Volume 10 | Issue 2 | Year 2007

When a certification body audits your business to ISO 9001, ISO 14001, or some other management system standard, who is making sure the certification body is qualified to do its job? Who’s auditing the auditors? The ANSI-ASQ National Accreditation Board (ANAB) does just that.

ANAB is the U.S. accreditation body for management systems. The foundation of successful business, management systems govern how organizations manage their processes to ensure that their products and services meet expectations, such as satisfying customer requirements, meeting environmental objectives, or complying with regulations.

The best-known management systems are ISO 9001 and ISO 14001, for quality and environmental management systems, respectively. These represent ANAB’s major programs. There are also standards that add additional industry-specific requirements to ISO 9001 or ISO 14001, and additional management systems standards are being developed.

Based in Milwaukee, ANAB was formed (as the Registrar Accreditation Board) by the American Society for Quality in 1989. The American National Standards Institute subsequently became an operating partner. ANAB is financially self-supported and governed by a board of directors representing stakeholders.

Elsewhere, national accreditation bodies are a function of government but in the United States, accreditation is provided by the private sector. ANAB operates according to ISO standards and requires the bodies it accredits to do so as well.

The regulating arm
ANAB ensures no real or perceived conflict of interest exists among parties involved in certification, the written assurance provided by an independent third-party body – a certification body (CB) or registrar – that audits an organization’s management system and verifies conformance to a standard. A CB cannot engage in both consulting and certification on behalf of a client within an extended time frame. Their auditors must be independent of the systems they audit. If a problem arises between a CB and a client or between CBs, ANAB provides a forum to hear and resolve conflicts and complaints.

Accredited certification results when a CB is deemed competent to operate in specified business sectors by a specialized body such as ANAB. Accreditation provides an added level of oversight and an avenue to resolve complaints. Just as CBs periodically audit clients, ANAB uses a rigorous program of oversight assessments to ensure the ongoing competence of CBs and their auditors.

ANAB works cooperatively with other national accreditation bodies through the International Accreditation Forum (IAF) to harmonize activities and create confidence between suppliers and their clients. IAF members cooperate to ensure that accredited certificates are recognized nationally and internationally. The global conformity assessment system ensures confidence and reduces risk for customers engaging in trade worldwide.

ANAB’s oldest and biggest program
is for ISO 9001 quality management systems certification, with 76 CBs accredited. ANAB has accredited 42 CBs for ISO 14001 environmental management systems certification.
New programs are developed in response to demand after vetting by ANAB’s board and technical experts. With increasing frequency, industry groups are seeking out ANAB to understand the benefits of certification and accreditation and to develop programs to meet their needs. For the aerospace industry, ANAB accredits CBs for AS9003, AS9100, AS9110, and AS 9120. The telecommunications industry standard is TL 9000. ANAB also has programs for information security, medical devices, occupational health and safety, and the chemical and forestry industries. Programs are in development for food safety, scrap recycling, and other standards.

While ANAB initially operated exclusively in the United States, it now has client-CBs around the world. Although ANAB encourages CBs based outside the United States seeking ANAB accreditation to first be accredited by their national accreditation body, there is global demand for the ANAB mark in spite of the added cost for a CB to maintain multiple accreditations.

ANAB works to justify this demand by focusing on the needs of its CB customers. Surveys by the Independent Association of Accredited Registrars indicate high levels of customer satisfaction among clients. But ANAB understands the ultimate judgment of the value of accredited certification rests with certified companies and their clients.

Robert H. King is president of the ANSI-ASQ National Accreditation Board (ANAB), the U.S. accreditation body for management systems. Visit www.anab.org.

Previous articleUnder the Bright Lights
Next articleThe Brazilian Tradeshow