Peer evaluation operated by European co-operation for Accreditation (EA) determines whether the National Accreditation Bodies (NABs) meet the requirements laid down in Regulation (EC) No 765/2008, relevant harmonised standards and mandatory EA and international documents.
National authorities shall recognise the equivalence of the services delivered by NABs which have successfully undergone EA peer evaluation, and thereby accept the accreditation certificates of those bodies and the certificates and reports issued by Conformity Assessment Bodies they have accredited.
To perform these peer evaluations (PEs), EA requires peer evaluators, who are highly qualified and experienced NAB staff members.
One of these EA peer evaluators is Leopoldo Cortez, President of the Board of Directors for the Portuguese NAB, Portuguese Institute for Accreditation (IPAC), a signatory member of the IAF MLA, who was interviewed on his view of the role.
Leopoldo Cortez, you have been a peer evaluator of EA for 25 years. Would you say that the peer evaluation work/EA’s approach to PE have changed over the years?
My first peer evaluation was in 1995. At that time, there were only five people for the scopes of calibration and testing. What was different back then? Essentially the requirements to be met by the ABs, the communication (no e-mail, just letters and phones, and sometimes faxes) and a lot of paper to handle. The format of the peer evaluation, however, was similar, with a week of work, for witnessing, reviewing files, and interviewing staff. The spirit of it being a peer evaluation, and not an assessment, was also the same.
But the methodology for performing a peer evaluation was different: the committee managing the Multilateral Agreement (MLA) would only choose the Team Leader, and he/she would select and propose from the list of approved peer evaluators the members of the team.
How do you see your role as a Team Leader (TL) for EA?
Nowadays, the Team Leader is mainly the conductor or maestro of an orchestra, due to the increasing size of the PE teams – his/her leadership skills are more important than ever, he/she will have to obtain the best performance from all the PE Team’s members. Also, the TL’s competence is required to have more focus on the NAB’s impartiality and structural elements, and the NAB’s competence approach. And being a TL in EA also means that I need to be aware of the implications of Regulation (CE) No. 765/2008 and the increased responsibilities that the Regulations bring to everyone in the EA PE system.
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