ASI Agreement Q&As
On 2 August, SBP entered into an agreement with Accreditation Services International (ASI) - now Assurance Services International - for the management of the SBP accreditation program. The following list of questions and answers has been prepared to assist in communicating what that agreement will mean in practice for SBP-approved and applicant Certification Bodies and SBP Certificate Holders.
In the interests of getting the SBP certification scheme to market in a timely fashion, SBP undertook the approvals role. It was always the intention that, in time, that role would be managed by an external accreditation service provider. The agreement with ASI marks a positive next step in the development of the SBP certification scheme.
Questions & Answers
Q: Now that SBP has entered into an agreement with ASI for the management of the SBP accreditation program what does that mean for existing SBP-approved Certification Bodies?
A: Existing SBP-approved Certification Bodies will be required to transition over to the ASI accreditation program for SBP certification, which will mean they will ultimately have to become accredited by ASI if they wish to continue to provide SBP certification services to their clients and prospective clients.
Q: Within what timeframe will SBP-approved Certification Bodies have to become accredited by ASI?
A: It is expected that full accreditation by ASI should be achieved by SBP-approved Certification Bodies by 31 December 2017.
Q: What are the next steps, what support will be provided and by whom?
A: After 2 August 2016, SBP will no longer accept applications for SBP approval from Certification Bodies to provide SBP certification.
SBP-approved Certification Bodies wishing to continue to offer SBP certification services will need to apply for accreditation by ASI and will need to have reached acceptance as an ASI applicant SBP Certification Body by no later than 31 October 2016.
There will be a transition period until 31 December 2017, during which time the SBP approval program will be phased out and the ASI accreditation program for SBP certification will be phased in. During this period, required surveillance of SBP-approved Certification Bodies prior to accreditation by ASI will be carried out by ASI on behalf of SBP.
During the transition period, SBP and ASI will be available to support SBP-approved Certification Bodies.
ASI has published a suite of documents in support of the SBP accreditation program on its website at: http://www.accreditation-services.com/archives/asi-publishes-documents-for-sbp-accreditation.
Q: If a Certification Body that is not currently SBP-approved wishes to offer SBP certification services which organisation should it contact, SBP or ASI?
A: A prospective applicant Certification Body should contact ASI.
Q: What will happen to any applicant Certification Bodies that have already been accepted as applicants by SBP?
A: Any applicant Certification Bodies, that is, those already accepted as an applicant by SBP will need to decide whether or not they wish to pursue accreditation by ASI for SBP certification. If the decision is to pursue accreditation by ASI they will have until 31 October 2016 to apply to ASI.
Q: What if an SBP-approved Certification Body does not wish to become accredited by ASI?
A: If an SBP-approved Certification Body does not become accredited by ASI for SBP certification it will no longer be able to offer SBP certification services to its clients or prospective clients. The cut-off point, from which time SBP-approved Certification Bodies that are not pursuing accreditation by ASI will no longer be able to offer SBP certification services, is 31 December 2017.
Q: What happens to existing Certificate Holders if their SBP-approved Certification Body does not pursue accreditation by ASI or fails to achieve accreditation by ASI?
A: If existing SBP-approved Certification Bodies do not pursue accreditation by ASI or fail to achieve accreditation by ASI for SBP certification they will no longer be able to offer SBP certification services to their clients or prospective clients. That means that if existing Certificate Holders wish to remain SBP-certified they will need to enter into a working relationship with a new Certification Body that is pursuing or has achieved accreditation by ASI for SBP certification. In such circumstances, SBP will assist in the process of transferring Certificate Holders from one Certification Body to another.
Q: When must an existing Certificate Holder transfer if their SBP-approved Certification Body does not pursue accreditation by ASI or fails to achieve accreditation by ASI?
A: From 31 December 2017, CBs must be accredited by ASI to offer SBP certification services (the SBP approval program will no longer be in operation). Therefore, the certificate holder must transfer to an accredited CB within three months of the end of its SBP approval, that is, before 31 March 2018. If the surveillance audit is due before that date then the transfer must be made sooner to allow the audit to be undertaken by an accredited CB.
Q: As a Certificate Holder, does it mean that I have to start from scratch and undergo the initial, main audit all over again?
A: No. As an existing Certificate Holder you will be subject to the annual surveillance audit and will not be expected to repeat the main audit that was necessary for initial certification.