Can an Accreditation Body that is linked to a separate legal entity that provides consulting services have personnel (internal staff or external contractors) carry out consulting activities for that linked body and meet the impartiality requirements of ISO/IEC 17011:2017 Section 4.4?
STANDARD: ISO/IEC 17011 · CLAUSE: Clause 4.4 · TOPIC: Impartiality
|No, unless exceptional conditions are met.|
If the AB’s ‘internal’ staff is providing consulting services, the AB would need to demonstrate simultaneous compliance with several clauses of the standard, namely:
– 4.4.4: staff acting objectively, in absence of pressures and disclosing potential conflict of interests;
– 4.4.6-9: risk analysis to impartiality, stakeholder consideration of acceptable public perception if AB internal staff provides consultancy, etc.;
– 4.4.12.b) and d): effective mechanisms to prevent influence on the outcome of accreditation activities.
– 4.4.13: nothing can be said or implied that would suggest that accreditation would be simpler, easier, faster or less expensive if any specified person(s) or consultancy were used;
The analysis of acceptability needs to include a review of the functions that the staff providing consultancy for the ‘Linked Body’ are assigned to do in the AB and the risk arising can differ significantly depending on the tasks performed. It should be noted that the standard forbids any staff providing consultancy to participate in accreditation decision-making.
Regarding clause 4.4.6, note that it may not be sufficient to forbid consulting and assessing to the same customer, to ensure that self-evaluation risks are sufficiently mitigated.
The note to clause 4.4.13 indicates that AB’s personnel can participate as lecturers in training and similar activities, but states that they cannot provide specific solutions to a CAB, so any form of consultancy that includes this would violate the clause.