts and Tribunals Service website.
Ensuring the effective use of CCTV through accredited certification
The UK Government has introduced a surveillance camera code of practice contains 12 guiding principles to ensure that cameras are only ever used proportionately, transparently and effectively by the relevant authorities (police, police crime commissioners, local authorities and non-regular police forces). Accredited Third party certification enables organisations to clearly demonstrate that they comply with the surveillance camera code of practice. Certification enables organisations to demonstrate to communities that they use their CCTV systems transparently, effectively and proportionately. It also indicates best practice and compliance with the code.
The scheme is open to any organisation operating a public space CCTV system. The certification process is carried out for the Surveillance Camera Commissioner by UKAS accredited certification bodies.
Further information is available on the Home Office website.
Accreditation enables greater security for mobile Apps
As the smart mobile communication devices become more popular, surfing on the Internet and installing an application (App) on a handheld electronic device have become common. However, the rapid spread of Apps has raised concerns over information security. Users may leak personal data or encounter financial loss due to malicious or vulnerable software.
To cope with these risks, Taiwan’s Executive Yuan has decided to take precautionary measures by establishing a mechanism for App security management. It commissioned the Industrial Development Bureau (IDB), Ministry of Economic Affairs to develop “Basic Information Security Guidelines for Mobile Applications” and “Basic Testing Guidelines for Mobile Applications”. Meanwhile, IDB is also developing a voluntary certification and mark mechanism for App information security. By encouraging self-management of App developers and by implementing the testing and certification system, the cases of users’ financial loss resulting from information security problems may be reduced.
Further information is available on the Ministry of Economic Affairs website.
Accredited testing provides confidence in medical marijuana
Third party testing labs must meet certain accreditation criteria in order to be allowed to test useable marijuana and marijuana products under the I-502 regulatory system in Washington State. The program confirms that cannabis laboratories are compliant with state and local regulations and that they adhere to the same standards. It provides confidence to patients as well as regulators that their test results on these products are accurate and consistent.
Further information is available on the Washington State government website.
Quality assurance for professional credentials obtained by members of the Armed Force
The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) marks changes for military on all levels— including the launch of pioneering legislation of quality assurance of certification programs and standards for professional credentials obtained by members of the Armed Forces. Accreditation for certification bodies would meet the requirements of the legislation.
This law puts in place a mechanism for quality assurance of certifications thereby recognizing only those certification programs that meet a national/international standard. Programs accredited under the Personnel Certification Accreditation Program (PER) are in compliance with the legislation. This is specifically described in the legislation, Section 559 – Quality Assurance of Certification Programs and Standards for Professional Credentials obtained by members of the Armed Forces.
Further information is available on the ANSI website.
Providing a duty of care for Dutch Young offenders
The Dutch Ministry of Safety and Justice together with the Dutch Youth Care Inspectorate recognise the accredited certification of organisations in the area of youth protection and juvenile rehabilitation. This framework encourages and supports accredited institutions providing youth care to continuously improve the quality of the organisation, and to provide a similar duty of care.
Further information is available on the Government website.
Eliminating sub-standard medical devices in India
To fill the regulatory vacuum in quality certification space for medical devices in the country, the Association of Indian Medical Device Industry (AIMED) in collaboration with the Quality Council of India (QCI) and the National Accreditation Board for Certification Bodies (NABCB) introduced a voluntary quality certification scheme for medical devices.
The Scheme enhances patient safety, and provide enhanced consumer protection along with much needed product credentials to manufacturers for instilling confidence among buyers. This move also aims to eliminate trading of sub-standard products or devices of doubtful origins, a widespread and injurious phenomenon in the Indian market.
More than twenty government and non-governmental organisations have joined the scheme’s steering committee to support the scheme, including the Department of Commerce, Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), National Health System Resource Centre (NHSRC), Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS), Central Drug Standard Control Orgnanization (CDSCO), Centre for Bio Medical Engineering , IIT Delhi, Indian Medical Association (IMA), Association of Healthcare Providers (AHPI), Engineering Export Promotion Council (EEPC), and Associated Chamber of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM).
Further information is available on the CQI website.
Accreditation supports forensic activities of UK Tax Office
HMRC, the UK Tax Department, uses accredited forensic science services to support investigations including questioned documents, DNA analysis, examination of road oil fuel, examination of drug traces on money and digital and telecommunications analysis.
Further details of the service can be found here.
