The IAF’s corruption and abdication of duty continue apace under the leadership of China’s Xiao Jianhua. The latest move is an overt and craven attempt to keep money flowing to the IAF by dumbing down accreditation audits of ISO certification bodies, even as the IAF has resisted common-sense proposals to move to remote auditing for ISO 9001 end users.

To recap: when the pandemic hit, rather than update its rules on auditing to allow greater use of remote auditing methods (RAM), the IAF doubled-down and demanded that ISO 9001 certified firms still undergo physical audits. They pointed to an ancient document on the use of computer-assisted auditing techniques that was written many years before COVID, and then refused to update it.

That put the health of everyone at risk, since auditors were tasked with continuing to fly around and infect people — and risk infection themselves — while the IAF ignored a growing worldwide death toll.

IAF then began allowing more remote auditing but under strict conditions, and never at all for initial ISO certification audits. Oxebridge developed a first-in-the-world standard on RAM, called Oxebridge Q017, and attempted to get the IAF to adopt at least portions of it, to allow remote audits to replace in-person audits during the pandemic. IAF ignored this.

(Ignoring the IAF, we have since gone on to put Q017 into use at certification bodies and other companies. Because saving lives matters more than waiting for permission.)

At the same time, accreditation bodies like ANAB and UKAS were complaining that their accreditation audits of CBs put the health of their (often elderly) auditors were at risk. So the IAF responded by relaxing the rules for AB audits of CBs, even as they refused to do so for CBs auditing ISO end-user companies.

Now they have taken this one step further into ridiculousness by issuing a rule allowing “off-site document reviews” to replace AB audits of CBs entirely. The statement reads:

During the current COVID-19 pandemic, where a mandatory scheduled on-site/remote assessment cannot be performed, by the AB or, whenever relevant, by a sub-contracted AB which is an IAF MLA/ILAC MRA signatory, that assessment may be replaced, in extraordinary circumstances, by an off-site review of documentation.

The review of documentation should only be considered if the justifications for not being able to conduct the on-site or remote assessment are traced back to the exceptional situation due to COVID-19 (e.g.: travel restrictions, social distancing, workplace health and safety decisions including health risk categories for both assessors and CAB personnel).

This is so lopsided and unnecessary, it defies belief. First, accreditation bodies like ANAB and UKAS are entirely capable of performing functional remote audits of their CBs under each of the conditions mentioned above (“travel restrictions, social distancing, workplace health and safety decisions“.) Only if a facility is physically shut down would this not work, but at that point, the CB would lose their accreditation anyway since they’d literally have exited the market.

To allow CBs to maintain accreditation through “email audits” is ludicrous, and points to just how worthless IAF membership and accreditation are. For end-users, remote auditing needs special permissions and must follow complicated IAF mandatory rules. For the ABs, though, they can just ask their CB clients to mail in their homework.

Let’s be clear. The intent here is to ensure the CBs continue to undergo something to justify the costs of accreditation. CBs pay the ABs, and then the IAF and its regional partners get their cut. That’s all that they care about … maintaining the flow of money to the top of the pyramid scheme.

At the same time, CB auditors will still have to run around potentially infecting thousands, and risking their own lives, because the IAF won’t extend these same rules down to the lower tiers.

The IAF does not exist to uphold the validity and trust of accredited certifications. They exist to take a portion of the revenue from every ISO certification issued, and that’s it. The world’s governments need to begin to treat the IAF as the hostile actor it is, and either demand it brings itself into compliance with accreditation norms and WTO regulations, or be disbanded.

Absolutely shameful. And #corruptaf.

You can view the entire IAF/ILAC statement here.


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 9001:2015. He reviews wines for the irreverent wine blog, Winepisser.


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