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Frequently Asked Questions

DOTQSAbout UsFrequently Asked Questions

ACCREDITATION AND SCOPE

What is accreditation? What does it mean to have an accredited certificate?
Accreditation Bodies (ABs) are tasked with ensuring that Certification Bodies are in compliance with the requirements of the ISO standards for Certification Bodies. DOTQS is audited annually ANSI. The audits consist of office assessments and witnessed assessments of our Auditors in the field for each of the certifications we offer. The assessments ensure that DOTQS operations are in compliance with the standards. An accredited certificate provides confidence in the certification services provided and value in the certificates our Clients earn.

Is DOTQS an Accredited Certification Body?
Yes. DOTQS is accredited by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) for ISO 3834.

Is ANSI accreditation accepted internationally?
Yes.

What management system requirements does DOTQS comply with?
DOTQS management system fully complies with ISO/IEC 17065. Our manual and procedures have been evaluated and approved as part of our accreditation. In addition, our accreditation body has acted as observer on our audits to ensure the effectiveness and compliance of DOTQS personnel and processes to the ISO requirements.

What are your scopes and standards to which you audit?
DOTQS is accredited to issue ISO 3834 certifications. DOTQS is the first Certification Body approved to audit to the ISO 3834 welding quality requirements standard in the US. The scope of ISO 3834 audits include: Welding of Metallic Materials, specifically Arc Welding and Resistance Welding.

SERVICES

What services does DOTQS provide?
DOTQS certification services to the following standards:
ISO 3834 Welding of Metallic Materials

What makes your company better than the other Certification Bodies?
DOTQS performs regular quality management system audits of metals fabricators and erectors in accordance with industry requirements. The Certification Body-Client relationship is a long term one, developed through a combination of communication, Auditor expertise, and service. We also offer the following advantages:

  • No application fee, overtime charges, or hidden costs
  • No mandatory preliminary site visit
  • No penalty for changing schedules (with reasonable notice)
  • One complimentary Certificate per Client
  • Detailed preparation done off-site
  • Minimal Auditor expenses, no travel mark-up, all expenses at cost

What support can we expect from the DOTQS office staff?
Our staff is available to answer your questions regarding the certification and audit processes, interpretation of the standards, scheduling, billing, accreditation, and the specifics of your account. In addition, we would be happy to provide you with DOTQS brochures, resource material, or to point you to outside resource information and references.

What is the basis of the certification evaluation?
Accredited organizations such as DOTQS will follow the certification guidelines published in ISO 17065. This entails a two stage audit. A document review and general assessment will be performed first, to asses your readiness for an onsite audit and confirm the company information that was captured at the time of application (size of facility, employee count, etc.). The onsite audit is to evaluate, verify, and validate effectiveness of the implementation of the standard using the guidelines presented in ISO 17065.

Does DOTQS provide consulting services?
DOTQS does not provide consulting services as this would be perceived as a conflict of interest. Certification Bodies are prohibited from providing certification to any organization which has used the services of a related consulting company within a specified period. Certification Bodies are also prohibited from allowing related consulting companies provide management system consultancy, including internal audits, to their Clients. DOTQS provides only assessment-related services.

What happens if my firm doesn’t pass the audit?
In the event that a firm is found to be out of compliance with the requirements of the ISO standard, a detailed report will be issued highlighting areas of both major and minor deficiency. Even if the firm passes the audit, a report highlighting areas of improvement will be issued.

ISO 3834

Is there a general overview of the certification?
See the ISO 3834 Certification Process brochure or website. This should give you a better understanding of the standard and its advantages.

Can I comply with ISO 3834 if I don’t have a quality system, i.e. ISO 9001?
Yes it is possible to comply with ISO 3834 if you do not have an approved quality system as long as you can address the quality requirements of the standard. ISO 3834-1 Section 4 outlines those requirements. Independent certification to ISO 3834 benefits manufacturers by providing an authoritative third party statement of commercial value. Certification can be achieved with ISO 9001 certification or it can stand alone.

