ACIL Calls for Sweeping Changes in US Conformity Assessment Coordination
ACIL’s April 30, 2012 comments in response to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Request for Information (RFI) on current issues regarding Federal agencies’ standards and conformity assessment related activities, and whether and how to supplement OMB Circular A-119 (Federal Participation in the Development and Use of Voluntary Consensus Standards and in Conformity Assessment Activities), brought OMB’s attention to several areas of serious concern to ACIL members.
In its comments, ACIL discussed NIST’s continuing struggle to meet its mandate under the NTTAA because it has wandered out of a coordination role and strayed into a policy role, in some instances dictating methods of conformity, and noted inherent conflicts of interest in NIST’s structure that compromise the NTTAA mandate.
In addition, ACIL believes that standards and conformity assessment are equally important for upholding regulators’ missions and facilitating trade. ACIL proposed that OMB, not NIST, issue conformity assessment guidance in a manner parallel to that of the existing standards guidance, basing such guidance on the following principles:
- Federal agency reliance on private sector conformity assessment programs, capacity and expertise whenever practicable
- A mechanism to ensure cooperation and coordination among both federal and private sector conformity assessment executives
- Accreditation of conformity assessment bodies based on principles of national treatment and reciprocity whenever practicable
- Flexibility in the acceptance of “higher confidence” models of conformity assessment to reduce duplicative testing and the burden on manufacturers
ACIL also requested redefining NIST’s role to incorporate a rubric of transparency, measurability and competition. For the complete text of ACIL’s statement, click here.
OMB Workshop Leads to Survey on Unfair Competition
During the May 15, 2012 OMB Workshop on Circular A-119, OMB Associate Administrator Jeff Weiss asked the conformity assessment panel for an estimate on the extent of unfair competition with private sector conformity assessment organizations, opening the door for ACIL to gather this information and make a strong case to protect the interests of commercial laboratories.
This question emanated, in part, from ACIL’s comment to OMB (see above) that noted “. . . there is nothing inherently governmental about inspection, testing, third party certification, quality systems registration, accreditation or recognition.” ACIL asked OMB to make that determination and advise Federal regulatory agencies that currently engage in conformity assessment activities to adopt a rubric of transparence, measurability and competition.
Since the conformity assessment panel at the workshop could not provide OMB with an answer to its question on the extent of unfair competition, ACIL offered to survey its members for examples, compile the comments received and submit them to OMB in June.
If you wish to respond to the survey, click here for the May 29th memorandum with details on the information required. Responses are due by June 15th.
ACIL Publishes Position Statement on the People’s Republic of China (PRC)
During the PRC panel at ACIL’s Policies and Practices Conference in March 2012, the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) asked ACIL to submit a position statement on the PRC conformity assessment infrastructure and how it puts foreign laboratories and certifiers at a disadvantage.
ACIL submitted its statement to USTR in April 2012, asking the PRC to:
- Create a timetable to establish a system of true national treatment
- Begin a process of eliminating government subsidies for State-Owned Enterprises (SOE’s) synced with the timetable above
- Begin real and substantial dialogue on implementing the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Telecommunications Mutual Recognition Agreement
For a complete copy of ACIL’s statement, click here.
ACIL Augments Staff
Mike Olson, formerly Director, Division of Field Sciences and Chief Scientist for the Office of Regulatory Affairs (ORA) at the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), joins the ACIL staff on July 1st as a senior consultant to the Food Sciences Section to advise them on assisting FDA to meet its mission of protecting consumers and enhancing public health by maximizing compliance of FDA-regulated products and minimizing risk associated with those products.
In his 35 years of experience with FDA, Mike oversaw the operations of 13 field laboratories and three research centers employing approximately 1,000 analysts. He provided the headquarters oversight of all of the laboratory scientific, regulatory, program and management operations. During his 6-year tenure at ORA, the regulatory laboratories developed a program to become accredited to ISO 17025 (all field laboratories are accredited) and the laboratory policy and operations manual was completely revamped. His previous experience includes numerous management positions in the areas of foods, drugs and medical devices.
