FAQ 12

What is the meaning of “familiarizing technical experts with the relevant requirements and procedures used in the accreditation process” as used in the standard?

STANDARD: ISO/IEC 17011  ·  CLAUSE:  ·  TOPIC: Competence of AB personnel


This will vary based upon how a technical expert is used by each AB in the accreditation process. The technical expert should be familiar with the relevant information that is applicable to the role they have been assigned for the assessment.

The technical expert is generally responsible for assessing technical competency of the CAB for specific conformity activities and therefore does not need to be trained to the level of an assessor.

The familiarization process of the technical experts could include information sessions (telephonic / workshops/ documented guidance, briefing, videos, …etc.) to give an overview of the relevant accreditation scheme requirements and AB’s procedures, namely use of assessment checklists and documents, their expected role and tasks to perform.

FAQ 11

Can roles and responsibilities defined in a job description meet the requirement for the AB to “authorize personnel”?

STANDARD: ISO/IEC 17011  ·  CLAUSE: c)  ·  TOPIC: Competence of AB personnel


It depends on the documented process of the AB, but this could be a means of authorizing personnel for certain activities if the job description identified the concerned person(s). Other means are also possible.

FAQ 10

How can an AB demonstrate competency of the assessment team for procedures/methods developed and validated by the CAB?

STANDARD: ISO/IEC 17011  ·  CLAUSE: 6.1.3  ·  TOPIC: Competence of AB personnel


The assessment team must have knowledge of the principles (competence with similar standard methods, technology, technique, relevant technical experience, etc.) of the CAB developed procedures/methods. The assessment team must also have competency to evaluate the validation techniques implemented by the CAB.


How can an accreditation body effectively manage competency for all technical areas of accreditation when the AB itself may not have staff that are technically competent in every area? What approach can be taken and is it acceptable for someone to deem competency when not competent in that area themselves?

STANDARD: ISO/IEC 17011  ·  CLAUSE: 6.1.3  ·  TOPIC: Competence of AB personnel / Decision-maker


Demonstration of competence can be done by many ways. The authorization of competence will depend on the documented process and associated records and evidence that the AB requires (interviews with technical peers, feedback from CABs, records of training, years of relevant experience, etc.). An AB may not have staff that will, themselves, be competent in every technical area related to the accreditation schemes they offer. However, the AB must have a documented process to ensure they can evaluate competency by effective means and authorize staff who can evaluate the required evidence to determine competency for specific accreditation activities.


Systems to identify competent people to deem others competent are sometimes circular or impossibly complex.  How is it possible to meet this requirement of the standard?

STANDARD: ISO/IEC 17011  ·  CLAUSE: 6.1.3  ·  TOPIC: Competence of AB personnel


This problem is unavoidable when the AB starts operating a new accreditation scheme. However, if the process for determining competence is robust and tested in other, preferably similar, accreditation areas, it should generate enough confidence in the competence evaluation of a new accreditation scheme.


How can an AB ensure its evaluation methods are effective to demonstrate competence of personnel?

STANDARD: ISO/IEC 17011  ·  CLAUSE: 6.1.3  ·  TOPIC: Competence of AB personnel


Proactively, the AB should ensure appropriate allocation of qualified and suitably experienced personnel to monitor others, ensuring that feedback and /or outcomes of monitoring are actioned upon for continuous improvement with re-evaluation to confirm improvements. Reactively, the AB should monitor complaints and other feedback regarding the assessment process and take appropriate corrective action and/or improvement initiatives when issues are identified with competency.

The effectiveness of the evaluation methods can be checked through the good performance of services, level and nature of complaints and external feedback.
ISO/IEC 17021-1:2015 annex B lists possible evaluation methods and the conditions to apply them effectively.


What are the minimum requirements for decision makers? Must these be technical experts? Will a resume suffice on meeting competence requirements?

STANDARD: ISO/IEC 17011  ·  CLAUSE:  ·  TOPIC: Competence of AB personnel / Decision-maker


The requirements in ISO/IEC 17011:2017 are expressed qualitatively, not quantitatively, meaning that although the subjects listed in the clauses need to be known, the level of knowledge may vary according to the functions actually performed – the final requirement will be that each person or function will need to demonstrate sufficient knowledge to enable him/her to competently perform his/her job.  

So, decision makers may not have the same competencies as the assessment team.  The level of knowledge in the decision-making processes for accreditation decisions is often structured as follows:
– Higher for the ABs rules and procedures;
– Medium to high for the accreditation and accreditation scheme requirements and relevant guidance and application documents;
– Low for CAB scheme requirements and/or specific technical expertise related to the scope of accreditation.     

However, the level of competency in the area of technical expertise and/or CAB scheme requirements may need to be of a higher level in some cases (granting, extension, sanctions, appeals, scheme requirements, etc.).  As such, the AB may require different competency requirements for different types of accreditation decisions. Notwithstanding, the AB may have mechanisms to introduce additional expertise when required.  

A resume or CV is unlikely to contain enough information to demonstrate all the competence requirements for all types of decisions and schemes, but a resume or CV supported with further evidence is likely to be acceptable.  Further evidence, as appropriate and applicable, may include results of an exam, interview records, references from known peers, training records, meeting minutes etc. – see ISO/IEC 17021-1 Annexes B and C


What level of depth and what amount of detail must be documented in the competence criteria?

STANDARD: ISO/IEC 17011  ·  CLAUSE: 6.1.2  ·  TOPIC: Competence of AB personnel


The competency criteria should address the functions listed in Annex A per accreditation scheme (as a minimum) – for example, Team Leader, Assessor, Expert, Decision-Maker, or the corresponding persons involved in the function as a whole: the assessment team, the decision-making committee or process, etc.  The competence criteria should be documented to the extent necessary to ensure that competent persons are chosen for their function/role in the accreditation process.


Clarification of “distinctly different” as it applies to situations where an AB is linked to a body providing consultancy or conformity assessment services, ISO/IEC 17011 has requirements for the AB including that it has a distinctly different name, logos and symbols (cl 4.4.12(c)).

Example is: “Robert Smith Consultancy” and “Robert Smith Accreditation” and/or entities with similar looking logos and/or symbols

STANDARD: ISO/IEC 17011  ·  CLAUSE: 4.4.12 c)  ·  TOPIC: Impartiality  


The name of an accreditation body shall not contain identical/similar parts of the name of a body providing consultancy or conformity assessment services, if those parts are personnel names or not commonly used, because that means that the names are not distinctly different, which violates the requirement of ISO/IEC 17011:2017 cl. 4.4.12 c).  The example presented would not fulfil the requirements.

The same requirement to be distinctly different also applies to the logos and symbols of an AB and a body providing consultancy or conformity assessment services.


Does “residual risk” need to be identified and documented at the same time as the demonstration of elimination or minimization of an identified risk to impartiality?

STANDARD: ISO/IEC 17011  ·  CLAUSE: 4.4.7&4.4.8  ·  TOPIC: Impartiality  


It is required that when a risk is identified, the AB reacts upon it, to eliminate or minimize it.  If a risk is sufficiently low, it can also be directly accepted without elimination or mitigation. If a risk is eliminated, no residual risk should remain, but if a risk is minimized, a residual risk always remains.

It is this residual risk arising from the mitigation that needs to be documented, and this is required to be done before its review (§.4.4.8) and acceptance to occur.