What areas are covered during an ISO 3834 audit?
The following areas are covered:

  1. Review of requirements
  2. Technical review
  3. Subcontracting
  4. Welders and welding operators
  5. Welding coordination personnel
  6. Inspection and testing personnel
  7. Production and testing equipment
  8. Equipment maintenance
  9. Description of equipment
  10. Production planning
  11. Welding procedure specifications
  12. Qualification of the welding procedure
  13. Batch testing of consumables (if required)
  14. Storage and handling of welding consumables
  15. Storage of parent materials
  16. Post weld heat treatment
  17. Inspection and testing before, during, and after welding
  18. Nonconformities and corrective actions
  19. Calibration or validation of measure, inspection, and testing equipment
  20. Identification during process
  21. Traceability
  22. Quality records

If this is a quality audit, why is DOTQS doing this when there are several other accredited quality audit companies offering certification?
This certification is awarded to companies who satisfy the requirements of the ISO 3834 Standard. DOTQS is the only company in the US that is accredited to certify companies to this standard.

Are the Auditors qualified to audit welding processes?
DOTQS Auditors are qualified as AWS Certified Welding Inspectors as well as being ASQ Certified Quality Auditors. This ensures that the technical aspects of the welding requirements of the audit can be evaluated to ensure compliance to the standard.

Is ISO 3834 certification mandatory for welding fabricators?
Many companies have achieved certification to ISO 9001 or other industry standard with respect to their quality management systems. But where significant use is made of a special process like welding, such certification is unlikely to provide the required demonstration of capability of the company to manufacture products of the required quality. Compliance with ISO 3834 can overcome this shortfall and boost the global recognition of your company’s welding process capabilities.

How do I decide what quality level or part of ISO 3834 I am working to?
ISO 3834-1 gives the criteria for the selection of the appropriate level of the quality requirements. Section 5 states: The selection of the appropriate part of ISO 3834, specifying the required level of quality requirements, should be in accordance with the product standard, specification, regulation, or contract. The manufacturer should select one of the three parts specifying different levels of quality requirements, based on the following criteria related to products:

  • the extent and significance of safety-critical products;
  • the complexity of manufacture;
  • the range of products manufactured;
  • the range of different materials used;
  • the extent to which metallurgical problems occur;
  • the extent to which manufacturing imperfections, e.g. misalignment, distortion, or weld imperfections, affect product performance.

Does part 2 cover 3 or 4?
Yes. As part 2 is the most stringent, it will cover parts 3 and 4. Also part 3 will cover part 4.

Do I need a fully qualified Welding Engineer if I want to be certified to ISO 3834?
ISO 3834-2, Section 7.3 states:
The manufacturer should have at his disposal appropriate welding personnel. Such persons having responsibility for the quality activities shall have sufficient authority to enable any necessary action to be taken. The tasks and responsibilities of such persons shall be defined. The ISO documents to which it is required to conform to fulfill the quality requirements are specified in ISO 3834-5, Table 2, which references ISO 14731 Welding Coordination-Tasks and Responsibilities.

What level of knowledge does the Welding Coordinator have to have?
To control the various welding and welding-related operations and to achieve the desired quality consistently, a requirement of the standard, see 3834-6, is to ensure that people with welding responsibilities are competent to discharge those responsibilities. This is achieved by incorporation of another standard: ISO 14731 Welding Coordination-Tasks and Responsibilities.

ISO 3834-6 gives guidance on:

  • Technical knowledge, which is split into two areas: general and specialized.
  • Specific knowledge which is split into three levels: comprehensive, specific, and basic.
    • Comprehensive technical knowledge, where full technical knowledge is required, in accordance with ISO 14731, Section 6.1, for the planning, executing, supervising, and testing of all tasks and responsibilities in welding fabrication.
    • Specific technical knowledge, where the level of technical knowledge needs to be sufficient for the planning, executing, supervising, and testing of all tasks and responsibilities in welding fabrication.
    • Basic technical knowledge, where the level of technical knowledge needs to be sufficient for the planning, executing, supervising, and testing of all tasks and responsibilities within a limited technical field, involving only simple welded structures.

Does the Welding Coordinator need to be a full time employee or can he be subcontracted?
The Welding Coordinator does not need to be a full time employee and can be subcontracted. However, the company must have a nominated person or persons within the organization who has the responsibility for the day to day welding activities.

What happens if my Welding Coordinator leaves the company?
The certification will be suspended or withdrawn until an approved replacement has been appointed; this individual will be subjected to an assessment to satisfy that he meets the requirements before certification can be reinstated.

What happens if I want to add another welding process to my certification?
You will need to apply to have the certification scope extended to cover the additional welding process; also the Welding Coordinator will need to be interviewed to confirm that he has the necessary knowledge to coordinate the welding activities of the new process.

What happens if I want to expand into different grades of material which are not covered by my current certification?
Any change to the original certified scope will require recertification.

