Wednesday, 9 October 2019

Ceisteanna (29)

Alan Kelly


29. Deputy Alan Kelly asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation her views on the administration of the Irish National Accreditation Board, INAB; the correspondence and-or discussions her Department has had with the INAB in 2018 and-or 2019; the correspondence and-or discussions she has had with other Departments regarding the board; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40867/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Business)

The Irish National Accreditation Board (INAB) is Irelands national accreditation body appointed under EU Regulation 765/2008. INAB was established in 1985. Following the dissolution of Forfás in June 2014, INAB, which has statutory independence, became part of the Health and Safety Authority for administrative purposes. INAB is the national body with responsibility for the accreditation of certification bodies such as the National Car Testing Service, inspection bodies whose functions include the examination of material and products to determination their conformity and laboratories.

INAB offers accreditation in areas such as Environment Management, Medical Laboratory Management and Quality Management Systems. This would include such activities as; metrology, chemical, biological, mechanical and construction materials testing, for example public health laboratories which test food and water. The provision of the accreditation service is managed by the INAB executive and over-seen by the INAB Board with the support of externally contracted expertise. INAB is statutorily independent in carrying out its accreditation and certification roles. My Department has no role in relation to decisions of this nature made by INAB.

In relation to correspondence and discussions between my Department and INAB the primary nature of ongoing contact is related to the appointment of Notified Bodies. My Department is the Notifying Authority for the conformity assessment of certain products being placed on the EU internal market. If a Conformity Assessment Body applies to my Department to be appointed as a Notified Body under certain EU Directives, then the Department seeks confirmation from INAB officials that the Conformity Assessment Body has received accreditation from INAB. This arises only in relation to accreditation provided by INAB to a Conformity Assessment Body under a specific number of EU Directives and it is in this context only that my Department seeks information from INAB on individual accreditations

Officials from my Department have been in regular contact with INAB since June 2016 in relation to matters concerning accreditation processes in the context of Brexit. INAB officials have participated in a number of publicity events organised by my Department, and other Departments, in order to highlight the potential impact of Brexit on Irish businesses who currently use UK based accreditation services.

Other interactions between officials from my Department concerning INAB include interaction with the Health and Safety Authority on the financing and staffing of INAB in the context of the overall operational management and staffing of the Health and Safety Authority.

Officials from my Department met with the CEO of the Health and Safety Authority in April this year to discuss the overall organisational structure of INAB in view of upcoming five-year anniversary of INAB becoming a committee of the HSA. In particular, the HSA is keen to explore new accreditation opportunities in emerging sectors such as GDPR and cybersecurity. The Health and Safety Authority recently issued a tender to undertake a review of INAB. This report will assist the Board of the Health and Safety Authority on the appropriateness of the current structure and operation of INAB going forward.

INAB is also a member of the Market Surveillance Forum, an inter-Departmental/Agency forum, chaired by my Department, involving all the Market Surveillance Authorities within the State in addition to other relevant stakeholders. This forum meets on a quarterly basis.

The Board of INAB is appointed by the Board of the Health and Safety Authority and INAB has statutory independence in the carrying out its accreditation role. I have no reason to have correspondence or discussions with other Departments regarding how INAB carries out its accreditation function.