Internal DQS Communiqué on
Response to the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak
– Revision 3 – March 23, 2020 –
The novel coronavirus outbreak is leading to severe safety & health concerns and travel restrictions that are affecting our auditing worldwide. Many audits have been already cancelled and other audit cancellations and delays in all regions are expected.
We do not know what will happen during the next weeks and months but there is a high risk that the Coronavirus outbreak continues and will affect more people in more regions.
We are closely monitoring the situation and have to be prepared for a worst case scenario.
Therefore, we revised our instructions, especially regarding the possibility of using remote auditing techniques to maintain existing certifications.
For the time being and subject to future changes (depending on upcoming changes and new situation), I request you to respect the following mandatory instructions and guidance:
I. Contingency plans
Country managers of all DQS offices, shall develop and implement contingency plans, addressing as a minimum three areas:
- Health protection of employees, auditors and clients, including clear instructions about travelling, use of protection equipment, etc.. We cannot give general directives because situation and risk is very different from country to Make sure that health and safety come first! Anyhow, unnecessary travel should be avoided and the recommended protection measures shall be taken. An updated and reliable information about affected areas and the recommended protection measures can be found on https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019.
- Business continuity / audit planning, including identification of (possibly) affected audits, review of audit resources in consequence of delays/rescheduling, communication to clients and auditors, compliance with certification rules and general waivers (for details see below: “audit and certification activities”). For any local auditor support direct communication with the respective offices is required. Focus should be the next three-month
- Financial impacts, considering different scenarios and enforcement stages (e.g. strong, medium, minor) to protect your financial performance in every scenario possible. Special attention should be given to ongoing fix-cost without corresponding
When developing the contingency plan, the following priorities shall be considered:
When developing the contingency plan, the following priorities shall be considered:
I.Audit and certification activities
In accordance with IAF ID 3 Informative Document for Management of Extraordinary Events of Circumstances and official communiqués by ANAB, DAkkS and IATF and in consideration of the FAQs published by the International Accreditation Forum (IAF), until further notice, the following rules for audit preparation, planning, conduction and follow up apply.
These rules are in line with the general approved waivers for IATF 16949 certifications (rev. 1 – March 2020) but until further communication, you may apply these rules also for Quality, Environmental, and OHS Management System certification. For other sector-specific schemes, please contact the respective accredited DQS office for further guidance.
۱.Audit preparation / client visits / stage 1 audits
Unnecessary visits for sales activities and planning meetings shall be avoided and whenever possible substituted by remote activities.
۲.Audit planning / scheduling / conduction / follow up / certification decision
- On-site stage 2 audits:
If the stage 2 audit cannot be conducted within the regular 90 calendar days from the last day of the stage 1 audit / readiness review, an additional extension of sixty (60) days to commence the stage 2 audit is allowed.
- Surveillance audits:
If surveillance audits cannot be conducted within the regular timeframes, additional extension of 90 days to commence with the surveillance audits without starting the decertification process (suspension) and extension of 90 days of the suspension period is allowed.
Provided that the pre-conditions for remote auditing and using ICT are given (see CP31) and the risk assessment (to be documented in the new “COVID-19 Questionnaire for Revision to Regular Scheduled Audits” – a separate CF33 is not necessary) does not conclude in a “high” risk level, upcoming surveillance audits may be conducted exceptionally in two parts (not allowed for IATF 16949):
Part 1: Remote audit (not exceeding 50% of the planned audit time), followed by
Part 2: On-site audit (to be carried out within 6 months after the remote audit).
Both audit parts shall be handled as individual audit files in the DQS Audit Manager and go through the normal technical review process. The auditor shall include in the overall evaluation the following statement: “Due to COVID-19 the regular surveillance audit could not be done as originally planned. Exceptionally, this audit was done remotely and will be followed by an on-site audit within the next 6 month.” This comment will appear on page 2 of the audit report.
If for the specific certification scheme all the requirements can be evaluated remotely, including observation of activities, it is exceptionally possible to perform a full audit (100%) remotely (not allowed for IATF).
Any delays of surveillance audits in 2020 shall not affect the due dates for subsequent years.
- Recertification audits:
Audit activities may be commenced until 30 (thirty) days after the expiration date of the certificate. While extension of the certificate is normally not allowed, recertification audits may be conducted without further requirements. For non-IATF recertification standards recertification audits may be commenced until 60 (sixty) days after expiration date. Please be aware that this might result in a time without a valid certificate until the positive certification decision is made.