Gaming machines and online gambling underpinned by accreditation
Licence holders must ensure that gambling products have been tested by a test house before they are released to the market. The UK Regulator, the Gambling Commission, publishes a list of approved test houses that are approved to test compliance against the relevant technical standards and requirements including:
- gaming machines technical standards
- remote gambling and software technical standards
- bingo and casino technical requirements
The list includes details of which technical standards and requirements each test house can check compliance against. All test houses be accredited to ISO/IEC 17025 by an ILAC Signatory accreditation body.
Further information is available on the Gambling Commission website.
Accredited dog breeding licence controls to protect puppies
DEFRA, the UK’s Government Department responsible for Farming, Agriculture and the Environment, has recognised the value of accreditation as it looks to strengthen the regulations around dog breeding and pet sales.
Local authorities are able to better target their enforcement activity by directing less resource at responsible businesses, for example those who are controlled by the Kennel Club’s accredited Assured Breeders’ Scheme – which has 6,000 members. This will free up resources to follow-up on reports of poor welfare at backstreet breeding establishments.
Further information is available on the UK Government website.
US Justice Department Announces New Accreditation Policies to Advance Forensic Science
The US Justice Department requires department-run forensic labs to obtain and maintain accreditation and requires all department prosecutors to use accredited labs to process forensic evidence when practicable. Additionally, the department has decided to use its grant funding mechanisms to encourage other labs around the country to pursue accreditation.
The new policies arose out of recommendations made by the National Commission of Forensic Science (NCFS), which was established to advance the field of forensic science and make suggestions to the Attorney General on how to ensure that reliable and scientifically valid evidence is used when solving crimes.
Further information is available from the US Justice Department website.
ISO 27001 main standard supporting Indian Government legislation for organisations handling sensitive or personal information
In a 2011 Notification as part of the Information Technology Act 2000, the Indian Ministry of Communications and Technology quotes ISO 27001 as one of the means organisations ‘shall be considered to have complied with reasonable security practices and procedures, if they have implemented such security practices and standards and have a comprehensive documented information security programme and information security policies that contain managerial, technical, operational and physical security control measures that are commensurate with the information assets being protected with the nature of business.’
Leading ISO standards key component of UK Government’s guidance on cyber security
Cyber Essentials is a new Government-backed and industry supported scheme to guide businesses in protecting themselves against cyber threats.
Cyber Essentials is for all organisations, of all sizes, and in all sectors – we encourage all to adopt the requirements as appropriate to their business. This is not limited to companies in the private sector, but is also applicable to universities, charities, and public sector organisations.
Cyber Essentials is mandatory for central government contracts advertised after 1 October 2014 which involve handling personal information and providing certain ICT products and services.
‘The technical controls within (the Cyber Esentials) document focus on five essential mitigations within the context of the ‘10 Steps to Cyber Security’. They reflect those covered in well-established and more extensive cyber standards, such as the ISO/IEC 27000 series’.
Abu Dhabi Police embrace ISO certification
The Abu Dhabi Police have seen the benefits of certification is a range of directorates.
In 2013, the Western Region Directorate extended its commitment to ISO 9001 by renewing its certification. Colonel Ojail Ali Abdullah, Director of the Western Region Police Directorate said, “Obtaining this certificate is not merely an objective; it is an incentive to maintain our efforts and continue to achieve quality across all functional tasks in order to enhance excellence.”
Additionally, the Directorate-General of Human Resources, the Police Schools Department and the Human Resources Planning Department, have obtained ISO 14001 certification for Environment Management System Standards and the OHSAS 18001 for Occupational Health and Safety System Standards
Houston Police Department expands use of ISO 9001
The Houston Police Department (HPD) has used certification to ISO 9001 in a number of carefully selected Divisions.
The HPD Property and Emergency Communications Divisions used the implementation and certification of ISO 9001 to drive efficiencies in these two departments. Having initially been certified in 2011, in 2015 the HPD is now looking at expanding the scope of their ISO 9001 certification to include the Budget & Finance, Mental Health and Inspections Divisions.
At the announcement of the certification, Police Chief Charles A. McClelland Jr said, “We are constantly examining ourselves and looking for efficiencies because our resources are very precious. This certification indicates we are following best practices in the industry and we’re the leaders”.
Further details here.
Accredited testing supports the Dutch criminal justice system
In criminal courts in The Netherlands, DNA-based evidence will only be admissible if the DNA tests have been performed by a laboratory with an ISO/IEC 17025 accreditation. Obviously, the consequences of mistakes in DNA-based evidence can be enormous. With accreditation, the government creates extra guarantees for the integrity of the judicial system and the interests of the Dutch citizens.