EPA Meeting to Resolve PFK Use
ACIL environmental testing laboratories received a special invitation to attend an ad hoc EPA-hosted meeting during the NEMC conference on Thursday afternoon, August 9th to discuss the use of a mix of C7F11, C7F13, C9F13, C9F15, C9F17 and C10F17 compounds, known as PFK, which is becoming increasingly difficult to obtain.
Often used as an internal calibrant when performing high resolution mass spectrometry to analyze chlorinated furans and dioxins, PFK use is involved in performing EPA Methods 23, 1613, 1668 or 8290, some of which appear to mandate its use.
This special meeting to develop solutions to the PFK shortage is not listed in the NEMC program, so contact ACIL ESS Technical Advisor David Friedman to advise him of your attendance. Then he will keep you informed as further information about this meeting becomes available from the EPA. If you have any questions, feel free to call David at 703-389-3821.
PT Program Begins Accreditation Process
ACIL's EMC Proficiency Testing (PT) Program underwent an A2LA audit in Bellingham, WA on May 31 and June 1 to gain accreditation to ISO/IEC 17043:2010 and solidify this anchor program for the Conformity Assessment Section with future plans to add several new schemes.
ACIL has operated an EMC PT program for several years, but with accreditation status it will almost certainly make it the most recognized program in the US, one of only three in the world and the only EMC PT program currently in sustained operation. The program therefore will grow in stature and provide significant additional revenue to support ACIL’s work on behalf of independent testing laboratories.
As part of ACIL’s strategic plan, each section was charged with developing anchor programs that support member’s needs. Click here to find further details of the accredited schemes that will be available or contact Tony Anderson, PT Program Coordinator.
Committees and Sections
If you’d like to get involved in any of the sections noted below, members may use the call-in information in the section report below to join the sections monthly teleconferences, which are listed on the ACIL Website. Find complete meeting minutes on the ACIL Website in the Members Only Section
Environmental Sciences Section (ESS)
Considerable activity surrounds the Non-Governmental Accreditation Initiative in New Jersey, California and Florida. In New Jersey, we received a new action plan from our state lobbyist. Recent feedback from the New Jersey municipal laboratory community indicates that some municipalities question the need to spend money on accreditation, and highlights the need to educate them that private sector-based accreditations are not necessarily more expensive than state accreditation. New Jersey’s current program requires accreditation for all laboratories conducting compliance testing. ACIL believes that any change to this requirement would be a serious deviation from the intent of the program, and would be counterproductive to protecting the health and safety of New Jersey citizens.
ACIL sent a letter to TNI regarding the problems with the California NELAP program, and specifically the issues of assessor consistency and competency. The response received from TNI inferred that our issues were non-specific and personnel related, and that the state deals with those types of actions. We anticipate that TNI will verify and address some of ACIL’s concerns during its currently ongoing evaluation of California’s program based on TNI accreditation requirements. ACIL is preparing a counter response, highlighting assessor problems that are more than just personnel issues, and indicate potentially serious underlying problems with the program in general. The identified problems give added impetus for California to consider a non-governmental accreditation option. We are gathering information from the membership to strengthen our position, and demonstrate the validity of our concerns.
In Florida, House Bill 1253 has been signed into law and includes the compromise language requested by ACIL, eliminating a monopoly position for one accreditation body allowing for competition in accreditation.
ACIL will again host a session that addresses operational and advocacy issues of importance to our community at the National Environmental Monitoring Conference (NEMC) August 6-10, 2012 at the Hyatt Regency, Washington, DC.
The internal EPA work group has reviewed updated versions of EPA Methods 624 and 625, and ILI is expecting the comments from these EPA experts as we go to press. Once the comments are received, they will be circulated to the ILI work group for review before proceeding to the validation phase of the modernization effort.
The ESS monthly teleconference meetings are held on the third Thursday of every month at 11:00 a.m. Eastern Time. The next two meetings will be on June 21 and July 19, 2012. To call in, dial 1-800-377-8846 and use meeting access code: 224 5368#.
