Iraq has launched its first Proficiency Testing (PT) scheme, through the Iraqi Accreditation System (IQAS), targeting 20 material and mechanical (Hardness) testing laboratories.
This is an important milestone in establishing the system required for laboratories to achieve accreditation against the requirements of ISO/IEC 17025, an international standard which shall assure that measurement services and tests performed by the laboratories are internationally traceable and acceptable.
This achievement comes as part of UNIDO's field project titled "JAWDA - Enhancing the Quality Infrastructure in Iraq", launched in 2012 with funds from the Swedish Government.
Development assistance for laboratories has been a major segment of UNIDO support activities, included preparation of laboratories for accreditation through development of their capacity to comply with ISO/IEC 17025 and associated accreditation criteria.
The provider of the PT distributes (or specifies the location of) one or more test items to the participating laboratories for measurement. The participants have no knowledge of the true measurement value or its best estimate.
They perform the requested measurements on the test items and report to the PT provider who evaluates their results. For a large majority of PT schemes this evaluation takes the form of a calculated score that reflects the performance of each participating laboratory. Laboratory identities remain undisclosed to ensure the confidentiality of the individual participants.
For laboratories, PT is a complementary tool in that it provides an external and independent assessment of the validity of the measurement results. As such it assesses the entire quality system.