EPI Report: Road Map for Improvement of Accreditation and Conformity Assessment System

The purpose of this assignment is to analyze the current status of accreditation and conformity assessment system in Georgia and present a concrete, integrated, and actionable Road Map for improvement of these systems. As a result of this improvement, Georgian products would be able to be tested and certified locally and cost effectively in accordance with international standards by duly accredited conformity assessment bodies (CABs), such as laboratories and product certification bodies that are, in turn, accredited by an internationally recognized accreditation body. Such an outcome would directly boost export competitiveness of Georgian products on U.S., European, and other markets by reducing the accreditation-related nontariff barriers (NTBs) for Georgian products as well as significantly foster improvement in general quality.

Since Georgian Accreditation Center (GAC) is not currently a signatory of International Accreditation Forum’s (IAF) multilateral agreement (MLA), ANSI will be invited to conduct assessments and accredit several of the most promising certification bodies and laboratories. Furthermore, based on the value chain analysis conducted earlier by the Economic Prosperity Initiative (EPI) project as well as the analysis of one of the best potential impact, it was decided to focus on the food sector.

This Road Map was developed based on research of available materials, time spent on the ground meeting with key stakeholders, as well as the experience and knowledge of the author. It calls for timed and interrelated activities along the major three tracks:

1. Education, Consulting and Assistance. This track would entail critically needed capacity building for GAC and the Georgian CABs and other related interested parties. This includes a GAC study tour visit to the United States, including meetings with ANSI staff and U.S. officials, observation of ANSI assessments of product certifiers and laboratories, ANSI assessor training for GAC staff, workshops on U.S.-focused implementation of the related international standards, direct consulting for product certifiers and laboratories, as well as assistance with achieving and maintaining ANSI accreditation.

2. ANSI Accreditation. ANSI would conduct a preassessment of several third-party laboratories and third-party product certification bodies that are already accredited by the GAC and have food products in their scopes. Based on the results of these preassessments, EPI will choose one of each and subsidize a full accreditation assessment mission by ANSI. GAC staff will be able to attend these assessments as observers and build their professional capacity. Some of the GAC staff can be potentially qualified as ANSI assessors themselves, which will support the third track described below.

3. International Participation and Recognition. GAC would significantly benefit from international recognition by IAF and International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation (ILAC), the same way ANSI is. This track would entail attendance of IAF/ILAC and Pacific Accreditation Cooperation (PAC) and Asia Pacific Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation (APLAC) plenary sessions with guidance from ANSI staff, membership in these entities, application for PAC MLA and APLAC mutual recognition agreement (MRA), subsequent joint peer evaluation of GAC by PAC and APLAC, ANSI direct assistance to GAC with corrective actions, and eventual achievement by GAC of PAC MLA and APLAC MRA status.