Does my welding subcontractor have to have ISO 3834 Certification?
No, the welding subcontractor does not have to have certification to ISO 3834. However, when a manufacturer intends to use subcontracted services or activities (e.g. welding, inspection, non-destructive testing, heat treatment), information necessary to meet applicable requirements shall be supplied by the manufacturer to the subcontractor. The subcontractor shall provide such records and documentation of his work as may be specified by the manufacturer.
A subcontractor shall work under the order and responsibility of the manufacturer and shall fully comply with the relevant requirements of the part of the standard being implemented (e.g. ISO 3834 parts 2, 3 or 4). The manufacturer shall ensure that the subcontractor can comply with the quality requirements specified.
The information to be provided by the manufacturer to the subcontractor shall include all relevant data from the review of the requirements (ISO 3834-2 and Part 3 see 5.2) and the technical review (ISO 3834-2 and Part 3 see 5.3). Additional requirements may be specified as necessary to assure subcontractor compliance with technical requirements.

How can my company apply for certification to ISO 3834?
Complete that Request for Quote/Application form and submit it to DOTQS for a quotation.

Are there any courses available to help me understand the requirements of ISO 3834?
This course is designed to assist Quality Managers and welding personnel in fabricating companies or manufacturers using welding as a production process seeking to understand the requirements of ISO 3834.
The course objectives are:

  • to explain the reasons for the ISO 3834 series of standards and their relationship to ISO 9001
  • to select the appropriate part of ISO 3834.
  • to describe documentation and criteria for assessing compliance with ISO 3834.
  • to establish compliance with ISO 3834 for welding coordination personnel.

LIST OF CERTIFIED CLIENTS

Does DOTQS publish a list of companies you have certified?
Yes. DOTQS maintains a Certified Client List that is available upon request. Contact DOTQS regarding certified clients.

FEES

Does DOTQS charge an Application Fee to get a quotation?
No.

Does DOTQS charge an annual, administrative, file maintenance, or other miscellaneous fees?
No.

How long will it take to get a written quotation?
DOTQS uses a formula based on site size and employee count (among other things) that comes from our governing standards for accreditation to calculate cost and audit days. A quotation for a single site certification audit can usually be obtained in two – three business days if accurate information is received at the time of application. A complex or multi-site certification audit quote may require up to a week to prepare. To request a quote for services, complete the Request for Quote/Application form and submit it to DOTQS via email.

How are certification audit costs determined?
All Certification Bodies are obligated to follow guidelines on audit-day requirements. Certification audit quotations are based on the estimated time the audit will take based on factors such as: size of the facility to be audited, number of employees, and complexity of the operation (number of shifts, number of product lines, and nature of the product and production process).

How are surveillance costs determined?
DOTQS quotes surveillance costs at the time of the original quotation. A surveillance audit is a sampling of the quality system that verifies continued system effectiveness. Generally, a surveillance audit will require 25% to 35% of the time required for the original audit.

How are travel costs billed?
Travel, lodging, and per diem expenses are billed at cost. Once the audit dates are confirmed, travel arrangements are made. We pre-bill for travel on the original invoice. We do not post bill travel or meal expenses. This way there are no surprises or hidden fees.

When will we be invoiced for audit activities?
DOTQS will invoice Clients for Audit Fees and related travel and per diem expenses prior to the start of the on-site audit. All invoices must be paid in full prior to issue of the certificate. Payment terms are Net 30 from the date of the invoice.

What costs, services, etc. will be included in the DOTQS quotation?
DOTQS certification services include the following:

  • application / quotation processing
  • responses to your questions
  • scheduling and audit planning
  • document review
  • travel time
  • extended audit days (over 8 hours)
  • office expenses: postage, copies, etc.
  • audit reports
  • off-site verification of nonconformities
  • your first certificate
  • certified client list
  • records maintenance
  • update services

How much does it cost to become certified?
The costs for certification depend on many factors including size of the organization, complexity of the product and processes, etc. Complete the Request for Quote/Application form and submit to DOTQS for a quote.

Would it cost us less if we certified all of our sites under one certificate?
It is generally less expensive to certify multiple sites together if multi-site sampling can be used when auditing your organization.

Does DOTQS charge a fee for modifying our scope?
It depends on the extent of the changes and their impact on your management system. Additions to your number of sites, number of employees, or products or processes may require additional audit time which would be billed accordingly. Some changes may be accommodated during routine surveillance audits at no additional cost. To discuss the specifics of your change, please contact DOTQS.

