Oxebridge has obtained a contract provided by BSI for ISO 9001 certification services that placed its preassessment services in the section normally reserved for mandatory aspects, and not in the section designated for optional services.
According to ISO 17021, to which BSI is accredited by ANAB, preassessments are optional, and not a required step for certification. Registrars routinely try to sell clients on preassessments as it provides additional revenue beyond the bare minimum, but they typically are careful to note that the service is optional. The BSI proposal failed to make this distinction, and in fact appears to have done the opposite.
BSI normally submits proposals that contain two pricing sections: one labeled “Service Details” and another “Optional Services.” Normally, the “Service Details” section only contains the mandatory certification steps required by ISO 17021, specifically a Stage 1 and Stage 2 audit. In the proposal reviewed by Oxebridge — which, once signed, becomes the binding contract — the BSI sales representatieve included the optional Preassessment in the “Service Details” section instead of the “Optional Services” section.
The only service listed in the Optional Services section was for BSI Entropy™ Action Manager.
Oxebridge has argued that BSI’s Entropy™ software, and the accompanying procedures provided to Entropy™ customers, amount to consulting. The language included in the certification proposal would support that argument, as it openly claims the BSI software can be used to “sustain effective compliance with a consistent and proven format for CAPA across people, department, and location.” Both BSI and the European accreditation body UKAS have denied a problem; the issue has been escalated to the IAF for a ruling.
The BSI contract repeated the misleading placement of preassessment services in a second breakdown of pricing, where it included the fee for the preassessment in the “Certification Services” section of the contract, and listed only Entropy™ in the “Additional Costs – Optional Services” section.
In a final section, under “Cost Proposal,” a table was included with a header row that did indicate the preassessment was “optional,” but the data in the table was blank.
The client who received the proposal and contract confirmed that they interpreted the language to mean the preassessment was mandatory; they were unfamiliar with the arcane rules of ISO 17021. Typically, end user organizations are not familiar with the accreditation rules, and rely on the registrar to adhere to them.
Oxebridge has confirmed that a previous BSI contract clearly marked the preassessment service as optional throughout the entire contract.
The revelation is another black eye for both BSI and the ISO 9001 certification scheme in general, which is suffering from a series of major scandals alleging consulting by auditors, abdication of duty on the part of accreditation bodies, certifications issued to dubious companies, and even cover-ups of criminal activity. To date the accreditation bodies, such as UKAS and its US counterpart ANAB, have denied any problems exist.
BSI did not respond to requests for clarification on this issue.