After several years of preparatory work by both PCI committee members and staff, PCI has achieved accreditation from the International Accreditation Service (IAS), which provides objective evidence that an organization operates at the highest level of ethical, legal and technical standards. IAS is a subsidiary of the International Code Council (ICC), a professional membership association that develops the construction codes and standards used by most municipalities within the United States.
The current scope of PCI's IAS accreditation is the PCI Plant Certification Program, which is managed in accordance with IAS Accreditation Criteria (AC) 477 (see: http://iasonline.org/MSCB/) and ISO/IEC 17021 Conformity assessment – Requirements for bodies providing audit and certification of management systems.
Accreditation is a formal, independent verification that a program or institution meets established quality standards and is competent to carry out specific conformity assessment tasks. IAS is a nonprofit, public-benefit corporation that has been providing accreditation services since 1975. IAS accredits a wide range of companies and organizations including governmental entities, commercial businesses, and professional associations.
PCI chose IAS Accreditation because PCI wants to be sure that PCI-Certified Plants are getting the most benefit possible from their PCI certification since PCI-Certified Plants devote significant resources to maintain their certification.
In order for PCI to maintain conformance to IAS (AC) 477, PCI made several improvements to the Plant Certification Program. To do so, the PCI Quality Programs Department, which manages the Plant Certification Program, has made several internal process and system improvements too.
PCI Policy Statement 20.0, Plant Certification Program, which is the governing document for the program has been revised to reflect best practices according to industry standards for Management System Certification Bodies (MSCB).
Also, PCI’s Quality Programs Department has written its own internal Quality Management System Manual, just like the Plant’s QSM, for detailing PCI’s structure of its policies and procedures which relate to its management system certification activities. PCI’s Quality Manual exceeds industry standards and ensures consistent and accurate handling and results for PCI’s internal processing of certification records. This in return ensures no bias exists when making certification decisions and that customer satisfaction is maintained.
PCI Plant Certification Frequently Asked Questions
The following FAQ document provides answers to many of the questions you may have regarding the newly acquired IAS Accreditation.
PCI's Plant Certification 2016-17 FAQ
(Adobe PDF File)
Summary of Changes to PCI Plant Certification Program Policy
All changes made to Policy 20 have been drafted in the spirit of IAS and their requirements for conformance to the ISO 17021 standards.
- All statements pertaining to membership have been removed since certification and membership are to remain separated.
- Information for granting, maintaining and renewing Product Categories has been revised to conform to IAS terminology.
- Detailed information has been added about nonconformances and how corrective actions will need to be implemented and proven by objective evidence before granting initial certification.
- Other sections and clauses have been revised to iterate the requirements for corrective action handling and follow-up between PCI and the Plant.
- Information about Defect Alerts has been updated. Note that Defects may be a cause for a Major nonconformance and additional follow-up actions will be required.
- Audit Schedules have been updated to reflect the change in Sales Volume dollar amounts.
- Existing Policy sections: Definitions, program fees, appeals process, and promotion of certification and logo usage have been updated.
- New Policy information sections on safeguarding confidentiality, publicly accessible information, and complaints were added to ensure conflicts of interest are addressed, all participating plants are treated the same, and proprietary information is protected at all times during the certification process.
Summary of Changes to PCI Plant Certification Program Procedures
Summary of changes to the Program, highlighting new process to close out nonconformances.
Audit Meetings with Plant Representatives
- Initial Meeting with the Auditor to discuss the Audit Plan. This is explained more in detail in the FAQ.
- Concluding Meeting with the Auditor to discuss the Audit Findings. The plant representatives who attended the closing meeting will be asked to sign an attendance sheet. This signature is to identify that the plant has understood the auditor’s findings and will implement necessary corrective or preventive measures for any nonconformances that were found.
- The plant is not required to agree with the audit findings. The plant can Appeal Audit Findings through the PCI Appeals Process.
Audit Report – Appendices A & B
- PCI now identifies each nonconformance as either a Major or Minor Nonconformance within the Audit Report. This is explained more in detail in the FAQ.
Process to close out Nonconformances
- PCI now requires Plants to take corrective and/or preventive actions, and submit objective evidence along with their Response to Nonconformances for all Nonconformances cited on their Audit Report. This is explained more in detail in the FAQ.
Customer Satisfaction Processes
PCI Plant Certification has information about PCI Policies and information about the PCI Appeals and Complaints processes.
- Complaints can be officially filed with the Director of Quality Programs on the Complaints form.
- PCI has implemented a formal complaints review process to validate a complaint. This process ensures that PCI remains responsive to all complaints received and reasonable efforts must be made to resolve complaints. The complaint handling process has an appropriate balance between openness and confidentiality.
- PCI Plant Certification also has information about program procedures, actions regarding withdrawn certificates, and certification regulations.
- In addition to these updates, a Feedback page has also been added to the Plant Certification Website. This page houses many forms Producers can utilize for their own Quality Management Systems; and this page also has the Customer Satisfaction and Complaint forms available for use by the Producer to submit to PCI.
Other Program Changes
- Plant’s that receive a Defect Alert issued by a PCI Auditor during an audit are required to undergo additional follow-up actions. Note that Defects may be a cause for a Major Nonconformity.
- For Plant’s renewing their PCI Plant Certification, a question has been added to the PCI Sales Declaration (Fees Computation) Form, regarding the number of Plant Production Personnel.
- The PCI Safeguarding Impartiality Committee was established and has held two meetings. This committee is required by IAS to meet once a year to discuss the possibilities of conflict of interest and the impartiality of the audit.
- PCI ensures this committee maintains an equal balance of interested stakeholders to ensure confidence of the management of the impartiality of PCI’s certification activities.
- PCI also maintains a list of conflicts and perceived risks; these conflicts and risks are mitigated with controls and that information is detailed in this report.
- PCI Quality Programs Department has implemented continuous monitoring and measurement of PCI Clients, auditors and staff - this includes client file inspections, 2nd party audits of the audit organizations, and internal audits of PCI operations.