Is there an additional cost for auditing our company’s off-shifts?
In almost all instances, DOTQS can accommodate off-shift auditing by extending our audit day. Your company would only be charged in the rare instance that this is not possible.

We prefer to make the Auditor’s hotel and travel arrangements. Is this acceptable?
Yes.

If DOTQS can coordinate our audit with another one for a nearby company, are the travel costs split between the two companies?
Yes. When scheduling audits, DOTQS considers the use of Auditors in proximity to other audits.

SCHEDULING

How much lead time does DOTQS require to schedule pre-assessment audits and certification audits?
DOTQS would prefer a minimum of 30 days’ notice, but scheduling may be accommodated with less lead time. The downside of the short notice is that we may not be able to schedule your preferred Auditor and/or your preferred dates.

What is your company’s lead time between the request for certification and the actual audit date?
DOTQS will typically schedule on-site audits 60-90 days in advance. This is to allow sufficient time to prepare for the audit, conduct the document review, and ensure you are prepared for the on-site audit.

How long does an audit take to complete?
The duration of an audit is subject to many factors such as size of the organization, number and locations of facilities, etc. Using the information provided on the application, DOTQS will determine the number of audit days required to ensure adequate time to audit the relevant processes of your management system.

Can we reserve a time for a certification audit now and postpone or cancel it later at no charge?
DOTQS wishes to cultivate the best possible relationships with our Clients. This includes a willingness to be flexible regarding the scheduling of certification audits. The DOTQS Fee Schedule Cancellation and Change Fees section describes the conditions and costs incurred for schedule changes less than 30 days from the audit date.

Can we register a site as soon as they are ready, and then add a second site later?
In many cases, it is possible to extend the scope of your original certification to cover one or more additional sites at a later time. It will depend upon the compatibility of the scope of certification for the sites. Please contact us to determine if this would be a viable alternative for your company.

CANCELLATION

What is your cancellation policy?
Cancellation or schedule changes made by the Client shall incur charges for changes to travel arrangements as well as cancellation fees as follows:

  • If notification is received less than 30 calendar days but more than 14 calendar days prior to the date of the scheduled audit, the fee will be 15% of the cost for the audit plus associated travel expenses.
  • If notification is received less than 15 calendar days prior to the scheduled audit, the fee will be 50% of the cost for the audit plus associated travel expenses.

If we postpone or reschedule an audit do we incur costs? If so, what are they?
DOTQS has the following costs for the postponement of audits:

  • If notification is received less than 30 calendar days but more than 14 calendar days prior to the date of the scheduled audit, the fee will be 15% of the cost for the audit plus associated travel expenses.
  • If notification is received less than 15 calendar days prior to the scheduled audit, the fee will be 50% of the cost for the audit plus associated travel expenses.

If there is an emergency with your key personnel, there is no charge.

AUDITORS

What are the qualifications of your Auditors?
DOTQS Auditors have an average of 8 years auditing experience.

How do you determine the technical competence of an Auditor?
DOTQS conducts extensive evaluations of Auditors to ensure the technical competence of each individual. This evaluation includes checking of references, verification of backgrounds, and testing. A combination of work experience, training/education, and audit training and experience are required for our Auditors. Auditors must also demonstrate to DOTQS management their understanding of policies and procedures and their ability to perform their duties.

Please list typical qualifications for DOTQS Auditors, including education, training, work experience and professional accreditations.

  • Must have at least three (3) years’ experience in conducting audits in steel or construction business sector, or equivalent experience in a QA position representing a fabricator/manufacturer, owner, or intermediary.
  • Must be a Certified Quality Auditor, or obtain certification within one year from date of employment.
  • Must be a Certified Weld Inspector or equivalent experience in a relevant engineering discipline.
  • Experience in a manufacturing, fabrication, erection, or general contracting/construction management environment as a supervisor, engineer, project manager, technician, weld inspector, welder, or detailer.

When DOTQS hires Auditors, what qualities do you look for, aside from professional credentials?

  • Ability to communicate with tact, diplomacy, and authority when necessary.
  • Analytical thinking, logical reasoning and analysis, ability to interpret technical information, procedures, etc.
  • Proven ethics and ability to keep information confidential.
  • Understands and practices effective conflict resolution.
  • Verbal and written communication skills

Beyond their initial qualifications, what training and development does DOTQS provide Auditors?
DOTQS provides:

  • Quality evaluations of performance
  • Professional development seminars
  • Share feedback from Clients

How does DOTQS assure consistent interpretation of the standards across your population of Auditors?
Through:

  • Training
  • Mixing the audit teams so that the same Auditors do not always audit together, allowing the Auditors to learn from each other
  • Discussions with the Auditors on specific interpretation issues
  • Client feedback

How are DOTQS Auditors assigned for a given audit?
Auditors are selected based on knowledge and experience to audit companies in the industry with competence and impartiality, and availability for the audit dates.

