ISO has released the new standard ISO 17021-1 Conformity assessment — Requirements for bodies providing audit and certification of management systems — Part 1: Requirements. The standard replaces the previous ISO 17021 standard.

This standard provides rules for certification bodies and their auditors when conducting conformity assessment audits for the purposes of certification, such as ISO 9001. It has been criticized for diluting rules which protect ISO 9001 end users, while relaxing requirements for the purposes of reducing costs of operation for the Certification Bodies. For example, the standard does away with the requirement for CBs to maintain public registries of their certified clients, making it increasingly difficult to verify the validity of companies claiming ISO 9001 certification. The standard retains previous language that allows, under many conditions, for registrars to engage in consulting, despite growing complaints that this increases costs on users and results in certifications of dubious value.

The standard was written by ISO CASCO,which has been criticized for not allowing participation by standards user organizations, and consisting nearly entirely of representatives of Accreditation and Certification Bodies. Some of the rules were drafted by a former BSI executive who previously lobbied for the expansion of consulting by registrars.

The price for the standard is 158 Swiss francs, or $169 US, and may be purchased through ISO’s online store.

Oxebridge will post a review of the final standard shortly.

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Since 2000, Oxebridge has worked to improve ISO and related certification schemes by identifying problems and then proposing solutions. We report on issues affecting standards users because so few other news outlets do. Our belief is that in order to fix the problems in these schemes, we must first understand the nature and breadth of those problems. Our reporting aims to do just that. Elsewhere on the Oxebridge site you will find White Papers and other articles proposing ideas to correct these problems.

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