All posts by Laura Smith

Federal Government Encourages Internal Standards Conformance

Noting that conformance to international…

Noting that conformance to international standards has dramatically improved thousands of private-sector organizations, the federal government has issued a notice encouraging voluntary standards conformance in the public sector.

OMB Circular A-119, “Federal Participation in the Development and Use of Voluntary Consensus Standards and in Conformity Assessment Activities” was issued in January 2016. The notice reinforces the importance of government use of voluntary standards and the existing private-sector infrastructure for conformity assessment.

OMB Circular A-119 recognizes the National Technology Transfer and Advancement Act (NTTAA) of 1995 as a prime example of how public-private partnerships work to meet and exceed public policy goals. Like OMB Circular A-119, the NTTAA directs U.S. federal government agencies to use private-sector voluntary consensus standards and conformity assessment solutions whenever feasible instead of developing government-unique standards or regulations. The NTTAA also requires government agencies to participate in the standards-development process in keeping with the agencies’ missions and budget priorities.

After more than two decades, the NTTAA remains the cornerstone for promoting the use of voluntary consensus standards and conformity assessment processes for federal-level regulation and procurement. OMB Circular A-119 confirms that public- and private-sector cooperation is crucial to developing and using standards that serve national needs and support innovation and competitiveness.

The federal government has saved millions of dollars by using consensus standards in procurement and to mitigate conflict and regulatory overlap. Government, consumers, industry, and voluntary standards developers should continue to rely on the public-private partnership model in seeking consensus-based solutions to national priorities as a matter of public policy, according to the notice.

Thousands of federal agency representatives participate in private sector-led standards development process and are instrumental in ensuring agency compliance with the NTTAA and OMB Circular A-119. This government participation ensures that government users understand the intent and content of specific standards and conformity assessment activities.

Standards and conformity assessment are keys to a sound economy and they help facilitate global commerce. The U.S. approach is market-driven and private sector-led. This differs from the top-down approach favored by many other countries. The U.S. system is based on globally accepted principles for standards development, including transparency, openness, impartiality, effectiveness, relevance, consensus, and due process.

The continued strength of the U.S. standardization and conformity assessment system depends on ongoing cooperation between government and industry, and the key to a successful partnership is active participation, which requires support and resources from government policy makers at all levels.

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ANSI Seeks Comments on New ISO Field of Consumer Vulnerability

Interested in consumer vulnerability? ANSI…

Interested in consumer vulnerability? ANSI wants to hear from you.

The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) has circulated a proposal for a new field of activity for a new ISO standard to be titled “Guideline for inclusive service—identifying and responding to consumers in vulnerable situations.” As the U.S. member body to ISO, ANSI is seeking interested stakeholders to submit comments on the proposal by April 7.

The proposal, submitted by ISO’s Consumer Policy Committee (COPOLCO) and BSI, explains that the new ISO standard would provide guidance on how to identify consumers in vulnerable situations and how to develop, implement, and maintain policies and procedures for organizations to handle them.

Consumer vulnerability is any circumstance that puts consumers at greater risk when choosing or using products or services. A variety of factors contribute to consumer vulnerability—which might be long or short term, temporary, permanent, or sporadic—including debt, unemployment, old age, mental health issues, and physical impairments.

An international standard would help organizations minimize consumer risk by:

  • Raising awareness and understanding of consumer vulnerability.
  • Giving guidance on how to identify consumers in vulnerable circumstances.
  • Establishing processes and procedures that will help organizations respond to consumers in vulnerable situations.

All interested stakeholders are invited to review the proposal, which includes a listing of relevant documents at the international, regional, and national levels, and stakeholder categories that may benefit from by the proposal. View it on ANSI’s website.

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Planning and Consistency: The Keys to Success

By Dijana Green The beginning…

By Dijana Green

The beginning of any year is a busy time for most of us. As auditors, our workload is always high and balancing personal and business workloads isn’t always easy, it is most important.

One of my key learnings while managing 44 bakeries a few years ago was that the key to success is planning and consistency. I found that planning my time, meetings, audits, time to make and return phone calls, respond to emails, doing all the transactional tasks, allocating time, and even rolling strategic requirements, etc., made the heavy workload manageable. Without making time every morning and late afternoon to plan ahead not much was achieved.

Planning is the process of thinking about and organizing the activities required to achieve a desired goal. It involves creating and maintaining a plan, including psychological aspects that require conceptual skills.

