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Over the last few years, NATA has undertaken a number of key projects to underpin two main objectives:

  • To move towards the delivery of accreditation services aligned with industry sectors, including alignment of the Accreditation Advisory Committees, Scopes of Accreditation and the documentation relating to the criteria for accreditation; and
  • To replace NATA’s existing IT operating system with a new platform - an Accreditation Information Management System (AIMS).
     

The AIMS project commenced in 2014 with the engagement of an external provider to develop and build the platform consisting of three subprojects:

Subproject 1: a customer relationship management database, including client, personnel and complaint management

Subproject 2: a new database for Scopes of Accreditation

Subproject 3: accreditation cycle and job management functionalities

These objectives are co-dependent, particularly in relation to the Scopes of Accreditation. Some key benefits of AIMS will include:

  • improved stability of the IT operating system;
  • improved management and integrity of information maintained;
  • improved expression of Scopes of Accreditation and the searchability of information contained within; and
  • improved operational efficiencies by automating key accreditation service delivery processes.
     

NATA is working towards having parts of the new system in place by the end of 2017.

Scopes of Accreditation (AIMS subproject 2)

Scopes of Accreditation currently define activities covered by a field or program as determined by NATA. Where clarity or additional information is required, free text is included under the class or subclass. It has become increasingly apparent that this degree of data resolution does have limitations in offering clarity of information and facilitated inconsistency of the information presented between scopes covering the same accredited activities.

The development of the new Scope of Accreditation database within AIMS has involved significant effort. This has included obtaining additional information from accredited facilities in relation to the activities performed under their NATA accreditation.

The development of the new database facilitating a tabular presentation for Scopes of Accreditation replacing the traditional classes and subclasses of tests (or related activities), was considered necessary:

  • to introduce a uniform presentation across all fields and programs;
  • to improve the search function on the NATA website;
  • to allow one scope to be issued for facilities accredited in more than one area should this be requested
     

The new Scopes of Accreditation will now include nine data sets of information of which five data sets will always be displayed.

  • Accreditation Standard - ISO/IEC 17025, ISO/IEC 17020, ISO 15189 etc.);
  • Activity Type - describes the area of testing, calibration, inspection etc. which reflect  industry groupings;
  • Service - broadly describes the testing, calibration, inspection or related processes;
  • Material/Item/Product - describes what is being tested, calibrated, inspected, etc.;
  • Determination - describes what the ‘Material/Item/Product’ is being tested, or calibrated, or inspected for etc.
     

Four additional data sets to only be displayed based on specific needs such as NATA’s obligations or those of the regulator, facility or client:

  • Technique - describes how the ‘Material/Item/Product’ is being tested, calibrated or inspected e.g. technology, instrumentation, methodology etc.;
  • Procedure - describes the method used;
  • Range - details the range/limitations and is only mandatory for calibration activities;
  • Measurement Uncertainty - is only mandatory for calibration activities.
     

All existing classes and subclasses for each field and program of accreditation have been reviewed, redefined as necessary and allocated to an ‘Activity Type’ and ‘Service’. The review identified instances of duplicated scope entries for the same activity between fields and programs and these have now been rationalised as necessary.

The result is a ‘Master list’ of possible data entries (a reference list) compiled from existing information held on Scopes of Accreditation and/or collected from facilities over the last two years will replace the existing classes and subclasses.

What facilities, stakeholders and end users will notice

  • There will no longer be a numbering system as with the current classes/ subclasses.
  • For some areas currently under Chemical Testing and Biological Testing, the actual content of the tabular scopes will be very similar in that the determinations, techniques and procedures are detailed against the products that are being tested.
  • In other areas such as Medical Testing, the level of detail will be greatly increased from what has been publicly available to date. This information has been routinely requested by NATA prior to an assessment to inform the extent of the Scope of Accreditation to be reviewed.
  • The other significant change relates to the various ‘Activity Types’. The terms used to describe these are more reflective of the industry groupings of today’s economy e.g. Manufactured goods, Agribusiness etc. This also flows through to the terms used to describe the new ‘Services’. The reality of these changes, however, is that whilst scopes may look different, the activities currently covered by a Scope of Accreditation will not have changed.
  • The information - data sets - that will be displayed on NATA’s website for all accredited facilities will include the ‘Standard’, ‘Activity Type’, ‘Services’, ‘Product/Item/Material’ and ‘Determination’.
  • The other data sets will be displayed as depending on their relevance to the ‘Activity Type’ and industry expectations/regulatory obligations. For example:
    • ‘Technique’ and ‘Procedure’ will be available for those ‘Activity  Types’ previously covered under Biological and Chemical Testing;
    • ‘Range’ and ‘MU’ will be displayed for Calibration.
       

The new format for the Scopes of Accreditation will not go live on the NATA website until AIMS is implemented.

Any enquiries regarding the AIMS project or Scopes of Accreditation can be directed to your Client Coordinator in the first instance or to the relevant Sector Manager.