Will our company be able to review Auditor(s) credentials and request reassignment if not satisfied?
Auditor biographies containing credentials will be provided for review and approval. A Client has the right to reject an assigned Auditor and must provide valid reason(s) for rejecting the Auditor selected.

How familiar with our company’s product or technology will our assigned Auditors be?
DOTQS is accredited to conduct certification audits in the metal fabrication and construction industries. ISO/IEC 17065 requires that we have Auditors with knowledge and experience in the industries defined in our scope of accreditation.

PRE-ASSESSMENT AUDITS

Does DOTQS require a pre-assessment audit prior to the certification audit?
No, it is an optional service.

What is a pre-assessment audit and how is it similar to and different from a certification audit?
A pre-assessment audit is a preliminary evaluation of the implementation of your management system. The extent, duration, and focus of the assessment are determined by you. Your company may choose to have it cover the entire scope of your certification or you may select specific elements of the standard or areas of your company that you wish to have audited. Pre-assessments are conducted just like certification or surveillance audits, except the requirement to address nonconformities is not applicable to pre-assessments.

What are the benefits of having a pre-assessment?
A pre-assessment audit allows your company to understand exactly what the Auditors will be looking for during the certification audit and get a better understanding of the extent of the implementation and effectiveness of your management system. Although you may choose to limit the scope of the pre-assessment and not cover all areas of the standard or all the applicable departments in your company, the areas that are covered will have a chance to experience a third party audit with the knowledge that the audit is a practice or “dry run” audit. Auditors will ask the same types of questions, review similar records, and clarify any of your questions regarding the interpretation of the standard. Your employees will feel more comfortable asking questions, taking time to think through their answers, and acknowledging any weak points in your system. In addition to being an educational experience, the pre-assessment is useful for identifying nonconformities so that they can be corrected prior to the certification audit.

Will our pre-assessment findings be used during the certification audit?
No.

If a pre-assessment is chosen, when do you recommend it be performed?
DOTQS recommends that pre-assessments be performed within a 90-day window of the actual certification audit.

Can the individual who performs the pre-assessment be the Lead Auditor for the certification audit?
Yes. DOTQS works with Clients to promote consistency among audit personnel. However, no guarantees can be made as to Auditor availability.

CERTIFICATION PROCESS

Do you have available a complete description of the certification process, including the application and appeals processes and policies regarding suspension, withdrawal, and cancellation of the certificate?
Yes, DOTQS has policies in place that govern all of the above. Please contact DOTQS or visit our website for details.

What is the step-by-step approach to the certification of a company?

  • The Company completes a Request for Quote/Application
  • DOTQS provides a Quotation for Certification Services
  • The Company and DOTQS sign the formal Agreement for Certification Services
  • DOTQS may conduct a pre-assessment (optional, based on the Client’s preference)
  • DOTQS conducts the Stage 1 Audit (document review)
  • DOTQS conducts the Stage 2 Audit (on-site certification audit)
  • The Client responds to any nonconformities (if applicable)
  • DOTQS issues the certificate

What is required from us at each step in the process?
Beginning with your certification audit, you should have your documentation up to date and your system implemented. In addition, you must have completed one whole audit cycle of your quality system and a management review prior to your certification audit.

What if I need help in preparing for an audit?
DOTQS does not provide consulting services since this is considered to be a conflict of interest.

Does DOTQS perform an audit of our manual and procedures?
DOTQS will perform a review of your manual and the procedures required by the applicable standard. The results of this review by your Lead Auditor will be documented in a report. The report will identify any documentation requirements not properly addressed by the manual or procedures. Typical turnaround time is between 5 and 10 business days. If any requirement is not properly addressed, a corrective plan must be submitted to DOTQS before you can be recommended for certification.

Must we have completed one whole audit cycle of the system and a management review prior to the certification audit?
Yes, both of these are required prior to the certification audit.

How soon after our documentation review can the pre-assessment or certification audit be scheduled?
You may schedule your audit even before your documentation review.

