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A2LA News:
The Newsletter of the American Association for
Laboratory Accreditation
July 1999, Number 70

Table of Contents

A2LA Reorganizes to Provide Better Customer Service

A2LA 20th AnniversaryA2LA has experienced rapid growth over the past few years and currently accredits over 1300 laboratories. In order to address the continued growth in its accreditation programs, A2LA recently instituted a reorganization of the operations group.

We have also added additional staff to meet the increased demands of accreditation. Four groups were formed, each under the direction of a Program Manager and consisting of several Laboratory Services Officers and a Laboratory Services Associate. The intent of the reorganization is to provide more structure among the working groups, improve customer   service and increase the efficiency of  the organization.

The working groups are structured as follows:

Teresa Adams, Program Manager
Ronald Bell, Laboratory Services Officer
Roger Brauninger, Laboratory Services Officer
Karen Rudd, Laboratory Services Associate
Programs Served: Environmental, Food, Biology, and Chemistry

Thomas Adams, Program Manager
Joseph Kane, Laboratory Services Officer
Sara Weitzel, Laboratory Services Officer
Julie Stevens, Laboratory Services Associate
Programs Served: Calibration, Plastic, and Rubber

Janneth Ignacio, Program Manager
Bethany Hackett, Laboratory Services Officer
Christina Vodak, Laboratory Services Officer
Josephine Warnke, Senior Laboratory Services Associate
Programs Served: Fastener Quality Act

Trace McInturff, Program Manager
Steve Medellin, Laboratory Services Officer
Randall Querry, Laboratory Services Officer
Rhonda King, Laboratory Services Associate
Programs Served: EMC, Electric, and Automotive

Laboratory Services Officers Atefeh Fathi (proficiency testing) and Mary Murphy (special projects) continue to report to the Operations Manager, Warren Merkel.

A2LA believes that this new structure will allow us to effectively meet the challenges of the future, while providing the highest level of customer service.

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Summary of the 1999 Assessor Conclave

This year’s Assessor Conclave, the annual gathering of A2LA members, staff, assessors, Accreditation Council (AC), Criteria Council (CC) and Advisory Committees, was held at the Turf Valley Resort and Conference Center in Ellicott City, MD, from April 21 to April 26, 1999.

The purpose of the Assessor Conclave is to give all those involved in the Association the opportunity to exchange technical information, discuss new A2LA policies and procedures, review new and revised requirements documents, and obtain training. One of the main aims of the gathering is to develop more uniformity in the assessment process and accreditation decisions.

The main focus of this year’s Conclave was training, with the following five technical training courses being held during the week: Assessor Orientation Course, EMC (electromagnetic compatibility) Assessor Training, Lead (Pb) Refresher Course, ISO Guide 65 training seminar, and DIS ISO 17025 training seminar. The week’s activities also included meetings of the Accreditation Council (AC), Criteria Council (CC), construction materials and geo-technical assessors, Environmental Advisory Committee (EAC), Measurement Advisory Committee (MAC), Materials Testing Advisory Committee (MTAC), Assessor Committee, and the Annual Meeting of Members. Highlights of the various training courses and meetings are described below.

Assessor Orientation Course

Twenty potential assessors attended an intensive three-day assessor training course from April 21 to April 23. The majority  of the assessors trained have technical backgrounds in the calibration and electrical (EMC) disciplines. Attendees learned about Guide 25, procedures for conducting assessments, and assessment techniques. Instructors for the course included A2LA Training Manager, Daren Valentine, and A2LA Vice President, Roxanne Robinson. Sixteen out of the twenty attendees successfully passed a written examination given at the end of the course.

A2LA-Sponsored EMC Assessor Training Course

EMC assessors and staff members from A2LA and NVLAP attended a one-day EMC training course on April 24. Attendees also included representatives from the FCC, ANSI and USCEL. Topics included: (1) applicability of measurement uncertainty to the EMC community, (2) technical EMC questions and interpretations, (3) accreditation to ISO/IEC Guide 25 and EN45001, (4) review of the FCC EMC assessor checklist, and (5) update on the status of ANSI C63.4 revisions.