Further information on this area of Dutch Law is available here. (In Dutch)
Accredited laboratories assist in equine performance enhancing drugs tests
The Canadian Pari-Mutuel Agency (CPMA) uses accredited laboratories to test for performance enhancing drugs in race horses, designed to deter the uncontrolled use of drugs or medication in race horses participating in pari-mutuel races. Urine or blood samples are collected from horses before or after a race and are analyzed at an official laboratory contracted to the CPMA as part of the Equine Drug Control Program.
The Canadian Pari-Mutuel Agency Reference & Research Laboratory produces proficiency tests and quality assurance samples which satisfy the needs of the programs served and meet the requirements established by the international standards community. The Laboratory is accredited as a Forensic Toxicology laboratory and a recognized Proficiency Testing Provider by the Standards Council of Canada. (Canada)
Forensic science supported by standards and accreditation in UK
The Forensic Science Regulator in the UK ensures that the provision of forensic science services across the criminal justice system is subject to an appropriate regime of scientific quality standards. Following the privatization of the sector, the regulator recognised the value of accreditation to demonstrate the competence of private sector providers. (UK)
DNA testing carried out in accredited laboratory
DNA testing carried out by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police must be tested in an accredited laboratory. The National DNA Data Bank conforms with the requirements of ISO/IEC 17025 and is recognized as an accredited testing laboratory for specific tests listed in the scope of accreditation approved by the Standards Council of Canada. (Canada)
Phoenix Police Department generate $11m of savings due to efficiency and effectiveness from accredited certification
In July 2003, the Records and Identification Bureau of the Phoenix Police Department, Arizona, became the first law enforcement unit in the United States to certify its quality management system to ISO 9001. This case study describes the pioneering implementation of the standard in an “industry” where life-altering decisions are made 24/7 – 24 hours a day, seven days a week. (USA)
Public Sector organisations use ISO/IEC 27001 to manage data securely
In the English Midlands, Birmingham City Council use and have certification to ISO 9001 and ISO/IEC 27001. This has enabled the Council to both improve its processes and to make a strong statement about how it operates, especially important for them with data integrity. (UK)
Dubai Ministry of Labour (DoL) has been recertified to ISO/IEC 27001, meaning the DoL has had this certification since 2011. Ahmad Yousuf Al Nasser, Director of the IT Dept. at the Ministry of Labour stated that ‘(ISO/IEC 27001 certification) achieved a number of advantages most notably was its global recognition on information security systems, establish landmarks on information security systems and build an integrated system that depends on continuing operations applied for proper info protection.’ (Dubai)
A further example of the public sector using ISO/IEC 27001 is the Legal Ombudsman of England & Wales. The process of implementing the standard have delivered improved performance in areas such as risk management, but most significantly the certification has given greater confidence to the Legal Ombudsman’s users in their services and especially their ability to manage their data securely. (UK)
Certification to ISO/IEC 27001 has also been used by the State Revenue Committee of the Republic of Armenia. Certification has been used here in this example as data security is seen as one of the cornerstones for delivering high quality public service. (Armenia)
The value of information security management standards has also been seen by the Norwegian Agency for Public Management and eGovernment (Difi). Difi has signed an agreement with Standards Norway which allows over 200 government organisations access to key standards for information security management, including ISO/IEC 27001. The aim of these organisations is to improve their information security management by the implementation of these standards. (Norway)
UK Police Force saves £500,000 per year through accreditation
Lancashire Constabulary set a precedent by being the first Police Force outside of the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) to set up their own in-house Forensics Service, thereby saving over £500,000 a year.
Lancashire Constabulary improved their own provision by keeping a number of services in-house. To ensure compliance to ISO/IEC 17025, the Forensics Lab has achieved UKAS Accreditation for a number of tests enabling it to run crime scene investigations and demonstrate its capability for forensic provision equals that of external providers and private companies (UK)
The New Approach in the European Union
The New Approach was established in the European Union to ‘recast technical harmonisation within the European Union (EU) on a new basis by only harmonising the essential requirements of products and by applying the “general reference to standards” formula and the principle of mutual recognition in order to eliminate technical obstacles to the free movement of goods.’
The New Approach has a number of objectives, all seeking to use standardisation, to achieve aims such as supporting the single European market – especially for products, reducing barriers to trade, increasing product safety, delivering an efficient system based on consensus standards.
Product areas covered by the New Approach vary from toys to pressure equipment, from boilers to boats, from medical devices to explosives. The full range of products can be seen under the New Legislative Framework.
