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Certification: a value for both private and public organizations

Widespread implementation of quality management systems (QMS) in Malaysia and certification to the ISO 9000 series of standards began very soon after the standards were first published in 1987.
Of the more than 1000 organizations which SIRIM QAS International had certified in the first ten years, almost all of them were from the private sector. Of these, almost 95% of them were from the manufacturing sector. The reason for the initial manufacturing bias was clear. Ours was an export-led economy with significant exports of manufactured products to both the European Union and the USA. ISO 9001 certification was almost a de facto requirement for most manufacturing organizations exporting products to Europe at that time. Hence, the boom in applications for certification from manufacturing organizations and others in their supply chain. With so much publicity given to ISO 9001 certification in the manufacturing sector and the benefits derived from it, service sector organizations began to realise that there must be something good about it. Colleges and universities, private hospitals, financial institutions and trading companies began to adopt and implement the standard and to seek certification from accredited certification bodies such as SIRIM. 
The move to implement ISO 9001 in the public sector in Malaysia began in 1996. It was initiated by the then head of the Malaysian Civil Service who was concurrently the Chairman of the governing board of SIRIM. Through his association with SIRIM, he saw how private sector organizations were attracted to the standard and were benefiting greatly from implementing it. He was firmly of the view that the standard would greatly help in improving the efficiency and effectiveness of service delivery in the public sector.
A directive was issued to the whole civil service comprising of nearly 800 agencies requiring them to implement ISO 9001 within their organizations with the scope covering at least one of their core processes. Initially, the agencies were audited and granted a form of “second-party certification” by the Malaysian Administration Modernisation and Manpower Planning Unit (MAMPU), an agency under the Prime Minister’s Department responsible for improving processes within the civil service. MAMPU gave up its role as a “certifier” in 2002 and public sector agencies were advised to seek certification from third-party certification bodies if they felt there was a need to continue implementing the ISO 9001 standard beyond 2003. The obvious benefit that many saw from implementing the standard and being audited and certified by third parties is evident by the number of such agencies which went on to obtain certification from accredited certification bodies.
Although there was no directive as to which certification body they should use, SIRIM is proud to have been the first choice certification body of the majority of these public sector agencies. Currently, we certify close to 700 public sector agencies to the ISO 9001 standard. This number represents a significant majority of all public sector agencies which have been certified and just over 20% of all our QMS certifications. Public sector organizations certified by SIRIM include those involved in general public administration, education and healthcare as well as local authorities. 
The continuing demand for certification from both the private and public sectors is a clear indication of the value that they see in implementing standards and more importantly to have independent parties to verify the effective implementation in their organizations.

Parama Iswara Subramaniam

Senior General Manager
Management System Certification Department
SIRIM Delegate to IQNet

SIRIM QAS International Sdn. Bhd.
Building 8, SIRIM Complex, No. 1
Persiaran Dato'Menteri,
Section 2, P.O. Box 7035
40700 Shah Alam
Selangor Darul Ehsan