NABCEP’s ANSI Accreditation: A Conversation with PTI’s Dr. Lynn Webb

Since 2003, when NABCEP offered its first certifying exam, NABCEP has used Professional Testing, Inc. (PTI) as a full-service provider of assessment, evaluation and certification services.

Headquartered in Orlando, Florida, with offices in Tallahassee and the Metropolitan Washington D.C. area, PTI provides effective, valid, fair, reliable, and legally defensible assessment and evaluation services, helping businesses, industries, professional associations, and licensure/certification agencies ensure that today”s workforce is competent, and that the organizations administering the assessments are viable and credible.

PTI helped NABCEP prepare its application for ISO 17024 American National Standards Institute (ANSI) Accreditation that NABCEP was awarded last year. NABCEP visited with Dr. Lynn Webb, Ed.D, psychometrician at PTI, to discuss the ANSI process for an organization like NABCEP.

NABCEP: I know that NABCEP is pleased to be recognized with accreditation through the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) with ISO/IEC 17024 – but what is that, exactly?

LW: It’s a relatively new accreditation, so many people might not be familiar with it. There have been ISO standards in manufacturing for a long time – and this is an ISO standard, but it’s for the accreditation of certifying persons, instead of products. It’s a world standard, which distinguishes it from other U.S. accreditations. The American National Standards Institute is the U.S. representative for ISO/IEC 17024. Let’s take each one of those in turn:

ISO: The International Organization of Standardization IEC: International Electrotechnical Commission 17024: A voluntary benchmark for organizations responsible for certification of personnel. It was fully enacted on April 1, 2003.

NABCEP: Thanks for the translations, but what is it?

LW: The standard, ISO/IEC 17024, was designed to harmonize the personnel certification process worldwide and create a more cost-effective global standard for workers. It is expected to play a prominent role in facilitating global standardization of the certification community, increasing mobility among countries, enhancing public safety, and protecting consumers.

As the voice of the U.S. standards and conformity assessment system, the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) empowers its members and constituents to strengthen the U.S. marketplace position in the global economy while helping to assure the safety and health of consumers and the protection of the environment.

NABCEP: So this is an international credential for NABCEP?

LW: Yes, it confirms the excellent work being done by NABCEP in North America – but also opens the door for expansion in the future. Other countries wouldn’t have to put NABCEP’s certification under a microscope, in the sense that the certification process has already been recognized with a world credential.

NABCEP: How was it decided that NABCEP earned the credential?

LW: ANSI accreditation is a lengthy and thorough process. NABCEP had to complete a voluminous application, providing documentation about its certification procedures.

NABCEP: Do you mean the test development process (February 08 newsletter) that we discussed last time?

LW: Yes, that’s a big part of it – but it also includes the organizational structure and governance of NABCEP, policies and procedures, the management system, record-keeping, subcontractors, confidentiality, security, personnel, decision on certification, evaluation, surveillance, and use of logo and marks.

Two trained auditors review the materials presented by NABCEP and then conduct an on-site audit to discuss the documentation, ask more questions, view evidence of procedures, and ask questions. The documentation and recommendations of the auditors are reviewed by a special board at ANSI and then the decision for accreditation is rendered. If the certification organization is granted accreditation, as NABCEP was, they begin a regular program of maintaining the credential. There are annual submissions of documentation, periodic on-site audits, and finally the whole cycle begins anew after five years.

NABCEP: Well, you said ‘thorough.’ That sounds like a lot of work for the organization.

LW: Yes, it’s a lot of work to earn the credential, and also to maintain it. That’s true of all ISO certifications.

NABCEP: I guess in this way the organization knows how it feels to be a ‘candidate.’ NABCEP received a credential just as they credential candidates.

LW: Great point, Jane. Both the ANSI and NABCEP credentials should bring a great sense of accomplishment and pride.