How much history must exist for each element prior to scheduling a certification audit?
You should have enough history to demonstrate that your system is working.

Who should be present at our opening and closing meetings during our audits?
The top management of the site and anyone else you may wish to invite.

If we use a consulting firm, are they allowed in the facility during an audit?
Yes, they can be present as long as they do not answer the Auditor’s questions or have a direct influence on the audit.

Are our Internal Auditors allowed to witness the audit process?
Yes.

How many days will our certification audit take?
The length of your certification audit is based on the size and complexity of your company, etc. In order to determine the exact number of days for your audit, please complete a Request for Quote/Application form.

Are special on-site accommodations required by your Auditors?
No. The Auditor will only need a private place to work, such as a conference room or office, and access to the internet, telephone, and copier. The Lead Auditor will probably ask for an uncontrolled copy of your quality manual and applicable procedures for each Auditor.

How are DOTQS audit reports documented (handwritten or computer)?
DOTQS reports are computer generated for consistency and legibility.

How long does the DOTQS certification agreement last?
The agreement is on-going and will last as long as you wish to continue your partnership with DOTQS. Your company’s certificate is generally good for three years, after which it will be reissued upon successful completion of the recertification audit.

NONCONFORMITIES AND CORRECTIVE ACTIONS

How do I submit corrective actions to DOTQS?
DOTQS requests that corrective actions and supporting documentation required for validation are submitted to the office at CorrectiveActions@dotqs.com. Our administrative staff will forward the corrective actions submitted to your Auditor for review and will alert you of their acceptance.

If we receive a nonconformity during our certification audit, does that eliminate our chances to become certified?
No. There are two types of nonconformities, major and minor. A major nonconformity is lack of documentation or implementation of a complete element or a series of minor nonconformities that cast doubt that the quality program has been implemented for an element. A minor nonconformity might be a procedure that is not comprehensive enough, a person who did not follow the procedure, or a lack of a required record. All nonconformities must be addressed by corrective actions with evidence to support the resolution of the nonconformities. Corrective actions can be submitted by email, mail, or fax within 30 days of the date of the closing meeting.
If the certification audit reveals only minor nonconformities, the Lead Auditor will recommend certification pending the closeout of the corrective actions taken to address the nonconformities. After the corrective actions are accepted by the Lead Auditor and reviewed by the Technical Director, a certificate will be issued. Corrective actions for minor nonconformities will be verified at the next required surveillance audit.
For a major nonconformity, an additional audit may be required to verify effective correction and corrective actions have been implemented and are effective as determined by the Lead Auditor. Verification of effectiveness of the corrective actions must be completed before you can be certified.

If certification is not achieved at the certification audit due to a major nonconformity, will a reassessment of all elements be required?
No, the scope of the follow-up audit will be limited to the element where the major nonconformity was identified.

How and when are Clients notified of quality system nonconformities, omissions, or deviations from the standard?
Clients are notified of quality system deviations during the audit and at the closing meeting. All nonconformities and opportunities for improvement are documented in the audit report.

What is the time period for corrective action responses to nonconformities?
For certification, surveillance, and recertification audits, your company is allowed 30 days after the date of the closing meeting to respond with corrective actions taken or planned to be taken.

If a nonconformity is found, can we have it cleared before the audit team leaves?
While is it certainly possible to clear a minor nonconformity during the audit, it is unlikely that a major nonconformity could be corrected this quickly.

How much time is given to correct deficiencies?
Corrective actions with evidence to support the resolution of the nonconformities must be submitted within 30 days of the closing meeting by email, mail, or fax. DOTQS does allow on-site corrective action during the audit provided that the time spent reviewing the proposed corrective actions does not significantly affect the audit schedule or objectives.

Please explain briefly the process for handling nonconformities found during a surveillance or recertification audit.
The requirements for addressing nonconformities found during surveillance or recertification audits is the same process required for certification audits.

To what degree do you review and comment on observations?
DOTQS Auditors provide a brief description and the element number of the observations or concerns in the Opportunities for Improvement section of the audit report.

Can we ask questions about the standard and our nonconformities?
DOTQS Auditors are happy to answer questions about interpretation of the standard and to explain their audit findings in detail. It is important to DOTQS that your company understands precisely what is required and the exact details of any audit nonconformity. DOTQS is constrained from consulting, and therefore cannot advise you on how to address a nonconformity. Our Auditors are able to offer a range of examples that would meet the requirements of the standard, including examples of compliant (and nonproprietary) systems we have seen. Because only you know what is right for your business, our Auditors cannot say what solutions will work best within your company. You must determine your own nonconformity resolution.

