Published: 16 Sep 2020

The CQI is a member of the United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS). In essence, UKAS Members are the equivalent of its shareholders in a not-for-profit context. There are 19 UKAS Members including the UK government, professional bodies and trade associations. 

Context  

UKAS seeks input from its members and over 50 governmental, regulatory, professional institute and trade/consumer body organisations to inform strategic priorities and plans through its UKAS Policy Advisory Forum (PAF). The UKAS PAF meets at least once a year and the more focused sub-group, UKAS Policy Advisory Committee (PAC) meets three or four times a year.  

The September UKAS PAF focused on four themes: Brexit, Covid-19, Technology and Technical expertise. The following items will be of interest to CQI members and IRCA certificated auditors. 

Covid-19  

The view of UKAS Members, shared by the CQI, is that UKAS and the associated conformity assessment industry have navigated the Covid-19 pandemic well, moving swiftly to remote working and remote audit. UKAS is now considering how this shift will translate into the new normal, as indeed are bodies and professionals engaged in audit and assessment. The CQI view given was that Covid-19 has removed perceived barriers to new ways of auditing, and this provides a real opportunity to shift how we do things. The response to the pandemic resulted in established assessment methods being adapted to tools such as Zoom and MS Teams. Looking ahead, we should consider new ways of delivering audit and assessment outcomes. UKAS Covid-19 related resources can support you. 

Brexit  

Throughout the pandemic, Brexit has remained very much on the UKAS agenda. UKAS believes Brexit will not have an impact on UKAS’ membership of the global accreditation bodies - the International Accreditation Forum (IAF) and International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation (ILAC) - and UKAS intends to remain a member of the European Cooperation for Accreditation (EA) where it is a valued member. UKAS Brexit resources provide further information.  

CE Marking  

As part of its Brexit plans, the UK government has developed the UK Conformity Assessed (UKCA) mark as a replacement for the CE mark. The question as to mutual recognition between the UK and the EU of their respective UKCA and CE mark has not been resolved. This is something to be monitored if you are importing relevant products into the UK or exporting to the EU. The UK government has guidance on the use of the UKCA mark and the UKAS Brexit resources are also helpful. 

Quality 4.0 

The UK Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) is starting work with the UK Quality Infrastructure on how standards, measurement and conformity assessment respond to and best support industry in the fourth industrial revolution. As outlined in the CQI’s report, The Future of Work, the quality profession and voluntary standards will have an important role to play in helping society maximise benefit from technological innovation at speed, while de-risking potential downsides.   

UKAS technical expertise  

UKAS is looking for technical experts and assessors to support its operations and strategic plan. CQI members who are interested can find further information and apply on the UKAS website.  

UKAS accreditation marks  

As part of a brand update, UKAS plans to modify its accreditation logos. A transition plan will be communicated in the new year.  

New UKAS Member and PAF member 

The Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment (IEMA) has joined as a UKAS Member and the Institute of Directors (IoD) has joined as a PAF member. The CQI welcomed these additions. As highlighted in our recent report, The Future of Work, we recognise that society increasingly expects, not just quality products and services from organisations, but also quality behaviour towards an organisation's wider stakeholders. This focus on interested parties supported by leadership commitment was reflected in the 2015 revision of ISO 9001, and having IEMA and the IoD within the UKAS community is a positive move.  

Accredited vs Unaccredited certification  

CQI members and IRCA certificated auditors have an ongoing challenge navigating ‘unaccredited certificates’ and this topic continues on the UKAS agenda. The industry statement issued in 2019, which followed CQI’s work in this area, goes some way to creating a unified position in the UK on this topic. Members may find this document useful within their organisations and purchasing teams. The CQI articles on ‘The accreditation of conformity assessment bodies’ and ‘The dangers of cowboy certification’ may also be of interest. 

IAF/ILAC merger  

These global accreditation umbrella bodies are intending to merge in 2024 to create a single global accreditation body, creating efficiencies for both bodies and for members and stakeholders. 

UKAS 25th anniversary  

UKAS is celebrating its silver jubilee. UKAS ‘Our history’ is an interesting read. 

Vincent Desmond, CEO, CQI