Food Sciences Section (FSS)
The FSS continues to follow closely the implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). As a result of the ACIL petition filed for revocation of fees, commenting on the small business burden and arguing for reduced fees for businesses with less than 500 employees, we have not seen any collection of fees so far or any revision in policy.
The FDA will be charged with creating new rules for produce safety standards as contained in the FSMA. Once the new rules are passed, the open comment period begins. FDA is arranging a meeting with the Small Business Administration (SBA) to hear ACIL comments on FDA’s rule making process.
Working with ACIL’s Government Relations Committee, the FSS is addressing the issue of unfair competition by federal and state laboratories (see above article). ACIL has made a strong statement about this long-term issue where various levels of government compete with the private sector.
The FSS holds monthly teleconferences on the third Wednesday of the month at 3:00 p.m., Eastern Time. The next FSS teleconferences will be June 20 and July 18, 2012. To call in, dial 1-800-377-8846 and use meeting access code: 224 5622#.
Construction Materials Engineering & Testing (CMET) Section
Work progresses in the CMET section on the national personnel certification program as part of its goals to establish anchor programs within the section with a continuing review of the manuals of the NETTCP certification program, which comply with FHWA requirements. At the round table discussion at the Policies & Practices meeting between many of the stakeholders, the section agreed to a series of action items to push the personnel certification program forward.
NACLA now recognizes two ABs in the US for CMET-specific requirements (see article in right column on CMEC). The section has formed a new working group to revise the ACIL/NACLA 1825 document. The CMET section meets via teleconference on the second Thursday of the month. The next meetings will be on June 14 and July 12, 2012 at 2:00 p.m. EDT. To call in, dial 1-800-377-8846 and use meeting access code: 224 5248#.
Conformity Assessment Section (CAS)
Stemming from the panel session at the Policies & Practices meeting on China, ACIL submitted its China Position Statement to the US Government for consideration during trade discussions with China (see above article). A meeting with the director of the China CCC is scheduled for June 13th at the Department of Commerce in Washington, DC. Mike Violette (Washington Laboratories) will represent ACIL at this critical discussion about market access, and the acceptance of test results from foreign third-party certifiers.
At a recent OMB A-119 Workshop, Jeff Weiss from OMB asked the extent of unfair competition with the government in the laboratory industry. As a result, ACIL will provide OMB with input and examples of such instances (see above article). If you did not receive the May 29th memo detailing the input required, contact Milt Bush as soon as possible. Responses are due by June 15th.
Smart Grid Task Force: Don Heirman has been elected to the Smart Grid Testing and Certification Committee (SGTCC) as the ACIL representative. Independent testing laboratories now have a vote on decisions affecting the role of test laboratories and certification bodies in supporting organizations which will implement the interoperability of SG devices and systems. For more information on Don’s election, click here to view the press release.
The SGTCC is requesting applications to become an Interoperable Testing and Certification Authority (ITCA). The CAS has formed a working group to explore the possibility of ACIL becoming an ITCA.
PT Program: Harry Hodes continues to delve into the accreditation of ACIL’s PT program along with Beth, Richard, Tony and Francine, successfully completing A2LA’s initial audit of the ACIL Corporation EMC PT Program, ACE-PT, Inc. on May 31 and June 1 (see above article).
We have completed the 2012 round robins and the test reports will be issued shortly. Find further information on the PT program and registration on the ACIL web site at www.acil.org or by contacting ACIL Executive Section Officer ACE-PT Coordinator, Tony Anderson. The CAS teleconference meetings take place on the fourth Wednesday of the month at 11:00 a.m. Eastern Time. The next meetings are June 27 and July 25, 2012. To call in, dial 1-800-377-8846 and use meeting access code: 224 5227#.
Here We Grow Again!
Welcome to these new members. To learn more, click on the company name to visit their website or on the contact name to send an e-mail.