CERTIFICATES

I recently had a certification or recertification audit. When will I get my certificate?
DOTQS will send you your new or updated certificate within 45 days of the completion of the audit. The audit report, corrective actions, and supporting documents are reviewed for technical content prior to the certification decision. These steps have been put in place to ensure impartiality in the certification decision and add to the integrity of our certificates. Once the decision to certify your company has been made, we will send you the certificate.

How long is the certificate valid?
The certificate is valid for three (3) years. Prior to the end of the three-year period, a recertification audit will be scheduled to renew the certificate. Between the time of the initial certification audit and the certificate renewal, Clients are audited periodically based on their choice of surveillance schedules: periodic audits every six months or annual audits once per year.

Are new certificates provided at the end of the initial 3-year period?
Yes.

MARKS, LOGOS AND PUBLICITY

Does DOTQS allow the use of its logo or certification mark?
Yes, the certification mark may be used and the artwork is supplied in the form of electronic files in .jpg format. The policy for use of the certification marks are provided with the certificate and artwork. The policy must be adhered to as required by the terms of the certification agreement.

Do I have to use the logos provided?
You are not required to use the certification marks to state that your quality management system is certified. If you choose to use the marks, you are required to use the DOTQS certification mark and you are required to follow the policy for its use.

What is the proper way to state my certification on marketing material, banners, etc.?
The International Standards Organization provides details on how to properly publicize your achievement. Here is the link to the website.

SURVEILLANCE AUDITS

How often are surveillance audits conducted by DOTQS?
Surveillance audits are performed on site to determine on-going implementation and effectiveness of your management system. The audits are conducted every six (6) months or annually and the frequency is determined by the Client. The period between surveillance audits may be shortened based on the severity or number of nonconformities found during the audit or if there are significant changes to the organization or management system.

RECERTIFICATION

Do we have to start all over at the end of the certification period?
The recertification audit will include all elements of the standard to which you are certified. Although this audit will be as thorough as your company’s certification audit, the audit time will be reduced. Your company will have all the advantages and benefits that maintaining a long-term partnership with DOTQS can bring. This includes a familiar, knowledgeable Auditor who will continue to work with you to add value to your company and the value added services of a Certification Body you know and trust.

CHANGES - REQUIREMENTS, SCOPE, CLIENT ORGANIZATION, ETC.

How are Clients notified of any changes in your certification program? Will we be permitted to comment on any of the changes? How long will we have to implement changes once notified?
Clients are notified of any changes to the certification program in writing. DOTQS welcomes comments, encourages dialogue, and is more than willing to work through any customer concerns regarding the changes. Sufficient time is provided to implement the changes. Management system updates to address changes to the certification program do not need to be submitted to DOTQS, but they will be audited at the next on-site visit.

What types of changes would require us to notify DOTQS?
Your company must inform DOTQS in writing about any major changes to your management system or organization. That would include changes of ownership, management structure, production or service capability, location, number of employees, or major revisions to your quality manual.

How will we be notified of any changes that affect the status of our certification?
Changes to the status of your certification would be communicated by certified mail, email, or phone.

What changes or revisions to the quality management system will require an additional audit?
Only major changes to your system, such as a different scope of certification, will require an on-site audit.

Will a reassessment be required if a modification to the certification scope is requested?
If the proposed modification is closely related to the existing scope, it is usually verified and approved at the next surveillance audit to help minimize costs. If it is a substantial departure from the certified scope, a special assessment may be required.

After certification, must we get DOTQS approval before changing our Manual?
No. However, Clients must notify DOTQS in writing of any major changes to their Quality Management System. Major changes would be any changes to the organization or procedures that affect the implementation of the management system to a substantial degree.

Can an expanded certification scope be included as an extension to a regularly scheduled surveillance audit?
Yes, if you identify the scope extension to DOTQS office in advance. A decision will be made to determine if it will be necessary to add time to the surveillance audit.

APPEALS AND COMPLAINTS

If I have a complaint regarding DOTQS or a DOTQS certified company, what should I do?
DOTQS requests that complaints be submitted in writing to the DOTQS office. DOTQS will review the complaint and contact involved parties to work toward a resolution in a timely manner.

How do you handle complaints regarding specific Auditors?
Complaints will be handled in accordance with DOTQS complaint procedure.

