Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Accreditation or Certification?

A recent posting on the LEVA web site asks, "Accreditation or Certification – Which Do I Need?" as the lead in for a panel discussion at next month's conference.

Webster's Dictionary defines "need" as 1. a necessary duty (obligation) 2. a lack of something requisite, desirable or useful."

Which begs the question, is accreditation and certification necessary? Are they requisite, desirable, or useful? The question, as written, seems to presuppose an answer.

Here's a better way of asking the question, "if a national body says that I need to be certified in order to do my job - the same job that I've been doing for the last 8+ years, then who's going to pay for the certification? Me? My agency? The national body? Or, will I just raise my rates and pass the cost on to my customers? This will be the case for privateers like me, but what about small municipalities? How are they going to afford to stay in business?

Or here's another question, if I am operating as a sole-proprietorship, a lone analyst - will I "need" both a certification for me and accreditation for my lab to do the same work that I've been doing all along?

Cui bono? My customers? How?

As a "certifying body," LEVA (full disclosure - I'm a member of all of the groups mentioned in this post) naturally benefits from the potential increase in certification fees, class room fees, and the membership fees necessary to maintain the certifications. The same goes for other groups that certify - like NATIA, IAI, AFMA, and etc. They have a financial interest in the outcome. As such, their interests might not coincide with your interests. As they say in NY, "I know what you are thinkin', but I'm just sayin'."

The same goes for accreditation - the groups that provide the service stand to benefit from a ruling that says "labs must be accredited." So, what side do you think that they will argue?

My point is not to bang on these groups, only to point out that you - the individual - need to be aware of who's in the game, who's saying what to whom, and how it will/won't affect you and your work, your agency, and thus - your future.

If you are going to LEVA, plan on attending the panel discussion - and don't be afraid to ask questions and raise your concerns.

Your comments are always welcome here.

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