ISO guidelines for improving quality management in local government

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ISO has just released guidelines for improving quality management in local government worldwide through the implementation by public authorities of its ISO 9001:2000 management system standard.

The final draft of IWA 4 final draft is handed over to ISO for processing at the organization’s Central Secretariat in Geneva, from left: ISO Deputy Secretary-General Kevin McKinley; IWA 4 Secretary, Carlos Gadsden, who is General Director of Mexico’s Organization of Interdisciplinary Services (OSI); IWA 4 Vice-Chair, Senator Carlos Madrazo, representing the Mexican Government; ISO Secretary-General, Alan Bryden, and the DGN representative to ISO, Juan Antonio Dorantes.

ISO 9001:2000 is already in use by more than 670 400 organizations of all types in 154 countries, including local government authorities and public services. However, the new guidelines explain the standard in terms more familiar to people who work in local government and relate the requirements of ISO 9001:2000 to their context. This will make it easier for them to implement the standard and so improve the quality of the diverse services they provide for the benefit of their “customer-citizens”.

IWA 4, Quality management systems – Guidelines for the application of ISO 9001:2000 in local government, is not intended for certification and does not require the public authorities that use it to seek ISO 9001:2000 certification. This is a decision for them to make based on their particular context. It gives advice on implementing ISO 9001:2000, but does not alter in any way the requirements of that standard.

Carlos Gadsden, a Mexican specialist in local government who was secretary of the team that developed IWA 4, explains the motivation for launching the initiative: “Local governments are the main service providers to citizens all over the world and their efficient and reliable performance is vital to the lives of millions of people.”

ISO Secretary-General Alan Bryden concurred: “The performance of local authorities can have a tremendous impact on citizens and economic actors at large and so IWA 4 will help to improve quality where it counts – in the everyday lives of people and companies.”

The co-developers state in the Introduction to IWA 4 that an ISO 9001:2000 quality management system (QMS) provides an excellent tool for local government authorities to be able to provide confidence to their citizens that their needs and expectations are fully understood and are capable of being met on a consistent basis and in a timely manner.

IWA 4 includes the requirements of ISO 9001:2000 and explains with appropriate examples how to apply them in local government. It includes two annexes: one gives some examples of the services and associated processes that local governments should strive to provide and the other describes a diagnostic model that can be used as a starting point for the implementation of a QMS for reliable local government.

IWA 4, Quality management systems – Guidelines for the application of ISO 9001:2000 in local government, costs 70 Swiss francs and is available from ISO national member institutes (see the complete list with contact details) and from ISO Central Secretariat (see below).

The new guidelines were developed at an international workshop in May 2005 in Veracruz, Mexico, attended by 83 delegates, representing local governments, universities, standardization bodies, quality management system specialists and users from 18 countries. The workshop was hosted by the ISO member for Mexico, DGN (Dirección General de Normas), supported by the National Standardization Technical Committee on Quality Management Systems (COTENNSISCAL), the Mexican Institute of Standardization and Certification (IMNC), the Organization of Interdisciplinary Services (OSI) and the Latin American Institute for Quality (INLAC), whose President, Armando Espinosa, chaired the workshop.

“IWA” denotes an “International Workshop Agreement” which is one of several types of deliverable offered by ISO for cases where swift development and publication of an international agreement take priority.


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