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Frequently Asked Questions

The Membership

1) How does IAAR operate?

The IAAR meets regularly, approximately 3 times a year. As a rule, meetings take two days, including a board meeting, general session, and committee meetings. A typical agenda of the general session includes topics such as Board reports, accreditation body reports, new business issues to be considered, issues that are common to all registrars and Committee reports. Guest speakers contribute on specific topics of interest.

2) How does IAAR facilitate consistency among registrars?

This is accomplished in different ways. Nominated Committees, comprising elected individuals, get together to identify issues and propose the best course of action.

Nominated individuals or groups of individuals participate in the development of sector schemes (e.g. TL 9000 or AS 9100). The purpose here is twofold: first, to ensure that the registrar perspective is brought into the scheme. Second, to disseminate the information among the members of IAAR.

Nominated individuals or groups of individuals participate in activities of the International Accreditation Forum (IAF). Here, the main purpose is to bring the registrar perspective and the North America expertise to assist the Forum in its own deliberations related to consistency and mutual recognition.

3) What role, if any, do accreditation bodies and IAAR play in each other's activities?

Since its inception in the early 90's, IAAR has sought a productive relationship with accreditation bodies. For instance, ANAB and the SCC are represented in almost every IAAR meeting. Likewise, IAAR is represented in ANAB's Accreditation Council. The exchange of ideas and experience between the two parties has been instrumental in improving consistency and adding value to the business.

Registrars And Registered Organizations

1) Regarding registrar service consistency, what is the role of IAAR as compared to that of accreditation bodies?

The role of IAAR and the role of accreditation bodies are distinct. The main role of accreditation bodies is to ensure that registrars operate in a consistent manner, and in conformance with requirements that are specific to the registrar industry (e.g., ISO/IEC 17021). IAAR's role is to facilitate this consistency. This is accomplished, for instance, through input given to accreditation bodies related to the registration process.

2) Do registrars need to be registered to the ISO 9000 series in order for them to gain accreditation?

No. There are specific requirements established for registrars. For instance, ISO/IEC 17021 specifies requirements to ensure that registrars operate third-party quality management system registration in a consistent and reliable manner. These include elements such as organization, subcontracting, quality system, internal audits and management review. Competence of audit teams represents a significant requirement that registrars need to address in order gain accreditation.

3) What are the IAAR views on the benefits of registration? Will, for instance, registered companies produce better products than their non-registered competitors? Will their bottom line look healthier?

Simply stated, registration is like a "fitness program" for industry. It brings discipline and consistency to the organization as it manages itself and requires that registered organizations remain effective in managing themselves. As requirements related to customer satisfaction and continual improvement are part of the ISO 9001 standard, improved product quality should be expected as a matter of course. Registration is one way to provide assurance that the registered organization is capable of supplying products or services that meet specified requirements. As to improvements to the bottom line, it seems fair to expect that organizations that maintain discipline and consistency in the way they manage themselves should perform better financially. In IAAR's latest survey, 86% of the respondents claimed a Return on Investment (ROI) from their quality management system.

4) To what extent is registration linked to product certification?

Registration involves only the assessment of the organization's management system. It does not involve product certification.

5) Will IAAR help registered organizations resolve issues (e.g., complaints) between them and their registrar?

IAAR does not get involved in disputes between registered organizations and their registrars who have well-established procedures to handle customer complaints, disputes and appeals. Mechanisms are built into the registration program to ensure that complaints are thoroughly addressed.

6) What will IAAR do in case someone complains about a member registrar?

IAAR will review the case to determine whether there has been a violation of IAAR's Code of Conduct. If positive, IAAR will discuss the matter with the registrar in question and will take action as appropriate. If the complaint in question relates to a dispute between the parties, IAAR will take no action beyond issuing appropriate notification to the registrar.

Registrars And The Public

1) What is the role of IAAR in case of product recalls involving a registered organization and an IAAR member registrar?

IAAR encourages member registrars to have appropriate systems in place to thoroughly address product recalls.

2) What action, if any, will IAAR take in case a person or an organization contacts IAAR regarding a product recall involving an IAAR member registrar?

IAAR will advise the person/organization to contact the registrar. The information received by IAAR will be relayed to the registrar in question.

3) In case of a product recall, or in case a product is placed on the market under allegedly unsafe conditions, does that mean that the organization should not have been registered? Could that also mean that the registrar did not do its job right?

There are too many variables or issues that could result in a defective or unsafe product. To immediately assume that the organization should not have been registered and/or the registrar did not do a proper job would be unfair and premature. In any event, IAAR encourages a thorough verification by the registrar to determine with objectivity, whether or not the organization's management system has remained effective in dealing with the issue.

4) What happens if the verification done by the registrar reveals that the product in question was indeed defective or unsafe?

Registrars have well-established conditions for granting, maintaining, extending, reducing, suspending and withdrawing registration. Once the registrar has conducted its own verification and there is substantiated evidence of a system breakdown, the registrar should make a decision regarding continuation (or not) of registration.

5) Under what other conditions can registration be suspended or withdrawn?

Registration can be suspended for a limited amount of time. Reasons include failure to satisfactorily address significant management system non-conformities detected during periodic surveillance within a specified time frame.

6) Are registrars subjected to periodic surveillance by the accreditation bodies the same way registered organizations are? If yes, how often?

The accreditation body conducts office audits and witness audits of registrars; the former is intended to assess the effectiveness of the registrar's management systems. The latter is intended to assess the effectiveness of audit teams in the field. While office audits are usually conducted once a year, the number of witness audits varies depending upon the accreditation held by the registrar (e.g., AS 9100 series & ISO 14001), and the number of certificates issued for each particular sector in which the registrar holds qualification (e.g., AS9100 or TL 9000). The larger the portfolio and the scope of accreditation/qualification, the larger the number of witness audits.

Registrars And The Different Industry Sectors

1) How does IAAR view the proliferation of ISO 9000 base sector specifications for different industry sectors?

IAAR recognizes that due to the generic nature of the ISO 9000 series, sector specifications add value to the registration process in that they build upon ISO 9001 to address certain important elements in greater detail.

2) What is the downside of sector specifications, if any?

The lack of a "harmonized" process to address sector specific requirements for registrars has resulted in a multitude of "additional requirements" that have a significant impact on the registrar's cost structure.

 

FAQs

The purpose of this section is twofold:

First, to educate the reader on the role of IAAR and its membership, as we strive to facilitate accredited management systems registration throughout North America in a consistent manner, to promote the integrity and credibility of our industry.

Second, to address various issues related to the way registrars conduct their business.

The FAQ's cover four main areas:

  • The Membership: here, we address the various ways in which the membership works together towards achieving the objectives of the Association;
  • Registrars and their registered organizations;
  • Registrars and the public: the main purpose of this section is to inform the public as to what to expect from the registrar industry; and
  • Registrars and the different industry sectors.