The scandals involving the massive certification body Control Union continue, as Dutch accreditation body Raad voor Accreditatie (RvA) flounders in an attempt to look like it’s doing its job.

Multiple reports through the ISO Whistleblower Reporting system have revealed systemic accreditation violations by Control Union. In one, we reported that the Sri Lanka office of Control Union was issuing certificates not found within its accreditation scope; that complaint was filed with the Sri Lanka Accreditation Board (SLAB), which claimed to have audited Control Union and closed related nonconformities. No evidence was provided.

In 2020, we reported on how Control Union had temporarily lost its accreditation with RvA, but continued to use the RvA logo in its marketing. Oxebridge filed a complaint with RvA, which ignored the matter entirely, and we then escalated the matter to the IAF regional body, EA, which also took no action. Months later, in February 2021, RvA wrote that the matter had been processed, and closed, but that no action was taken related to Control Union’s accreditation.

In December 2021, we then learned that RvA “prolonged” the accreditation of Control Union, which had been due for normal expiration. Upon expiration, Control Union would have undergone a new accreditation audit by RvA, but the “prolongation” allowed them to maintain accreditation without such an audit. RvA representative Stren Strooker explained that this may have been due to COVID-19, but could not confirm. He promised a clarification in January of 2022, but never followed through.

Unaccredited certs issued by Control Union.

Now we have new information showing that Control Union continues to operate outside of its scope of accreditation, and while ignoring accreditation rules.

Control Union issued two ISO 9001 certificates without any accreditation mark whatsoever. Both were issued from the Zwolle, Netherlands office, and thus fell under the scope of accreditation issued by RvA. In 2015, the IAF ruled that CBs cannot issue non-accredited certificates for a management system standard for which they hold accreditation. Per Resolution 2015-14:

The General Assembly, acting on the recommendation of the Technical Committee, resolved that IAF Accreditation Body members shall have legally enforceable arrangements with their accredited CABs that prevents the CAB from issuing non-accredited management systems certificates in scopes for which they are accredited. The General Assembly further agreed that the transition period will be one year from the date of endorsement.

Both certificates were also issued under industry scopes for “transportation,” something also covered by RvA’s scope of accreditation, under IAF Code 31.

At the same time, the whistleblower revealed that Control Union issued an accredited certificate, bearing the RvA logo, for a scope of products not included in its scope of accreditation. That certificate was issued to a company for “production of containers and caps packaging P.E., P.P. PET by blow mounding and injection with or without label shrinking for direct food contact,” which would fall under IAF code 14 for “Rubber and Plastic Products.” However, the RvA scope of accreditation only grants Control Union the right to issue ISO 9001 certs for scope such as textiles or wood products, and nothing under plastic part production or packaging.

Control Union cert issued for plastic production.

In all, a common theme appears to run through Control Union’s issuance of ISO certificates: they routinely issue certs with varying levels of accreditation marks, and without adherence to IAF rules on industry codes. Then, bodies like SLAB and RvA are wholly unwilling or incapable of enforcing accreditation rules on Control Union to bring them into compliance.

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Why we report on these topics

Since 2000, Oxebridge has worked to improve ISO and related certification schemes by identifying problems and then proposing solutions. We report on issues affecting standards users because so few other news outlets do. Our belief is that in order to fix the problems in these schemes, we must first understand the nature and breadth of those problems. Our reporting aims to do just that. Elsewhere on the Oxebridge site you will find White Papers and other articles proposing ideas to correct these problems.

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