Global accreditation system core to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)
The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a trade agreement, released on November 5th 2015, between twelve Pacific Rim countries. The agreement’s goal is to promote economic growth; support the creation and retention of jobs; enhance innovation, productivity and competitiveness; raise living standards; promote transparency, good governance, and enhanced labour and environmental protections.
Accreditation, recognised by existing regional and international mutual recognition Arrangements (the ILAC MRA and IAF MLA) is referenced as being as a key measure to support trade through the removal of technical barriers.
The twelve Pacific-rim countries include Mexico, New Zealand, Australia, Brunei, Chile, Singapore, Canada, Japan, Malaysia, Peru, Vietnam and the USA.
Experience in the Market Surveillance of ISO 9001 QMS (UNIDO 2017)
A publication titled “Good practices: Experience in the Market Surveillance of ISO 9001 quality management systems” has been released by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO).
The report presents the lessons learnt and good practices in applying Market Surveillance methodology to monitor the effectiveness of ISO 9001 certification in manufacturing enterprises and to evaluate the performance of respective accredited certification bodies.
The report concludes that the proper use of ISO 9001–based quality management systems assists developing countries in promoting sustainable trade, thereby helping them achieve inclusive and sustainable industrial development and the 2030 development agenda.
A full copy of the report can be downloaded from the UNIDO website.
Trade-related International Regulatory Cooperation – A theoretical framework (OECD, 2016)
Reducing unnecessary trade costs is an important aspect of International Regulatory Co-operation (IRC). But trade costs are only one of the many considerations that countries take into account when engaging in bilateral, plurilateral or multilateral efforts to address non-tariff measures that are related to differences in regulations. They are also concerned about pursuing domestic regulatory objectives. This report develops an analytical framework to help understand the trade-offs between trade costs and domestic regulatory objectives that will determine outcomes of IRC. It shows the possible scope and landing zones of IRC initiatives, ranging from simple information exchange to negotiations to harmonize regulations between countries. The analytical approach is based on economic game theory and provides a basis for regulators and trade negotiators to determine which specific IRC approach would be promising to pursue.
The report states that the ILAC and IAF global arrangements provide the platform for trade cost reductions. A full copy of the report is available from the OECD website.
National Quality Infrastructure: Vital Link to Global Trade and Investment Competitiveness (World Bank, 2016)
National Quality Infrastructure (NQI) reforms are an important part of broader efforts aimed at enhancing trade and investment opportunities, opening markets for new innovative products, and improving the business environment. As demand to access new markets and compete with higher quality products rises, the World Bank Group is committed to supporting government’s efforts to build a more harmonized and integrated NQI. This leaflet sets out how the World Bank can support the development of standards, accreditation and metrology systems to boost economic performance and cross-border investment decisions.
A full copy of the leaflet is available here. World Bank NQI Leaflet
World Bank Policy National Quality Infrastructure Brief (World Bank, 2013)
Standards define how products, processes, and people interact with each other and their environments. They enhance competitiveness by offering proof that products and services adhere to requirements of governments or the marketplace. When used effectively, they facilitate international trade and contribute to technology upgrading and absorption. This brief discusses the importance, the central elements, and constraints to success of national quality infrastructure.
A full copy of the policy document is available on the World Bank website.
ISO 9001 – Relevance and impact in Brazil (September 2016)
The ISO 9001 – Impact and Relevance in Brazil is based on UNIDO Project 140107 “Impact assessment of ISO 9001 Quality Management System Certification in Brazil”, co-funded by Inmetro and UNIDO. The overall objective of the project was to assess the effectiveness of the ISO 9001 certification process in Brazil from the perspective of certified organisations and their customers, as well as by conducting a number of “market surveillance” visits to a sample of certified organisations.
This study provides useful information about the take-up by and benefits for those who have decided to seek an accredited certification of their quality management system based on ISO 9001. The results of this study in Brazil are generally positive. They show that organisations do get value from accredited certification to ISO 9001; that users can rely on accredited certification to ISO 9001 as a reasonable basis for having confidence that the products or services provided by a certified organisation will fulfil their expectations; and that, despite commercial and competitive pressures that can undermine the impartiality and effectiveness of audits and certification, the audits and certifications are, in most instances, effective and valuable.
A full copy of the ISO 9001 – Impact and Relevance in Brazil report can be downloaded from the UNIDO website.
The Value of Accreditation (UK, 2016)
UKAS, the UK accreditation body, carried out a survey to capture feedback on the value of accreditation for conformity assessment bodies that have stable scopes in established technical sectors. The survey aimed to gain insight into the reasons for maintaining accreditation, to identify the positive outcomes that are realised through accreditation, and to investigate the value of selected elements of the accreditation process.
