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The IAF has released its “CertSearch” database website, allowing users to search and verify ISO 9001 and other certificates. The site is the culmination of a few years of work by IAF, after decades of attempts by various other bodies to present a single, comprehensive source of all ISO certificates.
It falls woefully short, of course. Many will think I am just saying that, since I’ve criticized IAF for its mishandling of CertSearch since the beginning, but no…. go see for yourself. Go try it. It’s a mess.
The site, first of all, was not ready for release, but they dropped it anyway. Much of the data on the site is still test data and junk entries. A search of US-based certification bodies found that 24 of the 91 CBs listed were actually just fake entries used to test the database, and were not real CBs. In other cases, there are multiple entries for a single CB, due to spelling errors: Perry Johnson is entered twice, once as “Perry Johnson Registrars Inc” (no punctuation) and another as “Perry Johnson Registrars, Inc.” (with punctuation.) This means the searching to verify certs is largely broken, since you’d have to search under the exact CB spelling — or misspelling — to get comprehensive results.
Then there are the results themselves. The site claims to have data from 80 accreditation bodies and some 5,000 certification bodies, resulting in over 1.6 million results. But that apparently includes all the certs issued under seven standards (ISO 9001, ISO 50001, ISO 27001, ISO 22000, ISO 14001, ISO 45001 and ISO 13485), and there may be more than that. (It’s totally not clear on the site what certs are included.)
I did some testing and was stunned. Entering the names of over 50 Oxebridge clients, who I know are ISO 9001 certified, not a single one popped up. Some of these are big names, too, using registrars that allege to be included in the database. All of the clients were US-based, so perhaps the US registrars haven’t entered data yet. Or the participation is actually way lower than advertised, and IAF is just outright lying with its statistics.
It’s also worth noting that some big US-based CBs aren’t playing. BSI Americas isn’t participating, nor is SAI Global. Those are big players whose data isn’t included.
Also, despite AS9100 aerospace certification including simultaneous ISO 9001, it appears that these don’t show up either. That makes me wonder if there are copyright or licensing issues between IAF and IAQG’s OASIS? I doubt it, but it’s a curious situation.
Searching for a specific cert issued by a CB alleged to be included in the system doesn’t work, either. for example, Dekra is listed as a participating CB. Searching the web for random, current ISO 9001:2015 certs issued by Dektra, and then entering those companies into the search, still came up empty. It’s as if there’s no data in there at all.
Italy, the country obsessed with telling the world just how many certs it has (and sometimes fudging those numbers) seems to have done a good job entering data. A lot of the results are from Italy — a lot. That’s not useful for us US users.
I then tested by entering just a single letter — like “B” — to see how many results would spit out. You’d think that a single letter would spit out tens of thousands of entries, if the database has over 1.6 million entries, but (for example) entering “B” yielded 10. As in ten. I then realized that no matter what you type, you only get ten results, period. Seriously, that’s how bad this is: if the company you are looking for happens to be 11th in the database, it won’t show up at all.
IAF doesn’t take responsibility for the data, either. We know this because, you know, they say this directly in their terms and conditions:
IAF Database LLC does not warrant the accuracy of any information that has been uploaded by Accreditation Bodies, Certification Bodies, Certified Entities, Users or the International Accreditation Forum.
Remember that the IAF is the body that oversees accreditation, and it’s one job is to warrant the accuracy of CB data. That’s the only reason it exists, other than to help Elva Nilsen buy a new plane.
What does work? The big, giant ad at the bottom of the home page for QualityTrade, the Australian outfit that won the contract to build the IAF CertSearch database, to begin with. I wonder if they cut IAF a break in exchange for the product placement and additional advertising this position brings them? Nowhere on the site does the IAF disclose, however, that QualityTrade was responsible for building CertSearch… it just appears on the bottom of the page, out of nowhere.
The IAF has the backing of ISO, the dutiful quality press, the registrars and others, so it’s likely that within about a week the viral talking point will be just how successful and amazing CertSearch is, and how they overcame decades of inertia to accomplish something that no one else ever had! That won’t be true, of course, but it will be the main talking point, and duped readers will believe it. IAF succeeds when no one actually looks at what they are doing.
But so long as participation in CertSearch is voluntary, then CertSearch will fail. Instead, the IAF should issue a Mandatory Document demanding that any accredited CB participate fully and submit data to CertSearch, or be de-accredited. Only a 100% participation level will ensure the tool works, and the tool should work. Users and the public must have a way to verify the validity and currency of ISO certificates, to suss out CB shenanigans and to begin to dismantle the growing unaccredited certificate mill pollution in the supply chain.
Until then, the entire thing was an expensive vanity project by IAF’s Randy Dougherty and his pals, and a huge advertising giveaway for QualityTrade, an Aussie company you probably never even heard of.
BTW, you’re paying for this. The costs incurred by the IAF to create this monstrosity were passed down to you through ANAB and then your registrar. So… enjoy.
For now, here are the US CBs allegedly participating: