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Accreditation against ISO

We practice what we preach: HQAI is accredited!

Accreditation is the “certification of the certifying body” by an official accreditation body, usually a government agency. This process ensures that HQAI complies with ISO relevant standards and builds trust with stakeholders, such as people affected by crises, audited organisations, and donors. HQAI received accreditation against ISO/IEC 17065:2012 for its CHS certification scheme in December 2018.

Accreditation? Certification? ISO? Who evaluates what? The following lines will clarify some concepts and benefits.

Accredited against ISO 17065

HQAI is accredited against ISO 17065 for its CHS certification scheme since 2018.

The 2023 first surveillance audit report can be found here.

The 2022 renewal audit report can be found here.

The 2021 third surveillance audit report can be found here.

The 2020 second surveillance audit report can be found here.

About certification BY HQAI

HQAI offers third-party quality assurance services (= independent audits) to organisations that work with vulnerable people and at-risk communities.
As opposed to first-party (self-assessment) and second-party (peer review) assessments, third-party quality assurance is conducted by an independent body. It is generally considered the most robust means to generate a reliable, objective assessment of the extent to which a standard is applied. Thousands of organisations across sectors use the process to credibly demonstrate compliance with standards and as a tool for learning and continuous improvement.

HQAI conducts certification audits against the Core Humanitarian Standard on Quality and Accountability (CHS) and hence is entitled to certify that audited organisations comply (or not) with this standard. Organisations that are certified against the CHS by HQAI may use HQAI’s certification mark to objectively demonstrate their performance.

About the accreditation OF HQAI

As an active member of the humanitarian and development sector, HQAI is accountable to people affected by crises, audited partners, donors, as well as other interested parties. Since the beginning of operations in 2016, HQAI has conducted certification audits in line with relevant ISO requirements. While accreditation is not mandatory, we believe that independent audits are key to improving and reliably demonstrating quality and competence, as well as for HQAI.

Accreditation was delivered in December 2018 and covers HQAI-operated certification against the CHS. Accreditation formally recognises the quality of HQAI’s certification services. It also validates the robustness of CHS certificates issued by HQAI, thus increasing their value for audited partners. This validation applies to all certificates currently in vigour.

To maintain the accredited status, HQAI has to undergo annual maintenance audits with the accreditation body ACCREDIA.

How does Accreditation Work?

To become accredited, a certification body must undergo a rigorous evaluation process by an accredited body. The evaluation process typically involves the following steps:

  1. Documentation review: The accreditation body reviews the certification body's documentation to ensure that it meets the requirements of ISO 17065. For example, it checks the records of registered auditors and performance reviews and monitors their work, the auditing processes, the complaints and appeals procedures, amongst many other aspects.
  2. On-site assessment: The accreditation body assesses the certification body's operations. This assessment includes interviews with personnel and external stakeholders, direct observation of audits, and the review of audit records.
  3. Decision: The accreditation body decides whether to grant accreditation to the certification body if it complies with all the criteria of the ISO standard.
Accreditation is the "certification" of the certifying body. It creates trust in the robustness of HQAI's services, hence even more trust in HQAI's certification agains the CHS.

Certification is one of the services HQAI offers for organisations.

A Certification Scheme is a set of requirements with which the certified product, process or service must comply. Schemes generally also include instructions for how the certified product, process, service can maintain its certification, an activity known as “surveillance”. For many stakeholders certification builds trust.

HQAI’s Certification Scheme operates within the CHS Alliance verification scheme and is ruled by international standards (ISO/IEC 17065:2012).

Accreditation is the “certification of the certifying body," hence of HQAI.

Accreditation for HQAI-operated CHS certification was obtained in December 2018.

Accreditation adds another layer of trust: products, processes and services that are certified by an accredited certification body are acknowledged globally and independently trusted. Accreditation hence contributes to improving the reputation of certified organisations.

The Accreditation Body ACCREDIA is a member of the international Accreditation Forum and a signatory of the Multi-Lateral Agreement (IAF MLA).

Signatory members of the MLA are rigorously peer evaluated (= they evaluate each other) to ensure that appropriate and consistent assessments against ISO/IEC 17065 are being performed. The mechanism of mutual recognition between IAF members legitimises HQAI’s accreditation globally.

Not all readers know that an international conformity assessment standard exists for the operation of certifying organisations.
ISO/IEC 17065:2012 “Requirements for bodies certifying products, processes and services” has a number of requirements for organisational structure, quality management system, competence of personnel, confidentiality, certification scheme and process, responsiveness to complaints and appeals, risk management etc.

ISO/IEC 17065:2012 rules HQAI’s processes and ensures that HQAI meets international regulations.

Credibility and Trust: Accreditation enhances the credibility and trustworthiness of certification bodies. It signals stakeholders that an independent body has assessed the certification body and that it meets international standards for performing audits.

International Recognition: Accreditation evaluates the competence and expertise of certification bodies in their specific domains, assuring stakeholders of their ability to conduct accurate assessments. Accreditation bodies, often signatories to mutual recognition agreements, ensure that certifications from accredited bodies are widely accepted across national borders, reinforcing their credibility.

Impartiality and Independence: Accreditation ensures that certification bodies operate impartially and independently. This means they are free from conflicts of interest and can render fair and unbiased assessments. For example, a typical accreditation audit checks that we have systems in place to ensure any certification decision is free from external pressures and based on objective facts.

Consistency and Reliability: Accreditation promotes consistency and reliability in the certification process. It ensures that the certification decisions are based on objective and transparent criteria and that auditors follow the same methodology in all audits. This is why the accreditation audit regularly observes audits and pays particular attention to how HQAI trains the auditors and monitors their performance.

Continual Improvement: Accreditation fosters a culture of constant improvement within certification bodies. The reports provide feedback that supports certification bodies in identifying and addressing areas for improvement.