The International Accreditation Forum (IAF) has acknowledged receipt of a complaint filed with it against the accreditation body IAS for conflicts of interest, but did not confirm that it was opening an investigation.
Devang Jhaveri, a Board Member of IAS, is also the head of Global Manager Group, a company that sells “template kits” for certification bodies seeking accreditation to ISO 17021. IAS then offers that accreditation.
IAS is accredited by the IAF to ISO 17011, which prohibits such conflicts of interest.1 Despite this, IAF has taken no action on the issue to date.
Oxebridge alerted both IAS and IAF to the conflict almost a year ago, and IAS management responded that it would investigate the matter. No further communication was received, and Jhaveri remains on the Board.
Jhaveri claimed that none of his kit customers were accredited by IAS, but Oxebridge’s investigation found this to be untrue. Demos Global Group and OSS Mideast were just two certification bodies found using the GMG kits and then later awarded accreditation by IAS.
Normally, complaints of this nature would be escalated to the accreditation body’s regional IAF group, but because the kits have been found in use in five continents, the problem spans multiple regions. Oxebridge had hoped the IAF would take up the matter voluntarily, but it did not do so, forcing Oxebridge to register a formal complaint last week.
IAF acknowledged the latest filing, but did not provide any details on whether it intended to launch an investigation or not.
The IAF, through its regional bodies IAAC and APAC, has routinely sided with IAS in prior complaints.
IAS has stormed the market by offering low-priced accreditation through the use of mainly third-world auditors from India and the Middle East. Despite an Indian management team, the company operates out of a US address, in order to market itself as an American company.
Ironically, the IAF awarded IAS Vice President Mohan Sabaratnam the position of chair of its “Task Force on Fraudulent Behavior.”
[1. IAF and its supporters argue that it does not “accredit” bodies. Instead, the IAF confirms Accreditation Bodies’ compliance with ISO 17011 through peer audits conducted by regional accreditation groups according to a complex maze of multilateral agreements (MLAs) and IAF “mandatory documents.” This complexity is often used to allow the IAF and regional bodies to deny responsibility in the accreditation scheme, despite this being the primary role of the IAF. Oxebridge argues instead that the activities of IAF amount to “accreditation” since they utilize third parties (the IAF regional bodies) to perform conformity assessment (peer audits) to verify conformity to a standard (ISO 17011). ]