The Slovak National Accreditation Service (SNAS) is overdue for its ISO 17011 peer assessment by the IAF regional body EA, according to official, published records.
SNAS was supposed to undergo its ISO 17011 assessment by the European co-operation for Accreditation in February of 2022, according to EA’s official online registry.
The issue came after an investigation by Oxebridge found a Slovak CB issuing certificates apparently outside the scope of its accreditation issued by SNAS. During that probe, Oxebrige found the records showing SNAS was overdue for its peer assessment by over 14 months.
Peer evaluations are required for members of the IAF and its regional bodies, to ensure accreditation bodies continue to operate in accordance with ISO 17011. IAF rules only require that its regional bodies, or the IAF itself, conduct such peer evaluations every four years, a vast departure from the annual ISO audits required by certified companies. But even with this lax requirement, the IAF has been apparently unable to ensure compliance by its regional bodies.
If EA has not conducted the required oversight audits of SNAS, this could explain why the Slovak CB is suspected of issuing fraudulent certificates under the SNAS logo.
Originally, ISO intended to oversee accreditation bodies, but the IAF was formed in the late 1990s and quickly replaced ISO’s intended “QSAR” program. At that time, the IAF insisted to the World Trade Organization that “peer evaluations” would be a reliable method to ensure accreditation body compliance and integrity.
Instead, however, the scheme has been rife with conflicts of interest and corruption. Routinely, accreditation bodies are found to be in open violation of ISO 17011, and/or allowing their certification bodies to violate ISO 17021, and yet neither the IAF nor its regional bodies take action. This has resulted in accusations that the IAF scheme is a “protection racket” used to protect those companies that pay into it, rather than to ensure the validity and confidence in ISO certifications.
Another IAF regional body, APAC (Asia Pacific Accreditation Cooperation) has created a controversial “Associate Member” rank that allows known certificate mills to hold formal membership, and thus boast ties to the IAF itself. APAC only requires Associate Members to self-declare their conformity to ISO 17011, and then claims Associate Members must undergo a peer assessment within three years. A number of Associate Members are due for their peer evaluations in June of 2023, including some that are known to issue self-accredited “fake” ISO certificates, so it remains to be seen if APAC intends on upholding its own policy.
The IAF is supposed to ensure its regional bodies comply with mandatory rules, but has also refused to perform oversight.
Oxebridge has requested an update on the SNAS accreditation from EA, to find out if the EA website is in error, or if SNAS is truly overdue for its peer evaluation.
UPDATE 4 May 2023. EA representative Daniela Ionescu wrote and claims that the “peer evaluation of SNAS has taken place as scheduled and the EA website will be updated soon.” She provided no evidence.
The EA website also shows the following peer evaluation are all overdue: Latvia, Italy, Algeria, Belgium, Georgia, Germany, Hungary, Moldova, and Spain.