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Accreditation Policy for ANSI Certificate Accreditation Program

PUBLIC POLICY CAP-PL-301 Issued: 2011-3-23, Revision: 1

References ANSI-PL-100: ANSI AS Management System Policy Manual
CAP-PL-302: Operating Policy of the ANSI Personnel Certificate Accreditation Program Accreditation Committee (CAPAC)
ASTM E2659-09, Standard Practice for Certificate Programs
ISO 9000:2005, Quality management systems - Fundamentals and vocabulary
ISO/IEC 17000:2004, Conformity assessment - Vocabulary and general principles
ISO/IEC 17011:2004, Conformity assessment - General requirements for accreditation bodies accrediting conformity assessment bodies
1.1This document serves as the overarching policy for accreditation of certificate issuers under ASTM E2659-09, Standard Practice for Certificate Programs.
2.1For the purpose of this document, the relevant definitions given in ISO/IEC 17000, Conformity Assessment – Vocabulary and general principles and ISO 9000, Quality management systems – Fundamentals and vocabulary, apply.
2.2ANSICA: ANSI Accreditation Services online process tracking and recordkeeping platform.
2.3CAP: ANSI Certificate Accreditation Program.
2.4CAPAC: Certificate Accreditation Program Accreditation Committee.
2.5CAPC: Conformity Assessment Policy Committee.
2.6Certificate Issuer (CI): A legal business entity or government agency, or operating unit thereof, that has ultimate responsibility for administering a certificate program and issuing certificates to individuals successfully meeting certificate program requisites.
2.7Evaluation Task Group (ETG): A group of 2 or more CAPAC volunteers created for the purpose of conducting reviews of accreditation processes and to make recommendations on accreditations, extensions, or reductions in scope, or suspensions and withdrawals of accreditation to the CAPAC.
3General Provisions
3.1ANSI, in accordance with the Institute’s Bylaws has established the policies and procedures to govern the accreditation of certificate issuers (herein, CIs). The principles and criteria of this Program are compatible with the existing ANSI framework for the accreditation of other types of conformity assessment bodies. The structure of ANSI’s governance of the accreditation programs and the documented operations are intended to give confidence in ANSI’s accreditations.
3.2ANSI’s Certificate Accreditation Program (CAP) operates in accordance with ISO/IEC 17011, Conformity assessment – General requirements for accreditation bodies accrediting conformity assessment bodies. The requirements of this document provide the basis for a nationally recognized, open, disciplined, and credible accreditation process for applicants to use to demonstrate that their certificate programs meet a high standard of integrity and technical/administrative quality, thereby enhancing consumer confidence and providing added value to certificate programs. Government agencies can utilize ANSI’s accreditation process for procurement and/or regulatory activities, thus reducing expenditure of public resources for monitoring personnel certificate programs.
3.3Policies and criteria that govern the CAP are laid out in: this public policy document, ISO/IEC 17011: Conformity assessment – General requirements for accreditation bodies accrediting conformity assessment bodies and ANSI-PL-100: ANSI AS Management System Policy Manual. These guides and standards are duly referenced throughout this document.
3.4The CAP requirements, assessments and decisions on accreditation shall be confined to those matters specifically related to the scope of the specific accreditation being considered, the specific requirements of ASTM E2659, and other requirements of CAP and/or regulations.
3.5The Certificate Accreditation Program Accreditation Committee (CAPAC), established by the ANSI Board of Directors, functions in accordance with CAP-PL-302: Operating Policy of the ANSI Personnel Certificate Accreditation Program Accreditation Committee (CAPAC). The CAPAC is responsible for the operational aspects of accrediting CIs and related activities of the Institute. ANSI shall ensure that the members of the CAPAC or external individuals involved in this process abide by all procedures ensuring impartiality throughout the management process and possess necessary competence as described in the CAPAC Operating Policy.
3.6The CAP shall publicize its accreditation actions including the granting of initial accreditation, extension and reduction of scope, suspension, and withdrawal of accreditation. ANSI shall also make information about the current status of CI accreditations publicly available. This information shall be updated regularly.
3.7Consideration of extending accreditation activities related to the CAP shall proceed in accordance with documented procedures that shall include all elements defined in ISO/IEC 17011, clause 4.6.3.
3.8CAP shall maintain the provisions related to impartiality, confidentiality, and conflict of interest in conformance with ISO/IEC17011, clauses 4.3 and 4.4, as well as relevant ANSI procedures.
3.9CAP is subject to such organizational provisions as organizational structure, legal responsibility, impartiality, confidentiality, liability, financing, modification of accreditation activity and related requirements, as well as the management system and personnel-related policies stipulated in ANSI-PL-100.
3.10Any non-editorial modifications to this policy document must be approved by CAPAC and CAPC.