Please describe the DOTQS process for appealing and resolving differences of opinion / interpretation regarding audit findings.
First, we ask that you discuss the situation with your Lead Auditor. If a resolution cannot be reached, please call DOTQS office and discuss the issue with DOTQS President or other staff.
If this does not bring about a satisfactory outcome, you may file a complaint with DOTQS or, as a last resort, file an external appeal.

Explain how DOTQS handles customer complaints.
Any person may file a complaint about DOTQS certification services in writing. DOTQS is responsible for the investigation and conclusion of complaints. The complainant will be notified of the results. If there is a disagreement with the results, an appeal may be filed or the appropriate accreditation agency may be contacted regarding the complaint.

WITHDRAWING, SUSPENDING AND REDUCING SCOPE OF CERTIFICATION

Under what conditions can our certificate be withdrawn, suspended or revoked?
DOTQS Certification Body strives to maintain open communication and a good working relationship with each of our Clients. We believe in resolving problems before they can become grounds for either the withdrawal or suspension of a certificate.
A Client’s certification can be suspended for up to six months if any of the following conditions exist:

  • DOTQS identifies a major nonconformity that questions the implementation of the Client’s system, but is not serious enough to require withdrawal, and if the Client’s corrective action plan results in improper or insufficient corrective action.
  • The Client is found improperly using their certificate, references to certification, or certification marks (logo, symbol) and their corrective action regarding the improper use of the same is not acceptable to DOTQS.
  • Any other violation of DOTQS certification agreement or policies.

A Client’s certification can be withdrawn if any of the following conditions exist:

  • If a Client’s certification is suspended and no corrective action is implemented.If DOTQS identifies major nonconformities which may cause improper implementation of the ISO requirements.
  • Formal request of the Client.
  • If the standard’s requirements change and the Client will not or cannot ensure conformance to the new requirements.
  • If the Client ceases to supply the defined product, process, or service for an extended period of time.
  • If the Client fails to meet financial obligations to DOTQS.
  • On any other grounds specifically provided for by the requirements or formally agreed to between DOTQS and the Client.

CERTIFICATE TRANSFER

Our sister plant is already certified by someone else, but we want to transfer that certification to DOTQS. Is this possible?
If you are considering changing certification bodies for one or more of your sites, a few simple steps are all that is required. Please contact DOTQS to discuss transferring your certification or refer to our website link Transferring Your Certificate.

How much of the work of the previous Certification Body can be used as part of the process?
DOTQS reviews your previous audit reports and nonconformities as a basis for your certification transfer. DOTQS will conduct a transfer document review and a transfer audit and if the results are positive, we will issue a new certificate.

What’s the cost structure for the conversion audit?
DOTQS fees for transferring your certification are what you would expect to pay for a routine surveillance audit, plus a small fee for our transfer document review. Your cost is based on the size and complexity of your company and the Auditor(s) travel expenses are billed at actual cost.

Does the Client pay for the reassessment?
Yes. The Client pays for the reassessment, but only for the audit day(s) plus associated expenses necessary to evaluate conformance to the standard.

CONFIDENTIALITY

Will DOTQS safeguard our confidential information and proprietary processes?
DOTQS, in accordance with ISO/IEC 17065, maintains strict confidentiality of any proprietary Client information.
Every employee and Auditor at DOTQS must sign formal confidentiality agreements. Our management system and training program also specifically address this issue. In addition, each of our accreditation agencies audits us to our requirements. For this reason, your company can be confident that all confidential and proprietary information will be protected.

MISCELLANEOUS

Can you send me a copy of an ISO Standard?
All of the ISO Standards are protected against distribution by copyright legislation. All ISO Standards are available for purchase at www.iso.org or webstore.ansi.org.

Does DOTQS have a policy on the exchange of gifts?
Yes, Auditors may not accept gifts.

How does DOTQS evaluate customer satisfaction?
DOTQS Clients are routinely surveyed with regard to the service DOTQS provides and how well our personnel, both our office staff and Auditors, provide that service. This information is used to continually improve our services.

Does your company subcontract any of its certification activities to other organizations? If so, how are these organizations qualified by you?
DOTQS does not subcontract any certification activities to other organizations.

What provisions exist should your company go out of business or lose its status as a Certification Body? How will our certification be affected?
In the unlikely event that DOTQS goes out of business or loses its accreditation, DOTQS will have established a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with an accredited certification body. This will maintain your status as a certified company.

How do I get started?
Contact DOTQS to obtain a Request for Quote/Application form.