A2LA Environmental Lead (Pb) Assessor Refresher Course

Environmental assessors approved to conduct lead (Pb) testing laboratory assessments for A2LA under the National Lead Laboratory Accreditation Program (NLLAP) attended a lead (Pb) testing refresher course taught by Kenneth Stoub on April 24. Topics included: (1) review of the current lead (Pb) requirements to ensure consistent interpretations and applications, (2) review of the most commonly used preparation and analysis methods, and (3) development of assessor checklists for preparation and analysis methods.

Construction Materials and Geo-technical Assessor Meeting

The construction materials and geo-technical assessors met on April 24 to discuss issues related to the conduct of A2LA assessments. Topics covered at the meeting included: (1) review of the assessor checklists, (2) interpretation of the Professional Engineer (P.E.) requirement in ASTM E329, (3) proficiency testing requirements for laboratories accredited for less than four test methods per material type, (4) completion of the assessor estimated cost form, (5) procedure to follow when turning an initial assessment into a pre-assessment, and (6) interpretations of test method requirements.

Materials Testing Advisory Committee (MTAC) Meeting

The MTAC (formerly the Transportation Advisory Committee - TAC) also met on April 24. Key issues discussed included: (1) dissolution of the fastener task group, (2) revision of the MTAC bylaws, (3) QS9000, (4) status report on the Fastener Quality Act, (5) technical issues related to non-destructive testing, and (6) review of
the Draft Proficiency Testing Requirements. The next MTAC meeting will be held at the Romulus Marriott (at the airport) in Romulus, MI on Tuesday October 19, 1999.

Measurement Advisory Committee Meeting

Members of the A2LA MAC met on April 24. Topics covered during the meeting included: (1) revisions to the committee bylaws and establishment of six subcommittees: Measurement Traceability, Measurement Uncertainty, Proficiency Testing, Reference Materials, Dimensional Inspection, and Calibration Guidance, (2) distribution of Draft 2 of the A2LA Calibration Program Requirements, (3) length of time waivers are valid for (2 years), (4) importance of measurement comparisons for laboratories maintaining intrinsic standards, and (5) update on the status of ANSI/NCSL Z540-1-1994.

Accreditation Council (AC) Meeting

Members of the AC met on April 24. Chairman Doug Lentz presented statistics on the performance and activities of the AC for the past year. Issues discussed at the meeting included: (1) revision of the Ballot and Evaluation Form, (2) the need for ensuring that complete, organized packages are sent to the AC, (3) discussion on the various assessment forms used by assessors, including the mini-report, and (4) that consideration be given to granting automatic A2LA membership to the AC members, who are all volunteers.

Criteria Council (CC) Meeting

Members of the CC met on April 24. Vice President Roxanne Robinson chaired the meeting on behalf of Ms. Karen Dunning. Ms. Robinson reviewed (1) the status of all CC actions from April, 1998 to April, 1999, (2) the status of upcoming draft program requirements, and (3) the restructuring of the A2LA technical advisory committees. The majority of A2LA’s requirements document will have to be revised in 1999 to reflect ISO 17025. This will result in a larger-than-normal workload for the CC in 1999 as the members must review and vote on all criteria documents prior to publication.

ISO Guide 65 Orientation Course

More than 50 A2LA assessors and staff members attended a half-day orientation course on ISO Guide 65 on April 25. The instructor for this course was Rick James of ANSI.