Respondents identified that there are clear external factors for maintaining accreditation:
- 67% maintain accreditation as it is perceived as the right thing to do
- 82% maintain accreditation due to customer expectations
- 46% maintain accreditation due to government expectations or requirements
The survey also identified that these businesses derive both internal and external commercial benefit from their accredited status:
- 93% of respondents agree that accreditation provides confidence to their customers and stakeholders
- 76% agree that accreditation differentiates them from their competitors
- 85% agree that accreditation improves the quality and validity of their work
- 71% agree that accreditation helps them to win new or maintain existing business
A copy of the report can be downloaded from the UKAS website.
UNIDO report: ISO 9001- Its Relevance and Impact In China
To have an in-depth understanding of the actual impact of ISO 9001 certification on organisations, Certification and Accreditation Administration (CNCA) and UNIDO jointly conducted a survey of the effectiveness of ISO 9001 quality management system certification in China from September 2012 to September 2013. China has overtaken the early implementers of ISO 9001 and now represents approximately 30% of the 1.1 million ISO 9001 certificates issued worldwide. The survey covers the whole of China (except Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau). Over 9000 questionnaires were sent out to ISO 9001-certified organizations and institutional purchasers in China, and 6974 effective completed questionnaires were collected. Physical on-site visits were conducted by trained experts at 958 certified organizations.
According to the survey results:
- 93% of all the institutional purchasers surveyed expressed that they regarded ISO 9001 certification as an important criterion for evaluation of their suppliers.
- 75% said their perception of the credibility of ISO 9001 CBs operating in China is “good” or “very good”.
- Purchasers had a good level of satisfaction with their ISO 9001-certified suppliers.
- Of the various parameters studied, the highest level of satisfaction is with the product quality of ISO 9001-certified suppliers (98% purchasers stated that they were satisfied, including 7% of all purchasers who were very satisfied).
- Compared with non-certified suppliers (or comparing the same supplier before and after certification), most purchasers think that the performance of certified suppliers is notably better than that of non-certified suppliers (or the same supplier before certification).
Among all the certified organizations surveyed;
- 51% said the most important reason for them to implement a QMS was to obtain competitive advantages, for internal improvement or to achieve corporate or top management objectives
- 43 % said the most important reason was to gain market access or to respond to customer pressure or tender requirements
- 6% said it was for marketing and/or public relations.
- 98% of the organizations surveyed said that regardless of the overall cost, the implementation of ISO 9001 had been a good or a very good investment.
- Most of the certified organizations said they obtained substantial benefits from the implementation of an ISO 9001-based QMS. 9% of the certified organizations estimated that it brought a benefit of up to RMB 100,000, either in cost savings and/or increased profits. 39% believed it to be between RMB 100,000 to 1,000,000. (c.US$ 15,000 – US$ 150,000)
- 37% estimated that it could bring more than RMB 1,000,000 of benefits (either cost savings or increased profits).
A full copy of the report can be read on the UNIDO website.
Exploring Business Benefits of Internationally Recognized Certifications
The authors base their paper on data from a global company survey of certified companies carried out by the International Accreditation Forum (IAF) in 2010/11. They use multivariate Probit and ordered Probit models to analyze how company internal and external factors influence the perception of benefits from accredited certification. Benefits from accredited certification are divided into added value for the organization, increased sales and regulatory compliance. As for company external factors, they find that benefits from certification are higher for companies that went through a challenging certification process, had a competent certification body team, and are aware of the importance of accreditation. Internal factors are related to different motives for seeking certification. They find that the benefits from accredited certification are largest when companies become certified in order to improve their own business performance. Dividing the sample in high-income and middle income countries shows that the latter put more emphasis on company internal improvement through certification and are more likely to benefit from certification when they employ an external consultant. Finally, they can show that benefits are unequally distributed among companies. That is, smaller companies have a lower probability to benefit from certification compared to larger companies.
A copy of the report is available on the ResearchGate website.
Axel Mangelsdorf, Berlin Institute of Technology and Chair of Innovation Economics
Tilman Denkler, BAM Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing, Germany
External knowledge sourcing and involvement in standardization-Evidence from the community innovation survey
In this paper, the authors explore the relationship between firms’ external knowledge sourcing and their decision to participate in standardization alliances. Based on micro data they show that the importance of external knowledge is positively correlated with participation in standardization. This suggests that firms aim to access the knowledge of other companies and stakeholders in order to increase their own knowledge base. The analysis also shows that firms cooperating with different actors are more likely to join standardization. Due to the positive relationships with incoming knowledge spillovers and forms of cooperation, they conclude that standardization represents a specific form of collaborative knowledge-sharing and knowledge-creating strategy. In addition, we are able to show that absorptive capacity measured via companies’ research intensity promotes the involvement in standardization.
