Across every industry and every profession, 2020 has been a year of seismic change and challenging paradigm shifts. Yet amidst the stress of this pandemic there have also been opportunities for problem-solving, innovation, and collaboration. A2LA has needed to dramatically re-imagine the assessment process without sacrificing precision or integrity, which has only been possible because of the close, communicative relationships we maintain with our accredited organizations. Feedback from our customers has helped us develop an effective remote assessment process, which has in turn allowed our customers to keep their accreditation schedules on track and continue operating. This has been a dynamic undertaking, with our customers showing us how to best help them at every turn, and A2LA assessors and accreditation officers have continuously used customer input to shape their responses.
In a sweeping show of popular support, New Jersey, Arizona, Montana, and South Dakota have all voted to legalize the recreational use of marijuana, and Mississippi has voted to legalize marijuana for medical use. In all five states, the decision was made by ballot measure. These five states are only the latest in a massive and relatively rapid nationwide shift in support of marijuana access, leaving Idaho as the only state in the US where no form of cannabis (hemp or marijuana) is legal for any application. These ballot measures are expected to have a significant impact on the cannabis industry in the states where they passed, and to influence cannabis legislation in neighboring states.
A2LA has been granted ASCA (Accreditation Scheme for Conformity Assessment) Recognition by the FDA, making it among the first accreditation bodies accepted as a participant in the ASCA Pilot program. The ASCA Pilot is a cooperative program that relies on participation from accreditation bodies, testing laboratories, medical device manufacturers and FDA staff. Accreditation bodies like A2LA that meet the FDA’s requirements for this new program are granted ASCA Recognition, enabling them to assess testing laboratories seeking ASCA accreditation to perform premarket testing for medical device companies.
We are excited to announce that the A2LA Technical Forum will be returning in 2021 to bring you the quality informative content, industry news, and networking opportunities you have come to rely on from this unique event. Not only will the Tech Forum resume next year, but for the first time ever, we will be implementing a theme chosen by our staff to add some fun and levity to our programming. Join us August 1st-4th 2021 as we “Surf into Compliance!”
The A2LA-accredited Cornell Veterinary Biobank was recently awarded a $2.5 million grant by the National Institute on Aging (NIA) to study aging in dogs, an effort that will also inform the study of aging in humans. According to an article from Cornell, their biobank was selected for the Dog Aging Project grant due in part to their ISO 20387 accreditation, granted in 2019 by A2LA. Cornell remains the only veterinary biobank in the world accredited to this relatively new standard.
In any other year, A2LA staff and assessors might have attended a dozen or more conferences, expos, and professional gatherings by now. These opportunities to network and share professional insight were a part of our industry presence that we never anticipated losing altogether, but as is the case with all aspects of modern life, COVID-19 has forced us to make some profound changes. Many of the conferences we usually attend have been cancelled altogether, but others have been re-imagined as “virtual” conferences that seek to translate some of the in-person experience to a digital format through various types of video conferencing, virtual exhibit halls, and interactive presentations.
By Scott Moorhead, A2LA Marketing Intern Although A2LA is best known for their commitment to excellence in the field of accreditation, their core values also focus on supporting the community and providing leadership to young professionals. For several years, A2LA has offered a summer internship program to college students who intend to work in fields such as business, human resources, accreditation, government relations, and IT. Each intern is placed into a department that corresponds to the field of their choice, and given a staff mentor who helps them learn the real-world implementation of everyday skills in the office setting.
On August 4th 2020 A2LA was granted approval to perform assessments on behalf of The New Hampshire Environmental Laboratory Accreditation Program (NH ELAP), which provides accreditation for environmental laboratories, both in New Hampshire and out-of-state. NH ELAP accreditation ensures that the results of covered tests, analyses, and measurements are sufficiently accurate, precise and consistent. This is the eighth state environmental accreditation program for which A2LA is now authorized to provide assessments.
On June 10, 2020 Environmental Diagnostics Laboratory (EDLab), based in Clearwater, Florida, expanded their scope of accreditation to cover environmental testing for SARS-CoV-2 on surfaces. SARS-CoV-2 is the virus that causes COVID-19, and the test developed by EDLab is designed to determine virus presence and persistence on hard surfaces. This is particularly applicable to doors, tables, elevator buttons, and other frequently touched surfaces that have the potential to transmit coronavirus in shared spaces. EDLab was among the first A2LA-accredited laboratories to become accredited for this type of testing, which is an important part of the effort to control the spread of COVID-19 and mitigate risks associated with using shared spaces.
A2LA has extended their signatory status with the International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation (ILAC) mutual recognition arrangement (MRA) to include reference material producers (RMPs) under the standard ISO 17034. This means that A2LA’s ISO 17034 accreditation program is now internationally recognized and has been confirmed to meet ILAC’s globally accepted criteria. A2LA has been a signatory of the ILAC MRA since 2000 and this extension was finalized on July 23, 2020. The Reference Materials Producers Accreditation Program is the sixth A2LA accreditation program recognized by ILAC.