A global tool to support public policy

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Por Maria Lazarte
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Many organizations are familiar with inspectors and auditors who independently help assess that standards and regulations are being respected or “conformed to”. But how do we make sure that they are doing this correctly and fairly? Accreditation is the independent evaluation of such conformity assessment bodies against recognized standards to ensure impartiality and competence.

To raise awareness about the importance of accreditation, the International Accreditation Forum (IAF) and the International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation (ILAC) organize World Accreditation Day (WAD) each year on 9 June. In 2016 the event looks at how we can use accreditation to support public policy.

Standards, together with conformity assessment, can be used by government policy makers to deliver better regulation, environmental protection, public safety, fraud prevention, fair and efficient markets and public trust.

Certification, calibration, testing, inspection, and validation and verification, are all forms of accredited conformity assessment activity. They are a great asset to the public sector as a way of helping officials meet their policy objectives. For example, accreditation may assist a department of justice in making sure that forensic labs performing activities like DNA analysis are reliable and follow best practice. Other areas benefitting from accreditation include health, safety, environmental protection and construction, to name a few.

IAF and ILAC emphasize that government and regulators can use accreditation and other conformity assessment tools to:

  • Help businesses improve performance, while minimizing risk and promoting trade
  • Deliver and enforce policies
  • Regulate
  • Become more proficient in their own work

“Accreditation adds a layer of confidence to the ISO/CASCO toolbox,” says Sean MacCurtain, Secretary of the ISO Committee on conformity assessment (CASCO). “The ‘toolbox’ is what we call the numerous standards related to conformity assessment bodies and practices that ISO has developed together with its members and partners, including IAF and ILAC. They cover topics such as the operating of testing laboratories, marks of conformity, accreditation and the mutual recognition of conformity assessment results.”

All this is important because it is through the application of national and international standards, that governments, procurers and consumers can have confidence in calibration and test results, inspection reports and certifications.

ISO, IAF, ILAC and the Independent International Organization for Certification give real-life examples of how accreditation is helping to deliver public policy, from assisting forensic science in the UK to supporting effective voluntary programmes in the US, improving food safety in Australia, and much more. See the case studies.


Maria Lazarte
Maria Lazarte

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