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NATA's International Activities and Role


NATA’s national interest and public benefit role extends into the international sphere.

NATA’s Signatory Status in International Mutual Recognition Arrangements (MRA’s)

NATA is an inaugural APLAC MRA signatory for testing, calibration, reference material producer and inspection accreditation; and ILAC MRA signatory for calibration, testing and inspection. (There is no ILAC MRA for reference material producers at this time.)

NATA currently has seven APLAC MRA evaluators on staff and aims to provide at least three evaluators for participation in regional peer evaluations when requested. This is seen as a means by which NATA can pass on its knowledge, while at the same time seeing how other accreditation bodies implement ISO/IEC 17011 and also providing an opportunity for important staff development.

For more detailed information on the global MRA network in place and the impact of those MRAs can be found by selecting the following link.

Enquirers seeking information on test, calibration and inspection reports generated by MRA partner accredited facilities should select the following link.

NATA Represents Australia in International Accreditation Fora

NATA represents Australia in a number of high level fora related to laboratory, inspection body, reference material producer and proficiency testing service provider accreditation practices and policies. These fora include:

Participation in ILAC and APLAC

  • NATA seeks to be active in ILAC and APLAC, and since NATA was established, various senior NATA staff have held positions in ILAC and APLAC committees. This has included holding the Chair of both organisations.
  • Two NATA staff currently hold office in the ILAC Executive Committee by virtue of their roles as ILAC Treasurer and the Chair of the ILAC Accreditation Committee (AIC), the committee responsible for ILAC technical policy and guidance. The two staff are also members of the ILAC/IAF Joint Executive Committee.
  • Input to ILAC and APLAC issues is sought from stakeholders as relevant and NATA further supports the attendance of a NATA Board member at the ILAC stakeholder committee.
  • NATA considers that it is in the interests of the Australian community to be active in the international accreditation area.

NATA is Australia’s Designated Compliance Monitoring Authority for OECD GLP

NATA is designated by the Commonwealth government as Australia’s national compliance monitoring authority for Good Laboratory Practice (GLP), and represents Australia on the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Working Group for GLP. NATA’s GLP staff also participate in onsite evaluations of other national GLP compliance monitoring programs.

NATA is a Designatory Authority for Sectoral Annexes to the EC-MRA

NATA is a Designating Authority for Four of the Sectoral Annexes to the European Community-Australia Government-to-Government Mutual Recognition Arrangement (EC-MRA)

NATA is recognised as the designating authority for four of the six sectoral annexes to the European Community-Australia Government-to-Government Mutual Recognition Arrangement. The four annexes are electromagnetic compatibility (EMC), low voltage electrical equipment, machinery and pressure equipment.

[The other two annexes (medical devices and pharmaceuticals-Good Manufacturing Practice) are designated by a separate body, the Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA).)

NATA Participates in International Standards Organisation (ISO/CASCO) Committees and other International Committees

Where international standards relevant to accreditation or conformity assessment are under development or review, relevant staff are nominated to Standards Australia, as Australia’s representative to the relevant committee or working group.

Such involvement in the past has included nomination as the Australian “P” representative for ISO/IEC 17011, ISO/IEC 17025, ISO 15189, ISO 22870, ISO/IEC 17020 and ISO/IEC 17043. NATA also contributes to comment rounds for relevant ISO REMCO documents.

NATA is also a member of the Standards Australia QR-010 committee which is the Australian mirror group dealing with management systems and conformity assessment.

In addition to international standards development that relate to accreditation, there are also specialist technical areas where standards play an integral part of the accreditation process. One such area is the Codex Alimentarius Commission dealing with food standards. Codex standards are the benchmarks used in cases of trade disputes before the World Trade Organisation (WTO). NATA staff are members of the Australian delegation to the Codex Committee on Methods of Analysis and Samples.

Trained Assessors - World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) International Standard for Laboratories

NATA has three WADA-trained assessors who assess anti-doping laboratories for compliance with the WADA International Standard for Laboratories (ISL).

NATA staff also participate in the ILAC/WADA Liaison Group which operates as a working group of the ILAC AIC and is jointly convened between WADA and ILAC.

IEC/ILAC/IAF Steering Committee

As the Chair of the ILAC Accreditation Committee (AIC), the General Manager International acts as Secretary to the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC)/International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation/International Accreditation Forum (IAF) Steering Committee. This committee is responsible for considering areas of conformity assessment in which all three organisations have a role, with a view to encouraging harmonious practices where indicated.

Funding for Participation in International Activities is Provided by the Department of Industry

NATA is greatly assisted in its capacity to participate in international meetings and activities through funding provided by the Commonwealth government. This is provided through the Support for Industry Service Organisations (SISO) program administered by the Department of Industry (DI).

NATA submits an annual proposal on its needs and the expected benefits from participation. Quarterly reports on progress and outcomes must be submitted according to a defined schedule before agreed funding for each quarter is provided.

Activities associated with NATA’s role as Australia’s compliance monitoring authority for the OECD Principles of GLP receive full funding and ILAC, APLAC, ISO and IEC activities receive substantial funding. Where involvement in trade negotiations or related work are involved, special funding may also be provided.

This support is greatly appreciated and allows Australia to be involved in the setting of accreditation policy and direction at the international level. This has a number of benefits including the capacity to influence directions and the forging of important relationships with other accreditation bodies as well as provide a means for staff development.

Provision of International Accreditation Cooperation Secretariats-ILAC and APLAC

NATA operates the secretariats for both ILAC and APLAC, under contract.

The staff of both of these secretariats have been selected from NATA’s senior scientific staff and have decades of experience in accreditation.

While they are NATA employees, they work independently of NATA and in regard to the operation of the secretariats, and report directly to the ILAC Executive and the APLAC Board of Management respectively.

Liaison Between NATA and Foreign Accreditation Bodies

NATA recognises the value of good relations with other accreditation bodies and actively seeks to foster cooperation with other accreditation bodies. This is of course dependent on time and circumstances.

One of the most significant benefits is the capacity to assist in the identification of accredited facilities offshore, and any questions end-users of accreditation services may have about reports from accredited facilities.

Mutual benefit is also derived from the capacity to “benchmark” relevant activities and share information about accreditation practice. NATA receives some SISO funding for these activities.

More information on the process associated with queries on test reports is provided at the following link “Enquiries about the MRA”.

Does NATA Provide Accreditation Services Offshore?

NATA does not actively seek to offer accreditation services in the economies of MRA partners, and NATA’s practices are in accordance with the principles of ILAC G21:2012 Cross Frontier Accreditation-Principles for Cooperation. This document can be obtained from the ILAC website.

NATA may however consider offering accreditation services outside of Australia where no national MRA partner is operating or that partner does not offer accreditation for the activity performed by the potential applicant. This is however dependent on a clear business case being demonstrated and that the health and safety of NATA’s lead and technical assessors could not be potentially compromised. Any offshore enquiry is considered from both of these perspectives.
Consideration will also be given to requests from Australian businesses operating offshore where accreditation by NATA is preferred. This will only be considered where a business case can be made, safety considerations can be met, and following discussion with the national accreditation body.

The same surveillance requirements and other accreditation practices as applied to Australian facilities are applied where offshore accreditation services are provided.