This document describes the role of the Accreditation Advisory Committee (AAC), its Chair and members.
Formation and Structure
Each field of Laboratory Accreditation, the Reference Material Producers, Proficiency Testing Scheme Providers and Inspection accreditation programs have an AAC. The AAC has a unique and important role in the NATA's activities. It provides input to operations within the relevant field and advice to the Board at a technical level.
An AAC generally starts its life as a steering committee when a new field of accreditation is being developed and becomes an AAC at the time that accreditation is offered to the general public.
An AAC is a group of experts appointed by the Board on the basis of their knowledge and technical expertise in the area of work covered by the particular field of accreditation. The size and membership of an AAC is dependent on the needs of the field of accreditation and the activities in that area of work at the time. Members of an AAC may be appointed for terms of 3 to 5 years with the option to extend this after the initial term. They may also be appointed for the duration of a defined project. The membership of an AAC is rotated on a regular basis to ensure a wide range of expertise and knowledge is available to NATA (and therefore our accredited facilities) and to try and minimise the workload of members who serve in an honorary capacity. A complementary aim from this process is to maintain a mix of experienced and new Committee members on each AAC to help ensure continuity and provide mentoring.
A Chair is appointed by the Board. A Vice-Chair can also be appointed if considered necessary. The Secretary is the Sector Manager or relevant Accreditation/Program Advisor. The NATA Board of Directors reviews the membership of all the AACs at each March meeting.
Other technical committees may support the AAC. Technical Groups may be formed as sub groups of an AAC dependent on the diversity of disciplines covered by the field of accreditation and/or the particular activities occurring within an industry. These are generally very discipline or industry specific. Generally a member of the AAC is the Chair of such groups. The Secretary is a member of NATA staff (lead assessor) from the relevant field of accreditation. This type of technical input can also be achieved by consultation with experts and professional societies outside of the Committees on an "as needs" basis. Working groups can also be formed to address very specific technical issues that require resolution or development of specific accreditation criteria.
Face-to-face AAC meetings are held at 12-24 months intervals. The use of teleconferencing is being encouraged to enable the AACs to ‘meet' more regularly to discuss issues as needed. Meeting agendas are designed to address the issues outlined below, as well as covering other relevant matters at the time. The Sector Manager or relevant Accreditation/Program Advisor generally provides a regular update to AAC members, e.g. six monthly.
Role of the AAC
The role of the AAC can be defined under 2 broad areas technical and administrative.
The primary role of the AAC is to provide technical guidance for the associated field of accreditation. In particular, AACs may be asked to:
- provide guidance on interpretation of the technical requirements included in the Standard used for accreditation in the associated field or program;
- develop and review technical criteria specific to the work carried out by accredited organisations in the particular field or program;
- review technical criteria developed by the Secretariat;
- support assessors and assist in their technical training, e.g. through assessor forums;
- keep NATA Secretariat staff abreast of technical developments and strategic issues in industry;
- act as a liaison with NATA Secretariat staff and accredited facilities in relation to technical issues;
- act as a liaison between NATA and relevant industry and professional societies and Standards writing committees;
- review results of current proficiency programs and suggest potential new programs;
- identify new areas of accreditation; and
- identify means of improving technical competence.
These activities are field dependent but may include:
- reviewing assessment reports and recommending new accreditations;
- reviewing reports recommending continued and extended accreditation;
- involvement in recommendations regarding changes to the status of accreditation;
- approving new assessors; and
- reviewing complaints and disagreements of a technical nature arising from assessments.
Role of the AAC Chair
The Chair has the following responsibilities:
- ensuring the AAC fulfils its role as defined above;
- acting as main contact between the NATA Secretariat and the AAC members;
- attending Combined AAC Chairmen's meeting to help identify and discuss across field issues; and
- chairing AAC meetings.
Role of the AAC Members
AAC members have the following responsibilities:
- providing technical (strategic) advice relevant to their area of expertise;
- promoting and actively participating in assessor forums;
- helping ensure the role of the AAC is fulfilled; and
- to be proactive in alerting NATA to emerging technical and policy issues of potential importance.
- supporting the Chair with administrative tasks as required;
- recommending new members and assessors; and
- acting as Chair of a Technical group and/or working group, if required.
The above information is provided as guidance only to the activities and responsibilities that are carried out by the AAC members. The list of AAC responsibilities will vary from field to field and time to time. The time required to achieve these tasks will also vary significantly depending on the ‘age' and size of the accreditation field and the current issues in the field.
Additional details on the Medical Testing AACs structure and role are defined in the Memorandum of Understanding between NATA and the RCPA. Similarly, there is a Memorandum of Understanding with the RANZCR relevant to the Medical Imaging field.
Confidentiality, Conflict of Interest and Liability
All information obtained in connection with the Committee's activities must be treated as confidential by all members of the Committee according to the NATA Rules. All Committee members are made aware of this requirement and must sign a confidentiality agreement at the time of appointment to the Committee. Should an Observer be in attendance at either an AAC, Technical Group or working group and should the Observer not have already signed a declaration of confidentiality as described in Corporate Governance Manual, Section 10, it will also be necessary for them to sign CG10.5 Declaration of Confidentiality by External Persons prior to attending the meeting.
AACs make recommendations to NATA's Board. As such committee members are required to declare any conflict of interest they may have in relation to the activities of the Committee.
Clause 45 of the Constitution covers the indemnity of Committee members and NATA's professional indemnity insurance covers committee members.
Regulations 11 - 17 of the NATA Rules
CGM 10 - Confidentiality