Conformity Assessment Corporate Member: ETS-Lindgren, Doug Kramer, Cedar Park, TX 78613
ETS-Lindgren provides EMC, wireless and acoustic testing and measurement, including complete end-to-end solutions and engineering support for performing necessary product compliance measurements and antenna measurement systems using over-the-air (OTA) test solutions, ranging from a dual plane multi-antenna distributed axis system to a roll-about compact fully anechoic RF enclosure. Our systems include our modular EMQuest software which provides automated testing, report generation, data analysis and 3D visualization.
ETS-Lindgren offers solutions for audiology, acoustic test and measurement, and broadcast and music production. Hearing healthcare professionals appreciate ETS-Lindgren's sound booths lab tested sound isolation performance. Sound booths are available in a number of sizes and configurations. Laboratories use ETS-Lindgren's acoustic chambers to test the acoustic characteristics of industrial and consumer products, isolating noise sources and assuring compliance with regulatory and industry standards. ETS-Lindgren's chambers use modular panel construction and are available with a choice of survey, engineering or precision grade performance. Broadcast studios and music sound rooms are a specialty of ETS-Lindgren, which supplied studios for North America's largest satellite radio station.
Construction Materials & Engineering Corporate Member: NV5, Inc., Donald Alford, Hollywood, FL 33021
NV5 offers value solutions for public and private infrastructure, real estate and the environment. Clients include federal, state, municipal and local governments as well as private property owners and quasi-public agencies in the fields of education, healthcare and energy/utilities. Projects consist of planning, design, permitting, inspections and testing and management oversight of transportation systems, water/waste water systems, sports facilities, military base renovations, utilities expansion, energy, and educational and healthcare facilities.
Other (Corporate R&D Support): SEMTech Solutions, Gary Brake, North Billerica, MA 01862
SEMTech Solutions Analytical Testing Laboratory provides scanning electron microscopy (SEM) services to support a wide range of industrial, academic and commercial markets. SEMTech utilizes FE-SEMs, EDS and optical microscopy for materials testing; identification, technical problem solving and future analysis.
In This Issue
75th Annual Meeting News
In addition to Tom Von Essen, the NY Fire Department Commissioner during 911 who is our keynote speaker, and economist Steve Fuller, we now have Arvid R. “Dick” Tillmar, president of Tillmar Connect, drawing on his 45-year tenure in the insurance industry to educate ACIL members on how to build a wellness program to reduce insurance premiums and develop a healthier work force.
This meeting will also serve as a special opportunity to learn dos and don’ts from now retired successful laboratory owners, not usually at our meetings anymore, but who will attend this meeting to celebrate ACIL’s 75th anniversary. Plans call for educational sessions where they discuss business opportunities, leadership development and transition planning with the membership. We anticipate having most speakers lined up this month with the preliminary program ready at the end of July.
Check the special annual meeting web site to place congratulatory advertisements from members in the 75th anniversary commemorative book due June 29th, and find sponsorship and exhibitor opportunities. Registration is open, so don’t miss this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to celebrate ACIL’s diamond anniversary!
ACIL’s Non-Governmental Accreditation Working Group Steps Up Efforts
ACIL’s working group will hold meetings with key stakeholders in June and July in New Jersey, Florida and California to advance the working group’s goal of assisting the states in adopting an accreditation model that allows some form of acceptance of non-governmental accreditations in light of severe state budget constraints.
ACIL Expands Services
To continue providing the utmost in value to ACIL members and robustly protect the interests of independent testing, ACIL plans to collect and widely distribute information annually on incidences of unfair government competition in the conformity assessment marketplace, and conduct and publicize a survey of product failures to contain manufacturers’ efforts to expand self-declaration of conformity. For more information on either of these two activities, contact ACIL CEO Milt Bush.
In addition, annual meeting speaker Arvid R. “Dick” Tillmar, president of Tillmar Connect, is creating a workbook showing members how to create the ideal wellness program to keep health insurance costs to a minimum, reduce sick days and, in general, build a healthier work force. For more information on this new member benefit, contact ACIL Operations Manager Beth Horan.
