ACIL Policy Pillars
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ACIL Policy Pillars

The American Council of Independent Laboratories (ACIL), founded in 1937, is the trade association representing independent, commercial scientific and testing laboratories.  Its members are professional services firms engaged in testing, product certification (including medical devices), consulting, and research and development, including several internationally recognized accreditation bodies and their laboratory partners. Affiliated membership is available to manufacturer’s laboratories, consultants, and suppliers to the industry.


Rely on Private Sector Conformity Assessment

ACIL believes that federal agencies should rely on private sector conformity assessment programs, capacity, and expertise whenever practicable, in accordance with principles of the National Technology Transfer and Advancement Act of 1995 (NTTAA) and White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Circular A-119 [1]. To effectuate this, a mechanism must be in place to ensure cooperation and coordination of both federal agencies and private sector conformity assessment bodies (e.g., testing laboratories, inspection agencies, certification bodies). ACIL believes reliance on private sector conformity assessment programs and analytical service providers, be it for regulatory compliance or procurement purposes, is a cost-effective and efficient way for agencies to meet their legislative and regulatory mandates.

Leverage International Standards to Ensure Fairness

Requirements for any entity providing conformity assessment services (e.g., testing, inspection, certification) in the ISO/IEC [2] 17000 series standards should be a cornerstone of any conformity assessment scheme, regardless of whether the entities in the scheme are public or private. 

Fulfillment of these requirements provides an assurance that a conformity assessment body (CAB) [3] has the necessary competence, consistency and impartiality to perform a specific task. As with any requirement, there are a variety of ways in which a CAB can demonstrate fulfillment of ISO/IEC 17000 series standards. The appropriate method of demonstrating fulfillment will be determined by the needs of the users of the CAB’s activities. Self-declaration, peer assessment, direct assessment by users of the CAB’s activities, and accreditation of CABs are all in current use as methods of demonstrating fulfillment of ISO/IEC 17000 series standards.  

ACIL believes that these standards and the method of demonstrating fulfillment of them should be applied consistently and universally to private and public sector CABs in any particular situation.  Where practicable and appropriate, government agencies should be permitted to accept a CAB’s accreditation from an accreditation body that is a signatory to an applicable arrangement such as ILAC, in lieu of having to qualify a CAB themselves. Accreditation of CABs must be based on principles of national treatment and reciprocity whenever practical. [4] [5]

Protect Against Unfair Competition

ACIL supports competition, which drives innovation, creates jobs, and diversifies our economy. However, the playing field for competition must be fair—competition that comes from government- and taxpayer-supported entities (e.g., public universities, government agencies/laboratories) presents a serious obstacle to the fair and legitimate pursuit of business. ACIL believes that government and government- or taxpayer-subsidized entities should limit their respective activities to functions inherent to their purpose and existence. They should not attempt to be primary provider(s) of services that duplicate those offered in the private sector.

Promote the Value of Independent Testing and Third-Party Accredited Testing and Certification

In general, as a society we place tremendous value on an independent review or verification and the resulting confidence it provides. ACIL supports the use of accredited independent CABs to give assurance that an object of the conformity assessment activity conforms to specified requirements (e.g., safety, health, environment, EMC, performance, security). Use of accredited CABs instills confidence in all stakeholders. Because it is an efficient and effective tool to demonstrate compliance, governments should also recognize and utilize accredited private sector independent conformity assessment activities to help them meet their legislative and regulatory mandates.


Foster the Establishment and Use of Public-Private Partnerships

The federal government shares many of the same goals as the private sector in the conformity assessment arena and should leverage that expertise, knowledge, expertise and capability when developing regulations and administering agency programs. ACIL believes that public-private partnerships drive sound policy and enable more efficient and cost-effective use of resources. The government should approach and engage the private sector on initiatives where goals align and expertise exists. ACIL supports government proactively seeking the views of the private sector in advance of regulatory rulemaking to leverage available research and data and to promote transparency.

[1] US federal agencies should consult the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) for guidance. Two documents of particular interest are NIST Special Publication 2000-01, ABCs of Conformity Assessment, and NIST Special Publication 2000-02, Conformity Assessment Considerations for Federal Agencies.

[2] ISO is the International Organization for Standardization; IEC is the International Electrotechnical Commission.

[3] CAB could be a testing or calibration laboratory, an inspection body, or a certification body.

[4] National treatment of CABs means that accreditation requirements in foreign countries for CABs to test, inspect or certify products sold in their countries should, for foreign CABs have terms no less favorable and no more complex than granted to their own. National treatment is a highly efficient way for foreign regulators to both gain confidence in the capabilities of foreign CABs and to streamline the approval process. This results in significant savings in both time and resources in both the exporting and importing economies.

[5][5] Reciprocity means that, where regulators require conformity assessment and evaluate bodies for this purpose, they should take into account whether the host governments of foreign bodies applying for recognition provide reciprocal recognition for their own country’s conformity assessment