DIS 17025 Training Course

Also on April 25, more than 110 members of A2LA’s assessor corps and staff attended a half-day training session on the proposed replacement for ISO/IEC Guide 25: ISO DIS (draft international standard) 17025. Final text of the FDIS (final draft international standard) 17025 was not available at the time of the Conclave. During the seminar, the history of revisions was reviewed and the specific requirements were discussed. Differences between the proposed standard and ISO/IEC Guide 25 were also reviewed. Instructors included Daren Valentine (A2LA Training Manager/Information Systems Manager), Lynne Neumann (Entela/A2LA Board of Directors member), and Thomas Adams (A2LA Calibration Program Manager).

Environmental Advisory Committee (EAC) Meeting

The 28th meeting of the EAC was held on April 25. Topics discussed at the meeting included: (1) policy on use of technology checklists by applicants and review of the current revisions status of each checklist, (2) distribution of the revised Draft A2LA Environmental Program Requirements reflecting inclusion of NELAC requirements, (3) review of the interim proficiency testing policy for environmental laboratories in light of the phase out of the EPA WS and WP programs, (4) application of the A2LA Calibration Accreditation Policy in environmental testing, and (5) discussion on questionable laboratory techniques such as dropping calibration points. The next meeting of the EAC will be held in the Fall of 1999.

Annual Meeting

The Annual Meeting of Members was held on Monday, April 26. Chairman of the A2LA Board of Directors (BOD), Steve Bowser, opened the meeting by welcoming attendees. Mr. Bowser then summarized the status of A2LA operations since 1998. There are now about 1,300 laboratories accredited and more than 250 in the process of obtaining accreditation. This makes A2LA about the 3rd largest general purpose accreditation body in the world. Resources are very strained with this tremendous growth. Additionally, the complexity of the accreditation process has increased. A number of new staff members have been added in the past year to handle the additional work flow, and A2LA staff are now focusing on improving processes and quality of the services provided to the clients.

Mr. Doug Lentz provided a summary of the AC activities during the past year and presented statistics showing the improvement in turn around times for AC packages. He also recognized several AC members who have reviewed the largest number of packages and those with the quickest turn around times. He thanked all AC members for their service.

Ms. Roxanne Robinson reported on the CC activities for 1998 and on the upcoming 1999 activities. During her presentation, Ms. Robinson also reviewed the role of the CC and the life cycle for approving documents. Ms. Robinson thanked the CC members and also recognized the current Chairman of each advisory committee.
Percy Pan reported that due to the number of accredited labs now (>1,300), we have maximized use of the current hard-copy Directory format. The hard copy Directory is out of date from the time it is printed since labs continue to become accredited or renew their scopes of accreditation. Cost of mailing and printing the hard copy directory has also increased. Based on these issues, A2LA is making plans to produce a CD-ROM directory in the future. The CD-ROM will have an updating capability so that users can download updated information on accredited laboratories on a periodic basis from A2LA’s web site. Additionally, cost of manufacturing and mailing the CD-ROM is substantially less than cost of printing and mailing the hard copy version. The 1999 version of the Directory will include both the hard copy version and a CD-ROM.

Pete Unger gave an overview of A2LA’s current status. Topics discussed included: the goals of the strategic plan, the list of MRA partners, the status of EA recognition, development of an ILAC MRA, the list of domestic recognitions, and A2LA’s growth. Mr. Unger also introduced the staff members to the audience and thanked attendees for their continuous support.

Mr. Peter Unger then introduced Dr. Belinda Collins, NIST Director of the Office of Standards Service and 1999-2000 ILAC Chair, as the keynote speaker. Dr. Collins gave attendees an overview of the current NIST activities to implement the National Technology Transfer and Advancement Act, and promoted ILAC 2000 to be held in Washington D.C. during the week of October 30 - November 3, 2000.