New Web Site Launch
On June 24th, ACIL’s web site enters the 21st century with an up-to-the-minute design packed with information and designed for ease of use for our members. In order to launch the new web site, the old one will be taken down at 6:00p.m. EDT Thursday, June 21st. We anticipate having the new site live as of noon on Monday, June 24th. A splash page noting that www.acil.org is under construction will be posted while the web site is in transition. Stay tuned. . .
Maintain Your Voice on The Hill
Join ACIL in noting your opposition to language restricting attendance at private conferences in the House DATA Act and Senate postal reform legislation by contacting your Congressmen and urging them to support revisions to these meeting restrictions. ACIL has already placed its name on the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) open letter to members of Congress, the media and relevant Executive Branch officials opposing these meeting restrictions, which could virtually eliminate attendance of government employees at private sector meetings.
Already at 90% of our annual dues revenue goal and based on the current expanded level of programming in every section, we anticipate a growth year in 2012. With the renewal period over, we reached a 93 percent retention rate, which speaks to the great value that members receive from belonging to ACIL. We have identified dozens of laboratories currently interested in membership as well. If you know of a laboratory that would benefit from membership, send this information to ACIL COO Richard Bright.
ACIL Long-Term Care Webinar
Tuesday, June 26, 1p.m. EDT
Go to: join.me/peter.molnar
Dial-in: (866) 885-0409
Enter Access Code: 463301
Learn how to manage the high risk of cost associated with long-term care, including the true cost to employers due to lost productivity, receive information on immediate solutions that leverage IRS tax benefits and use this program as a new tool for recruiting and retaining qualified employees. To register for the webinar or speak one-on-one with a long-term care specialist, call (866) 471-4072, ext 2499.
NACLA Awards CMET Recognition to CMEC
Last month, the Construction Materials Engineering Council (CMEC), Orlando, FL, became the second accrediting body in the US to receive NACLA’s CMET recognition since the Federal Highway Administration formally accepted this recognition in October 2011. The first one was granted May 2012 to Laboratory Accreditation Bureau (L-A-B), Fort Wayne, IN.
Understanding ISO/IEC 17011:2004
July 11-13, 2012
Stimson Conference Center
1111 19th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20036
Special ACIL Rate: $995.00
This 3-day training course for all accreditation body and regulatory agency staff who manage laboratory accreditation programs and conduct assessments examines both the quality system and recognition requirements within the standard, including conditions for application for accreditation, conduct of assessments and impartiality. To register for this training course, click here.
Basics of the Laboratory Accreditation Process
Tuesday, July 31, 2012, 9:30-11:45
Stimson Conference Center
1111 19th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20036
Special ACIL Rate: $75.00
Join administrators, regulators, specifiers, legislators and others interested in learning the "how's" and "why's" and complexities of the recognition system in the US. Click here for registration information.
Atlantic Testing Reaches 2M Injury-Free Work Hours
Congratulations to Atlantic Testing Laboratories for operating without a lost-time accident for more than 2 million employee-hours! The National Safety Council and Hanover Insurance Group, Inc. honored them in April for reaching this significant milestone, going without an occupational injury or illness involving days away from work since September 2007. Way to go Atlantic!
Seal of Excellence
There’s still time to sign up for the 2012-2013 Seal of Excellence Program, redesigned 3 years ago for use by laboratories in all disciplines, offering an effective, third party tool to benchmark and market the quality of your laboratory services while meeting the requirements of ISO/IEC 17025, Section 4.7.2.
As soon as we receive your application, we will send you client survey cards customized with your company name and contact information for distribution to clients. All survey cards will be sent by June 30th to enable you to meet the August 6th receipt deadline. This program allows accredited laboratories to benchmark client feedback with other accredited laboratories.
Don’t miss out! Join your colleagues in the awards announced in October. To find out more about this program or download the application, click here.
Thank You Sponsors!
Once again, a sincere thanks to the industry sponsors below, who provide particularly generous support to enable us to offer exceptional ACIL programs.
ACIL National Champion
ACIL Newsletter Staff