Planning is a traditional method for managing a workload, but I can vouch that it pays off. Being a mother of three kids, running a business, and maintaining personal needs regardless of how busy I am—making the time to plan my day, week, month, and even the year ahead—produces results and keeps me on track.

Consistency is conformity in the application of something. Humans are creatures of habit and we generally prefer to operate like clockwork. We like to eat at the same time, wake up at the same time, go to bed at the same time, and start and finish work at the same time every day.

Our bodies operate more effectively if we stick to a routine. We need routine for our bodies to understand when to shut down for the day and when our livers needs to start detoxifying.

Just as our bodies need routine, so do our brains to function optimally. The brain is a complex organ, with an estimated 100 billion neurons passing signals to each other via as many as 1,000 trillion synaptic connections. It continuously receives and analyses sensory information, responding by controlling all bodily actions and functions. It is also the center of higher-order thinking, learning, and memory and gives us the power to think, plan, speak, imagine, dream, reason, and experience emotions.

Consistency is essential—nothing is achieved without it.

Five key ways you can maintain consistency:

  • Operate with checklists, to-do lists, and objectives in mind.
  • Remind yourself frequently of your desires and passions.
  • Hold onto your beliefs and trust yourself.
  • Don’t give up and always finish what you started.
  • Maintain your health and well-being. Identify what your body needs to operate at optimal health and work toward achieving consistency with everything you do.

Keep these key points in mind and focus on the points that ring true for you. Keep focused and disciplined to allow consistency to flow in your life and in all that you do.

Until next time, I will leave you with wise words from Anthony Robbins—one of my favorite business motivators: “For changes to be of any true value, they’ve got to be lasting and consistent.”

About the author

Dijana Green is a food technologist and has been working in the food industry for 28 years. Green spent 11 years working for George Weston Foods and 11 years at Goodman Fielder. When working for Goodman Fielder, she managed 44 bakeries in Australia.

Green has a long and rich career achieving impressive quality assurance improvements in the food industry. As national quality assurance manager at Goodman Fielder, Green was responsible for reducing customer complaints by 22 percent, reducing class one complaints by 50 percent, reducing food safety audit costs by 32 percent, building supplier relationships, managing quality and food safety new product development requirements, and developing initiatives to build brand strength.

In 2009, Green left her corporate role to consult and in the last four years has developed a business which operates in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and Fiji, servicing close to 200 clients.

Green is a mother of three and when not working loves to spend quality time having fun with her children, being outdoors, reading, cooking, exercising, and helping others.

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Enhancing Traceability with a New ISO Project Committee

How do you know that…

How do you know that your bottle of champagne is the real McCoy? That your boots were really made in Italy or that your milk is indeed pasteurized? Traceability—known as chain of custody—is important for ensuring the authenticity, and therefore the quality and safety, of virtually every product imaginable. A new ISO committee has just been formed to make it easier.

From raw materials such as cotton to the T-shirt in your favorite shop, knowledge and tracking of the specific product characteristics (e.g., origin, sustainability traits and/or manufacturing process) is increasingly important and demanded by consumers. Traceability, and hence transparency, provides reassurance and a better understanding of production characteristics in order to reduce risks to health, safety, and quality. In many cases, it is even a legal requirement. A reliable chain-of-custody (CoC) management system is therefore important for certification and quality assurance schemes.

The world is awash with CoC systems and programs, all with their own semantics, presentation, and industry focus, and include CoCs for food safety, sustainable agriculture or compliance in manufacturing. But the sheer number of such systems adds unnecessary layers of administration, thereby increasing costs and pushing smaller companies out of international markets. It is with this in mind that a new ISO project committee—ISO/PC 308, Chain of custody—was established, making traceability simpler for all supply chain actors by using a uniform ISO language globally.

Chair of ISO/PC 308 Rob Busink said: “The proliferation of traceability systems and definitions is causing unnecessary confusion, complexity and costs for players in different supply chains. The proposed generic chain-of-custody standard will define supply chain models and the respective traceability levels and specific requirements related to administration, conversion rates and physical handling activities, thus simplifying market access by using a uniform language and criteria throughout the supply chain.

“It is hoped that existing and new certification schemes will be able to refer to the ISO standard for the terminology regarding chain-of-custody requirements, thus simplifying the conformity assessment for those various product certifications and reducing unnecessary duplication or misunderstanding.”

The committee has already attracted support for the development of the standard from organizations across many sectors, such as food, consumer goods, energy and construction, as well as certification schemes and government.

This article has been republished in full with permission from ISO.