External knowledge sourcing and involvement in standardization-Evidence from the community innovation survey (PDF Download Available). Available from:
Knut Blind, Berlin Institute of Technology
Henk de Vries, Rotterdam School of Management
Axel Mangelsdorf, BAM Federal Institute of Material Research and Testing, Germany
The National Quality Infrastructure – A tool for competitiveness, trade and well-being (The World Bank, March 2013)
The national quality infrastructure (NQI) is the institutional framework that establishes and implements standardization, including conformity assessment services, metrology, and accreditation. Governments play a crucial role in designing, developing, and implementing an effective NQI. Developing an NQI begins with an assessment of the current system and identification of areas where reforms are required. The legal framework should establish transparent, independent institutions within a national structure that can work with international organizations such as the World Trade Organization (WTO). The World Bank and other donor agencies are assisting a number of countries in the development of NQIs in order to encourage industrial development, reduce barriers to trade and entrepreneurship, and facilitate global technical cooperation.
Download the report from the World Bank website.
The Economic Value of Standards in the UK (June 2015)
Research carried out by the Centre for Economics and Business (Cebr) concludes that standards boost UK productivity and improve performance, kick-start innovation, and support UK domestic and international trade.
The report analyses the macroeconomic and microeconomic impact of BSI’s consensus based voluntary standards across the UK economy. It concludes that they are a vital part of the strength of UK industry and play a crucial and often invisible role in supporting economic growth.
The main findings are that:
- £8.2 billion is the amount that standards contribute to the UK economy
- 37.4% of UK productivity growth can be attributed to standards
- 28.4% of annual UK GDP growth can be attributed to standards, equivalent to £8.2 billion
- £6.1 billion of additional UK exports per year can be attributed to standards
The full report can be downloaded from the BSI website.
WTO report highlights benefits of conformity assessment tools in addressing ‘Specific Trade Concerns’
The World Trade Organization (WTO) Economic Research and Statistics Division produced the report ‘International Standards and the WTO TBT Agreement: Improving Governance for Regulatory Alignment‘ (Erik Wijkström and Devin McDaniels, WTO, 19 March 2013), with some key points on the value of key conformity assessment tools such as ISO standards and ILAC accreditation.
Of particular interest as regards conformity assessment is 3.1.1, the section on Specific Trade Concerns, ‘One of the core functions of the TBT Committee is acting as a forum to address trade issues – these are referred to as “Specific Trade Concerns” (STCs). These are concerns that one or several Members have with the design or implementation of another Member’s measure. An analysis of the TBT (Technical Barriers to Trade) Committee’s records shows that about one third of all STCs raised in the TBT Committee are associated in one way or another with the subject of international standards. By “associated” we mean that international standards have been mentioned by a delegation in the discussion of a particular trade concern – either by reference to a specific body or organization, or through general reference to the existence (or non-existence) of some source of international guidance.’
‘While over forty different bodies or organizations are mentioned, a number of them recur frequently in discussion. The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) is mentioned in 30% of STCs associated with international standards; the International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation (ILAC) in 10%.’
The report gives a number of examples of the kind of problem, including: ‘Lead in pottery. The European Union objected to a Mexican draft standard for glazed pottery, ceramics and porcelain, which mandated more stringent lead and cadmium limits than those laid down in the relevant international ISO standards (ISO 6486-1/2). Specifically, the European Union was concerned that Mexican authorities would no longer accept test results accompanying EU ceramic tableware conducted in compliance with these ISO standards. Mexico explained that while its draft standard was partially based on ISO standards, it deviated in certain aspects due to a greater level of health protection required by Mexico, and due to the circumstances of Mexico as a developing country.’
The conclusion of this kind of problem is that ‘The vast majority (around 90%) relate to some form of “challenge” on international standards (from one Member to another). The tone of the discussions may range from a polite request for clarification about the use or non-use of international standards in a measure, to a direct accusation that a Member is not following a specific (and in their view relevant) international standard and therefore violating a WTO discipline.’
The use of international standards and systems in world trade, such as ISO and ILAC which stick to the ‘Six Principles’ of Transparency, Openness, Impartiality and Consensus, Effectiveness and Relevance, Coherence and Development Dimension, would reduce the instances of the STCs.