4Preliminary Application
4.1CIs interested in obtaining the ANSI-CAP accreditation shall be required to submit a preliminary application in which they shall demonstrate that they meet the fundamental criteria related to the CAP. In keeping with the scope of accreditation, CIs must satisfy the following basic criteria to be eligible for ANSI accreditation: confirm status as a legal entity, demonstrate documented authority to administer the certificate program and ensure compliance with the provisions of this practice, and provide evidence of the management system and other criteria detailed in CAP procedures.
4.2Upon receipt of the preliminary application, ANSI staff shall confirm receipt and conduct the review upon which the preliminary applicant may be approved, rejected, or required to submit additional information.
4.3Approved preliminary applicants shall be invited to submit a full application. CAP procedures shall determine a finite period of validity of the preliminary approval. If a preliminary applicant has not submitted a full application within the timeframe of validity, a new preliminary application shall be required.
5Application for Accreditation
5.1A formal application for accreditation under the CAP shall be made by a duly authorized representative of the applicant CI. The application shall, as a minimum, cover:
a)general features of the CI — including corporate entity, name, addresses, legal status, and human/technical resources;
b)general information concerning the CI such as its activities, relationship to a larger corporate entity — if any, and addresses of all its physical location(s) to be covered by the scope of accreditation;
c)a clearly defined, requested scope of accreditation;
d)a description of the certificate program services that the CI undertakes, including limits of capability — where applicable;
e)a copy (on paper or in electronic form) of the quality manual of the CI and relevant associated documents and records; and
f)an agreement to fulfill the requirements for accreditation and other obligations of the CI, as described in 8.1 of ISO/IEC 17011.
5.2The applicant shall be required to submit the application fee and executed Accreditation Agreement before ANSI commences the application review process.
5.3ANSI shall review the application materials for completeness and request additional information if necessary. Failure of the CI to supply adequate materials shall be grounds for application dismissal.
5.4In accordance with the CAP procedures, ANSI shall conduct a review of its capability to carry out the assessment in a technically competent and timely manner.
5.5The application, supporting documents, and correspondences shall be in English.
6Preparation for Assessment
6.1If a decision is made to subcontract the assessment, such subcontracting shall be undertaken in accordance with CAP procedures and in full compliance with ISO/IEC 17011, clause 7.4.
6.2ANSI staff shall formally appoint an assessment team in accordance with the CAP procedures. The appointed assessment team shall be competent to undertake the assessment of the applicant.
6.3The applicant shall be given an opportunity to review the assessment team candidates and reject one or more candidates. Selected members of the assessment team should have no conflicts of interest with the applicant; assessors that have provided consultancy to the applicant shall not be chosen.
6.4ANSI staff shall provide the approved assessment team with the necessary information — including a copy of the application and previous assessment records — to conduct the document review and the subsequent assessment of the applicant CI.
6.5The assessment team shall conduct a document review in accordance with the CAP procedures. Following the document review, ANSI will provide the applicant with the nonconformities (NCRs) identified — if any. Based on the document review, ANSI may decide to proceed or not proceed with the onsite assessment, in which case the applicant CI shall be provided with the NCRs identified during the document review.
6.6ANSI may conduct an informational visit in agreement with the applicant in accordance with the CAP procedures. No consultancy shall be provided during such visits.
6.7Sampling of the sites to be visited shall be determined in accordance with CAP procedures. Such procedures shall ensure that a representative number of assessments have been conducted for proper evaluation of the competence of the applicant CI. ANSI shall assess all the CI premises where key activities (per ISO/IEC 17011, clause 7.5.7) are conducted.
6.8The assessment team shall work with the applicant to schedule the onsite assessment visit(s) at headquarters and key locations as applicable. Assessors shall develop and supply the applicant with the assessment plan in accordance with the CAP procedures.
7Onsite Assessment
7.1The onsite assessment shall commence with an opening meeting based on the requirements of CAP procedures.
7.2The ANSI assessment team shall conduct the onsite assessment(s) in accordance with the CAP procedures, and gather sufficient evidence about the applicant’s competence and compliance with ANSI/ASTM E2659 and other relevant policies and procedures.
7.3The ANSI assessment team shall analyze the findings and prepare the statements of NCRs and or opportunities for improvement (OFIs), if applicable. OFIs shall not constitute consultancy.
7.4The ANSI assessment team shall refer back to ANSI staff if clarification is needed.
7.5The ANSI assessment team shall conduct a closing meeting at which the results of the assessment, including NCRs and OFIs shall be presented to the applicant CI.
8Assessment Report
8.1Subsequent to the onsite assessment, lead assessors shall prepare appropriate reports in accordance with the CAP procedures. These reports shall document the assessments conducted and include references to any NCRs or OFIs identified. The lead assessor’s report shall cover items (a) through (k) of ISO/IEC 17011, clause 7.8.6 with the exception of item (h). ANSI shall bear ultimate responsibility for the assessment report.
8.2The reports shall be provided to the applicant CI with an invitation to comment on their factual accuracy.
