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U.S. Department of Defense Becomes First Federal Agency to Mandate Compliance with Global Criteria for Personnel Credentialing


Washington, DC, Mar 01, 2006

The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) is now requiring its agency personnel and contractors who perform certain Information Assurance functions to be certified by credentialing bodies that have been independently accredited by a third party. The new requirement became effective on December 19, 2005, with the signing of DoD Directive 8570.1 and its implementing manual 8570.1M. This is the federal government’s first venture into mandating increased accountability from personnel certification bodies.

The Directive highlights the growing importance the DoD places on the capabilities and professionalism of those working in the mission-critical areas of information technology and information assurance. The requirement is based upon international standard ISO/IEC 17024, Conformity assessment — General requirements for bodies operating certification of persons, which stipulates the guidelines for assessing independent personnel certification programs. Current estimates indicate that as many as ninety percent of U.S. personnel certification agencies have never been independently evaluated by a third party.

The DoD-referenced standard was first approved in 2003 when it received the endorsement of more than eighty nations who hold membership on the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC). Both ISO and IEC are membership organizations comprised of the official national standards coordinators in countries around the globe. The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) – the official U.S. member of the ISO and, via the U.S. National Committee, of the IEC – subsequently adopted ISO/IEC 17024 as an American National Standard.

The United States, via ANSI, was also the first nation to launch an accreditation program for personnel certification bodies based upon ISO/IEC 17024. Two of the nine personnel certification organizations currently accredited by the Institute provide information assurance certifications that would qualify under the DoD Directive.

“We are proud to have this high level recognition from the federal government of the importance of accredited personnel certification,” said Lane Hallenbeck, ANSI vice president of accreditation services. “We look forward to working with the certification agencies and companies in bringing value to their customers with the assurance that an independently evaluated certification credential has meaning.”

The DoD requirement is in line with the federal government’s reliance upon voluntary consensus standards and conformity assessment programs, as called for in the National Technology Transfer and Advancement Act (P.L. 104-113). Another indication of DoD’s dedication to the issue is the recent change to Title 10 of the U.S. Code to permit the Services to use appropriated funds to pay for commercial credentials for military personnel.

ANSI is a private non-profit organization whose mission is to enhance U.S. global competitiveness and the American quality of life by promoting, facilitating, and safeguarding the integrity of the voluntary standardization and conformity assessment system. Comprised of businesses, professional societies and trade associations, standards developers, government agencies, and consumer and labor organizations, the ANSI Federation represents the diverse interests of more than 125,000 entities and 3.5 million professionals worldwide.

In addition to ISO and IEC, the Institute is also a member of the International Accreditation Forum (IAF), the Pacific Area Standards Congress (PASC) and the Pan American Standards Commission (COPANT). ANSI has offices in New York City and Washington, DC.

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