DAR Gears-up for an ISO 9001:2008 Certification

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darlogoAs early as June last year, the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) has initiated steps to comply with the good governance requirements for the establishment of a Quality Management System (QMS), aligned to the International Organization for Standardization (ISO 9001:2008). This year, the Department thru ARCDS, marks another milestone under QMS, when the DAR central office applies for an ISO 9001:2008 Certification which will make DAR internationally accepted and recognized.

The certification process follows six (6) basic requirements: Internal Quality Audit, Management Review, Information Drive, Document Review, Pre-assessment or Initial Site Audit, and Certification Audit or Assessment.

First is the Internal Quality Audit. It is a two-day activity by DAR internal auditors where they will verify from the respective offices’ process owner/s if the DAR installed QMS is indeed in conformance to the ISO 9001:2008 standards. An audit report and corrective actions and preventive actions (CAPA) are the expected outputs of the 2-day internal quality audit. Last October 13 and 14, 2015, an internal audit was done by the assigned internal auditors as they went to the respective offices for the aforementioned reasons.

Second is the Management Review. This is the convening of the Quality Management Representatives (QMR) to discuss the continuing suitability and effectiveness of the QMS. Conducted in two (2) sessions, the discussion and meeting would anchor on the following information: quality policy and objectives, results of internal audits, client feedback, process performance, and status of the CAPA (if any). Incidentally, the first QMR Planning Workshop was held at the DAR OSec. Boardroom on October 22, 2015 tackling on the abovementioned. As a follow suit, another QMR Planning Workshop on November 3, 2015 will be conducted, to firm up the agreements reached with the QMR deputies and representatives as well as strengthen preparations for the external audit by 2nd week of November.

Third component is the Information Drive. This aims to communicate to all DAR employees an active awareness of the purpose and benefits of the ISO-QMS; how it works, their roles and responsibilities within the system, and how to ensure that they will be audited successfully.

Fourth is the Document Review . This is a desk audit/review of the DAR-QMS using the DAR’s Quality Manual and its mandatory procedures by an accredited ISO Certifying Body or Registrar.

The DAR-QMS Quality Manual describes the existing management system of the Department. It also defines the organizational structure, planning activities, responsibilities, practices, processes and resources for developing, implementing, achieving, reviewing and maintaining the QMS of the DAR Central Office.

The fifth component is the Pre-assessment or Initial Site Audit. This activity succeeds the completion of the document review and is aimed at assessing the readiness of the DAR for certification. This will provide the DAR an opportunity to correct identified deficiencies before the conduct of the regular certification audit.

Lastly, the sixth component is the Certification Audit or Assessment which is aimed at verifying the effectiveness of the DAR-QMS. During the audit, major or minor non-conformities may be identified. Minor non-conformities require corrective action plan and a documented evidence. Major non-conformities on the other hand, will deal with issues concerning breakdowns in the quality system that could result to ineffectiveness in meeting the requirements of the standard. Findings like this would require a re-audit.

It is also during the Certification Audit that the ISO certification audit team will interview personnel/process owners and objectively collect evidence on how the system is being implemented. If the auditors find anything that does not meet ISO requirements or procedures in DAR, they will determine the severity and will issue a contrary finding (nonconformity). Conclusions regarding the audit and findings of nonconformities (if any), will be presented at the Closing Meeting.

Prior to the ISO certification, a Surveillance audit will be conducted by the ISO Registrar in order to ensure that the system is maintained, and if there are changes or improvements, they would not result in deficiencies. The ISO Certification once approved, will have a three-year validity period.

The Guardian Independent Certification (GIC) Compliance Assessors’ Incorporated is the ISO Certifying Body sought by the DAR central to conduct the document review, pre-assessment, application and registration procedures, as well as the ISO certification and surveillance audits for the DAR-QMS implementation.

In mid-August and September 2014, the DAR central initiated preparatory steps by conducting separate ISO orientations to the top management and representatives of the five offices - Legal Affairs Office (LAO), Support Services Office (SOO), Field Operations Office (FOO), Finance, Planning & Administration Office (FPAO), and the Office of the Secretary (OSEC). The creation of the DAR-ISO teams composed of the process documenters and internal auditors were also completed.

It was also during the last quarter of 2014, that the process owners and the internal auditors underwent trainings on QMS Documentation and Internal Quality Audit. The outputs of the trainings were mandatory procedures, quality manual, quality policy and objectives, templates, gap analysis, audit checklists, and CAPA.

The issuance of Memorandum Circular No. 2014-01 by the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) on the Harmonization of Government Performance Monitoring Information and Reporting Systems directed all government agencies to adhere to the new requirements under good governance conditions of establishing a QMS aligned to ISO 9001:2008. Thus, the concerted efforts of the DAR central to implement a QMS aligned with ISO standards and the application for the approval of an ISO 9001:2008 Certificate.