The new Chair of the International Accreditation Forum (IAF), Emanuele Riva of the Italian body ACCREDIA, issued an interpretation of long-standing accreditation rules which gives immediate legitimacy to bodies that certify or accredit their own consulting clients.
In a discussion over the scandal involving the US accreditation body International Accreditation Service (IAS), Riva wrote that accreditation bodies may accredit clients who have purchased template kits created by their staff. In the case of IAS, one of their Board and former Accreditation Council members, Devang Jhaveri, has for years sold ISO 17021 and ISO 17025 documentation kits to companies later accredited by IAS. According to IAS’ own published procedures, Jhaveri’s roles would have given him decision-making authority over such accreditations.
Jhaveri operates a company literally called “Accreditation Certification Consultancy”, as well as another called Global Manager Group, and boasts publicly that his consulting clients were alter accredited by IAS. (See sidebar.)
IAS has routinely denied any conflict of interest, and now Riva has given the body a green light for the practice to continue with IAF permission.
In defending the sale of template kits by IAS staff, Riva said, “The forms can be downloaded by anyone interested in, and can be shared. The forms are not personalized. You can find in the market a plenty of example of these forms.”
The explanation is similar to that given by IAS’ VP Mohan Sabaratnam, who — ironically — heads the IAF’s “Taskforce on Fraudulent Behavior.” It appears that Riva spoke to Sabaratnam, and accepted his explanation without any further review.
In fact, ISO 17011 and ISO 17021-1 prohibit bodies from providing any documentation, and do not distinguish between “templates” or “personalized” documentation. Riva’s interpretation thus appears to give permission for bodies to openly violate long-standing ISO accreditation standards which the IAF is tasked with upholding.
Jhaveri claimed that his template kits cannot be a violation, because he has poor sales.
The Riva interpretation also legitimizes every non-accredited or self-accredited certificate mill in the world, since these companies often certify or accredit their own consulting clients. The largest such mill is QAS from the United Kingdom, which certifies the consulting work done by ISMS. QAS owns ISMS, and ISMS consultants utilize template kits for their clients. The IMSM consultant then “switches hats” and certifies his or her own work, using the QAS logo.
Riva’s interpretation appears to violate EU regulation EC 765/2008 which demands that accreditation bodies operate with impartiality.
The IAF is supposed to uphold the integrity of independent, third-party accreditation, in order to distinguish accredited certificates from non-accredited “mill” products, but Riva’s decision upends that role. With its Chair openly defending the practice of bodies certifying clients who have purchased template kits sold by the certifying body, Riva gives overnight legitimacy to the certificate mill industry, wiping away any distinction between accredited or non-accredited certificates.
UPDATE 25 January 2022: Ignoring the blatant evidence whereby Jhaveri’s own website clearly declares that IAS accredits his own consulting clients, IAS yet again denied the problem, writing:
IAS has responded in more than one way to your enquiries, that any organization applying for IAS accreditation, scope extensions or during routine assessments, IAS always performs an independent assessment of the applicant organization. We determine that our selected teams are free of conflict and they conduct independent assessment reviews at all times. Once an assessment is completed and closed, IAS accreditation decisions are also independent without interference by external members. We have always been very strict on all AB matters relating to granting and maintaining accreditation and do not permit external forces to influence the assessment outcomes.
Many of the CABs who purchased these materials were also accredited by other ABs, hope you are also pursuing the same argument with them.
We shall continue to provide clarification in our next communication on this matter.
Despite IAF’s claim, Jhaveri does not work for any accreditation body other than IAS.
About Christopher Paris
Christopher Paris is the founder and VP Operations of Oxebridge. He has over 30 years' experience implementing ISO 9001 and AS9100 systems, and is a vocal advocate for the development and use of standards from the point of view of actual users. He is the author of Surviving ISO 9001 and Surviving AS9100. He reviews wines for the irreverent wine blog, Winepisser.