On the conformity assessment side, one agreement, made between the IEC and its CA Systems on the one part, the International Accreditation Forum (IAF) and the International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation (ILAC) on the other, has proved highly rewarding, with increased levels of collaboration.
From day one, cooperation between the three organizations has evolved extremely positively on a number of technical and administrative fronts. These collaborative efforts culminated in the three organizations signing their first MoU in October 2010. In 2012, the high level of confidence established between them led the IEC CA Systems and the members of ILAC and IAF to expand the scope of the first tripartite MoU when it was up for renewal.
The aim of the initial agreement was to maximize efficiency when dealing with common Certification Body (CB) and Testing Laboratory (TL) clients. One means of achieving this was by re-assessing these CBs and TLs jointly to avoid duplication of processes. Under the 2012 agreement, collaboration was no longer limited to joint re-assessments, but also covered initial assessments and surveillance as appropriate.
Since 2010 more than 40 unified assessments/re-assessments have been performed throughout the world.
To continue this most fruitful cooperation, a new MoU was signed on 28 October 2015 in Milan, Italy, by ILAC Chairman Peter Unger, IAF Chairman Randy Dougherty and IECEE/IECRE Executive Secretary Kerry McManama, on behalf of IEC General Secretary and CEO Frans Vreeswijk.
While the scope of the agreement remains the same, the three interested parties said how pleased they were with the work accomplished in recent years.
Indeed, the agreement is more than just about assessment/re-assessment.
To ensure that collaboration is as full as possible, the three organizations have agreed to coordinate the application of standards and guidance documents for the assessment of the CBs and TLs accredited by IAF and ILAC and operating in the IEC CA Systems.
The MoU also stipulates that joint training and workshops should be organized for the pool of technical assessors that are entitled to perform unified assessments of CBs and TLs.
High-level Steering Committee
In the wake of the 2010 MoU, the IEC-IAF-ILAC Steering Committee was formed to explore the possibilities for further harmonization of the three organizations' assessments and related activities.
The Steering Committee, currently chaired by ILAC Chairman Peter Unger, is responsible for developing the cooperation strategy; establishing working parties to deal with specific issues pertaining to the three organizations; monitoring, reviewing and providing assistance for agreed projects; approving changes to these projects; resolving conflicts and making decisions on formal acceptance of project deliverables.
The IEC-ILAC-IAF Steering Committee has prepared guidelines to enhance the existing procedures for unified assessments of participating certification bodies and testing laboratories.
A dedicated website provides information on the tripartite agreement, the Steering Committee and its task forces, relevant documentation and a list of the re-assessments performed since the first MoU came into force.