Assessor Committee Meeting

A special meeting of the A2LA assessors is held every year to provide assessors with the opportunity to address their concerns directly with A2LA management. Feedback from assessors is an important factor used to continuously improve the quality of services A2LA provides to the laboratory community. At this year’s meeting, the following main issues were discussed: (1) selection of nomination committee for officers for 2000, (2) financial issues related to assessors and payment of services, (3) phone system improvements, (4) assessment and report issues, (5) improving the format of the mini-report, (6) assessor evaluation criteria used by the Accreditation Council, (7) requirements for approved signatories and key personnel, (8) requirements for laboratories performing in-house calibrations, (9) RAB concerns about providing recommendations, and (10) providing assessors with an official copy of ISO 17025.

Conclusion

This year’s Conclave was the largest ever. We wish to offer our sincerest thanks to everyone who participated in this year’s activities. There was a high level of technical expertise and professionalism exhibited by the many individuals who attended the meetings and training courses. Detailed minutes of the meetings are available upon request or can be obtained from the web site at www.a2la.org.

All attendees to this year’s Conclave will receive tailored certificates of attendance and a full package of the minutes for all meetings held during the Conclave.

Summary compiled by Ramona J. Saar

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Assessor Profile:
John Lynch

John LynchJohn Lynch is the Quality Assurance Manager at LAW Engineering and Environmental Services, where he is responsible for QA programs. John conducts the company’s internal audits, performs audits of vendors, and implements the corporate quality assurance program. John’s career at LAW has spanned more than 27 years. Twenty of those years were spent as a materials engineering testing manager. The positions he has held have exposed him to a variety of technologies and to testing of many different kinds products and materials.
John is also an A2LA-approved lead assessor and holds the distinction of being A2LA’s longest-serving assessor. His exact start date is unknown. John became an A2LA assessor prior to 1987, in the days when A2LA was know as "AALA", prior to the implementation of ISO/IEC Guide 25. "In those days", he says, "when I asked what criteria I was to use, I was told to do what I thought was right."

Since then, he has conducted more than 200 testing laboratory assessments for A2LA. His expertise includes the following areas: construction materials (concrete, aggregate, soils, bituminous, masonry, roofing, steel, brick, nondestructive, and mortar), mechanical (metals and fasteners, rubber, plastics, dynamics, composites, textiles, windows and doors, and environmental simulation), and geo-technical (soils, soil cement, rock, geo-textiles, and putting green materials.)

John relates: "One of the biggest changes since the early days working for AALA is the increase in the "paperwork" assessors need to complete during an assessment to ensure adequate records. Over the years, additional requirements, such as the requirement for measurement uncertainty, have been added to the elements that need to be assessed. More focus is now placed on the quality system whereas in the early days the focus was strictly technical. On the plus side, A2LA has become more organized and assessment uniformity has increased."
For John, the most difficult assignments are those related to fastener testing laboratories trying to meet the Fastener Quality Act (FQA) and those trying to achieve both ISO/IEC Guide 25 accreditation and ISO 9001/2 registration. In the case of the FQA laboratories, it is difficult to interpret the law and the laboratories often request that assessors help in all aspects of the law, not just those parts related to the laboratories. In the case of the combined accreditation and registration assessments/audits where team assignments are more common, time on site at the laboratory is extremely busy. "It is hard to serve two masters (ISO/IEC Guide 25 and ISO 9001/2) and do them both justice. You must be very organized and prepared."

According to John, "The best part of being an assessor is meeting the people in the laboratories and contributing to the improvement in the quality of testing in the industry." A2LA Vice President, Roxanne Robinson says that "John is a pleasure to work with. He is always positive, friendly, and professional." Laboratory representatives that have worked with John agree that his approach to assessments is positive and helpful, and that John is clearly a technical expert in his fields.

When he is not traveling, John lives in Atlanta, GA, with his wife Betty Ann and their three children, Mac (23), Emily (18) and Annie (14). When asked about his hobbies, John says, "Hobbies?? I don’t even know how to say that word."

John holds an MBA (Management) and a BS (Geology) from Georgia State University. He is a member of ASTM committees E-28, C18, and D18, and is also a registered ISO 9000 Quality Systems Lead Auditor per RAB.

