IFS Integrity Program
Launched in early 2010, the new IFS Integrity Program will strengthen the added values of the IFS by checking the implementation of the standard in practise. This will support the continuous growth of the IFS by improving reliability and credibility. The Integrity program includes all the different measures to assure the quality of the IFS, with a focus on the review of audits conducted by the IFS certification bodies and their auditors.
There are two cornerstones of this program:
· Quality Assurance activities monitor the entire IFS system. Surveillance audits at the certification body offices and on-site supplier audits are carried out in order to assess the IFS system regularly regardless of whether or not a complaint has been made. The sampling for these surveillance audits is based on a random process and on objective criteria.
These criteria are both economic criteria (e.g. number of issued certificates) and quality criteria (e.g. review and automatic analyses of IFS certification processes and corresponding reports). The audits are a combination of a surveillance CB office audit at the accredited certification body and surveillance on-site supplier audits at the certified company. The samples are linked with each other in such a way that certification processes are checked in the certification body in a first step and, in a subsequent step, these samples are checked on-site in order to compare the documentation with the real situation in the company.
· A detailed complaint management process analyzes all necessary information concerning complaints by requesting a statement and internal investigation of the certification body and in relevant cases by additional investigation audits.
The IFS Office collects complaints concerning IFS audits, reports, certificates or other circumstances in which the integrity of the IFS brand is put into question. Retailers, certification bodies, employees of IFS-certified companies or other natural or legal persons can use the complaintform to inform IFS about a certain circumstance. In addition IFS also analyses the IFS database, using automatic tools, in order to identify breaches without external notification as a complaint.
The IFS Offices will gather all necessary information in order to find out the reason for the complaint, the cause of the complaint and if there are breaches against IFS requirements for certified companies, accredited certification bodies and IFS-approved auditors. These steps can include cooperation with the involved certification body, by requesting a statement and internal investigation, cooperation with the responsible accreditation body and own investigation audits.
Depending on the situations, the conditions or organisation the consequences are variable.
Audits in the framework of the Integrity Program are conducted by auditors employed by the IFS and completely independent of theauditees.
If a breach by a certification body and/or an auditor is likely based on the investigations described above, the IFS will forward all necessary information anonymously to an independent sanction committee which is made up of an attorney and participants from industry, retailers and certification bodies. The sanction committee then makes a decision on whether a breach exists and on its severity before recommending the appropriate sanction.
All these procedures are laid down in the contract between IFS (IFS Management GmbH) and each certification body and all stakeholders of the IFS system are informed of the process. The IFS Integrity Program strengthens the added values of the IFS by checking the implementation of the standard in practice.