- Extension for expiring certificates (for non-IATF management system standards only):
If a recertification audit or other recertification requirements cannot be completed prior to the expiration of an accredited certification only because of reasons directly related to the coronavirus outbreak, the validity of the certificate may be extended exceptionally up to six months from when the certification expires under the following conditions:
Proven evidence that the certified management system is still in place and effective. Evidence may be gained through a special audit activity (document review or special remote audit). As a minimum, the following information has to be analyzed:
- Process indicators
- Internal audit results
- Management review
- Contingency planning
- Answers to the questions as explained under 8
The audit activity has to be planned and documented by using the DQS Audit Manager as a “special audit”(on-site or offsite), the respective records have to be uploaded. The decision for the issuance of the extension letter has to be done by an approved technical reviewer for the respective standard.
The extension shall be granted by means of an extension letter, DQS Holding will provide a template for the respective letter. Each office has to keep a list of any postponed audits and records; additional requirements for certifications under ANAB accreditation may apply (please follow instructions by DQS Inc.).
If DQS is unable to gain confidence in the system for which the extension would be granted, the normal process has to be followed, including suspension if appropriate.
After completion of the recertification activity, the expiration of the renewed certification shall be based on the original recertification cycle. This means not providing the organization an additional six months of certification. When the organization is recertified, it will not be for three years from the recertification decision, but three years from the previous expiration date.
- Special audits (mainly applicable for IATF 16949):
If a special audit on-site cannot be conducted, an additional extension of sixty (60) days to commence with the special audit is allowed. This might affect e.g. situations to investigate performance complaints or to verify effective implementation of corrective actions. A subsequent extension of a maximum of sixty (60) days is therefore granted in situations where a certification decision could not be made based on a postponed on-site special audit. The extension to conduct a required special may result in situations where a certificate suspension will exceed 110 calendar days. Also in these situations the suspended certificate still remains valid and is still recognized by the IATF.
- Auditor assignment:
Travel restrictions may require changes of the planned auditor team. If audits, e.g. for global clients have been originally planned by auditors from other countries you should verify if the
audit can be carried local auditors. Please contact the respective office directly – they know best the local situation. IATF allows assigning a new audit team member(s) to an audit (see IATF Rules, 5th Edition section 5.6 – force majeure) but be aware that additional audit time may become necessary.
- Non-conformity management:
If the client is unable to submit required documentation as per the timings of the IATF Rules 5th Edition, the IATF is granting an additional extension of a maximum of sixty (60) days for the relevant required steps. This includes a potential extension of a maximum of sixty (60) days for late certification decision as a consequence of the late submission of the required information.
- Certification decision:
IATF is granting an additional extension of sixty (60) days for making a certification decision in situations where a certification decision could not be made based on a postponed on-site special audit.
- Communication with clients and documentation requirements:
Please communicate proactively with your clients. If audits cannot be done as originally planned and any of the exceptionally rules as explained above have to be applied, the questionnaire “COVID-19 Questionnaire for Revision to Regular Scheduled Audits” shall be completed and the required risk analysis and decision shall be done by competent staff. Alternative forms/templates (including electronic forms) may be used but shall contain as a minimum the content of the questionnaire.
Any changes of audit dates and audit team composition due to the novel coronavirus shall be recorded (e.g. in JAT) and shall be available on request for the respective accredited office. Any other reporting requirements are communicated separately (Venkat at DQS Holding will centralize this process and provide all offices with the respective instructions).
In case of IATF 16949 the changes have to be also documented by the lead auditor in the Audit Manager, using the following space-highlighted in red box window.
For certification decision issues, the technical reviewer can document comments in the following space-highlighted in red box.
For additional details regarding IATF certifications (e.g. transfer audits, upgrades from letters of conformance and more details), please refer to the CB COMMUNIQUE # 2020-001, Revision 01, issued by IATF on March 11, 2020: https://www.iatfglobaloversight.org/. DQS Holding is monitoring all initial surveillance, recertification and transfer audits whose timing is affected by the Coronavirus. Upcoming questions shall be addressed to the Global Program Management Automotive.
Due to the unforeseeable development of the situation, all rules defined in this communiqué are subject to further modifications and changes.
For certifications under ANAB accreditation, additional information duties apply (please refer to specific instructions published by DQS Inc.)
We are still verifying if additional information duties to the Chinese and other national authorities (e.g. State Administration for Market Regulation SAMR – former CNCA) have to be considered.
Please let us know when having any further questions or concerns that might not have been clarified so far.
Frankfurt, March 23, 2020