Written by: Ramona J. Saar

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FQA Update:

President Clinton signed the amendments into law on June 8, 1999 (Public Law 106-34. See http://www.nist.gov/fqa  for the text of the amendments and updates). The amendments indicate that laboratory accreditation to ISO/IEC Guide 25 will suffice for FQA compliance. Thus, the A2LA Fastener Program Requirements and separate FQA Scopes and Certificates would no longer be necessary. At A2LA News presstime, NIST had not yet decided the future of the NIST website's List of FQA Accredited Laboratories. A detailed mailing for laboratories and assessors will go out soon with further instructions from A2LA.

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A2LA Welcomes New Staff Members!

Karen A. Rudd joined the staff of A2LA in January of 1999 as a Laboratory Services Associate. She provides customer service, and support for the Laboratory Services Officers. Karen has had 12 years of experience in customer service working in the accounting and insurance industries. Her interests include music, reading and traveling. Karen A. Rudd
Christina Vodak joined A2LA staff in May of 1999 as
a Laboratory Services Officer. Miss Vodak had previously worked as an Environmental Scientist at EA Engineering, Science & Technology, Inc.
She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Safety & Environmental Management from Slippery Rock University.
Christina Vodak
Joseph Kane serves as a Laboratory Services Officer with A2LA. He provides assistance in the daily accreditation operations and serves as a staff contact for laboratories associated in the field of calibration. Mr. Kane was most recently employed as an Expert Engineering Technician with Construction Technology Laboratories (CTL). His responsibilities included providing technical support for the erecting and testing of a curved steel girder bridge, and to review technical reports and plans to ensure compliance with design requirements. Mr. Kane attended Catholic University, located in Washington D.C., for Civil Engineering. Joseph Kane
Julie D. Stevens joined A2LA in April 1999 as a Laboratory Services Associate. She provides administrative support for the Calibration program. Ms. Stevens is a 1994 graduate of Hood College. In her spare time she enjoys sewing and collecting antiques.
Julie D. Stevens
Roger M. Brauninger serves as Laboratory Services Officer for A2LA. He has a BS (Biology) and an MS (Molecular and Cellular Biology) from George Mason University. Over 20 years laboratory experience in the field of Genetic toxicology, co-author on over 12 publications on cell transformation and assessment of cytogenetic damage. Member of the Society for Toxicology. As a Laboratory Services Officer, areas of responsibilities cover the fields of Mechanical, Chemical, and Environmental testing. Enjoys golf, canoeing / kayaking, hiking and working on classic Porsche 911. Roger M. Brauninger
Rhonda King joined A2LA staff in January 1999 as a Laboratory Services Associate, providing support for our Laboratory Service Officers. Along with being a full time employee, she is also a full time mother of two. In her spare time she attends college as a Criminal Justice major. Rhonda King

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Important Notice for Calibration Laboratories Serving the Automotive Industry

Is your company a commercial or independent calibration facility providing calibration support to the automotive industry? If so, you have most likely heard about the new requirement in Clause 4.11.2.b.1 of QS-9000:1998 Third Edition that states "Commercial/independent calibration facilities shall be accredited to ISO/IEC Guide 25 or national equivalent or have evidence, e.g. assessment by an OEM customer or an OEM customer-approved second party, that they meet the intent of ISO/IEC Guide 25 or national equivalent."

The International Automotive Sector Group, IASG, included the following related information item on their January 22, 1999 posting at the ASQ web site (www.asq.org/standcert/qs-9000/sancl.html): "Due to a current lack of suppliers of accredited calibration services for calibration laboratories, compliance with QS-9000:1998 Third Edition laboratory requirements, 4.11.2.b.1, may be satisfied if the supplier has a documented plan to assure that, effective January 1, 2001, the supplier is fully in compliance with the QS-9000:1998 Third Edition cl. 4.11.2.b.1." In other words, calibration laboratories that intend to meet the clause by seeking accreditation must achieve accreditation by January 1, 2001.

