by Randy Dougherty
Cooperation is on the key concepts embodied by IAF. Randy Dougherty provides an update on how the IAF is closely working with its key stakeholders.
Cooperation is one of the key concepts embodied by IAF. Other key concepts include:
Equivalence of conformity assessment
Equivalence of accreditation
Certification in one country being accepted in another country in the interest of international trade
I take this opportunity to give an update on some cooperation, and apologize in advance for not giving an update on all cooperation.
Even though the IAF-ILAC Joint Committee on Closer Cooperation (JCCC) was disbanded at the 2009 JGA in Vancouver, the cooperation between ILAC and IAF has continued to deepen and improve.
The Joint Executive Committee (JEC) meetings have proven to be successful with more and more being discussed within the JEC and fewer issues being ILAC or IAF specific.
March 2010 was the first attempt at changing what had, up to then, been the IAF Technical Committee meeting, into ILAC and IAF coordinated meetings; and due to the unforeseen circumstances in Tunisia this also became our first attempt to have the meetings directly hosted and managed by the Secretariats. It was a success. We hope to duplicate this success with the meetings in Frankfurt this year.
Peter Unger as the ILAC Chair, and I as the IAF Chair, have been working very closely together to expand the recognition of both ILAC and IAF, and acceptance of the mutual recognition arrangements: the ILAC MRA and the IAF MLA. We have made joint presentations to several groups explaining how, through the peer evaluation process and the ILAC-IAF Arrangements, stakeholders can have confidence in accredited conformity assessment results so that CABs can be “accredited once and accepted everywhere” and there can be “one test, inspection, or certification, accepted everywhere”.
In addition, through the JEC, in response to speaking invitations, we have made it a practice to have the agreed speaker present information on both ILAC and IAF.
So even though we are still two different organizations, we are continually getting better at working together, and at presenting united positions to the world.
When we first established the joint IAF-ILAC-ISO Joint Working Group, our meetings were a bit stormy. This may have been normal as groups go through the various stages of team building—forming, storming, norming and performing—but I think our relationship with ISO and ISO/CASCO is very good. At the most recent meeting of the JWG in March 2012, we have concluded that most of the items in the IAF-ISO Action Plan have been completed. We have also worked through the very thorny issue of understanding how the CASCO conformity assessment toolbox, the ISO/IEC conformity assessment standards, and the ILAC and IAF documents fit together. I am very encouraged by the strong commitment by the ISO Secretary General Rob Steele, the CASCO Chair Lane Hallenbeck, and the CASCO Secretary Sean MacCurtain, to work closely with the ILAC and IAF to continually improve accredited conformity assessment.
The relationship with IEC is continuing to evolve in a positive direction. As you may recall, we formed the IEC (CAB)-ILAC-IAF Steering Committee in 2009 in Vancouver and signed an MOU in 2010 in Shanghai. “CAB” is the acronym for the Conformity Assessment Board of the IEC. The website, http://www.iecee.org/cab/cab-ilac-iaf-steering.html has been established, and in Frankfurt, a task force to develop guidance for the unified assessments was set up. The Steering Committee will also be meeting.
Since IAF fully implemented GD3, the guidance on cross-frontier accreditation, and has mandated annual reporting by accreditation bodies to the MLA Committee, it is my personal perception that the level of cooperation between accreditation bodies has improved significantly. But I can attest from personal experience that cooperation is not easy. In fact, IT IS VERY HARD WORK. I think it is easier for each of us to do our own assessments for supporting our accreditations. Even though it is hard work and not easy, I hope we all continue to cooperate. I still have the hope that one day we will fulfill the vision of a past IAF Chair Dr. Takashi Ohtsubo, that IAF member accreditation bodies work as a network to provide a globally recognized accreditation with assessments provided by the local accreditation body.