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Marcel, Andrew, thank you for raising this topic.
I want to clarify the intent and view of the OpenChain Project regarding Third-Party Certification to our specification.
Firstly, OpenChain 2.1 / ISO 5230 is a standard focused on defining the key requirements of a quality open source compliance program. It does this by identifying process inflection points that must be filled by an entity adopting the standard.
It follows that the starting point is a program, and a program can be self-certified, independently assessed or third-party certified to exist and have the required process inflection points filled. This is what Andrew referred to as program certification. It has always been the intent of the project, and continues to be, that program certification is valid for all forms of certification related to OpenChain 2.1 / ISO 5230.
System certification with or without using another standard such as ISO 17021 - ‘Conformity assessment — Requirements for bodies providing audit and certification of management systems‘ is also a valid approach from the perspective of the OpenChain Project. It is a different type of approach, encompassing both the determination of the process content (as per program certification) and an assessment of effectiveness in a “live environment.”
In some jurisdictions certifiers may wish or may have a requirement to be accredited in a manner such as the German DAkkS, and thus may use ISO 17021 in that context, but such accreditation is not compulsory with respect to ISO standards.  From global feedback so far, we expect companies to choose from a mixture of program certification, system certification and to apply their own preferences to how these are accomplished. This variation will reflect how other standards have been applied around the world.
The question of how to choose a certifier is with respect to reliability is therefore market-based. People can elect to choose a certifier that is accredited by a geographic body and/or one that leverages as ISO CASCO standard like ISO 17021 and/or a certifier that is approved by the OpenChain Project. They can elect to have a program certified as per the program requirements of OpenChain 2.1 / ISO 5230, or they can elect to have the requirements of OpenChain 2.1 / ISO 5230 supplemented by additional system requirements such as ISO 17021.
The OpenChain Project endorses and supports both program and system certification. The specific shakeout of what becomes the norm in each industry sector will be driven by the economics and the procurement contracts in each sector. This is be design, to ensure the standard is adopted and leveraged by companies in every geography and every market segment.
OpenChain General Manager
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On Mar 3, 2021, at 6:48, Marcel (PwC DE) via lists.openchainproject.org <marcel.scholze=pwc.com@...> wrote:
This is an interesting idea; however, creating different variations of certifications might dilute the credibility of an ISO/IEC 5230 certificate. Also, it would be my understanding that it is not in line with audit and ISO practices and might result in confusion.
With ISO/IEC 5230, we have an official ISO framework which specifies the requirements of a quality open source license compliance program – for which a certification body should follow ISO certification requirements, the ISO/IEC 17021 for audit and certification of management systems.
ISO 17021 - audit and certification of management systems- defines that such an audit is conducted in two stages; stage 1 being a review of documentation of the management system (I would call it “design effectiveness audit”) and stage 2 to evaluate the implementation, including the effectiveness of the management system (I would call it “operating effectiveness audit”). So within stage 2, an ISO 17021 conformant certification body needs to obtain sufficient evidence of the effectiveness of the management measures, which includes sample testing where applicable. This does not require the management system to be in operation for a long period of time, such as a year, but it must be in operation so that the effectiveness of the measures can be demonstrated through evidence or reperformance of measures. Certifications as such (unlike some other audit reports such as ISAE 3000 or ISAE 3402) are per se related to a point in time, so it does not give an indication of the past or a specific period of time; e.g. it does not say that the management system has been effective for the last 12 months etc., but it gives an indication of the date of certification and, if applicable, for the subsequent period through surveillance audits.
According to ISO 17021, there can be no certification of only design effectiveness / stage 1 - operational effectiveness must also be assessed. I assume an accreditation of such a certification procedure by the state authorities (in Germany DAkkS) is not possible. To provide a certificate only on stage 1 would bring a lot of confusion to the market.
There is still the self-certification around, customer specific audits, and audit reports e.g. as per ISAE 3000 can be performed. To support companies even further a “certification readiness audit” can be performed before certification.
PwC issues ISO/IEC 5230 certificates only on the basis of ISO 17021 compliant audits, including e.g. IAF MD #1, #4, #5, ensuring that anyone holding a PwC certificate can rely on full compliance with ISO 5230 and surrounding ISO certification requirements.
Marcel Scholze (DE)
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There’s been quite a lot of traffic on the list about how audits and certification are going to work, and I’d like to open up how we are approaching this. It’s important that people understand
what an OpenChain certification means, and how it can be arrived at. To that end, we’ve spent a lot of time working with an audit specialist with experience in a broad range of fields from process to financial services to quality assurance to come up with
our own audit processes and procedures. We’ve come to the conclusion that we need at (at minimum) two levels of certification.
One reason for this is that an organisation may seek third party certification directly after implementing an OpenChain compliance program. There should be a place in the marketplace
for such a certification, but, again, such a certification will not be as in-depth as a certification which has tested the operations of the practices and procedures. This second level of certification will necessarily mean that the program has been in operation
for a period of time (a year, for example), so that its outputs can be tested against the expectations of the program. Naturally, to receive this certification, the organisation will have to have been operating for sufficient time for the data to be available,
so this level of certification cannot be offered immediately after implementation of the program.
In brief, we make a distinction between “Program Certification” and “Systems Certification”.
Program Certification confirms that OpenChain policies, practices and procedures are in place which are compliant. This is similar to verifying that the answers to the self-certification
questionnaire are independently verified, and, in addition, confirming that, if operated properly (including build systems etc.) those policies, practices and procedures are capable of producing the required outputs (so in this respect it goes somewhat further
than verifying self-certification on its own).
Systems Certification requires Program Certification, but it also requires that the organisation has been operating an OpenChain program for a period of time sufficient for us to certify
both that the organisation’s program meets Program Certification standards, and also that those policies, practices and procedures verifiably meet the outcomes required by the OpenChain Specification. The former is, in effect, a readiness and capability certification,
and the latter is a more comprehensive certification to audit standards, so it will require sample-testing that compliance artifacts for components are correctly generated, that licence choices have been correctly assigned, that training records have been
correctly met, and so on.
Establishing the criteria for Program Certification is fairly straightforward, as it is based very much on the structure and content of the self-certification questionnaire, together
with some additional checks to confirm the plausibility of the processes to be employed to implement the program. Systems Certification is somewhat more complex, in that it requires that audit processes are established to check that the expected outputs are
in line with the actual outputs. It is not appropriate to do a complete code analysis here, for example (in the same way that a financial auditor undertaking a business’s annual audit will not check to ensure that every expenses receipt submitted to an organisation
has been correctly entered into its accounting system), but a structured set of control-based checks will be used to provide the relevant confidence level.
We are putting together an internal specification for how the Systems Certification would work, and we are basing it on existing certification standards (such as Management Systems Certification
ISO/IEC 17021 1). Clearly, it is in the interest of OpenChain that the levels of certification to be adopted are agreed on by the OpenChain Project, and, ultimately, we would consider that the certification programs themselves (and their operators) are independently
verified by organisations such as UKAS in the UK, and DAkkS in Germany.
We’re very happy to discuss this further.
All the best
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