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ISO 9000 community urged to`police itself`


ISO 9000 certification bodies and the accreditation bodies that approve them as competent need to do a better job of policing their community to weed out malpractice and dishonest operators, ISO Secretary-General, Dr. Lawrence D. Eicher, has declared.

He was speaking at the opening of the 17th meeting of ISO/CASCO, Committee on conformity assessment, held in Geneva on 29-30 November 2001.

The ISO Secretary-General said that the conformity assessment community was facing a serious challenge caused by a certain number of certification bodies which acted without integrity.

Although ISO itself does not audit companies and does not issue ISO 9000 certificates nor control the certification bodies that do so independently of ISO, these bodies base their business on ISO standards and guides. "Therefore, when certification bodies act without integrity, many people believe that it is ISO's fault," Dr. Eicher said.

"We regularly receive complaints about certificates being awarded undeservedly to companies who have not been properly audited, or about certification bodies who offer to write the quality manual for the company and then sell them a certificate, or about others who claim to have been approved by ISO. No one at ISO has ever approved such certification bodies."

Dr. Eicher said that ISO was concerned about such practices and that all conformity assessment professionals needed to be concerned too if they wanted to avoid being seen as "charlatans", concluding: "You need to police yourselves."

Welcoming the delegates to the meeting, the ISO Secretary-General noted that it had attracted the participation of more than 100 people from 35 countries and 16 international organizations in liaison with CASCO. This reflected the growing importance of CASCO's work in developing standards and guides that facilitate fair and free international trade. The World Trade Organization has recognized the importance of conformity assessment in its Technical Barriers to Trade Agreement and the WTO/TBT Committee appreciates the contribution of CASCO.

Dr. Eicher encouraged CASCO to continue progressing towards what ISO President Mario Cortopassi described as his "1-1-1 dream" of one standard, one test and one conformity assessment procedure accepted everywhere.

Note: Standards and guides developed by CASCO for conformity assessment encourage best practice and consistency when products, services, systems, processes and materials need to be evaluated against standards, regulations or other specifications. "Conformity assessment" is the technical term given to the process of evaluation and approval.


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