The Hellenic Accreditation System (EYSD), Greece’s official accreditation body, has cleared its certification body BQC after Oxebridge escalated a complaint alleging that BQC provided low-cost ISO certification services without consideration of minimum audit duration.

Oxebridge originally filed a complaint against BQC in August 2019 after it obtained documented evidence that the certification body had quoted an integrated management system certification at a “low-ball” price that appeared to dramatically violate the IAF’s minimum audit duration rules. In its quote for simultaneous ISO 9001, ISO 14001 and ISO 45001 certifications, BQC appears to have quoted a single audit day for each certificate, without consideration of the size of the company. Oxebridge alleged this violated ISO 17021’s rules on audit planning, and ignored the IAF MD5 audit duration rules entirely.

The client company — Alpha Logistics — claimed to have 53 employees. Per IAF MD5, Oxebridge calculates this would have required approximately 10-15 audit days. The quote provided by BQC appears to have quoted a total of three audit days for all the standards, for the entire three-year contract.

BQC subsequently closed the complaint, without explaining the contradiction between its quote and the IAF MD5 requirements.

Oxebridge then escalated the complaint to BQC’s accreditation body, ESYD. That body has now responded to Oxebridge, and announced that it has cleared BQC of any wrongdoing, but without providing any explanation or details of what actions ESYD performed to come to this conclusion.

The full text of ESYD’s response was as follows:

In response to your complaint, submitted to ESYD on  3.9.2019 against the certification body BQC,  we would like to inform you that we consider that the answer form BQC to your complaint covers sufficiently all the aspects  raised in your complaint and there is no violation of the requirements of the relevant accreditation criteria.

ESYD did not provide any details on how the math of BQC’s quote appears to ignore IAF MD5 audit day requirements.

Oxebridge has reached out to ESYD for further information.

IAF member accreditation bodies such as ESYD are increasingly under scrutiny for failing to enforce ISO 17021 rules on their certification bodies, due largely to the inherent conflict of interest embedded in the system. Under the current model, the CBs pay the ABs for accreditation, making it unlikely that an accreditation body would de-accredit a CB, no matter how serious the violation. In some cases, ABs and the IAF have stood behind CBs even when laws were broken.

Oxebridge’s ISO Whistleblower Program has netted over 100 alleged violations by accredited CBs, and routinely the various oversight bodies have ignored the issues or sided with the CB, despite all evidence.

If ESYD’s clarification is not forthcoming, the issue would likely be escalated to the regional accreditation group APAC (Asian Pacific Accreditation Cooperation), which is tasked by IAF to oversee the region in which BQC operates. To date, APAC has shown little stomach for conducting its required activities, and has not taken an aggressive posture in rooting out corruption in the ISO scheme in Asia and the Middle East. As a result, violations of the accreditation rules are rampant in the region.

Oxebridge has warned the IAF that it may seek regulatory or legal action to ensure it carries out its obligations.

In the case of ESYD, it is subject to both Hellenic law and European Commission regulations. Oxebridge is investigating whether ESYD’s inadequate response violated these regulations.

 

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