8.3The CI shall be required to provide the proposed corrective action plans and submit evidence of implementation of these plans for the NCRs identified. Although OFIs do not require a corrective action response, the applicant is encouraged to address them. Assessors shall review the corrective actions and provide their responses to the applicant. ANSI may require that subsequent follow-up assessment(s) are conducted based on such factors as severity of the NCRs identified or the timeframe in which the corrective actions were implemented.
8.4The CI may appeal one or more NCRs.
9Decision on Accreditation
9.1When assessors determine that the applicant CI has satisfied all the requirements for accreditation, CAP staff shall convene the Evaluation Task Group (herein, ETG) of the CAPAC and provide the ETG members with all the necessary information — including the assessment reports, results of the resolution of NCRs, and any other pertinent information.
9.2For those cases when an assessment was conducted by, or with participation of, another accreditation body, CAP procedures shall ensure that the accreditation body operated in accordance with ISO/IEC 17011 and in a manner acceptable to the CAP.
9.3The recommendation of the ETG shall be reviewed by the CAPAC whose members, barring the exceptions due to conflict of interest and confidentiality, shall be provided with the assessment reports and results of the resolution of NCRs. This review may take place during the CAPAC meetings or remotely by individual members. After CAPAC members have ensured that all the necessary information has been provided to them, the CAPAC will then vote without undue delay on accreditation of the applicant in accordance with CAP-PL-302 and other CAP procedures.
9.4ANSI staff shall promptly notify the applicant CI of the CAPAC decision.
9.5If accreditation is granted, ANSI shall:
a)issue a certificate of accreditation in accordance with CAP procedures. This certificate shall comply with ISO/IEC 17011, clauses 7.9.4 and 7.9.5;
b)update ANSICA and the accreditation directory in accordance with CAP procedures; and
c)publicize the accreditation action in accordance with CAP procedures. If warranted, feedback received from the public may serve as basis for an extraordinary assessment by ANSI of the newly accredited CI.
9.6ANSI may withhold actions outlined in items (a) through (c) until the CI has paid all outstanding invoices owed to ANSI.
9.7If accreditation is not granted, the CI shall be notified of its further options including its right to appeal the CAPAC decision.
9.8Appeals against the decisions of the CAP shall be processed in accordance with ANSI appeals procedures.
10Continuing Accreditation — Surveillance and Reassessment
10.1The accreditation is granted for a five year period. Reassessment shall proceed similarly to the initial assessment, except that the experience gained during previous assessments shall be taken into account. ANSI shall ensure that the assessors are provided with these relevant records.
10.2Surveillance assessment of the accredited CI shall be conducted in accordance with the CAP procedures every year besides the year in which the CI undergoes reassessment. The purpose of surveillance assessments is to monitor the continued compliance of accredited CIs with appropriate ANSI policies.
10.3Surveillance assessment shall be less comprehensive than the initial assessments and reassessments. The surveillance assessment shall include a document review every year and onsite assessments during years one and three. If a need is determined by the assessors and confirmed by the CAPAC, ANSI shall also conduct onsite assessments in years two and four of the accreditation cycle. Surveillance onsite assessments shall be planned taking into account other surveillance activities.
10.4All CI premises from which one or more key activities are performed shall be assessed at least once within the five year accreditation cycle.
10.5ANSI requires the CI to propose the corrective action plan and a target implementation date within a limited timeframe for all NCRs identified during reassessment and surveillance activities.
10.6ANSI decisions on continuing accreditation shall be made by the CAPAC based on the results of reassessment or surveillance and in accordance with CAP-PL-302 and CAP procedures.
10.7ANSI may conduct extraordinary assessment(s) on accredited CIs for the following reasons:
a)significant organizational changes;
b)request for scope extension;
c)increased certificate training activity;
d)severity and/or multitude of NCRs identified during previous assessments;
e)complaints received against the subject CI;
f)relationships that cause real or perceived conflicts of interest;
g)other conditions deemed appropriate by the CAPAC ETG.
10.8The provision related to extraordinary assessments shall be incorporated into the agreement of accreditation with the CIs in order to inform them of this possibility.
10.9Accredited CIs shall be assessed an annual fee in accordance with the CAP fee schedule.
11Conditions for Reducing, Suspending, or Withdrawing Accreditation
11.1The CI may apply to request extension of the scope of ANSI accreditation. ANSI shall conduct due assessment based on the requirements of the new scope(s) which may include an onsite assessment.
11.2Decision on extension of scope shall be made by the CAPAC in accordance with CAP procedures once the CI has closed all NCRs related to the new scopes and paid all the fees related to scope extension.
11.3Based on CAP procedures, accreditation of the CI may be reduced, suspended, or withdrawn by the CAPAC for a persistent failure of the accredited CI to abide by relevant standards and ANSI policies and procedures.
11.4The CI may request ANSI to reduce or suspend its scope of accreditation or voluntarily withdraw from accreditation.

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