Economic benefits of accreditation valued at more than £600M a year in the UK
‘The Economics of Accreditation’ commissioned by the Department for Business Innovation and Skills has assessed the economic benefits derived from the accreditation of certification, measurement and inspection services. Researchers from Birkbeck, University of London, surveyed a selection of businesses and other independent analysis to create the report. Its aim was to provide a financial evaluation of accreditation’s contribution to the UK economy, which it valued at more than £600 million per annum.
A central element of the analysis is the multiplier effect of accreditation, indicating that UKAS and the other institutions in the quality infrastructure jointly amplify each other’s effects, so leading to an impact greater than the sum of the parts. This set of interdependencies and cross-amplifying effects combine to create a significant financial advantage for those using accreditation to distinguish their products and services.
The economic value of standards
Standards are a vital component in the conformity assessment arsenal to address public policy issues. International standards developed by consensus used in conformity assessment are in two key categories:
- The standards on which assessment is based, whether for products & services or process (management system standards)
- The standards which guide many of the key processes, such as certification, accreditation, inspection, etc. More of details of these standards, referred to as the ISO CASCO Toolkit can be found here.
A number of major research reports have been produced in a number of economies which help quantify and explain the contribution standards makes to these economies. These reports are:
- The Economic Benefits of Standardisation (2012) Standards Australia
- The Economic Benefits of Standards to New Zealand (2011), Report to The Standards Council of New Zealand and The Building Research Association of New Zealand
- The Economics of Standardization: An Update (2010) to The Economics of Standardization (2000) UK Department of Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS)
- The Economic Impact of Standardization: Technological Change, Standards Growth in France (2009) AFNOR
- Economic Value of Standardization (2007) Standards Council of Canada
- June 2015: The Economic Contribution of Standards to the UK Economy, UK Department of Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS)
- Economic benefits of standardization Part A: Benefits for business; Part B: Benefits for the economy as a whole (2000) DIN German Institute for Standardization
World Bank report: ‘Unlocking Central America’s Export Potential’
The Central America region is a small market. The region contains around 43 million inhabitants (0.6 percent of total world population) who generate around 0.25 percent of the world’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). While the region has successfully embarked on a regional integration agenda and has strong commercial links with the US, extra-regional trade-mainly with large fast-growing emerging economies-remains a challenge. Export performance is analyzed along three dimensions that, together, give a fairly comprehensive picture of competitiveness:
1) the composition, orientation and growth of the export basket;
2) the degree of export diversification across products and markets; and
3) the level of sophistication and quality of their main exports.
This analysis allows exports dynamics at the different margins of trade (intensive, extensive, and quality) to be evaluated and individual countries’ to be benchmarked with peers in the Central American region. The results of this report allow policy makers to identify key areas to explore in the overall discussion of export competitiveness in the Central American region. This paper relates to the literature on challenges and opportunities that trade liberalization can bring to the Central American region. Much of the recent literature focuses on the role of the free trade agreement negotiated by Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua, with the US.
Given the importance quality infrastructure plays in advancing the trade agenda, greater priority should be given to developing accreditation, standards, and metrology and obtaining international recognition to unlock their export potential.
How do we look for the best quality?
The Philippine Accreditation Bureau (PAB) has produced a video to increase public awareness on and demonstrate the benefits of accreditation. It aims to further encourage wider acceptance and use of accreditation and build trust in conformity assessment — a tool that helps businesses not only to comply efficiently and effectively with regulations and standards around the globe but also to gain competitive advantage and to expand into new and wider markets.
This short presentation best responds to the question “How do we look for the best quality?” This is a tough question to answer with the vast number of products and services in the market. The video shows how accreditation can help consumers in whittling down their choices to safe, reliable and quality products and services which pass through accredited conformity assessments.
A step by step guide to gaining accreditation
AIHA Laboratory Accreditation Programs, the US accreditation body, has produced a shot video to guide applicants through the accreditation process. View the video on Youtube.
COMPETENCY OR MANAGEMENT SYSTEM BASED STANDARDS?
ISO/CASCO has published a new brochure describing how “ISO Technical Committees (ISO/TCs) are often required to choose between developing requirements for a management system for an organisation’s activities, or developing requirements for the competence of an organisation to carry out its activities”.
Not only does this document assist ISO/TCs in understanding the difference between the two standards, but it is also helpful for organisations in the process of deciding whether to implement a management system or a competency based system. In addition, the brochure indicates the benefits and values of meeting either set of requirements.
The ISO/CASCO document – Frequency Asked Questions: Competency or Management System Based Standards?” is available here.
