KANBrief 2/10

The DAkkS: accreditation from a single source

On 1 January 2010, the DAkkS (Deutsche Akkreditierungsstelle GmbH) assumed its functions. With the formation of this national accreditation body, Germany has met the European requirement for harmonization of the accreditation system. This step begins a new chapter in German accreditation, and focuses the many years of experience and competence of what were formerly 20 separate institutions within a new structure.

The diversity of products and services available on the world market makes it increasingly difficult for consumers to evaluate their quality. Objective evaluations conducted by testing, calibration, certification and inspection bodies are therefore of great importance in virtually all areas of business. These “conformity assessments” guarantee that the tested products, processes and services comply with important laws and standards, and provide assurance to businesses and consumers alike. Only if the conformity assessment bodies are able to furnish proof of their own competence, however, can they engender confidence in quality and safety. The formal accreditation of such bodies by a central service facility in the form of the DAkkS permits such confidence-building.

Checking quality, confirming competence, assuring confidence

Acting as an independent body, the DAkkS assesses the expertise and quality of services of the recognized conformity assessment bodies in Germany, which number over 4,200. It examines their management systems and the skills of their personnel, monitors the bodies regularly, and in doing so assures that the results of conformity assessments are comparable.

European harmonization and creation of the DAkkS

A decision was taken in 2008 at European level to adjust the statutory framework of accreditation and market surveillance to the needs of the rapidly growing international trade in goods and services, and to harmonize accreditation systems. Among the requirements of Regulation (EC) No 765/2008 (setting out the requirements for accreditation and market surveillance relating to the marketing of products, in: Official Journal of the EU No. L 218, 13 August 2008, pp. 30-47) is that a single national accreditation body be appointed. This had farreaching consequences for Germany since, in contrast to many other European countries, the country had not one, but around twenty private and public-law accreditation bodies, the activities of which overlapped in some cases.

The German legislator transposed the EU regulation by adopting the German Accreditation Body Act (AkkStelleG) on 31 July 2009, and at the end of 2009, founded the DAkkS. The DAkkS is a member of the European co-operation for Accreditation (EA), a function previously assumed by the DGA (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Akkreditierung mbH) and the DKD (Deutscher Kalibrierdienst).

The DAkkS was assigned the tasks of a national accreditation body by means of a statutory instrument. It thereby acquires sovereign functions and is subject to German administration legislation. Shareholders of the not-for-profit association are the German federal government and German industry. The latter, represented by the Confederation of German Industries (BDI), holds a one-third stake. Existing accreditations issued by the former accreditation bodies in Germany remain valid until they expire, but will henceforth be monitored by the DAkkS.

All areas covered by the former accreditation bodies have been integrated into the internal structures and procedures of the DAkkS. Its six departments are divided into a total of 85 sections.

DAkkS promotes German competitiveness

Through the restructuring measure, Germany now possesses an accreditation system which is transparent for manufacturers, consumers and conformity assessment bodies. The DAkkS offers accreditation from a single source for all areas of conformity assessment, thereby raising the international acceptance of German conformity certificates. The DAkkS thus makes an important contribution to the competitiveness of German industry.

Norbert Barz