MOTIVA often responds to questions on the ethics and appropriateness of accreditation bodies offering training. It is true that such services offered to the organisations accredited by the accreditation body might be deemed inappropriate if only for the reason that there exists more than one relationship between the two organisations and it might not be possible to categorically state that one of them is not influencing the other.
Clause 4.4.13 of ISO/IEC 17011:2017, the requirements document for the operation of an accreditation body, states the following, which allows for training as an accreditation body activity:
The accreditation body’s activities shall not be presented as linked with consultancy or other services that pose an unacceptable risk to impartiality. Nothing shall be said or implied that would suggest that accreditation would be simpler, easier, faster or less expensive if any specified person(s) or consultancy were used.
NOTE Accreditation bodies can carry out, for example, the following duties that are not considered a risk to impartiality:
arranging and participating as a lecturer in training, orientation or educational courses, provided that these courses confine themselves to the provision of generic information that is freely available in the public domain, i.e. they cannot provide specific solutions to a conformity assessment body in relation to the activities of that organization;
adding value during assessments, e.g. by identifying opportunities for improvement as they become evident during the assessment without recommending specific solutions;
advising other accreditation bodies on development of accreditation process;
advising scheme owners on accreditation requirements, including requirements within relevant conformity assessment standards.
It is clear that "training" could be considered consultancy, but many accreditation bodies, and the international and regional recognition bodies, understand that not providing the value added help contained in good training, would impede our global ability to motivate best practice in the labs, inspection bodies, proficiency testing providers, and other conformity assessment bodies (CABs) which fall under accreditation. It would be easy for accreditation bodies to simply tell their accredited CABs to read the requirements and implement them. This is not helpful, and the CABs need access to expertise in best practice, to facilitate their implementation of accreditation requirements.
It is better to assist them in maintaining the integrity and credibility of accreditations by giving them access to tools they may not have. Training is one of those tools.
How do ABs then meet the requirement in 17011 and still provide supportive training? There are some commonly understood approaches.
- Clear delineation between the training and the accreditation. Neither can influence the other.
- No one involved in the delivery of training to any CAB can be involved in its assessment or accreditation.
- Only public (anyone can attend) courses are offered.
- No training provides advice on "how to get accredited."
- No accreditation or assessment requirement can specify training from that accreditation body.
These types of approaches have allowed accreditation bodies to meet the requirements of 17011 and continue their ILAC recognition while still being able to deliver useful training to their applicant and accredited CABs.
Which brings us to MOTIVA's Mission
MOTIVA has been involved in the training of CABs since 1998 and we have found that well-trained CAB staff help enhance the credibility of the accreditation. Carrying the AB logo on their letterhead and reports is a very visible association between the CAB and the accreditation body. CABs that are seen to perform better, enhance the reputation of their accreditation body. CABs that do not perform well have the opposite affect on the reputation of their accreditation body.
MOTIVA was therefore created with its mission in mind: