ISO 17024 and ANSI Accreditation: The Process Explained

Obtaining accreditation under the ISO 17024 standard and the ANSI model is a significant undertaking for any certifying body. It involves rigorous self-assessment, comprehensive documentation, and a thorough review by the accreditation body. Despite the complexity of the process, the end result – the ability to issue globally recognized certifications – makes it a worthwhile endeavor. This article will guide you through the key steps involved in achieving ISO 17024 and ANSI accreditation, highlighting the integral components of the process.

The ISO 17024 Accreditation Process

The journey to ISO 17024 accreditation begins with a detailed understanding of the standard’s requirements. These requirements cover various aspects of the certification process, including the development of certification schemes, examination procedures, and management systems. The essential steps of this process are as follows:

  1. Defining Certification Program Objectives: The organization must first define clear objectives for the certification program. These objectives should align with industry needs and be designed to evaluate the competence of the individuals being certified.
  2. Developing Certification Schemes: A certification scheme defines the knowledge, skills, or abilities to be assessed, along with the methods for evaluating these competencies. The organization needs to develop robust schemes that cover all essential competencies related to the certification.
  3. Implementing Procedures: The organization must establish procedures for granting, maintaining, renewing, and suspending or withdrawing certification. These procedures should align with the ISO 17024 requirements to ensure fairness, impartiality, and consistency.
  4. Establishing Examination Processes: The development and administration of examinations is a crucial component of the certification process. The organization needs to design exams that effectively assess the defined competencies, ensuring their reliability and validity. This also involves setting up procedures for administering the exams and managing exam results.
  5. Documentation and Internal Audit: The organization needs to document all its processes and conduct an internal audit to ensure compliance with ISO 17024. This audit will identify any gaps that need to be addressed before the formal accreditation process.
  6. Application and Accreditation Assessment: After preparing thoroughly and addressing any identified gaps, the organization can submit its application for ISO 17024 accreditation. This is followed by an assessment by the accreditation body, which includes a review of the submitted documentation and an on-site audit.

The ANSI Accreditation Process

The ANSI accreditation process is designed to ensure that certification bodies meet both U.S. requirements and the global standards set by ISO 17024. The key steps in the ANSI accreditation process are:

  1. Documentation Review: The certifying body needs to submit a self-assessment along with comprehensive documentation of its procedures, certification schemes, and management systems. ANSI reviews these documents to assess initial compliance with ISO 17024 and ANSI’s accreditation rules.
  2. On-Site Assessment: If the documentation review is successful, ANSI conducts an on-site assessment. This is an in-depth audit where the accreditation body evaluates the organization’s implementation of its documented procedures and practices.
  3. Decision on Accreditation: Once the on-site assessment is completed, the ANSI accreditation committee reviews the assessment report and makes a decision regarding accreditation.

In conclusion, while the journey to ISO 17024 and ANSI accreditation may seem daunting, it is an instrumental process that ensures the highest quality and global recognition of certifications. Through rigorous self-evaluation, thorough documentation, and a commitment to meeting global standards, certifying bodies can achieve this coveted accreditation, providing immense value to the professionals they certify.