I thought it would be good to update on the latest status of ISO / IEC 17021, which is the standard used for the accreditation of certification bodies. The second edition of the International Standard has been published by ISO today (1 February 2011).
This International Standard has a significant impact upon accredited certification bodies as it adds further requirements for the processes for auditor competence evaluation, management and deployment, whilst retaining the principles and requirements introduced in ISO / IEC 17021:2006.
As explained in the ISO Press Release, the requirements of the 2006 edition have not been changed except where they contradict those of the 2011 edition.
It is understood that the new edition will be reviewed one year after it has been in use to decide whether any first edition requirements need to be modified to align them further with the new requirements.
With respect to ISO and the International Accreditation Forum (IAF), they have published a Joint IAF-ISO Communiqué confirming a two-year transition period from the date of publication of ISO/IEC 17021:2011 (1 February 2011) until 1 February 2013. This transition period is designed to allow certification bodies to bring their operations and processes in line with the requirements of the new edition.
Whilst a copy of the International Standard is available from ISO at: www.iso.org, the British Standards Institution (BSi) has not approved the new edition for release but that this release can be expected soon.