ISO Guidance for SMEs using ISO 9001 for quality management
ISO has published a guide for SME’s wishing to implement a quality management system (QMS), providing practical advice and concrete examples tailored specifically for small businesses. A copy of the guidance is available from the ISO website.
The benefits of a Quality Infrastructure (UNIDO, 2016)
UNIDO has published a briefing note to set out how setting up a Quality Infrastructure System can be one of the most positive and practical steps that a developing nation can take on the path forward to developing a thriving economy as a basis for prosperity, health and well-being. A Quality Infrastructure is a system contributing to governmental policy objectives in areas including industrial development, trade competitiveness in global markets, efficient use of natural and human resources, food safety, health, the environment and climate change.
Download a copy of the briefing note from the UNIDO website.
New guide on how accreditation in developing economies can facilitate trade and support sustainable development
The significance of an accreditation system for trade and the economy, as well as practical advice for the establishment of accreditation bodies, are the focus of a newly released publication titled, “Establishing accreditation in developing economies – A guide to opening the door for global trade”.
Prepared by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), in cooperation with the International Accreditation Forum (IAF) and the International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation (ILAC), the publication was launched at the ILAC – IAF joint General Assembly. The guide aims to support the common goal of “tested, inspected or certified once and accepted everywhere”.
It is comprised of two parts. The first part focuses on the need for accreditation and the benefits that an accreditation system can bring to good governance. It provides policymakers with a framework for establishing an accreditation body or partnering with neighbouring economies to form a shared system, which can bring an economy closer to its trading partners through mutually recognized arrangements of accreditation.
The second part offers comprehensive practical advice and building blocks to those who are tasked with establishing an accreditation body. It presents information on the essential operational requirements for accreditation bodies, and outlines available resources, as well as potential challenges. Case studies then follow to offer an illustration of practical applications of the guidance provided in the publication.
A copy of the brochure is available on the UNIDO website.
Accreditation – an overview
With examples from everyday life, this video, produced by COFRAC in France, highlights the fact that accreditation impacts, even if we are not always aware of it, numerous activities benefiting from conformity assessment services.
ISO 9001 – what does it mean in the Supply Chain (ISO, 2016)
As someone who is involved in the selection of suppliers and, possibly, responsible for making purchasing decisions, you may have seen or used products and services that are promoted using reference to ISO 9001:2015. This informative text provides some answers to these questions and will inform you about how you can get the most out of using ISO 9001 as a supply chain tool.
A full copy of the brochure is available from the ISO website.
Quality assurance is like an onion – multi-layered
Accreditation: A tool to support Regulators
A booklet created by European Accreditation sets out how the ISO CASCO toolbox can support the work of Regulators.
View the booklet on the EA website.
UNIDO – Trade Facilitation – smoothing the path to global markets
UNIDO’s Trade Capacity Building Branch has published a briefing paper to set out how it can support Developing Economies develop the effective building blocks of using accredited testing, inspection and certification, using hamonized standards, in order to boost trade.
Download a copy of the briefing from the UNIDO website.
Standards, metrology and accreditation support Developing Countries
A short video to show how standards, metrology and accreditation can help sustainable development in Developing economies.
Click to view.
How does Accredited Certification benefit Regulators
Regulators are increasingly relying on independent third party declarations of compliance to support their enforcement and monitoring activities.
Accreditation: Delivering Confidence in Everyday life
Accreditation: Facilitating global trade
The ILAC MRA and the IAF MLA remove the need for products and services to undergo additional tests, inspections and certification in each country where they are sold. These Arrangements remove technical barriers and therefore support cross-border trade.
Specifying accreditation in regulation
The IAF Multilateral Recognition Arrangement (MLA)
The IAF MLA ensures the mutual recognition of accredited certification between signatories to the IAF MLA, and subsequently acceptance of accredited certification in many markets based on one accreditation.
Specifying accreditation in Regulation – the ILAC MRA
The ILAC Mutual Recognition Arrangement (MRA)
The ILAC MRA supports international trade by promoting international confidence and acceptance of accredited laboratory data and inspection body data. Technical barriers to trade, such as the retesting of products, each time they enter a new economy would be reduced.
How does accredited inspection benefit government and regulators?
How does using an Accredited Laboratory benefit Government and Regulators?
Using and referencing ISO and IEC standards for technical regulations
The ISO 9001 family – Global management standards
Public sector solutions
SGS has created a portfolio of solutions to support compliance with regulatory requirements, enhance government revenue, facilitate trade, support efficiency and promote good governance along with sustainable development.