Winter Haven FL — In a clarifying statement to Oxebridge, as part of a response to the recent complaint against registrar SGS, ANAB has clarified its interpretation of ISO 17021, the standard governing ISO 9001 registrars.
Oxebridge had filed a complaint against SGS after its management refused to give Oxebridge access to the registrar’s required Impartiality Committee. In its clarification, ANAB has indicated that ISO 17021 only requires the registrar to have an Impartiality Committee, but that there is no requirement in the standard that the committee be made accessible to the public, customers, ISO 9001 end users, or any outside party.
“In reviewing the standard, we accept ANAB’s interpretation of the requirement,” Oxebridge’s VP Operations Christopher Paris said. “A strict reading does not include a statement requiring that the registrar make the Impartiality Committee available to anyone. Instead it indicates the Committee ‘should invite’ outside parties, but that is different from allowing access to uninvited parties, such as Oxebridge.”
The purpose of the Impartiality Committee is to ensure that the actions and decisions by a registrar remain impartial, and do not negatively impact confidence in each registrar’s ability to provide objective, impartial decisions on certification.
“It was clearly a mis-read on our part,” Mr. Paris said. “It just seemed logical that the users of an Impartiality Committee would be the public or registrar clients, especially when faced with what appears to be gross threats to impartiality by certain registrars.”
Instead, ANAB’s position is that any perceived threats to impartiality should be processed through the appeals process, by the registrar’s client, or through a complaint, which can be filed by anyone.
“It would be a great improvement to the next revision of ISO 17021 to open up access to registrar’s Impartiality Committees, especially in cases when registrars react negatively to appeals or complaints and take actions to punish the complainant,” Mr. Paris said. “But given the history and politics of the US ISO 9001 scheme, I would doubt we will see any changes making it easier to hold registrars accountable for bad behavior.”