Accreditation is the independent assessment of conformity assessment bodies against recognized standards to ensure their impartiality and competence.
ISO/IEC 17011 is the accreditation standard used in this evaluation.
Through the application of national and international standards; government, procurers and consumers can have confidence in the calibration and test results, inspection reports and certifications provided.
Accreditation bodies are established in many countries with the primary purpose of ensuring that conformity assessment bodies are subject to oversight by an authoritative body.
Accreditation bodies, which have been evaluated by peers as competent, sign arrangements that enhance the acceptance of products and services across national borders, thereby creating a framework to support international trade through the removal of technical barriers.
These arrangements are managed by the Global Accreditation Foundation (GAF), in the fields of management systems, other similar programs of conformity assessment, and in the field of laboratory and inspection accreditation.
The primary purpose of GAF is two-fold.
Firstly, to ensure that its accreditation body members only accredit bodies that are competent to do the work they undertake and are not subject to conflicts of interest.
The second purpose of GAF is to establish mutual recognition arrangements between its accreditation body members which reduces risks to businesses and its customers by ensuring that an accredited certificate may be relied upon anywhere in the world.
Membership to the GAF Association (GAFA) is open to organizations that conduct and administer a program by which they accredit registrars for certification/registration of quality systems, products, services, personnel, environmental management systems or similar program of conformity assessment.
GAFA Members consist of associations of Accreditation Bodies, and possibly other bodies, that cooperate within an identified geographic region to establish and maintain a multilateral recognition agreement based on a peer evaluation system, and represent the interests of accredited entities, industry, users and similar organizations that engage in, are subject to, make use of, accept or rely on conformity assessment results from bodies accredited by Accreditation Body Members of GAFA, and which support the purpose of GAFA.
A Recognized Regional Accreditation Groups has been peer evaluated to confirm that its membership and a GAFA peer evaluation criteria and processes meet or exceed GAFA requirements.
GAF Association Members are organizations or associations that represent a similar group of entities internationally or within an economy or region. These entities are associated with program by GAF Accreditation Body Members supporting GAF objectives.
To apply for membership to GAFA, please contact us by using the system at the bottom of this page.
Accreditation bodies around the world, which have been evaluated by peers as competent, have signed an agreement that enhances the acceptance of products and services across national borders.
The purpose of this agreement is to ensure mutual recognition of accredited certification between accreditation bodies and subsequently acceptance of accredited certification in many markets based on one accreditation.
GAF accreditation provides businesses that are procuring products and services with greater confidence in their consistency of quality. Businesses can therefore select suppliers from further afield in the knowledge that they will receive products and services that conform to a recognized standard.
Having products assessed and certified as conforming to a particular standard allows manufacturers and service providers to distinguish themselves from less reputable suppliers, thereby creating a competitive advantage.
GAF accreditation ensures that standards, specifications and conformity assessment methods are the same, allowing one certificate or certification to be recognized around the world. This lowers the cost of accredited certification and reduces the risk of products or services being rejected by international trading partners.
GAFA represents an internationally recognized ‘stamp of approval’ to demonstrate compliance against agreed standards and requirements. Consequently, risk is minimized, as decisions will be based on reliable certificates.
Many specifiers, such as government agencies, have recognized the importance of credible accreditation programs that are developed against internationally recognized standards. GAF accreditation helps regulators meet their own legislated responsibilities by providing a globally recognized system to accept accredited certification.
GAF accreditation provides governments with a credible and robust framework on which to further develop and enhance government to government bilateral and multilateral international trade agreements.
The long-term aim is the fully accepted use and recognition, by both public and private industries, of accredited certification, including certificates from other countries. In this way, the free-trade goal of “certified once, accepted everywhere” will be realized.
Consumer confidence can be gained from goods or services that bear a mark or carry a certificate of conformity. Accreditation through GAF ensures that such goods and services placed on the market, from which ever country of origin, meet standards of quality and safety.
GAF supports its process with training for Peer Evaluators. Training is designed to develop peer evaluators and covers items such as interpretation of adopted criteria, evaluation techniques and procedures. From time to time GAF will cover special sessions to explore new and emerging issues.
GAF periodically provides information on up-coming training sessions via email to our many members to assist them in learning the many new ISO requirements and to help them maintain their credentials.
Additionally, accreditation Regional Groups also offer training events that members may find of interest as well as more logistically accessible. GAF encourages all members to use the private Learning Management System platform to explore additional opportunities for training.
GAF has adopted the ISO Code of Ethics
(The following is a small portion of the Code. For the complete Code, please see the posting on the ISO.org website.)
ISO members are committed to developing globally relevant International Standards by :
Ensuring fair and responsive application of the principles of due process, transparency, openness, impartiality and voluntary nature of standardization by :
• organizing national input in a timely and effective manner, taking into account all relevant interests at national level ;
• taking appropriate measures to facilitate the participation of consumers and other affected parties from civil society, SMEs and public authorities.
ISO parties are committed to :
Making their best endeavors to contribute to ISO’s consensus-building mechanisms, coherence and global relevance by :
• applying ISO’s authorized procedures properly and diligently ;
• preventing conflicts of interest by communicating in a fair and transparent manner to interested parties when work on new standards is initiated and subsequently on the progress of their development, ensuring that market needs are the driver for the development of standards.
Promoting the implementation of International Standards and associated good conformity assessment practices In regard to the implementation of ISO International Standards and related conformity assessment activities,
ISO members are committed to :
Promoting the implementation of International Standards and other ISO normative publications effectively to support the dissemination of technology, good practice and sustainable development, and to reduce barriers to trade, including those that may be created by technical regulations;
Contributing to the development of standards and guides for conformity assessment and promoting their adoption and fair use, in particular as far as requirements for integrity, objectivity and impartiality are concerned ;
implementing the requirements of (ISO/IEC) conformity assessment standards and guides in their own conformity assessment activities if they, or a body related to them, undertake such activities.
Monitoring ISO’s integrity and protecting ISO’s image.
GAF is an international association of organizations that have agreed to work together on a worldwide basis to achieve common trade facilitation objectives.
We are a major world forum for developing the principles and practices for the conduct of conformity assessment that will deliver the confidence needed for market acceptance. We act through the accreditation of those bodies that certify or register management systems, products, personnel and/or inspection.
We promote the worldwide acceptance of certificates of conformity issued by inspection, certification and/or registration bodies accredited by an Accreditation Body Member of GAF, and seek to add value for all stakeholders through what we do and through our programs.
We bring together, on a worldwide basis, partner accreditation bodies and representatives of stakeholder groups that seek to facilitate global trade through the acceptance of accredited certificates of conformity.
We develop and/or recognize appropriate processes and practices for the conduct of conformity assessment worldwide and ensure their universal application by GAF Accreditation Body Members and their accredited certification, registration and/or inspection bodies.
We consult widely with stakeholders in developing our programs and we work to deliver the best possible standard of conformity assessment in order to provide our stakeholders with a value added outcome.
We influence world trade through linking and working with other key international organizations and industry groups.
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