A large number of calibration services are expected to seek compliance with the requirements stated above by applying for laboratory accreditation through A2LA. In anticipation of another spike in calibration applications, A2LA has hired additional staff and is currently training a number of new calibration assessors. It should be noted, however, that the average time for a well-prepared laboratory to achieve accreditation is seven (7) months. Due to the need to develop measurement uncertainty budgets and undergo artifact measurement audits, calibration laboratories can take longer to achieve accreditation. As such, A2LA is making the following announcement:
Calibration laboratories that intend to meet cl. 4.11.2.b.1 by obtaining A2LA accreditation to ISO/IEC Guide 25 by January 1, 2001 must submit a complete application by no later than December 31, 1999.

Incomplete applications or applications received after December 31, 1999 will continue to be processed in order of receipt. However, A2LA cannot ensure that late or incomplete applicants will be able to complete the accreditation process by the January 1, 2001 deadline noted in the IASG interpretations. Regardless of the date of application, any laboratory that is unable to demonstrate full compliance with the A2LA accreditation requirements will not achieve accreditation until all non-conformities are fully corrected.

If you have any questions related to this topic or wish to obtain an application package, please contact one of the following A2LA staff members:

Thomas Adams, A2LA Program Manager - Calibration - 301 644 3219
Joe Kane, A2LA Laboratory Services Officer – Calibration – 301 644 3220
Warren Merkel, A2LA Operations Manager – 301 644 3204   
Ramona J. Saar, A2LA Quality Manager – 301 644 3201

The list of A2LA’s accredited calibration laboratories can be downloaded from our web site at www.a2la.org. For a copy of our Calibration Directory that includes the specific scopes of accreditation, please contact A2LA Headquarters at 301 644 3248.

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A2LA Fees for the Year 2000
By: Lisa C. Drake, Financial Manager

At their April 27, 1999 meeting the A2LA Board of Directors approved the following Fee Schedule effective January 1, 2000. The current 1999 fee schedule will remain in effect until December 31, 1999. Any new
laboratories applying for accreditation after January 1, 2000 will be subject to the new fees. We will also
stipulate that any laboratory that is currently enrolled in the system and applies for accreditation by December 31, 1999 should have their on-site assessment completed by April 1, 2000 to ensure A2LA billing your laboratory at the $750 daily assessment rate. After April 1, 2000 all initial on-site assessments will be charged at the $800 daily assessment rate.

FEE

Lab Accreditation

Initial Application Fee-Field #1   
Initial Application Fee-Field #2 and >  Annual Fee-Field #1   
Annual Fee-Field #2 and >  
Daily Assessment Rate  
NIST Listing Fee  
A2LA's FQA Surcharge 
Inspection Bodies: same as Lab Accreditation

 

$1,000
$800
$1,300
$900
$800
$925
  $175

Lab Registration

Initial Application Fee-1st Facility   
   
Annual Fee   
Daily Assessment Rate   


Must pay
    accreditation fees as listed above
$900
$800
Lab-Related Products & Services

Initial Application Fee-1st Facility 
Annual Fee   
Accreditation if needed, annual fee   
Daily Assessment Rate   

 

  $1,000
$1,300
$900
$800

Proficiency Testing Providers

Initial Application Fee   
Annual Fee   
Daily Assessment Rate  



$1,000
$1,300
$800

We will begin charging the appropriate annual fee(s) during the summer months when we send invoices to the renewal laboratories that are currently in the system with an anniversary date after January 1, 2000.

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Update on A2LA’s Accreditation of Calibration Laboratories

As of June 7, 1999 A2LA has accredited 57-calibration laboratories. Additionally, we have another 92 laboratories in our system in various stages of accreditation. Average time to accreditation is 8 months, which is well within our target for completing accreditations. A2LA is currently making assessor assignments within 27 days from the receipt of a completed application.

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